New Year Resolutions – More Free Camping in UK for Motorhome Owners

It’s that time of year again when, if we have any sense, we look back and recap over the year just gone. We think about what went well for us, what we enjoyed, and what we’d like to do more of. We also think about what didn’t go so well, and what we’d like to do better in future. For the personal development gurus it’s called “re-evaluating and resetting goals,” for everyone else it’s called Setting New Year Resolutions.

As a proud family man and motorhomer (is that a word?) my personal resolution for next year is simple: To use our motorhome more often, and enjoy more good-quality family time through short breaks. I suspect I’m not alone in this desire, regardless of whether you the reader would prefer to travel as a couple, with children, or with grand-children.

Motorhome Stopover Near South Coast England

A BritStop near the South Coast of England where we overnighted earlier this year. The location was great, although by the time we'd finished in the shop a campsite would have been far cheaper...

Entry to attractions and staying at campsites can both be expensive though, and if you have a motorhome then campsites at least are almost entirely unnecessary (I’ll cover free attractions in a later blog post) because you really are doing nothing more than parking overnight and sleeping in your vehicle. We tend to take our main summer holiday in EU partially because the vast number of free motorhome stopovers there make it cheaper than UK!

What follows below are some of the various sources of information we use that show where you can “park overnight and sleep in your vehicle” in UK, without needing to go anywhere near a campsite:

Map of ScotlandScotland – Pretty much anywhere you can park safely in Scotland they’re happy for you to sleep too. What a refreshing attitude it is and while parts of Wales are that way, most of England definitely isn’t (unless you’re tramping in a 44 tonne artic then it seems to be OK). The enlightened and friendly Scots are even happy for you to use a tent: http://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/activities/walking/wild-camping

BritStops LogoBritstops – Probably now the best known book for UK it lists businesses that are happy to have motorhome owners stop in their car park for the night. The book is updated regularly during the year, with both additions and removals, so by the end of the year you’ll have a small book and a great wad of paper. Despite the publisher’s claims though BritStops are generally not free because the business owners will generally expect you to visit their outlet and buy something, it’s also not hugely convenient as a large number of places are restricted to certain days of the week and require that you arrive before a certain time (some as early as 4pm). Very few Britstops suit us, but they may suit you: http://www.britstops.com [UPDATE 01/01/2015: I attempted to share this post with the BritStops community on Facebook and it was deleted by their admin on the basis that it contains links to non-BritStop stuff. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions on this action!]

Club Motorhome LogoClub Motorhome – Offers similar sites (i.e. businesses) to Britstops but with the addition of a forum where you can chat with other motorhome owners (something you can also do on Facebook of course) and a considerable number of useful and interesting articles. There’s no book though so you’ll either need to do all your research on their website (an option not available with Britstops) of print off a downloadable PDF list of sites. Unfortunately when I tried this it wasn’t well formatted, came with a whole bunch of extraneous information that wasted paper, and much of the printing was in light blue so poor contrast and not easy to read under a cab light. I had the some problem when trying to use the list on my phone while travelling. [UPDATE 01/01/2015: Neil McLeland who runs Club Motorhome has just emailed me the latest PDF and, while still not perfect, it is considerably better than the review version I saw before.] However, unless you really want a printed book, I’d say that Club Motorhome has the advantage over BritStops because of all the other valuable content on the website. You can browse for free: http://www.clubmotorhome.co.uk

Wild Camping Forum LogoWild Camping Forum – As someone who does a lot of wild camping myself, I did ask to get a look in the Members’ Area of this forum so I could briefly review it here for you. However, despite my polite request, I was refused entry. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions: http://www.wildcamping.co.uk

UKMotorhomes.Net LogoUKMotorhomes.net – A useful resource that costs precisely nothing, as does everything listed from here on. You simply drill down into the map and look for a pin near where you want to stop; if you click the pin you’ll get more detail on the location: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zheLI7o5GIPc.kkEkhhDZroMo&usp=sharing There’s a more conventional list available too, in a handy format for printing: http://www.ukmotorhomes.net/uk-motorhome-stopovers.shtml

