If it's a really attractive sandy beach that you're after, the Isle of Wight is just the ticket
Things To Do
For an attention-grabbing all day attraction, visit Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where you’ll see the first warship of the Navy, Henry VIII’s Mary Rose, alongside other great warships – Nelson’s HMS Victory from the Battle of Trafalgar and HMS Warrior 1860, the world’s first iron and steam warship.
Whether of any religious persuasion or none, a visit to Canterbury Cathedral is a must just to see this architectural masterpiece. It’s one of the most famous centres of pilgrimage, owing to the 11th century murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
Surrey and Sussex are home to some of Britain’s most prolific wine producers. Why not visit a couple, have a tasting and select yourself a decent bottle to enjoy when back at the campsite? Denbies, in Surrey, is one of the most well known. Or you could visit Highdown Vineyard or the Chapel Down Winery, both in Sussex. All three have a visitor centre, guided tours of the vineyard plus restaurants and tearooms.
A must-do attraction of the New Forest is the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. In addition to major showcases such as the Top Gear Collection of battered and modified ‘vehicles’ (including the show’s homemade motorhomes and ‘Caravan Airship’) and famous cars, there’s the Caravan Club Collection, where you can view a wealth of exhibits and see how motorhome, camping and caravan holidays have changed between 1885 and the present day.
Try a walking holiday on the Isle of Wight. There’s plenty of spectacular coastal scenery – you could even circumnavigate the island with the round-island walking route. And if you fancy catching up with others while you walk, head over to the island during May and October when the walking festivals take place. There’s even a Speed Dating Walk!
When To Visit
Some of England’s most prestigious and world famous sporting and arts events take place in South East England.
Horseracing is a winner and you’ll find Surrey’s Epsom Derby, classed as the ‘world’s greatest flat race’, in June, while Hampshire’s Goodwood mixes the racing of horses with cars during a summer season of events – first the Festival of Speed in June, then Glorious Goodwood for a festival of horseracing in August, rounded off with the Goodwood Revival celebrating all things vintage in September.
Sussex is noted for the arts, with the Festival of Chichester, showcasing major West End productions and fringe performances from April to September while nearby Glyndebourne‘s opera season runs from May to August. Plus, Sussex Day is celebrated annually on the 16 June, putting the county’s rich heritage on the map.
The south east of England is one of the most accessible areas to get to in the UK, although with that, roads can be notoriously congested particularly, at peak times of travel such as weekday rush hours plus Friday and Sunday evenings.
The M25 around London, one of those notoriously congested roads, is the natural feeder along with its arteries to access, in particular, Kent and Sussex. Most of Kent is accessible from the M20 and the M2, including Folkestone and Dover for cross Channel services. Occasionally, when there are delays to these services, ‘Operation Stack’ is put into place on the M20, with cars and motorhomes having to use the A20 instead.
There is a toll (though no weight restriction affecting motorhomes) on the Dartford Crossing, between Kent and Essex to the east of London, during the hours of 6am to 10pm daily. Payment must be made online, via text, on the phone or at retail outlets, or using the pre-paid DART-Tag scheme. You must pay the toll by midnight on the day after you cross.
The M23/A23 artery off the M25 takes you to Sussex. A direct route from London to Brighton, this road can become heavily congested at weekends, and at the start of major holidays as it also serves Gatwick Airport.
Access to the Isle of Wight is via Lymington and Portsmouth using Wightlink, or via Southampton using Red Funnel Ferries when taking a motorhome. Both companies often provide ‘ferry and campsite’ special offers. For those pitched on the mainland wishing to take a day trip to the island, high speed foot passenger services operate from Southampton, Portsmouth and Southsea.