Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 61 total)
  • Campervan – Avoiding using campsites
  • Premier Icon Blackflag
    Free Member

    Mrs Blackflag is very keen that we get a campervan for weekends and holidays. I’m 85% on board but if i did this, id want to be able to park / sleep in nice spots, rather than on formal campsites.

    Having read loads of stuff online about it not being legal in England i’m now not so sure this is going to be all that easy.

    What do you lot do? I’d like to just find an out of the way quiet spot and get me head down. Is this going to be a bit of a faff?

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    Faff.

    Fact is, everyone is jumping on the campervan waggon and it’s getting harder to find those quiet spots. Thise that are available get trashed with fires, litter and human shit, so action is taken to further restrict the numbers of them.

    Some pubs, hotels etc are now getting on board with the idea of letting folk park up in exchange for spending money with them. Expect more of these informal parking spots to appear, often led by community groups.

    OTOH there are some lovely small campsites around. What do you have against campsites?

    Premier Icon scruff9252
    Full Member

    We have a campervan (in Scotland) and it’s pretty ace. We use it mostly in winter – getting a weekend away is pretty easy when you have a warm bed (two winter duvet’s and central heating). Also great for getting off the hills after a walk and being able to stick the heating on & make a cuppa / bowl of hot soup. We only park up to stay over if we are the only van, and like actual wild camping arrive late / leave early…

    We joined a couple of “wild camping” groups of facebook, and to be honest it’s pretty grim. Lots of “I’m entitled to park here, so I will” attitudes whilst parking over multiple parking spaces complete with deck chairs and bbq’s in carparks and shitting in the bushes 10ft away. generally being loutish arseholes. Local councils are naturally putting in 2m parking barriers to limit this.

    Premier Icon Blackflag
    Free Member

    What do you have against campsites?

    Nothing specifically, it just seems another thing to curtail the freedom a campervan would bring. So if i have to use a campsite, then why not just have either a tent or caravan instead (both a lot cheaper)?

    Premier Icon nealglover
    Free Member

    So if i have to use a campsite, then why not just have either a tent or caravan instead (both a lot cheaper)?

    And both a lot less convenient and more faff.

    Premier Icon Blackflag
    Free Member

    But if you have to go to a campsite, why is a small pod style caravan more of a faff?

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    In my case, my campervan is my “car”, so I don’t need land to store it or to pay for storage. It’s also easier to drive than towing a caravan on lots of the (singletrack) roads I use. Arriving at the campsite means it’s easier to set up as I don’t need to pitch and I don’t need to dry off a wet tent back at home after a trip either. Of course, There’s still the occasional night I’ll slope off somewhere off-site but that tends to be in the quieter months anyway and for only a night at a time. Campervans also work out well as day-vans at places I might go walking or riding. I wouldn’t tow a caravan out for the day, not pitch a tent for an hour while I have lunch etc,

    Of course, caravans can be more convenient for longer stays because you don’t have to pack everything away if you want to go for a drive and come back to the same place. So, there are pros and cons to each.

    Premier Icon nofx
    Free Member

    Have a look at wild camping. There’s a lot of sites that are set in woods that have fire pits & long drop toilets. We went to a lovely one at Llanthony, got water from the brook, cooked over the fire. These sites ain’t stupidly priced either. The last time we went to Llanthony it was a fiver a night.

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    That’s some definition of wild camping right there. 🙂

    Mind you – that’s exactly the sort of thing I was on about above.

    Premier Icon convert
    Full Member

    Look at wildcamping website – https://www.wildcamping.co.uk/

    If you join (by paying actual money) you get access to a downloadable database of known wild camping sites. Some are better than others. They are not official as such (as that would be an oxymoron) but are places other members have parked up successfully. Some of them are pretty much legit, especially in Scotland. Some are them are cheeky as hell but out of the way enough that you ‘should’ get away with it.

    Wild camping can be brilliant but can also be a pita. To do it properly you turn up late and leave early. You don’t get awnings, chairs and tables out – you keep it stealthy. That can be fine but can also sometimes make it difficult to feel settled and have the best of time. I’ve stopping in campsites with brilliant views but I’ve know that I ‘might’ get moved on. Do you have a couple of beers and hope you do or do you remain dry just in case.

    A good half way house are the members only small sites found through the camping and caravan club or the caravan club – they call them Certificated sites or certificated locations respectively. Small sites with minimal facilities for a maximum of 5 vans and caravans. I personally hate big caravan park style sites. Everything about them make my teeth itch. But there small sites feel totally different. You often can’t camp there under canvas as they don’t have toilets etc so you are accessing places you might not be able to otherwise unless you had a van.

    When we go away in our little van we tend to stay in a mix of wild and actually campsites. We also use an actual site if we want to stay still for more than a night.

