Ferndown in East Dorset is one of the region’s larger towns and a great central base within easy reach of the New Forest in the East and Bournemouth in the south. Ancient market towns and heathland can be found in the surrounding countryside. The town’s name hints at its own ancient history – derived from the Anglo Saxon word Fiergen which means a wooded hill. Ferndown is the perfect base from which to explore surrounding heathland nature reserves like Holt Heath NNR just 3km to the north. World class golf courses are also in the area – Ferndown Golf Course is the South West’s premier heathland course.
Holt Heath & Moors Valley Country Park
Much of East Dorset was heathland at one time, and what remains today are spectacular heathland nature reserves like Holt Heath NNR near Ferndown. A popular spot for birdwatching, Holt Heath is Dorset’s only spot for breeding curlew and where you’re likely to spot Dartford warbler, nightjar and stonechat. Ancient forests and country parks also feature in the area. The vast Ringwood Forest and popular outdoor playground, the Moors Valley Country Park and Forest sit just to the north east of Ferndown. Activities and attractions available in these two landscapes include everything from a Go Ape activity centre to endless cycling and walking trails and a narrow-gauge steam train.
Moors Valley Country Park is a great day out for families with play areas, picnic sites, family trails, fishing, a golf centre, visitor centre, restaurant and cycle hire all available within the park. It’s a top spot for a leisure day out with the family pet too offering miles and miles of forest, meadow, woodland and heathland trails easily explored either on foot or by bike. Gentle cycling, horse riding and walking feature on a choice of pretty trails surrounding Ferndown including the Castleman Trailway running for 16.5 miles, following largely the route of the old Southampton to Dorchester railway line. The Ferndown, Stour and Forest Trail begins in Ferndown and is a gentle circular trail which can be split into two shorter walks. It pushes through beautiful local forest and heathland, following the River Stour for a stretch.
Ferndown is just 6 miles north of Bournemouth coach and railway station or only around a 10 minute taxi ride away. You’re also only 7 miles from Poole (15 minute taxi ride) putting your within easy reach of boat trips, beaches and more. Ferndown’s close proximity to Bournemouth Airport – only 4 miles away – makes it the perfect choice for airport accommodation and travel stopovers.
Where to stay
This inland forest and heaths area of East Dorset offers a mix of rural accommodation from luxury bed & breakfast accommodation to family friendly holiday parks on the edge of the New Forest with outdoor swimming pool and leisure facilities. Lodge hotels catering for airport and leisure travellers also feature in the area and you’ll find some excellent golf and spa hotels with conference and wedding facilities here. If you’re looking for that peaceful location perfect for a romantic getaway you’ll find acclaimed restaurants with rooms in the area, also ideal for wedding and conference events.