Ultimate Guide to Campervan Travel in the UK
Posted on 12/12/2014 by Tom Mcloughlin
Campervan travel is one of the best ways to tour the UK. It gives you the freedom to travel wherever you like at your own pace and it’s an inexpensive way to see the wonders of Great Britain, from the Outer Hebrides to the tip of Cornwall.
Hiring your own campervan is a great way to set yourself up for countless holidays in the UK and beyond. It’s a fantastic way to see the country and all it has to offer, so here is some vital information and a few tips that should help you have a Great British road trip.
1) London – You wouldn’t want to drive around London for very long, but a UK tour has to take in the capital. The Big Smoke has endless attractions from Buckingham Palace and Big Ben to fascinating museums and galleries, gorgeous parks and amazing buildings, shops and restaurants.
2) Hadrian’s Wall, Scotland – A trip to Scotland has to include a visit to this ancient Roman fortification, which was built from 122 AD to protect Roman Britain from the ‘wild’ Celts. A good portion remains today and there are some great walks in this area.
3) Stonehenge, Wiltshire – This prehistoric monument in Wiltshire is one of the country’s most visited attractions. It was erected as far back as 3000 BC and it’s a fascinating place to look around.
4) Londonderry, Northern Ireland – This Northern Irish city is the only completely walled city remaining throughout Europe and is well worth a visit. Hop on the ferry in your motorhome and cruise around Londonderry and the surrounding countryside.
5) Offa’s Dyke, England-Wales – This is a 1200 year old trail that crosses the English-Welsh border. It was built by Offa, King if Mercia, back in the 8th century and is a famous great wall walk.
6) York Minster, North Yorkshire – In the north of England York is a must visit city. This ancient town is home to countless attractions, including the astounding York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe.
7) Albert Dock, Liverpool – Albert Dock shows off the best of Liverpool, with contrasting new and old architecture, the Beatles Experience museum and the Tate Liverpool gallery, plus numerous restaurants and bars.
8) Edinburgh Castle, Scotland – Edinburgh is a beautiful city and worth a visit for many reasons, one of which is the imposing Edinburgh Castle, which sits proud, overlooking the rest of this gorgeous town.
9) Manchester, Lancashire – Manchester is a fantastic city and it offers plenty of fun for a UK traveller. Heaton Park is a great outdoor space, as is Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden. In the city itself you should visit the Urbis art gallery, the John Rylands Library and the quirky independent shops and bars throughout the Northern Quarter.
10) Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Lancashire – Tacky yes, but also lots of fun if you love rollercoasters, candy floss, donkey rides and of course Blackpool Tower. If you visit in autumn and winter you can see the famous Blackpool Illuminations, which light up the front like a Christmas tree.
11)Whitby, North Yorkshire – Whitby is another excellent seaside town, and it is full of history and culture too. Whitby Abbey sits at the top of the town and was made famous when it featured in Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel. The town is consequently very popular with goths and there is an annual goth weekend festival held there.
12) Isle of Wight – The Isle of Wight is a good choice for campervan tourers as it is open and easy to drive around, and if offers lots of attractions. Cowes is an affluent town which is buzzing at regatta time, and the rest of this small island’s towns and villages all have something to offer, including fabulous beaches.
Just keep on truckin’ – The truth is that you simply can’t list all the brilliant sights to visit in the UK in one article. Your best bet is to have a list of must-see attractions and then just cruise around and see what you find. There’s a lot packed into this relatively small nation, and lots to discover.
Here are a few items that you will definately need for your UK tour.
1) Bedding – Warm sleeping bags and even a couple of blankets should ensure you stay cosy whatever time of year it is.
2) Gas canisters – You will probably have a gas cooker in your camper, so it’s wise to take spare fuel for this if you’re away for more than a couple of days.
3) Torch – Don’t forget spare batteries too, as well as candles and matches/lighters as backup.
4) Thermals – British weather is unpredictable to say the least, and it is especially shrewd to pack thermal layers in winter, because there’s nothing worse than being cold.
5) Waterproofs – OK, maybe there is something worse than being cold, and that is being wet. Regardless of the season, if you travel in the UK you will need a waterproof jacket, boots and ideally trousers too.
1) Troytown Campsite, Isles of Scilly – On the tiny isle of St Agnes sits the Troytown Campsite, a gorgeous spot right on the waterfront (which is almost a given seeing as the island is just a mile across). This is a basic but beautiful campsite where you can really get away from it all (including phone signal) and get back to nature.