    Premier Icon wobbliscott
    Free Member

    Its all a compromise. Like scotroutes my campervan is my daily drive so no faff in storing it, but it did limit the size of the van somewhat so nowhere near as good as a larger campervan/motorhome when actually camping…but great for quick get-always as I don’t have the faff of retrieving the van from a farmers field somewhere and ‘prepping’ it for a trip. I use it for family holidays and getaways as well as biking weekends with mates. We use a large drive away awning for longer holiday’s/getaways (say greater than three days) so we can take more stuff and not have to pack it away when we want to use the van. Works fine, but you then introduce all the inconveniences and disadvantages of tenting.

    And I can see the appeal of wild camping, but for me it seems a lot of faff to find places to do it and the problem of littering and actually getting away from other wild campers…cycling around Pitlochroy a couple of years ago there were campervans parked up every 50 feet or so on the lake side…so hardly getting way from it. There are some great campsites out there with great facilities in great locations…the only downsides are that often they are pretty popular and you have to book quite far in advance impacting the ‘get up and go at a moments notice’ part of the whole thing.

    So all in all my campervan experience hasn’t quite lived upto the billing, though we’ve had a great time with it and plenty more planned…definitely preferable to tenting, but it’s not quite been the ‘jump in and go’ experience we were after. It’s been great and we’ve had some great times in it and its got us out and about so no regrets.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    A good half way house as the members only small sites found through the camping and caravan club or the caravan club – they call the Certificated sites or certificated locations respectively.

    This – there are many lovely spots, but also some dull fields, but most are quiet and out of the way and all are small and never crowded. Finding the good ones though is a bit of a PITA though as it requires thorough use of their site and Google Earth and you have to call to book.

    There are loads of similar small sites like that around though that aren’t in the club network. And some big ones that are massive and swallow hundreds of people.

    PS Caravan Club is now called Caravan and Motorhome club, cos motorhomes are acceptable 🙂

    Premier Icon jam-bo
    Full Member

    #vanlife has **** most of the good free car parking spots on the cornish coast by **** taking the piss.

    parking restriction orders popping up all over the place, mostly targeted at vans. south fistral has a specific restriction on no vans between 7-8am, which has pissed all the local trades off who’d go for a surf before work.

    Premier Icon Blackflag
    Free Member

    Lots of nice advice here, cheers

    Premier Icon Edukator
    Free Member

    If you’re not and a campsite and you’re not sitting in it it will get broken into sooner rather than later. If you want to live in your own mobile prison that’s fine.

    I sold my last van/camper six years ago and have since camped or used hotels/gites/B&B. No regrets, nearly all the places we used to enjoy parking banned camper vans and quite rightly so.

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    If you’re not and a campsite and you’re not sitting in it it will get broken into sooner rather than later. If you want to live in your own mobile prison that’s fine.

    U OK hun?

    Premier Icon robertpb
    Full Member

    One I have found useful is, https://park4night.com/ Have the app on my phone.

    Premier Icon trailwagger
    Free Member

    Sure I read something the other day about wild camping being allowed/permitted/made legal in England.

    Anyway, I always paid for campsites when I had one. Mainly because I didn’t fancy shitting in a bucket and cleaning it out afterwards.

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    Sure I read something the other day about wild camping being allowed/permitted/made legal in England.

    That’s a (rather strange) initiative to charge folk for “wild” camping – but it’s aimed at walkers and cyclists.  I’m surprised not to have seen a bigger deal being made of it here on STW.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Full Member

    That’s a (rather strange) initiative to charge folk for “wild” camping – but it’s aimed at walkers and cyclists. I’m surprised not to have seen a bigger deal being made of it here on STW.

    It’s a slightly bizarre thing. If you can be arsed to dig into it, it’s run by a private company, they’re trying to charge £20 per night to ‘wild camp’ on designated land owners’ sites, so not really wild camping at all, more semi-remote super-basic campsites without any facilities. If it were a fiver per night, it might make some sort of sense if that’s the experience you’re after and you don’t want to wild camp in the accepted sense, but at that price it’s really just taking the piss.

    I’m sure someone’ll start a thread on it some time soon. The website is:]

    Update: they’ve suspended it… I bet it seemed like a good idea at the time.

    https://www.ukwildcamp.org

    Premier Icon welshfarmer
    Full Member

    [strong]nofx[/strong] wrote:

    Have a look at wild camping. There’s a lot of sites that are set in woods that have fire pits & long drop toilets. We went to a lovely one at Llanthony, got water from the brook, cooked over the fire. These sites ain’t stupidly priced either. The last time we went to Llanthony it was a fiver a night.

    Might well of been my place 🙂

    Premier Icon Edukator
    Free Member

    Fine, Scotroute. Five break-ins in as many years with our T2. On an Italian campsite we had walked 50m and turned around to see someone breaking into the driver’s door. This was particularly annoying as the passenger door no longer locked following the previous break in.

