The UK really is blessed with a startling array of campsites along the length and breadth of the country. However, when the world is your oyster narrowing down the perfect choice for you and your motorhome can make your head and wheels spin!
Just like arranging the right motorhome insurance, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to take. It really does depend on what type of trip you want, where you’re headed and what you plan to do when you get there!
To help with this seemingly impossible task we’ve taken a look at some of the most common types of campsites on offer. So you can see which might be the perfect match for you.
Remember, there’s no better way to learn than by experience. So, why not try them all out and decide first hand which is the ultimate campsite experience for you?
Choosing the right type of campsite for you – getting started
There are campsites pretty much everywhere you look in the UK, so if you book in plenty of time you can rest assured of a decent place to park up for the night. But when you’re thinking of the perfect holiday location, then you really need to think about what type of campsite appeals to you. The best campsites aren’t just a place to rest your head at the end of a long day, they can make or break a vacation.
For example, smaller more remote campsites might have little in the way of fancy facilities but channel a more chilled out vibe in often stunning or unique locations. At the other end of the spectrum, large holiday parks will offer a mind-boggling array of facilities, activities and entertainment and are fun for all the family.
Likewise, while some will let you park up anywhere you like, others have clearly defined and serviced pitches with electric hook-ups and all the mod cons. Some won’t pay much attention to what you’re doing, while others might have very strict rules about what you can and can't do and at what times!
While these are all matters of personal preference it’s important to make a quick checklist as to what you find important before you search for the perfect park up. As a minimum you should consider the following matters:
- Location – Whether near the beach, among the trees, up in the mountains, on the moors, or by a tranquil lake, there are countless possibilities for the intrepid motorhome tourer. Why are you visiting the area in particular and what do you hope to get out of it? Is it important to be near a certain town, beach or river for what you have planned?
- Facilities – Everyone has different priorities when it comes to facilities. Some hardy souls may think a farmer’s field with a cold-water standpipe and no toilets or showers is ideal. While someone with a couple of teenagers in tow may think the attractions of a luxury holiday park are absolutely essential. If you have an idea of the facilities you would expect at your campsite, it will really help narrow down your choice.
- Activities – If you’ve invested in a motorhome then you’re sure to love being in the great outdoors, but what do you like doing once you’re there? Do you like eating out and discovering the finest foods on offer while sightseeing? Or do you prefer something more strenuous like walking, cycling, or wild swimming. We all relax in different ways but with a bit of research you’re sure to find the perfect spot for you.
- Specific needs – If you have any particular needs then it’s worth checking with any site in case they can’t accommodate you. For example, some sites might not allow dogs or large groups.
Once you’ve got a list of what you need, consider these different types of campsite and see if one is more suitable than another.
Both the Caravan and Motorhome Club and the Camping & Caravanning Club have large networks of well-run sites dotted throughout the UK. Whether you fancy a trip to the wild Cornish coast, the glorious Lake District or the stunning wilderness of the Scottish Highlands and islands there’s sure to be one available. All these sites have to meet high standards so you’ll know you’re in safe hands. And you don’t even have to be a member to stay. All campers are welcome, although if you are a member you can make some hefty savings on your holiday.
Another benefit of being a member is the wide network of like-minded people who can pass on tips about hidden gems. There’s really no better way to find the perfect motorhome site than through word of mouth!
Certificated Sites and Certified Locations
Both these clubs are also worth joining for another great reason. If you’re looking for something small, low-cost, and a bit special then both have an even larger network of approved sites, too. Known as Certificated Sites (CS) or Certified Locations (CL), depending on which club, these are small sites run exclusively for the use of club members.
The beauty of these campsites is they have a limited number of available spaces but in locations poorly serviced by bigger campsites. They also tend to be located in more unusual places like working farms, museums, country homes and even pubs!
While the facilities can be varied, they won’t be unpleasant – just basic. But if you’ve got a decent motorhome set up then these might not be essential anyway.
Could there be anything more idyllic than waking up in a forest surrounded by woodland and the sounds of nature? Well, the Forestry Commission which manages the UK’s woodlands has decided to open up some of these stunning areas to campers. There are currently 17 wonderful Camping in the Forest sites across the New Forest, Wiltshire, Forest of Dean, Sherwood Forest, and Scotland.
Each site is completely unique with facilities ranging from back-to-basics to those with showers, cafes and children’s playgrounds. There’s really no better way to get closer to nature than one of these special campsites.
