Friday, 20 January 2017

Out and About Whatever the Weather #hiddendrives

Collaborative post: all thoughts expressed are my own

We love the great outdoors and try our hardest to get out and about as a family each weekend - come rain or shine.

royal victoria country park hidden gem
Royal Victoria Country Park

Two gems we discovered during our first year of living in Hampshire include Royal Victoria Country Park and Queen Elizabeth Country Park. We frequent Royal Victoria Park a fair amount, especially during the summer as it is very close to a pick your own farm and we return with punnets of strawberries and raspberries which make a delicious swiss roll. It is a 10 minute drive from where we live, but we feel like we have properly entered the countryside with woodland to stomp through but with the added perk of walking along the beach beside the Solent. We save on car parking costs by using a nearby side road which is really handy and sometimes use the money to treat ourselves to a hot chocolate from the cafe. Only on our gazillionth visit did we choose a different walking route and discovered an undulating forest walk which led us to the military cemetery, so we re-enacted 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' and had a great deal of fun.

queen elizabeth country park hidden gem
Queen Elizabeth Country Park

Our second favourite walking destination involves a longer drive and the M27. I haven't actually driven on the motorway towards Portsmouth before; there are lots of merging lanes and I sometimes feel rather anxious even being a passenger! We get our wellies and muck boots on once we have paid and displayed and begin the purple walk route which in total covers 5 miles of the open woodland. The little legs of our children do very well for the shortened route we take and there is a promise of a picnic or snack once we reach a particular bench overlooking some fields which are full of bright yellow rape flowers in summer.
An all-terrain buggy is essential!

Car parks within country parks are usually well-managed so don't end up being particularly muddy, but car parks within the New Forest can become mudslides! On one occasion we took about 20 minutes to leave our space because the tyres couldn't deal with the gloop and we had to perform a 32 point turn! The weather has been pretty miserable as late down on the South Coast, so mud is expected but ice can make things completely different. No one wants to slide their car even slowly in a car park, let alone on a busy main road. That's why it is a good idea in extreme British weather, to have a hazard triangle in the car, as well as a spare tyre, first aid kit, water and snacks. Other measures such as comparing car insurance are worthwhile too.

Have you found any hidden drives near to where you live?

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