    Then there was the occasion we parked our Ducato on the sea front in Marseille, we hadn’t even got 50m before a car pulled over and a couple of blokes jumped out and started prowling around it then got back in the car and drove off as we ran back.

    And the occasion I put it in for service, they destroyed the gates of the garage, had broken a lock , broken the stering lock and were trying to hot-wire it when the security company turned up and stopped them driving off.

    Ther spare wheel from the Ducato was nicked in a supermarket car park and they tried to ram me with their car when I turned up.

    Car/bike/walk + rucksac + hotel = relaxing holiday.

    Forget sleeping in it with bikes locked on, they won’t be there when you wake up.

    Doctors say the gassing stories are rubbish. Try telling my biking buddy that who woke up in his van feeling groggy with all the valuables gone. Neither he, his partner or their dog were woken despite the thing being throughly turned over – in Spain.

    T’ain’t worth the hassle.

    Edit, I forgot to mention the Ducato being seen a source of spare parts when it wasn’t being broken into.

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    Its not wild camping in a campervan. Its also often not under the auspices of the land reform act in scotland that states IIRC that if a campsite is available you should use it.

    IMO the actions of these folk in campervans are causing a lot of issues and will cause a reaction needing a change in the law. I would support a definition of allowable wild camping of more than 500m from a road only.

    Premier Icon ElShalimo
    Full Member

    This is an interesting article:  Clicky

    If local councils in the UK created Aire/Stellplatz style sites on the outskirts of towns then I think a lot of people would use them.

    We were on Skye and the Uists recently and the number of vans astounded me. Most seem to be behaving themselves but there are always idiots who ruin it for others. What I don’t understand is why would you drive to that remote spot only to park 2ft from the next van?


    @Edukator
    – you must visit some shitty places as we’ve never had an issue. The weirdest thing I ever saw was a middle-aged English bloke ratcheting the doors shut from inside his crappy old motorhome whilst sat in the boarding queue at Calais.  He must have been scared by your colourful stories.

    Premier Icon Edukator
    Free Member

    Go on, call me a liar, ElShalimo. And take the piss out of people taking reasonable precautions having been bitten and being a bit shy.

    If anything the problem is going to non-shitty places. Theives operate where there’s money and valuables to be had. I suppose if you only have a couple of weeks holiday a year and spend it places so hostile no-one lives there the risks are lower. The amount of glass on car parks in say the Peak in enough to tell you there’s a problem in the very places people like to go.

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    Honestly dude, you’re either the unluckiest guy in the world, or it’s all made up.

    (or there is a massive crimewave that, for reasons unknown, is being hidden by a conspiracy between the authorities and campervan owners)

    Premier Icon nealglover
    Free Member

    If you’re not and a campsite and you’re not sitting in it it will get broken into sooner rather than later. If you want to live in your own mobile prison that’s fine.

    I’ve been daily driving and camping in various different camper vans for 30 years and yet to have one broken into. Camping or otherwise.
    (And as a daily drive it gets left anywhere a car would)

    Just lucky I guess 🤔

    Premier Icon Edukator
    Free Member

    No, just someone who spent a lot of time in a camper van, Scotroutes. You obviously haven’t travelled much,which is after all the objective if you buy a camper van.

    I find it quite offensive that two of you accuse me of lying.

    Anyhow the dream the marketeers sell is nonsense. It’s like the adverts for 4×4 cross over things in wilderness landscapes when they’re sold to people who will sit in traffic jams in them. You might love holidays in Skye with midges, freezing lochs, bogs, rain etc., no thanks.

    Visit somewhere like Chamonix (which isn’t exactly a shitty place) and I suggest you stay on a campsite and leave someone sitting in the van if you park anywhere else.

    Premier Icon llama
    Full Member

    Prefer campsites. There are a plenty of good ones where you get a lot of space, even on a bank holiday weekend, are not expensive, and feel more ‘wild’ than campsite. Better than sleeping in a car park or a layby 4 feet away from another van.

    Premier Icon trail_rat
    Free Member

    My van was perfectly fine in Chamonix

    As it was in bourg d’oisans

    Alp d’huez

    Annecy

    Paris

    Ghent

    Grenoble (including being left alone parked up all weekend while I flew to another part of France)

    Amsterdam (admittedly was nervous on that one).

    It survived a night on Irvine beach front…..I’m pretty sure no one wants my van. If it was going to go the Irvine scrotes would have taken it.

    Perhaps you were targeted. Your reputation precedes you n all that.

    As above. Mix it up a little. I certainly won’t entertain parking close up to other people. But if I see a nice spot I’ll park up. If I see a campsite in a nice location I’ll use it. That’s the beauty of the van.

