There are few better places in the world to explore in a motorhome than the beautiful British Isles. With an incredible variety of landscape, wildlife, cultural hotspots and historic locations there’s always something new to discover.
But while there are thousands of excellent campsites to park up at, if you really want to get the most from your motorhome experience it's always worth trying out a free overnight spot. But where are they and what are the legalities of parking up for the night?
Read this helpful Motorhome Protect guide to find out.
Remember that before setting off in search of those idyllic locations, you’ll want insurance for your beloved motorhome. is so easy to arrange with Motorhome Protect. Simply give us a call and you’ll be off exploring safely in no time.
PARKING UP IN YOUR MOTORHOME – THE LAW
Many people invest in a motorhome in order to experience the freedom of the open road. However, some people also think this entitles them to pretty much park up wherever they please. But that’s a big mistake.
There’s a fair amount of misinformation about the legalities of parking up in a motorhome or campervan in the UK, which can lead to trouble.
The bottom line is that parking up and camping in your motorhome for the night is generally illegal in the UK unless you get the permission of the landowner. While quiet and considerate campers tend to be tolerated, it isn’t a legal right. So, before settling in for the night it’s always wise to ask someone nearby if it’s allowed, look for local signage or use one of the apps or websites below to see if it’s a recognised overnight parking spot.
But what about Scotland?
Yes, we know that wild camping is legal in Scotland, but that doesn’t apply to motorhomes and campervans. The ever-helpful Wandering Bird blog has much more information on this often confusing area.
Well, that really depends on which part of the UK you’re in. While it might not be specifically illegal to sleep in your motorhome at the roadside, if the police come a-knocking then you’ll have to move on.
If you’re not in the mood for dealing with the police or a disgruntled landowner then campsites are always a great option. Many motorhome owners join one of the big camping clubs to get access to brilliant campsites across the country.
There are many benefits to membership, including potential offers on motorhome insurance in the UK. Speak to the team at Motorhome Protect and see how much you could save.
HOW TO FIND MOTORHOME PARKING SPOTS IN THE UK
For those looking for a cheap spot to park up for the night there are a whole host of apps, websites and social media accounts now available. Whenever you’re heading to a new area they’re well worth consulting before you arrive.
We’ve put together a list of some of the most popular ones to help you find the best overnight parking spots for motorhomes and more. The kinds of places you’d want to return to again and again.
Among the over 140,000 spots, you’ll find pubs, farm shops, campsites, fields, lay-bys, supermarket car parks and European aires. If you find a great spot that’s not listed then you can also share it via the app so others can enjoy it. And, better yet, you’ll also find details of companies providing facilities perfect for motorhomes.
If you want to use the app offline then for around £10 a year you can subscribe to the Park4Night+ service and download the whole database. A great option for those who like wild camping in places where there’s no Wi-Fi available.
It’s worth knowing that Park4Night can also be installed on TomTom, Garmin, iGO, and Mappy sat navs for an extra charge via the online shop.
More suited to European travel, Camperstop.com still lists 185 stops spread across the UK. From Helmsdale Harbour in the far north of Scotland to the King Arthur’s Car Park in Tintagel, you’ll have lots of fun discovering new spots.
While the website is great for research before your trip, the app will let you search through over 12,000 motorhome stopovers spread over 30 different European countries. Available on iOS and Android you can download and try it for seven days for free. After that you’ll need to pay an annual subscription of €5.49.
This excellent website has over 42,000 stopover sites and around 230,000 members covering Europe and the UK. Here you can search for practically any motorhome site possible. And it’s updated on a daily basis so as to give you the most accurate information possible.
Versions are available for desktop computers, phones and tablets and sat nav devices. It really is a handy integrated solution for finding a motorhome stopover. While the website is free, if you want to use it offline and enjoy all the features then you’ll want to download the app. After a free 3-day trial, a subscription costs £5.99 for one year.
37,000+ motorhome sites across 58 countries, with reviews and photos, Campercontact is an easy-to-use website and app that’s well worth investigating. With new sites being added all the time there’s bound to be one near your route.
A really invaluable feature is the ability to check the most recommended spots in every country and get suggestions on potential route ideas. When you’re stuck for inspiration, Campercontact could help you out in a jam.
While the app is available for free, if you want to remove adverts, the ability to save your favourite spots and to use it offline you’ll want the PRO version. For just €1.99 per month or €9.99 for a whole year it’s a bargain.
