When we moved from France to Hampshire, I spent time looking at what were the highlights in the county and of course I read about the famous New Forest. It’s the first place we visited and I must say we just fell in love with that gorgeous forest and all the wild horses!
Since 18 months that we have been living in the area we went many times to the New Forest as our kids love it too! Today, I’d like to share with you our favourite spots to enjoy the New Forest with your family!
But first a bit of history: the New Forest was a royal forest at the time of William the Conqueror ; Later the Royal Navy used the timber for the boats. Today it is home to a lot of animals including birds, deer, cows, wild pigs, donkeys, and thousands of wild horses! Every time you go the New Forest you are sure you will meet a lot of ponies, which for my kids is always a magical moment!
On Easter week-end, we went for a family getaway to Dorset, with the grandparents. Dorset is in the South of England, along the Channel, between Hampshire where we live, and Devon that we discovered in February. For this 3-day week-end, we settled in the seaside resort of Weymouth. We had such a perfect weather, that I was sorry I didn’t take my bathing suit. Besides, the beaches were crowded! The South of England really brings an air of holidays!
Our visits in Dorset
Durdle Door: probably the most famous place in Dorset! You have to admit it’s pretty heavenly! I’d rather specify something: you have to go up and then down quite a steepy cliff so you’d better think about sneakers!
West Bay: famous beach with wonderful golden cliffs that you probably have already seen on the TV show Broadchurch.
Lyme Regis: it’s the most famous spot of the coast for… fossil hunting! The children loved it!
Corfe Castle: a ruin full of charm in a setting so typically English! A National Trust site.
Weymouth : it’s the seaside resort where we chose to settle to visit the surroundings. In its very cute harbour, the children fish crabs while the parents drink pints 😊. There is also a big beach that was quite full! Not far from here, don’t miss the dunes. And a few kilometers away, the village of Abbotsbury.
Bournemouth: huge beach with fine sand, bordered by coloured cabins! It was crazy how many people were here! We will go back on a quieter week-end!
First Campervan outing of the year!
Since our excursions with our Campervan in the New Forest last Autumn, we hadn’t taken our camper out. Firstly, in Winter, it’s too cold for the children to sleep under the roof because the air passes through the fabric. Secondly, since our camper is French, we had a procedure to follow to register and insure it here (the first few months, it was okay because we were still covered by our insurance as tourists, but now, we are “English”!). Anyway, for this first spring excursion, we chose a combined formula. We booked a family bedroom in a farm for Ticoeur, Titpuce and their grandparents; while with Papa Voyage we slept in the camper on the farm field, with a view on the sea, and we gathered with the rest of the family to eat a delicious English Breakfast provided by our hosts.
Practical information and good addresses to visit Dorset:
From Portsmouth, it will take you 1 hour by car to get to Bournemouth. If you are coming from London, it will take 2 hours.
Accommodation: I recommend Swallows Rest, the farm where we stayed in the periphery of Weymouth. The children were amused by the “collection” of hens and the beautiful garden. The homemade breakfast is excellent!
For a week-end, we went in the South of Devon, between Dorset and Cornwall, by Torquay, to discover the English Riviera. How did we have the idea to spend a couple of days in family in Devon? Well, I owe this good idea of a gateway in this beautiful part of England to Agatha Christie! Do you remember? A couple of weeks ago, I went to see And then there were none to the theater of Southampton. And while I was comfortably seated in my chair, I remembered that Agatha Christie’s house was located in Devon. I had stored this information in a little box in my brain because I like to visit the houses of famous people whose lives I’m interested in. Watching on the Internet, I found out that her house was only three hours away from our home; then I booked a room in a beautiful hotel in Torquay and there it was! Sometimes, it doesn’t take much for a traveling idea! On the other hand, I had no idea of what we could see in Devon! It’s only on the day before we left that I started to draft a little program for our week-end.
The creeks of the English Riviera in South Devon:
Since we didn’t know the English Riviera, we were surprised by the landscapes we saw there: it looked like our French côte d’Azur! With palm trees, big villas, a dense vegetation and beaches so cute! I didn’t expect all these dream little creeks! To be honest, had it been a couple of degrees warmer, I would have bathed! The sea was clear, wearing turquoise and emerald shades… an air of summer holidays! So I will begin by showing you those coves we had a crush on around Torquay and Brixham:
Every time, the children loved the little paths that led to the creeks, for the adventure side… And I think Titpuce would have loved to bathe as well! At this time of year, we were alone, or almost alone, in those English “calanques“. It was perfect! We could easily have imagined that we were on a desert island. Great Britain! 😉
To reach those creeks, or to go from one to another when they were close, we followed the hiking path called the South West Coast Path. Altogether, this coastal path is 1.000 km long! (It’s the kind of hiking that I would enjoy!) We will probably walk on it again, or cross it, whether in Devon, Dorset, Cornwall or Somerset! (Well, yes, we intend to find the time to explore all of “our” South-West of England!).
Brixham and the Berry Head
We really liked Brixham, a little town with a nice ambiance, organized around a very active harbour. We observed the fishing boats, the fishermen’s traps and the coloured houses along the docks. There even was a pirate boat!
Right next to Brixham, we walked on the Berry Head, in a landscape that looks like the edge of the world… A long strip of land on the sea with high cliffs and dizzying views. We walked to the lighthouse (very small lighthouse, paradoxically!) then we had tea and cakes, under the sun, on The Guardhouse Cafe terrace.
Discovery of the Dart river: Agatha Christie’s house and the romantic landscapes…
Here we are! So we visited Agatha Christie’s house (Greenway): a beautiful visit, very detailed. Agatha Christie and her husband were quite collectors so their house is full of amazing objects: even if Ticoeur and Titpuce don’t know Agatha Christie, they were intrigued by this house, a real Ali Baba’s cave, English version 😊 Also, it is fully furnished, so it really feels like we are entering in the universe of the author, which is a real privilege, since Agatha Christie was a very discreet lady. We even could see her dressing, her clothes and hear a recording of her voice. At any rate, we do understand why Agatha loved this house: the location is unbelievable! Moreover, the setting inspired her book Dead Man’s Folly. The estate is on the Dart River’s edge and all the views from the garden are lightly romantic…
We spent a long time roaming through the garden. I didn’t expect it to be blossomed but with the temperatures we have been experiencing for the last couple of weeks, there were flowers everywhere: magnolias and especially the numerous species of Camellias. We had never seen so many versions of Camellias! A beautiful collection! And how lucky were we to be able to admire them in February! On their branches, there were a lot of adorable robins!
Still on the Dart river, facing Greenway, is the adorable village of Dittisham:
Then, from the village of Kingswear, we took a ferry to Dartmouth, another picturesque village where we ate a delicious Fish and Chips at Rockfish (they also have a restaurant in Brixham). We took our lunch away and ate while seated on the edge of the river. In Kingswear, we saw a steam train running: it might be nice to plan a journey on this old train with the children (some other time!).
Not far from the river, on our way back to Torquay, we stopped to visit another house: Coleton Fishacre House & Garden. It’s a mansion from the 20s and it shows us the life of a wealthy family of that time: a visit you should plan if you like Art Deco and design. The children didn’t really enjoy the visit but they liked the garden. It was so exotic! With bamboos, huge ferns and a junglelike density! We walked until the different points of views on the sea…
Torquay and Cockington
Torquay is the big seaside resort where we stayed. Since we prefer the little creeks and wild places we only stayed in Torquay to sleep. By the way, the sunset on the sea was an amazing pink!
Torquay is very well located to move around this area. We never had to drive for a long time to visit or hike…
Not far from Torquay, you can’t miss the tiny village of Cockington known for its old thatched cottages.
Where to stay in Torquay?
I have a very good address I’d love to share with you because I thought our little hotel was a beautiful discovery: The Charterhouse. The architecture of this thatched roof house is typical of the English Riviera style. The family suite is perfect because the children really have their own room to sleep in. The decoration is very neat and very British, the breakfast is gargantuan and delicious. And, if you go in the summer, there even is a little swimming pool.
And for our next time in Devon…
Devon is big! During a week-end, we only focused on the Torquay-Brixham zone so I already established a list of what I would love to visit next time:
Dartmoor National Park
The old town of Totnes
The surroundings of Salcombe (South Devon)
The creeks of North Devon
We really loved our improvised getaway in Devon, on the English Riviera, so I thank Agatha 😉…
What about you? Are you tempted by a family trip in Devon?
If you travel with a baby Scotland is a destination I often recommend for the summer holidays because the temperatures are mild and the landscapes are gorgeous. We loved our family holidays in Scotland and we will return there for sure because we are far from having seen everything! With all its castles, lakes and mountains, Scotland has something to make young and old ones dream! For our first road trip in Scotland, we focused on the Highlands and Isle of Skye.