Nomad GB LogoNomad GB – Similar to the above (although non-printable) but with an awful lot more pins on the map, and describing itself as “a points of interest map for motorhome owners”, with the ability to more easily refine your search (it optionally includes some campsites too but you can easily exclude those from results if you wish). Well worth a look: http://www.nomadgb.co.uk

SearchForSites.Co.Uk LogoSearch For Sites – Sits somewhere between UKMotorhomes.Net and Nomad GB in terms of search capability, but goes beyond UK and covers EU too. EU is out of scope for this post, but the website is still well worth visiting as it covers UK too: http://www.searchforsites.co.uk [UPDATE 01/01/2015: Ian Curtis who runs this site has been in touch to tell me of a whole load of functionality that I haven't reported. I have invited him to leave a comment below, so please check there for further information.]

MotorhomeParking.Co.Uk LogoParking Information on Local Authority (& Other) Websites – Believe it or not some local authorities actually welcome motorhomes into their borough, possibly because of the tourist income it can bring to their rate-payers. Unfortunately though most local authority (LA) websites weren’t designed with the convenience of those looking for free camping in mind, so drilling down to find it can be tedious at best. Fortunately a kind gentleman called Graham Hadfield has compiled a free directory which will take you straight to the information you need on approaching 200 LA websites. We can all benefit here: http://www.motorhomeparking.co.uk

Facebook LogoFacebook – There are thousands of groups on Facebook (FB), and a great many of them are designed to cater for owners of campervans, motor-caravans and motorhomes. Not many of them are specifically focused on wild camping though, and quite a few appear to be populated with people who find the idea of staying on a campsite adventurous! To save you some time hunting, here are a few that may help you out a little:

You’ll obviously need to be registered with Facebook to use any of the above. As a matter of good etiquette I would advise that, if you join a group on FB, you start by contributing a couple of locations (perhaps quiet spots you know of near home that will help others visiting your area) before asking for advice and help in finding places yourself.

What’s very clear from the above is that no one source lists everything – there is no central point of knowledge – and that you’ll probably be wise to travel with a few resources up your sleeve to increase your chances of finding somewhere that you like near where you want to be.

Free Wild Camping Top TipAndrew’s personal Top Tip – one that has never failed him yet – is nothing more complicated than pulling up outside a pub with a large but empty(ish) car park towards closing time, popping in and buying a pint, and simultaneously asking the landlord if it’s OK to sleep in the car park overnight.

That’s our personal set of UK free wild camping resources now shared with you, and you’re welcome to use Facebook, Twitter or whatever you fancy to share it all with others. If you’d like to add and share a resource we missed, so others can benefit, please leave a comment below and it will be published following a quick moderator check.

Happy New Year everybody,

Andrew and Kira

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29 Responses to New Year Resolutions – More Free Camping in UK for Motorhome Owners

  1. Gina Mann says:

    What a splendid article – we live in our motorhome and this will be invaluable information for us when we start our travels later in the year. Thanks very much. Happy New Year to you and happy camping!

  2. Penny says:

    Wildcamping.co.uk is a great site that was my first port of call when I started Wilding, I asked many questions, used locations and made very good friends.
    You can be a free member or join, it has been invaluable to my experience :)

    • Andrew says:

      I was optimistic for the site, and therefore requested member access to review it which I was refused.

      Unfortunately I then felt unable to review fully (as I didn’t have access to do so), meaning I couldn’t tell any potential new paying member what to expect in return for their money. And for me that’s the clincher because, after I signposted the site, anyone can easily draw their own conclusions about what’s available for free.

  3. jeanette says:

    there should be more wild camping places it is only a few that give a bad name to the majority and people don’t want to pay the prices of a site that is why we have motorhomes to explore places and put money in to the local community where ever they stay. I do hope it happens and great article. I wish everyone wherever you are a Happy New Year and happy wildcamping

    • Andrew says:

      Thank you for your feedback and compliments, Jeanette.