This UK-based printed guide and app gives details of over 1,100 hosts around the UK who are all looking forward to welcoming motorhomes to their location. From country pub car parks, farm yards and vineyards to breweries and craft centres all can be utilised as a free motorhome parking site for the night.
The idea is that business owners hope motorhome travellers staying there may spend money at their place, although there is no obligation to do so. Be aware that services such as shower blocks or overnight toilet facilities may be limited. And you can’t book a pitch, so it’s on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Brit Stops book costs £28 plus postage and now includes access to the first ever Brit Stops app.
This is an exhaustive list of ‘officially sanctioned’ overnight parking stopovers for motorhomes. You’ll find lots of choices across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland.
Remember, if you’re travelling over the border into the Republic then your motorhome insurance in the UK might not cover you. Check with your insurance provider before you travel.
Social media is as popular among motorhome owners as it is amongst the rest of the population. In this Facebook group, you will find over 120,000 members sharing important information, recommendations and providing help on stopovers for motorhomes. These include off-grid, pubs, car parks and campsites.
It’s ideal for anyone who loves to plan their trip in detail and get trusted information from people who’ve already visited a certain site. Simply post a question concerning a specific spot and you’ll soon find yourself reading through lots of helpful comments and invaluable information.
This busy group has over 34,000 members and is worth joining if you’re looking to find overnight parking sites both in the UK and other European countries.
If you’re looking for details of pubs offering overnight stopovers for motorhomes and campervans then this Facebook group does exactly that. With over 147,000 members this is a lively group with plenty of helpful information.
It’s a good idea to use the search facility (the small magnifying glass at the top of the group) to search for towns, villages and areas for stopovers before asking for recommendations.
14 GREAT AREAS TO PARK UP
When it comes to finding a great spot then there’s no better way than through a recommendation from someone you trust. So, that’s why we’ve put together this list of tried-and-tested locations that welcome motorhomes and campervans looking to stay the night.
Please note, while parking in these locations overnight is permitted at the time of writing, that doesn’t mean you can set up awnings, outdoor tables and chairs, BBQs, tents and so on.
Also be aware that by not camping in a designated campsite you might be more open to damage and other risks. Make sure you have motorhome insurance in the UK to cover you in all eventualities.
Riverbank Long Stay Car Park, Bideford, Devon, EX39 2QS
The local councils in this part of the world seem to take a more enlightened view as to the benefits of welcoming motorhomes to stay overnight in their car parks. This one cost £8 per night (6pm-10am), with a max two consecutive night stay.
If you bring your bikes along then it’s a great spot for cycling on the Tarka trail.
King Arthur’s Car Park, Tintagel, Cornwall, PL34 0DA
Opposite the National Trust Old Post Office on Fore Street, you can park in this large level car park for £5 for the night (5pm-10am). There are no services provided and the public toilet block in the car park closes at 10pm.
With its Arthurian connections Tintagel is a lovely spot to explore on the North Cornwall coast, but it can get busy during holiday times. If you can’t get in here then the nearby Mayfair Car Park is also good and costs £8 for 24 hours.
Treen Car Park, St. Levan, Penzance, Cornwall, TR19 6LF
On the Cornish south coast, you’ll find this small community car park which welcomes self-contained motorhomes. Overnight parking costs £10. Ask at the nearby café or cottage for permission. It’s a two-night maximum stay.
Situated right on the cliffs with great access to the southwest coastal path. The stunning sandy cove of Porthcurno is a 30-minute walk away. Make time to visit the world famous Minack theatre while you’re here. Built into the cliff itself with views out to sea, if there’s a more stunning spot to watch a play then we haven’t found it!
Hales Meadow Car Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 3NN
Situated on the A415 going south from Abingdon, on the right-hand side just across the river bridge. Overnight parking from 6pm-8am is free but daytime charges apply. Public toilets are open 24/7. Maximum stay is for 3 nights.
Be aware the location is not available on Sunday night and Monday daytime as there is a market held here. It’s a short walk from here into the historic market town of Abingdon.
Ram Meadow Car Park, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 1XP
The car park is found off Cotton Lane, just to the east of the centre of town, near Abbey Gardens. Overnight parking costs just £1 (6pm-8am), while an all-day ticket costs £3.
