WE ventured deeper into the woodland enveloped by all manner of enchanting trees.
With such a variety of different types making up this fantastic forest — not to mention the birds, flora and fauna — it was easy to see why this magical walk had been named the elves and fairy trail.
This chance to immerse ourselves in nature was just one of many reasons we had headed to Hoburne Bashley, nestled in the New Forest.
The countryside retreat is in an idyllic location for families seeking a more genteel break, with well-maintained caravans, lodges and plenty of green space.
The atmosphere was warm, welcoming, and surprisingly laid back for a holiday park.
My family and I were staying in a two-bedroom premium caravan. It features an impressive amount of storage and space — a roomy living area and outdoor hot tub, as well as a well-equipped kitchen.
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It was a great space to relax in, although with so many activities on offer for the children, we hardly spent much time there.
There are craft workshops, junior archery lessons and wizarding schools for budding magicians, although the standout for us was the wands and walking stick workshop.
Guided by woodsmen, Simon and Cameron, we journeyed into the forest, learning about layers of trees and sustainable felling, before creating our own masterpieces.
My kids Anna and Adam had a great time creating their wands while my husband Mark and I carved walking sticks from a hazelnut tree. The experience certainly left us all with a newfound appreciation for the natural world and that’s before we’d even tackled the woodland trails.
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If you love an adventure, it’s worth plotting a walk through the forest with a lunchtime pit stop at one of the charming pubs nearby.
We rested our legs at The Old Mill near Lymington, which serves proper pub food in a laidback setting.
It offers everything from classic fish and chips and juicy burgers to homemade fish pies and roasted duck breast with dauphinoise potatoes.
And you can wash down your food with a pint made by the local microbrewery, Monkey Brewhouse.
Make sure to swing by Wilverley Inclosure too. The picturesque plains were full of New Forest ponies, which the children were thrilled to watch wandering past.
If you’re after a change of pace, Paultons Park, near the village of Ower, is about a 30-minute drive away. It’s home to Peppa Pig World but our kids — being a bit older — favoured the faster rides. The Flight Of The Pterosaur ride had me holding my breath and, embarrassingly, shedding a few tears — much to my five-year-old son’s amusement.
I was much happier on the gentler Al’s Auto Academy, which takes kids on a driving lesson (well . . . sort of) around the parks Route 83 track.
In need of some pampering after my rollercoaster ordeal, I headed to the Elemis spa back at the resort.
Beauty H has an array of treatments like holistic hand massages, salt scrubs and facials.
I opted for the more familiar Swedish back massage and facial, which left me feeling refreshed, before settling down in the spa’s relaxation room for some “me time” with a glass of Prosecco.
And the feeling of serenity didn’t end there — back at our lodge I enjoyed a final dip in the hot tub, soaking in the warm bubbles under the autumnal night sky.
Who knew a family holiday with two young kids could be so relaxing?
GO: HOBURNE BASHLEY
STAYING THERE: A seven-night break in a caravan at Hoburne Bashley during the February half-term costs from £32.75pp per night, based on two adults and two children sharing. See hoburne.com.
OUT & ABOUT: Tickets to Paultons Park cost from £43.50pp. For more details see paultonspark.co.uk.
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