For details on all the sites there’s a handy brochure to download from the club website.
Visiting a National Trust property is a popular way for motorhome tourers to explore our island’s historic locations, varied cultural heritage and unique and diverse wildlife. But did you know you can often stay near these wonderful properties in your motorhome? From stunning coastal pitches on Exmoor to the fairytale landscape of Castle Ward in County Down you need never visit the same site twice!
We’ve chosen just 11 of the best National Trust campsites to visit next year. Take a look, and see if you agree!
No, we don’t just mean pulling up in a random location and hoping you don’t get moved on before morning! Despite being a busy little island there are, in fact, many places where you can park up for free without any worry about legalities. Brit Stops is a great membership scheme through which you get access to a UK-wide network of free motorhome parking at unusual sites. While services can be limited, they’re a great opportunity to have a pleasant stopover and meet new motorhome friends. If you’re looking for something a bit different then these are well worth checking out.
If you’re planning on visiting one of the many brilliant music and cultural festivals the country plays host to in the summer months then having a motorhome can be very handy. After a long day dancing or otherwise entertaining yourselves your motorhome can provide an oasis of calm among the chaos! Be aware motorhome pitches at festivals can be in high demand, sleep may be hard to come by, and the facilities on site could leave much to be desired. But they are fantastic fun!
If you’re looking for fantastic facilities, an epic touring break and don’t mind larger sites then the UK has some great holiday parks suitable for motorhomes. With on-site restaurants, shows, entertainment venues, and even supermarkets there’s almost no reason to leave! Haven and Parkdean Resorts are two of the biggest holiday park operators in the UK that welcome motorhome tourers onto their sites.
Camping in the great outdoors is as close to nature as you can get. And if you’re prepared to give wild camping a try, you’ll be doing so without the benefits of modern facilities. It’ll be you and your motorhome against the world! Well, not quite, but you will be leaving swimming pools, power showers and wi-fi behind!
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t right and wrong ways of going about it. Simply pulling up and staying the night is technically illegal in much of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, there isn’t usually a problem, provided you’ve asked permission first.
Apart from getting the okay from the landowner it’s always important to follow the wild camping code of conduct to ensure all wild camping is done in a sustainable way. Above all else – leave no trace!
- Don’t camp near houses or livestock.
- Keep a low profile – pitch up late and leave early.
- Always ask permission. If it’s refused, respect the decision.
- Avoid lighting fires.
- Don’t pollute water sources by using nearby ground as a toilet.
- Dig a hole to bury your faeces. And take away ALL other rubbish.
- Don’t use soap, shampoo or detergents in rivers, lakes or streams.
In Scotland, the wild camping rules are more relaxed and wild camping is allowed on unenclosed land including hillsides, moorland or the seashore. It doesn’t include school grounds, golf courses or farmers’ fields! Always use your common sense when parking up and respect signs asking you not to camp.
If you’re planning on paying a visit to Europe in your motorhome then you are in for a special treat – although it will require some planning to get it right. Popular areas like the Costa Brava, Dordogne or French Riviera, will definitely need to be pre-booked before you leave.
If you’re travelling through France then be sure to stay at one of the 4,000 aires dotted across the country. Offering a lifeline to many motorhome tourers, these free or very cheap overnight stops offer a place to stay overnight, waste disposal and essential services. Sounds interesting? Then read our guide to those amazing aires!
For those crossing to the Continent, make sure to also read our guide on driving your motorhome to Europe in 2021. So you’re fully aware of any issues before you leave our shores. After all, problems are always better sorted before you leave the UK behind!
Get motorhome insurance from Motorhome Protect
On the subject of getting things sorted before it’s too late, have you got your motorhome insurance arranged yet? It doesn’t matter how perfect the campsite is, rest and relaxation will be hard to come by if your home on wheels is not well protected!
The helpful team at Motorhome Protect are specialists in arranging cover from a range of trusted providers. Whatever your budget and requirements, you can rest assured we’ll find a policy that’s right for you and your vehicle.
We can arrange unlimited cover across all the countries of the EU, with policies available for unlimited mileage. We will consider covering drivers with previous convictions and claims.
Personal camping effects of up to £3,000 can be protected, and we’ll even give you six months to complete a restoration project on your home on wheels.
Call our experienced team for a motorhome insurance quote today.
Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.