Bury St Edmunds is an eminently likeable place to explore, with stunning Georgian streets, flower gardens and lots of excellent restaurants and pubs. It’s also within easy reach of Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich if you want to explore further afield.
Margaret Street Car Park, Thaxted, Essex, CM6 2QN
This free car park lets motorhomes stay for up to 48 hours in any 14-day period. The onsite public toilets are open 8am-5pm.
This small country town has plenty to keep you busy for your brief stay, with a number of interesting buildings to explore. These include a restored windmill, a late mediaeval guildhall, and a magnificent church. All set against a backdrop of gorgeous mediaeval houses.
New Dover Road Park & Ride, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 3EL
Located just one mile from Canterbury city centre along the A2, parking is £3.50 for 24 hours and overnight parking is allowed. If you don’t fancy the walk into town, the ticket also includes full use of the Park & Ride bus service.
The maximum stay is 48 hours. Fresh water, grey and black dump facilities are also available. There are 24 extra-large parking bays with wide turning circles.
Little Roodee Car Park, Chester, CH1 1SL
Close to the centre of historic Chester and near the racecourse you’ll find plenty of space here. Larger motorhomes should park in coach bays and pay £10 per day or £5 overnight. This walled cathedral city needs no introduction, it’s a wonderful place to visit for a few days.
The Promenade Car Park, Brecon, Powys, LD3 9AY
Just across the English/Welsh border in Powys, the Promenade Car Park in Brecon offers free overnight parking (6pm-8am) for motorhomes on the riverside. Don’t be too worried by the ‘No Camping’ sign, it only refers to tents.
It’s a lovely 5-minute walk along the riverside path to the town centre. Powys County Council is one of the most motorhome-friendly councils you’ll find, offering overnight parking for one night in every seven in many of their long stay car parks.
Seaview Hotel, Seafront, Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, SA65 9PL
With space for up to five motorhomes this is a great spot from which to explore the many charms of Pembrokeshire. Overnight parking is free if you’re eating or drinking in the hotel.
Fishguard boasts a wealth of history, world-class music, art and mouth-watering food options. Making it the perfect location for a weekend retreat in your home on wheels.
Railway Hotel, Nantgaredig, Carmarthen, SA32 7LQ
Just east of Carmarthen, you’ll be able to park up here for just £5 per night. There’s water, toilets, and toilet and rubbish disposal here. And the hotel itself offers a wide range of pub classics and drinks. Perfect after a long day at the wheel.
Cruden Bay, Port Errol Harbour, Aberdeenshire, AB42 0HF
Wow, what a spot! Next to a fabulous stretch of beach, motorhomes are welcome to stay here overnight for up to 3 days. Toilets and fresh water are available. The Port Errol Harbour Trustees suggest a £10 donation per night’s stay to help toward the upkeep of the historic harbour.
Be aware that leaving your motorhome in a free spot means you won’t get the benefits of campsite security. If you’re leaving your motorhome unattended for any length of time, make sure your motorhome insurance cover provides the most appropriate cover for your requirements.
Motorhome insurance in the UK arranged through Motorhome Protect can cover camping personal effects for up to £3,500.
TOP TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL OVERNIGHT PARKING
In view of the fact that overnight parking can be quite a grey area, give yourself the best chance of a peaceful stay by being on your very best behaviour. Here are some quick tips to bear in mind.
- Take away only pictures and all your litter, including food scraps.
- If in doubt, ask. If you’re asked to move on, do so respectfully.
- Locals and other motorhome owners are always worth grilling on where to find the best places.
- If you don’t have toilet facilities in your motorhome and there’s no public toilet available, then carry a trowel to bury your own waste. Never do your business less than 30m away from any water source or path. Take away and dispose of any toilet paper or sanitary items.
- Never light fires, it can be extremely dangerous in an open area.
- Be respectful of others by keeping noise down and not disrupting the area.
- Make sure you have the right motorhome insurance in the UK cover.
MOTORHOME INSURANCE UK SUITED TO ANY ADVENTURE
Wherever your motorhome tour takes you, cover arranged by the dedicated team of insurance specialists at Motorhome Protect can come with a range of benefits including:
- Unlimited cover across the European Union
- Cover of camping personal effects for up to £3,500
- Cover for motorhomes with a value up to £120,000
- Unlimited mileage cover
- Consideration of all claims and convictions
Get a quick quote for motorhome insurance UK today.