At Back of Beyond Touring, Camping and Glamping Park
With endless blue skies and birds chirping happily by day and with a canopy of stars to gaze at during the night, what better a way to enjoy summer in the UK than being out in the wide-open countryside, at an idyllic and peaceful camping and glamping site.
The birds chattering and the odd neigh of a horse in the distance, are the loudest sounds you’ll hear at the Back of Beyond Touring, Camping and Glamping Park, with the peace and quiet being the reason many choose to visit – and return. It’s the park’s unique selling point, with it being adults only, where you’ll find the bar shuts at 8pm, there’s no large groups and you won’t find yourself dodging flying frisbees as you read a book.
It’s set in 30 acres of the loveliest countryside, has a list of green credentials, the facilities are fab and it’s dog friendly.
The phrase “glamping” first appeared around 20 years ago. It was first heard at music festivals, large and small and soon many farmers and landowners were cashing in, setting up yurts, bell tents, shepherd huts and pods.
It’s now a very popular way to spend a few days away, whether it’s as a romantic trip for two, for some peace and quiet on your own, a few days away with the girls, or boys, or with the family.
It’s certainly far easier than camping, with all the paraphernalia you have to buy and pack. It’s the modern way to experience the joys of camping and the beauty of the countryside, without the hassle of having to pitch a tent or invest in a camper van.
This was my first taste of glamping and I found that it was vastly different to my one and only camping experience 15 years ago, where noisy children and tipsy adults meant I had just a few hours of sleep, where I woke up with terrible back ache and soggy clothes to change into, where the tent had leaked.
Not being a seasoned camper and not having had a good experience, I was pleasantly surprised to find glamping was very different, as I stayed for three nights in one of the park’s nine glamping units, a cute little pod called The Kingfisher.
This was a medium pod, for two, with room for a dog. There are larger units too and two quaint shepherd’s huts.
My summer holidays are usually spent abroad, staying in a hotel, but this year I couldn’t face the stress and hassle of a busy airport, flight delays and cancellations.
Also, not being able to travel abroad during the pandemic, made me realise there are so many places in this country that I’ve never been to, including the New Forest, so a staycation near the national park sounded perfect.
Glamping, for me, meant meeting the camping experience halfway. Having watched other campers during my stay, with tents and caravans with awnings, I’m still not sure that full on camping is for me. I still don’t fancy hammering in tent pegs and crashing out on the ground or on a camp bed in a sweaty sleeping bag.
And I think I’d find the creepy crawlies a step too far with getting close to nature, having panicked when a squirrel ran over my glamping pod doorstep. But that said, my camping neighbours appeared to be in their element.
Glamping meant I could have a little of the camping lifestyle experience, while having all mod cons to hand too. My pod had a comfy double bed, a kettle, a toaster, a fridge, some kitchen utensils, lights, a double-glazed door with a lock, a patio table with chairs and an outdoor cooking stove.
Just 50 metres away were the communal facilities, which included toilets, showers, hairdryers, a washing up area, a water station and even a doggie shower stop for muddy pooches, with the park being very dog friendly.
In the main park there is Monty’s outdoor bar, named after the owners’ cat. There’s a shop selling all the essentials such as bread, milk, eggs and more and an information kiosk, which houses leaflets about local attractions and a book swap.
Outside of this there is a little herb garden, from which you can help yourself. Or if you don’t fancy cooking, there are visiting caterers each night, with pizza, fish and chips, burgers and Mexican food.
Near the entry gate and the woodland, there is a pitch and putt course and petanque.
For those who do love camping, the site is divided into different areas for touring, camping and wild camping, with pitches with electric and others without.
Back of Beyond has won several awards and it’s easy to see why. It has its own woodland with lovely walks, there’s pretty heathland with wildflowers and there is a lake area, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. When I visited the swans and cygnets were a big attraction, but this patch is also home to unusual and rare species, attracting dragonflies, birds, fish, otters and heron.
The campsite has won a David Bellamy Gold Conservation Award for several years running and Practical Caravan magazine has named it as a Top 100 UK site.
Location and nearby places of interest
The park is at Ringwood, on the edge of the New Forest National Park. Never having visited the New Forest before, I was eager to explore and used the park as a base to visit villages around the New Forest, including Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst, Beulieu and Burley, as well as taking trips into the heart of the forest, walking through woodland at Blackwater and Bolderwood.
I fell head over heels in love with the New Forest and didn’t want to leave.
If you’d like a trip to the seaside, Bournemouth is a 20-minute drive away.
The owners of Back of Beyond are Martin and Victoria Bowrey. They took over the site nine years ago, leaving their home and business in London. Previously, they were running a photoshop franchise but were looking for a new venture and a change of lifestyle.
They stumbled upon the idea of running a campsite idea while flicking through a magazine. They were regular visitors to the New Forest and seasoned campers and they soon discovered that the Back of Beyond site was for sale.
Victoria said: “We quickly found this and fell in love with it.”
As mentioned, the site is very dog friendly, including the glamping units. During a stay you’re likely to see Martin and Victoria’s golden retriever Muswell in reception or outside the shop.
Visitors can pick up leaflets from the site’s information kiosk. Local walks include The Castleman Trailway, Hurn Forest and Avon Heath Country Park.
I’d love to go again and I’m already looking at dates to see how soon I could possibly return. The site was clean, quiet and secure and a great location for me to explore all the New Forest has to offer. Back of Beyond truly is a lovely place to spend a few days and nights.
I’m also sold on the idea of taking more staycations. So much easier than all the airport and travelling hassle and stress.