    Premier Icon nealglover
    Free Member

    PS. At least 10 trips to Chamonix that I can remember, probably more.
    And many other similar places over the years. As I lived in Austria and travelled to other alpine areas a lot outside the ski season.

    Premier Icon spooky_b329
    Full Member

    We wildcamp camp for free for the odd night but prefer a proper campsite, we try and hunt out the cheaper basic ones. When do do wildcamp its generally to break up a journey or near the venue for a party etc.

    Trying to find somewhere to camp usually involves a bit of faff, I prefer to park somewhere that is streetlit and isn’t completely deserted, such as a residential area on a corner plot so you are not outside someones windows, or a supermarket carpark. The wife would rather be in a dark layby shielded from the road in the middle of nowhere which obviously increases the chance of someone trying to break in, but less chance of being moved on.

    We’ve only been moved on once and thats because we parked up near Morecombe bay and had dinner, nearby campsite owner was obviously looking after his business interests and the council had tried to pacify him by erecting a tiny ‘no overnight camping’ sign he could point people at.

    On our way to the north Scotland at the moment and we’ve broken up the 700 mile journey, 150 miles Sunday evening, wildcamp, 500 miles today, then the last bit to relatives tomorrow morning.

    Campsites for anywhere we expect to want to actually arrive before darkness, or at least a car park that permits overnight camping so you can settle in without drawing attention to yourselves. We’ve also done pubstop scheme a couple of times (go for dinner and they let you camp in the car park for free) but when we’ve asked normal pubs they usually say no, its definitely better just to ask if you can leave your ‘car’ overnight and collect it in the morning 😉

    Premier Icon ElShalimo
    Full Member

    @Edukator – reasonable precautions, it was the boarding queue at the port!

    … and I didn’t call you a liar. Have you had too much lunchtime pastis?

    Premier Icon trail_rat
    Free Member

    the big question is …. would wolves change your attitude to parking your van in laybys 😉

    I have a bigger fear of them than of being gassed.

    Premier Icon spooky_b329
    Full Member

    My biggest fear of laybys is trucker poos lurking in the grass right outside the door!

    Premier Icon ElShalimo
    Full Member

    I think the carbon monoxide rumours have been debunked by The Royal College of Anaesthetists but other gasses are available and there are some bad people everywhere. Stay safe kids !

    Premier Icon Edukator
    Free Member

    Jeez this place sometimes, so some of you have never been broken into, that’s great, long may that continue. But what’s the problem with me being honest about my experiences too?

    Premier Icon bill-oddie
    Free Member

    It really depends where you are staying – any touristy areas are a bit crap for it. Lakes, Cornwall, West coast of Scotland etc – in these areas the locals get pissed off and fair enough so its better to find a campsite – usually possible to find a nice cheap one – or a farm that does camping quite easily with a bit of google.

    A lot of less popular areas are still fine, lots of the less touristy populated bits of scotland / wales / north east etc. Would only usually stay one evening mind.

    Anywhere on the med coast like Marseilles forget it – go to a decent campsite with a fence around it!

    There are some amazing aires set up specially for motorhomes / campers in France that are free! ideally you want some kind of toilet solution in your van though.

    In my opinion campsite owners are missing a trick by not catering to late arrival / early out people. Certainly in the lakes I’ve had to search for overnight parking spots for ages and would happily have paid a few quid but all campsites shut! Obviously its their business but its a bit rich when they then get peeved about someone doing a free camp somewhere discrete!

    Its probably not as good as it used to be and plenty of places doing annoying height barriers now but personally I still like having a camper van (mine is mid sized). If you are going to a trail centre / race / riding location / beach its nice to have all your stuff with you – somewhere comfy to have a cup of tea, cook food etc. No packing unpacking as you travel between campsites when touring as well.

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    Those websites that tell folk place they can park up have cause a couple of funny situations in Edinburgh. there is now a unofficial campsite on porty prom usually with a couple of dozen campers and caravans on it and also there is always campervans outside the scottish government building in leith!

    Just use a campsite FFS

    Premier Icon Blackflag
    Free Member

    Thanks for the replies everyone.

    I think i’m trying to get the best idea in my own head on what this would be really like, rather than mrs Blackflags somewhat idealised version of what life would be like. We will certainly be hiring one a few times to see if we can get on with it, but it sounds like you still need to do a bit of prep (find a good campsite, make sure they have spaces, book in advance and hope the weather holds) rather than the 100% “just go where the sun is at the last minute” dream she seems to have.

    Sorry you have had such a bad time of it Edukator, sounds like a proper run of bad luck that!

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 61 total)

The topic ‘Campervan – Avoiding using campsites’ is closed to new replies.

Thanks for popping by - why not stay a while?IT'S FREE

Sign up as a Singletrack Member and you can leave comments on stories, use the classified ads, and post in our forums.

Join us, join in, it’s free, and fun.