This may sound strange but the great thing about Inwood Camping is that the second you pitch your tent, you regret it. The problem is, the grass here is always greener. Pitch in the ‘big field’ and you start to stare with envy at those snuggled beneath the deciduous trees. Pitch beneath the trees, though, and you later find another, smaller meadow that seems to beckon you over, or you discover the lanky, dark green pines that tower over yet more perfect patches. So before you down tools and pop up the tent, wander amongst the trees to get a feel for the entire space. The moral of it all will quickly spread into every part of your holiday: take your time, don't rush, for Inwood is a campsite made for exploration.
Set within a large copse that once joined the rest of Hampshire in swathes of endless forest, Inwood camping has pitches of all variety. Large groups can stick to the meadow spaces, the biggest of which offers excellent far reaching views over the North Wessex Downs, while those seeking a little more peace can find a quiet wooded glade and call the place their own. Scattered throughout there are water taps and long-drop toilets – far more sanitary then the portable-potty variety. One of the best features, though, are the gas powered showers, similarly dotted at various points around the site. Rustic, unique and fully encompassing the wilderness feel of the site, they're wonderfully hot and powerful, as well as conveniently placed.
Back by the reception area, there are more commonplace facilities: Flushing loos, showers and washing up sinks accompany a handy little shop selling essentials. Here you can also hire a grill, a vital bit of kit when you discover that cooking over a campfire is encouraged more than gambling in Las Vegas. It’s easy to see why. The whole ethos of the place is based around providing that proper camping experience. Pitch where you want, play where you want, light campfires, build dens, watch the stars, spot the wildlife… the two main rules at Inwood seem to be ‘respect the forest’ and ‘enjoy yourself’ – rules we are more than happy to live by.
From the far end of the site there is an excellent 40-minute ramble into Dummer, a small village with an excellent pub. You could also take the car into the heart of the Wessex Downs to join the scenic trails and cycle routes there. There's off-site optons aplenty but for many, plans to go elsewhere are all but usurped by kids captivated by the woods and with no intentions of leaving. With more space at Inwood than you could ever need, the site seems full of life whilst never even approaching overcrowded. Once you settle in, the days just seem to drift away. Just don’t get jealous of other campers. You picked your spot. Now stick with it.
Drinking water taps and long-drop toilets are dotted around, along with excellent gas-powered showers. The more standard flushing loos, showers and washing up sinks can be found in a portable cabin next to reception. Here you will also find a well-stocked little shop with camping essentials and logs/kindling to purchase (£5 per bag of logs). Please respect the woods and encourage the longevity of this place by not burning wood collected yourself around the site. Campfire grills are also available to hire.
Suitable ForTents, groups, families, couples, pets – yes. Caravans, motorhomes, campervans – no.
Inwood is on the edge of the sweeping North Wessex Downs (01488 685440), both beautiful and generously populated with charming little villages such as The Candovers. The small traditional town of Alresford is home to the famous Watercress Line (01962 733 810). Campers are not far from Jane Austen country, she lived in Alton, a nearby base for walks and tours of the famous area. Old Basing, which is just the other side of Basingstoke is surprisingly rural, has a historic ruined castle and wonderful canal walks, though half an hour away Winchester is perhaps the most notable place for a busy day trip. It's cathedral (01962 857200), market place and intriguing castle ruins (0870 333 1181) make it well worth the drive.
Food & DrinkThe nearest village of Cliddesden hosts a decent local in the The Jolly Farmer (01256 473073). Its just over a mile's hike to Dummer where the The Queen Inn (01256 397367) serves locally-brewed real ales and traditional food. There is also a lovely beer garden out back. An alternative venue for a pint is the Farleigh Wallop Estate Club (01256 324747). Very much the local's local, campers can purchase temporary membership for a quid or so. The beer is very keenly priced, there is a pool table, a beer garden, and a decent TV showing sport, but they don’t serve food. There is a community shop in Preston Candover two miles south, if you don’t fancy Sainsburys, a couple of miles away in Basingstoke.
Mid April - end of September.
From the M3 Exit 6: Come off at exit 6, follow signs for Basingstoke. At first roundabout turn left onto Ring Road signed Alton (A339). At next round about turn left onto A339 follow this under the M3 and turn right immediately afterwards onto the B3046 towards Cliddesdon. Go through Cliddesdon, and continue past the Farleigh Wallop Estate and after a mile or so you will see a sign for Inwood camping on your right. Follow the track straight on up to reception
Alternatively or from the West on the M3: Come off at Exit 7 . Take southern exit on roundabout signed Dummer. Go through Dummer and take a left turn at the end of the village. Go along Farleigh Lane until it joins the B3046. Turn right, and the entrance to Inwood Camping is six hundred yards on your right.
From the South: Head towards Basingstoke on the A339, and turn left onto the B3046 towards Cliddesdon just before you go under the motorway. Proceed as above.
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