A Forest Oasis-borderland

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It might sound like an uncomfortable beach condition but, as Tracey Davies discovers, Sandy Balls could be precisely the accessible holiday you’re looking for. Sandy Balls lies deep within the heart of the New Forest, just 20 minutes from the seaside town of Bournemouth. The saucy name dates back to the late 15th Century, when dome-shaped sandy outcrops – called sandyballas – were discovered in this part of the forest. Today, though, Sandy Balls is best known as a conservation-friendly holiday village, set within 120 acres of beautiful woodland, which offers the perfect access-friendly escape for the whole family. Our home for the weekend was a spacious and well-equipped forest lodge. The large timber chalet melts seamlessly into its shady wooded setting and, from the start, my son wanted to stay forever. Waking up in the forest with the lusty scent of woodchip and curious wildlife hopping about, it was easy to share his enthusiasm. Sandy Balls is quite the forest oasis. The park itself is flat and easily accessible by wheelchair and several lodges are specially adapted to suit their less-abled visitors. Booking is easy, with the Sandy Balls online booking system, although you may need to call up to confirm which lodge is most suitable for your needs. THINGS TO DO Sandy Balls offers a wide range of leisure pursuits for both the adventurous and the more relaxed among us. They have daily arts and crafts sessions for the little ones, ponies are available for trekking and you have a choice of cycling routes and guided forest hikes. Tempus, the on-site health spa, offers a full range of professional treatments. As a decadent way of relaxing into the weekend, I had an exquisite marine facial to cleanse away the city grime and came out feeling refreshed and looking much younger! Although I was tempted to squander the weekend reading books in the sun, the New Forest is the perfect place to be explored on two wheels. Sandy Balls has an on-site cycling shop manned by a team of knowledgeable staff, so we took full advantage of the glorious weather and spent the day wheeling through the countryside. Equipped with two mountain bikes, a trailer for the toddlers and a tag-a-long for the six year old, we set off in tandem. Wheeling through the leafy lanes the children were fascinated by the roaming wildlife and the miles of fields bursting with banana-coloured rapeseed. Dusty, nuzzling donkeys took great interest in the trailer full of twins and – going by the peals of laughter inside – the admiration was mutual. WHERE TO GO Although fully equipped with a swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna (plus a well-stocked shop and a huge adventure playground for the kids) the hub of Sandy Balls has to be the pub. The Woodside Inn is set around a flat and enclosed courtyard complete with a BBQ and play area. There’s a wide range of good food available with portions big enough to satisfy even the mightiest of fresh-air induced appetites. The bar is well-stocked and there’s even nightly cabaret entertainment in the adjoining Woodside Suite. If cycling’s not your thing, there are plenty of other notable attractions in the area. Nearby Buckler’s Hard is well worth a visit. The majority of this quaint Victorian shipyard, famed for building part of Nelson’s fleet, is accessible – although some gravel pathways and narrow doorways may prove difficult for wheelchair users. I also wholly recommend the easily accessible National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. It houses one of the finest collections of cars in the world, including some James Bond classics, and its latest exhibition – The Art of Custom – includes some of the world’s most weird and wonderful custom-built cars. BACK FOR MORE We had a wonderfully relaxing holiday at Sandy Balls, thanks to its beautiful woodland setting, great facilities and accessibility. We’ll definitely be making a return visit some time soon – and you can’t say better than that. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Tracey Davies is a London-based freelance travel and parenting writer who currently contributes to Psychologies, Junior, Mother & Baby, easyJet Inflight magazine, Able magazine, The Good Holiday Guide, Escapism!, The South Wales Argus, Living South, Little London and the US publication, Student Traveler. Recent travel destinations include: St Lucia, Majorca, Portugal, Andorra, Canada, Sardinia, Serbia, Tenerife, France, England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. She is also a well-fed restaurant reviewer for award-winning London guide, View London. Getting There: The New Forest is easily accessible by car and Sandy Balls has excellent parking facilities with the majority of forest lodges offering the option to park your car right next to your accommodation. For those who prefer to travel by train, Salisbury is the nearest station (12 miles away) and taxis are the easiest way to transfer. The New Forest: William the Conqueror once hunted in this part of Hampshire, but it’s now one of those rare places in the UK where wildlife is free to roam. Ponies, deer and pigs know their grazing rights and have been exercising them over 145 square miles of grassy lowland for decades. Access: We found Sandy Balls Holiday Village to be a friendly and family-orientated place to stay. It has wide, flat pathways and all of the facilities are situated on the ground floor, making it easily accessible for wheelchairs. The Forest Lodges are well-equipped with everything you’ll need for a relaxing holiday. There are specially adapted lodges available. Restaurants: The recently-opened Bistro restaurant is open from 9am daily and offers a tasty range of dishes, many using fresh produce direct from the New Forest. The Woodside Inn is also open all day and has a good range of decent pub food and a well-stocked and reasonably priced bar. There is a takeaway available in the courtyard offering hot snacks and ice creams. Other Facilities: Sandy Balls has a host of facilities including an indoor swimming pool, a top of the range leisure centre, a cycle hire shop, an arts and craft centre and a Spar shop. The Tempus Spa offers professional beauty therapies and spa treatments starting from 28. AROUND SANDY BALLS: Whether you want to take advantage of the in-house facilities or just enjoy the miles of flat and mostly accessible tracks around the stunning 120 acres of woodland, Sandy Balls appeals to all. FURTHER INFORMATION Sandy Balls Holiday Centre For reservations call 01425 653042 or visit .sandy-balls.co.uk For information on Buckler’s Hard, visit .bucklershard.co.uk and for the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu go to .beaulieu.co.uk for details 相关的主题文章: