Tom's Field

Sometimes the best campsites are just a field. Tom's Field is probably one of the best examples of this.

Perched up high in the New Forest, overlooking trees and scrub land below, Tom's Field is a small campsite open only at weekends. Bookings are taken only for Friday and Saturday nights as a package or, in our case on May Day bank holiday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

Except for a mobile toilet and shower block and a wooden wagon acting as reception, this is just a field, and it's camping as basic as can be. Tents and campervans are welcome while caravans and motorhomes are not.

The site was booked solid and we only squeezed in due to a cancellation. We found it through Cool Camping, our go-to website for quirky, extra special campsites. There's no further research needed if a site is listed on Cool Camping. You can book knowing it'll be a gem.

Stunning views aside, Tom's Field has the friendliest welcome and most flexible arrival and departure policy you're likely to find. You can arrive on Friday between 10am and 9pm, and your pitch is yours until 2pm on Sunday. A mobile shop visits between 8am and 9am and we bought freshly-baked pain au chocolat for each morning's breakfast.

What happens when you exclude caravans and motorhomes from a site is that suddenly it reminds you of the true meaning of camping. The weather was somewhat changeable and yet outside of every tent or campervan sat couples and families huddling around a campfire, or barbecuing under umbrellas. Nobody was shut in a white box watching television.

We were pitched in a corner at the far end of the long field, in the adults only area. But walking through the site to the toilets, I couldn't help but smile at the campers, in the truest sense of the word, enjoying their weekend in the great outdoors.

Although we'd brought our bikes we choose to explore on foot. Tony downloaded an Ordnance Survey map and we followed footpaths through woods and across farmland. We stopped to photograph wild horses and to stroke the rather more people-friendly donkeys.

Cleopatra's leisure battery did us proud and we stayed warm with all our gadgets charged for three days off grid. The kettle was boiled and dinners were cooked on a gas stove. On the final evening we bought charcoal for our barbecue and cooked hotdogs. We topped our hotdogs with the previous evening's left over chilli, reheated in a tin can on the barbecue.

I really enjoyed the New Forest and the chance to venture a little further afield thanks to the extended weekend.

Check out the website of Tom's Field


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