If you read my past article then you’ll know that I’ve recently bought a converted campervan to go travelling with my saluki sidekick, Blondie. I run a business called Snootiful Hound which sells dog products for sighthound breeds, so I’m in the very privileged position of being able to work from anywhere, so I decided why not do exactly that, travelling with my dog and working from the road.
Before I get to that stage though, it makes sense to start with a few short practice trips. So, I decided to take the Friday off, do some last minute prep to make the van my own and make it a bit more homely, and then I’d be off to explore the New Forest with my four-legged friend for the weekend.
I got up nice and early to get my van ready for our first adventure! I wanted to shoot off for about 11am to skip the traffic, but I didn’t end up leaving until about 4pm. With it being my first trip away in the Van, I wanted to have a safe destination in mind that I knew I could stay for my first night rather than hunting for somewhere to park, so I booked to stay at Setthorns Campsite.
By the time I arrived, it was pitch black (not ideal for my first drive in the van, I’m used to driving a tiny Volkswagen Polo) and we had torrential rain. This combination made my drive incredibly stressful, but I was so relieved to arrive, albeit not until a little after 6pm. I think this relief made me too eager to park in the first spot I saw – at least that’s how I explain picking the soggiest grass pitch in the place! More on that later.
It was dark and wet, but Blondie and I needed to stretch our legs, so we braved the weather and went for a little walk around the campsite before returning to the van and getting warm.
We woke up bright and early for another little stroll around the campsite to stretch our legs and for Blondie to use the toilet. It looks so different in the daytime! It’s so beautiful and in the heart of the forest – if you could ignore the other camper vans, you would really feel like you were in the middle of nowhere!
Here’s a picture taken from the side door of my van:
We went back to the van for breakfast, we’d both need our energy for today, and then went for a stroll in the opposite direction in the campsite and into the woods for about an hour. We’d timed it perfectly as the sun was just rising down the end of our path, between the trees. As someone that’s used to the scenery of London, it was a very welcome sight. The day was off to a great start.
I had to leave the campsite soon, but that’s okay as I wanted to go exploring anyway. I used to come to the New Forest all the time as a kid and I remembered the little town of Burley, famous for its history of Witchcraft, and I had to visit. I put it in google maps, hopped in my van and was ready to go – only we didn’t move. Remember that soggy pitch I mentioned earlier? Yup, my van had sunk into it. I went to get help and after about 45 minutes of the campsite team trying to dig me out (who were lovely by the way), a friendly neighbour offered to tow me out. Lifesaver!
I drove to a car park just on the other side of the town of Burley, with beautiful scenery as you would expect! Parked up, then Blondie and I hiked for about two hours through the forest to the town of Burley. We had a look around the town, stopped for a snack, and then hiked back. A beautiful way to spend the day.
I couldn’t stay in the car park I was in, so I checked an app called park4night which helps you to find places to park up for the night (as the name implies), and I found a spot on the coast – result! I had to move fast as the sun would set soon and I did not fancy driving in the dark again, so off I went, and we got there in time for sunset. I couldn’t believe our luck, on my doorstep was about 15m of green, then a cliff, and then the beach.
Again, Blondie and I were up in time for sunset – just about. I think we were both a bit more tired this morning than the last as we watched the sunrise from the back windows of the van before going down to explore the beach. It was a nice stretch, mostly stones, but long enough for me and Blondie to burn off some steam before breakfast.
After breakfast and a cup of coffee (for me, not for Blondie), we went out on to the green and we sat there for a while, enjoying the view, and talking to locals as they walked past. That could only last for so long though. Blondie is usually not this chill when not indoors, and as soon as a dog came over, she was wanting to go again and would not settle.
So, we hopped in the van and moved on to another beach, I think it was Highcliffe. To get to the best part was quite a walk away from the steps down the cliff, so I felt pretty confident about letting Blondie off lead (more context, she’s a rescue and I was told she’d never be able to walk on anything longer than a 1m lead – we’ve made a lot of progress but her recall is not very reliable). This also meant I could go in the water, because even though it’s cold, it’d be rude not to, right? Except for one scare when Blondie decided to prove that the cliff was no match for her as she begun scaling the side of it, it was a lovely way to finish the weekend.
Exhausted, we went back to the van for one last time and headed home. Bring on the next trip!