      I agree with your comments about a small minority spoiling things for the great majority, but unfortunately that problem is not limited to motor caravans or wild camping :-(

      Happy New Year to you too.

  4. Phil Ashley says:

    One you missed – there’s a huge input from the late Leo de Bruyn who cataloged a vast number of European stopovers

    • Andrew says:

      This review was specifically about sources of information for wild camping in UK, as it has always been easier in EU with its more friendly regime and the information is readily available in a thick book. I’ll confess I’m not familiar with Leo de Bruyn though, so I’ll be sure to check him out before my next review.

      The link to your own site looked promising, but sadly disappointing when I got there :-( What are your plans for it?

    • Toni says:

      Hi Andrew I quess when you checked the above site it directed you to the old forum far from being a dead forum it is has very active membership which is growing daily it is also free to join and has the wilding sites of both UK and Europe that were compiled by our friend the late Leo de Bruyn whose memory the site is dedicated to .

  5. Wilhelm Derner says:

    I have found there is a central point for knowledge about wild camping at http://www.wildcamping.co.uk but then I’m not so mean as to expect it for nothing?

    • Andrew says:

      I don’t think anyone is expecting something for nothing, Wilhelm, I was merely attempting to gain access to all areas of the site so I could tell people what to expect if they do sign up and pay up.

      By way of analogy, most book authors (or those who want more sales at least) send out free copies to anyone who expresses even the slightest interest in the hope of getting a review and with it free publicity. A website that charges for membership to access content is very little different in concept.

  6. David says:

    Your comments about the Wild Camping web site make no sense at all. Anyone is free to register as a member and can read and make posts. Perhaps you are not very ‘tech-savvy’ about the web, so maybe you should try again.

    And, for those who know that leaving the UK is the best way to enjoy wild camping in a motor home, you should, perhaps, mention http://www.campingcar-infos.com In the centre of the page, in red, click on “Cliquez pour entrer”.

    • Andrew says:

      On your first point, please see my reply to Wilhelm Derner: It’s not possible to do a full review without full access. It’s as simple as that, nothing more and nothing less.

      I may well do a review on EU stopovers later in the year, so I’ll bear in mind the site you have suggested when I do so, thank you. Having just taken a very quick look at it my only concern is that it maybe hard to navigate for those who don’t read French (and yes, I am sufficiently “‘tech-savvy’ about the web” to be aware of both Google translate and its limitations).

  7. Chris de Wet says:

    I administer the wild camping location POI data for http://www.wildcamping.co.uk

    Free members of the site can access the vast majority of the information about wild camping spots. The information is posted in threads based on geographic location and it’s accessible to all. Free members can also download a sample set of POI data on a ‘try before you buy’ basis.

    If you sign up as a free member, Andrew, you will be able to verify that it is so.

    There are specific benefits available to paying members – this includes the option to download location information and Streetview images for England, Wales, Scotland and France for use on a computer, smart phone or sat nav.

    In addition paying members qualify for supplier discounts, can use private messaging, have access to apps for Android phones and PCs, and can disable advertising on the web site.

    Please take a look and form your own view.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for the clarification, Chris.

      I’ve already signposted the forum in my article, as have numerous commenters (presumably forum members) since, so I think it’s fair to say that anyone interested in learning what’s available for free can visit and draw their own conclusions.

      With “paid for” sites, such as BritStops or Club Motorhome, I wanted to review from the perspective of a paying member as that is (presumably) where the most benefit lies. It’s also the thing that is hardest (if not impossible) for potential members to verify for themselves without parting with cash, and thus where I can add the greatest value for them.

      The main photo on this post is of my own motorhome at a BritStop, and I can assure you that Club Motorhome was most welcoming when I asked for access to their members area to review it (despite having a considerable amount of free content).

      It is a fact (not a matter of opinion) that the Wild Camping forum remains the only resource listed to which I have been unable to obtain full access for a review. That is obviously the webmaster’s perogative, and I don’t have a particular problem with it, but it doesn’t make it any easier for me to review and/or recommend the site to potential paying members.