Age of my son: 11 months Period: August 2010 (temperatures were around 18 degrees and we only had one day of rain! Lucky!) Duration: 10 days
Itinerary for a 10 day road trip in Scotland:
Arrival in Glasgow –> we directly went to Edinburgh
2 nights in Edinburgh
3 nights in Glencoe (for hiking)
1 night in Dunvegan on Isle of Skye
1 night in Flodigarry on Isle of Skye
1 night in Plockton
1 night in Crianlarich in the Trossachs
1 night in Glasgow : a stroll in West end and visit of the Burell collection in Pollok Country Park (8000 art pieces!).
Road trip in Scotland with a baby: our hints, our hikes, our best-of:
We visited the old town and we had a bucolic walk in Dean Village along ther river. Then, we climbed to Arthur’s seat (1 hour) for a view over the city. If you stay longer than us in Edinburgh, I recommend you read the article about the best of Edinburgh by Globetrotting.
We climbed the Pap of Glencoe: it took us two hours to get to the summit carrying Ticoeur in a baby wrap. Picnic break and descent. “Papa Voyage” carried our baby on the way up and I carried him on the way down. Wonderful landscapes on the mountains, the lochs… We went back to the B&B to let our sweet baby take a nap !
Isle of Skye
Our favourite part in Scotland! Everything is beautiful on this island! We wanted to photograph every stone, every cliff, every sea view! Beware: the roads are sinuous! But fortunately the Scots are very polite and drive with a lot of courtesy! The most beautiful places on Isle of Skye :
We did a hike in Talisker near beautiful cliffs (note that you can’t visit the distillery when you’re with children.).
Quirraing hike: it took us 1 hour and a half. A true paradise ! We stopped at the Kilt Rock waterfall that falls into the sea.
Old Man of Stor: a 1 hour and a half walk.
Eilan Donan Castle
We ended up continuing our roadtrip to Plockton, located at the exit of the Isle of Skye – less spectacular but the scenery by the sea is very relaxing, so peaceful..
Then we went back down through Crianlarich in the Trossachs (to walk near Lomond Lake and admire the Ben Lomond).
Practical information for a trip to Scotland with a child:
a pleasant climate (but with a high risk of rain ;-))
a very quiet environment
perfect for hiking with a baby
handy when baby is not yet walking
in all the restaurants: high chairs, changing tables… and we have often seen a children’s play corner in the pubs!
Be aware of :
baby must be protected against midges bites (small harmless but unpleasant mosquitoes…). Also watch out for ticks!
the risk of rain 🙂
Hikes: to find suitable hikes for a trip to Scotland with children (so hikes not too difficult, not too long), I used a very good site -> https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/
Baby equipment: a baby wrap, car seat and a travel cot. Baby food and diapers bought on the spot. Don’t forget sun cream as we are very exposed in the mountains. For hiking, we really found that the baby wrap was very practical and not too tiring.
Scotland with your family: our good addresses!
Globetrotter Inn (youth hostel): tiny but cheap room, backpacker style, very nice building, very green setting, free shuttle to the city centre
Chez Marlayne: French restaurant with Scottish touches. Very good and inventive.
Always Sunday: for a gourmet break in the heart of the historic centre
A Glencoe :
Kate and Alan Ward – Saint Brides Old Rectory (B&B): very good reception, well located near the loch and not far from the hiking departures / North Ballachulish
01855 821 337
Lochleven Seafood Café: by far the best restaurant we’ve done in Scotland (we ate there 3 nights in a row!). Delicious seafood at an affordable price with inventive recipes.
A Plockton :
Seafood Shore Restaurant: very good seafood dishes.
A Glasgow :
The Kelvin: Very good family welcome in this small hotel located in a beautiful old house, nice area. To book: The Kelvin Hotel West End.
Kember & Jones: for a quality snack in a nice deli.
Our wish list for a future travel to Scotland with children:
The islands, the islands and the islands: Arran, Jura and Mull tempt us a lot for their remote style.
Visit more castles (especially haunted ones!): especially in the eastern part of Scotland with for instance Ballindalloch Castle, Fraser Castle…
Following in Harry Potter’s footsteps: after visiting the Harry Potter Studios in London, we also want to see some of the locations where the films were shot, such as the Glenfinnan viaduct and the Arkaig loch.
What about you? Do you want to discover Scotland with your family?