2) Pleasant Streams Farm, Cornwall – If you cruise Cornwall way you should definitely spend a night at the fittingly named Pleasant Streams Farm campsite. This is another modest spot without glamping pretensions, but it’s a wonderful place to be when the weather is fine.
3) Swattesfield, Suffolk– This is a sizeable 7 acre campsite in Thornham Magna, with 2 pretty fields separated by a river and some woods. This site boasts gorgeous verdant paths for country strolls, and even better, an outdoor pizza oven!
4) Hooks House Farm, North Yorkshire
Anyone who has been to Robin Hood’s Bay – where this site can be found – may well have heard of it, if not stayed at Hooks House Farm. It offers amazing views out over the ocean, and very respectable shower and toilet cubicles.
5) Turner Hall Farm, Cumbria
The Lake District is a must for a campervan tour of the UK and this is perhaps the best campsite in the area. Located in Seathwaite, Turner Hall Farm has beautiful surroundings, and is well sheltered.
6) Newgale Campsite, Pembrokeshire - The Pembrokeshire coast is dramatic and memorable, and Newgale is a great place to park up the van for a night or 2, with panoramic coastal views that you’d struggle to find elsewhere.
7) Aberafon, Gwynedd – A tour of the UK has to visit Wales, and Aberafon is one of the very best campsites in the country. This is a popular site with views of cliffs, garssy ridges and the sweeping beach where braver souls do a spot of wild swimming.
8) Cleadale, Inner Hebrides – Found on the Isle of Eigg, Cleadale campsite is one of the most scenic campsites in the UK. Rolling grasslands, a stunning seascape and mountain views inspired Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien and after a visit it’s easy to see why.
9) Caolasnacon, Argyll - On the banks of Loch Leven you can pull up the motorhome and make camp in one of Scotland’s most amazing camping spots. A fantastic location for canoeing if you’re the active type, or sitting back to enjoy the view with a wee dram if you’re not.
Campervan cruising from place to place can be a lot of fun when you’re on the road, but living in one is sometimes a different matter. You are in constant close proximity with a partner, friends and or kids, sometimes for weeks or more at a time. So how do you survive what can be a serious social test? Here are 6 tips that should help.
1) Get used to living with less – Minimalism isn’t a choice but a necessity when you’re living on the road, so embrace it and learn to live with as little baggage as possible. Take the essentials mentioned earlier and a sparse selection of clothes, so that you have something for different weather conditions and something to suit different places you might visit.
2) Plan for rain – It rains in the UK. Get over it. But plan for it too, as being stuck in a van all day can get quite dull quite quickly. It is therefore wise to have some games in mind that will keep you entertained for a couple of hours. Card games usually work well, and a couple of travel board games won’t take up much space. You can also save some indoor attractions for the bad weather, so you can have some fun and stay dry.
3) Stay on campsites most of the time – A benefit of campervan travel is that you can park up in any number of places for the night. However, the lack of toilets, showers and other facilities will get annoying very quickly.
4) Learn to laugh – Travelling by van can be loads of fun but there are more glamorous ways to get around. Things will go wrong, such as getting caught in a downpour or getting totally lost in the middle of nowhere. If you can laugh at these blips you will have a fun road trip with minimal stress.
5) Take advantage of sites with great facilities – If you are a seasoned traveller you will know that the facilities offered by different campsites can vary dramatically. Some have swanky shower blocks and toilets with handwash and moisturiser; others definitely don’t! So enjoy the good sites and use the facilities for all they’re worth.
6) Choose your fellow campers carefully – Living in a campervan can be a real test of relationships, so if you’re planning to tour the entire UK, don’t go with just anyone. Travel only with people you really like, and ideally people who are easy-going and happy to rough it a little.
If you want to be properly prepared for a trip around Great Britain this essential information should help.
Driving license – The license you need to drive a campervan depends on your age, and also on the vehicle’s maximum authorised mass (MAM). There are plenty of campervans that can be driven on a normal UK or International driving license.
Travelling with children – If you have small children you will need to check your campervan has adequate three point harnesses to fit the number of child seats you need. Lots of in-car entertainment is wise too to keep the kids as quiet as possible on long drives.
Free camping in the UK – If you venture north of the border you can wild camp in Scotland. In England and Wales it is frowned upon however many campers choose this option to save some pennies.
You are now pretty much set up for your big road trip, so take note of the tips and information above and head out and enjoy your own campervan adventure around the wonderful United Kingdom.
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