      • David says:

        Andrew, you still don’t seem to realise that the Wild Camping forum can be reviewed in full without having to register as a paid member. Anyone can register as a Free member and the only thing he won’t be able to own for an unlimited period is the POI database. In addition he will not be able to send or receive Private Messages. That should not affect a review in any way.

        Of course, with that in mind, a third party review is immaterial as anyone can join for free and see for himself!

        • Andrew says:

          The fact remains David that the forum *does* sell paid-for memberships, and there is no way that can be properly reviewd without actually trying it.

          A 3rd party review is far from immaterial, because it saves numerous others the time and trouble of doing it for themselves.

          Are you saying that the POI database info is available for free download by people who are *not* paying members?

  8. Wilhelm Derner says:

    I wouldn’t expect KFC to give me their recipe for Zinger burgers before I reviewed their products and as such give them a provocative review.
    The Wild Camping’s Site is there for anyone to use free of charge, many people join in with the forums without becoming members. They learn a lot about wild camping and all posters get their motor-home problems answered. I can only assume you expected more than what everyone else gets as a ‘sweetener’ before writing your review?
    I’ll leave your readers to draw their own conclusions:

    • Andrew says:

      I wouldn’t expect KFC to give you their recipe even after you’d reviewed their products, Wilhelm, and I very much doubt that Coca Cola would either even if you put in writing that you prefer their product to Pepsi. Your analogy is flawed.

      The idea of the review was to:
      1) Give people a link to resources they may have been unaware of previously; and
      2) Give them a very short precis of what to expect when they get there (and in the case of something that costs money, what they get if they pay).

      If anybody has read this far I think they will indeed draw their own conclusions about what to expect based on all the comments from forum users above, which when combined total more words than the original review…

  9. maxi77 says:

    I found wild camping long before I found this site which perhaps tells us something. It seems to be based on the basis of give me full access for free or you get a bad report. I will stick to wild camping

    • Andrew says:

      The review I gave to Wild Camping was neither good nor bad: it simply said I was refused full access to carry out a full review. For the record though, when I requested access to review, I never even received the courtesy of a reply saying I was welcome to join for free and what access level that would give me. I was simply ignored.

      I note with interest though your statement that full access is indeed different from free access (as one would expect) which is at odds with David’s claim above.

  10. maxi77 says:

    All that those who pay get is the poi data base and access to supplier discounts so you by joining as a free member would have had as you have already been told free access to the forums which for most ofus are the main part of the site. Clearly you feel agreived but perhaps a site that is more likely to be stumbled on than yours can stand on it’s own.

    Ps 3 days to get past the censor is pretty poor

  11. Barbara Rogan says:

    All this to and fro about a poi database. Methinks the lady doth protest too much. The review article is an excellent read and resource. Thank you.

  12. Paul Rogan says:

    http://www.motorhomingwild.org/index.php
    This is also useful we think.
    There is also the french run http://www.park4nights.com It has some good spots in England and Wales; some I have added!

    • Andrew says:

      I didn’t include motorhomingwild in the review because, on inspection, it looks to be a dead forum with no posts or content behind it. Do I take it from your comment that there is more to it than first appears?

      The second link you have provided doesn’t work. Can you double-check and if necessary correct it to help other readers, please?

  13. Tom says:

    Presumably the author failed to register as a free member of motorhomingwild.org and therefore failed to gain access to the vast wealth of content (not just many more pages, but entire boards and sub-boards). Similarly, the vast majority of wildcamping.co.uk is available to free members (though a few boards are restricted to those who pay), so surprising that no review could be provided.

  14. Frank says:

    http://www.motorhomingwild.org/
    Hello Andrew I am part of the admin team and this is the link to the forum which is dedicated to the memory of the late Leo de Bruyn who compiled a huge list of wilding spots covering the UK and Europe these list are available free to members I would suggest you have another look and as said it is a free to join site

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