UKC

/ Camper van: tips for UK road trip!

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Kean - on 07 Mar 2018

Hi there, I'm an ex pat Brit climber (living in Italy for the past 20 years). I'm looking to rent a camper van & have a UK-based holiday...renting the camper van in the SE and heading to west country, then S and N Wales.

I've no experience of using camper vans & looking for some general info:

Any suggestions on renting? I'll be based in Kent the week before & then ideally want to rent a camper van as close as possible to Maidstone/Ashford.

What's the deal with just parking up in a car park/lay-by and sleeping there for the night? Is that generally "the done thing" or do councils clamp down on it??

I've seen in Italy there are kind of free-access public "Eco centres" where van users can dump toilet waste & take on fresh water...anything similar in the UK?

Any idea of a ball-park figure for how much we're likely to pay at official camp sites?

Any other tips???

Thanks in advance for any info

Andy Johnson on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Kean:

> What's the deal with just parking up in a car park/lay-by and sleeping there for the night? Is that generally "the done thing" or do councils clamp down on it??

Doable in Scotland and maybe the more remote parts of Wales, otherwise no. Southern England and Wales is quite densely populated and you're quite likely to me moved on. Hie companies may also not approve. Use a proper campsite.

> I've seen in Italy there are kind of free-access public "Eco centres" where van users can dump toilet waste & take on fresh water...anything similar in the UK?

My experience of campervan rental is limited, but I don't think such facilities are available here. Some villages still have public toilets that might have a tap for drinking water, but thats fairly rare.

> Any idea of a ball-park figure for how much we're likely to pay at official camp sites?

£25+ ish depending on vehicle size, location, time of year.

> Any other tips

Lack of space. A van rated for x people will be cramped if it actually contains x people, so maybe get the next size up. Large vans can be very difficult to park/manoeuvre though, depending on your experience.

In bad weather is can be a little hellish, and storing wet footwear, jacket, etc. can be difficult. Experience with long-duration submarine trips would help prepare you.

The built-in showers can be very small, and I found it best to use campsite facilities. Remember you'll probably have to clean the vehicle before returning it, and while all your stuff is still in it.

Its good though. Have fun!

 

Post edited at 10:09
tripehound - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Kean:

It is suprising where you can park up for the night in a small van. I have used lay bys in many parts of Wales the Lakes and Scotland amd had no trouble apart from mice chewing my electrics!

I know of at least 5 spots in Borrowdale alone that are usable as a 1 nighter, it's suprising once you start looking. Even two spots in Langale too.

My one rule is if there is litter in my chosen spot I pick it up as locals might think it was left by campers , and its good policy anyway.

 

 

Post edited at 10:47
Jon Greengrass on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Kean:

Last time I looked at camper van hire it was cheaper to hire a car and stay in a hotel or B&B

Baron Weasel - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Kean:

As a stealth camper owner I love it and rarely pay for camping. There are groups on facebook where people exchange park ups, but they are generally not that difficult to find, although you may need to treat it like stealth camping where you arrive late and leave early, obviously leaving no trace. Country pubs will often let you sleep in their carpark if you ask nicely and buy food and drink from them too. If you find yourself coming to the Lakes then feel free to send me a PM and I'll point you in the direction of some good park ups ;-)

1
Kimono - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Baron Weasel:

It depends on your van. I assume it looks like a camper? Mine just looks like an ordinary Renault Trafic and thus I tend to park up and sleep wherever I like
Often in town centres if convenient

Baron Weasel - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Kimono:

> I assume it looks like a camper? 

Nope - it says Highway Maintenance on it, has flashing lights and reflective decals

Great for picking up firewood too - lights on, hi-viz and chainsaw!

 

1
Coel Hellier - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Kean:

> Any idea of a ball-park figure for how much we're likely to pay at official camp sites?

If you have to ask that you can't afford to hire a camper van!   

Kean - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Andy Johnson:

Some excellent advice...many thanks...will see if I can get some submarine experience...

Kean - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Greengrass: Yes, it does appear that camper vans are actually a luxury rather than a way of saving money...

Kean - on 07 Mar 2018
In reply to Baron Weasel:

Thanks for the info Mr Weasel...will have a ferret around on FB & see what I can find.

 

jon freestone - on 08 Mar 2018
In reply to Kean:

We rarely stay on sites (except to dump waste and fill up on water - very few places in uk to do this for free) have a look at the 'park4night' app - got some good 'wild camp' spots on and plenty of 'official' spots as well.

nutme - on 08 Mar 2018

In UK as for climber it's not pleasant most of the time. Rain and mud are hard to manage, lack of free parking with facilities. Supper narrow country roads. Solar is very inefficient and relying on charging batteries from engine is frustrating if you want to stay in one area for longer. Drying ropes and gear in wet weather is hard.

If you stay in campsites then you can hook up to mains and run electric heaters inside. But camper hire + campsites price tags will make it very expensive. As Jon Greengrass suggested car + bed & breakfast is cheaper. Especially for a short period of time.

Protip is to chain everything. If you have bike or wet suit outside make sure it's properly chained and locked.

quirky - on 08 Mar 2018
In reply to nutme:there are an abundance of places to park up for the night. Our "van" is most certainly not stealth and with a bit of planning and forethought a quiet night and a beautiful view to wake up for can easily be found. Filling up with water and emptying waste is also easily done with a bit of planning. As someone mentioned earlier we always pick up any rubbish we see, we never park within sight of someones home and we use common sense about where we park for the night. We have never had trouble or been moved on, we spend money in the area we are visiting and are sympathetic to our surroundings. It isnt a cheap get away and is only an alternative to the b&b route but waking up already where you want to be an having the ability to be totally flexible with your trip are the main things that keep me in a camper van and not a b&b. 

 

Kean - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Kean:

Thanks all. Some great advice. 

elliot.baker - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Kimono:

Don't you ever found yourself being woken up by traffic, people, revellers, dustbin lorries, etc. etc. etc.?

I think I'd be freaked out every time I heard footsteps walking past.

Ben Sharp - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to Kean:

> Yes, it does appear that camper vans are actually a luxury rather than a way of saving money...

Depends on the camper really, it can be a luxury or it can be a works van you've got anyway with a mattress in the back. I imagine that for either end of the spectrum the appeal is more in having the freedom to stay where you choose and not be tied into accommodation or camp sites, many of which you have to book in the summer. Sharing a camp site with other people in the height of summer is my idea of hell compared to waking up in a beautiful place 5 minutes walk from the crag.

In terms of the wet weather/storing gear, it can be an issue but I've been comfortable in an estate car with two people in the wet. It's not ideal but then it's nothing compared to the horror you can endure if you park somewhere midgy for the night and they end up inside... If you're in a van and generally outdoorsy you probably wont have a problem with space and wet clothes etc, it's just part of it and 100 times easier to deal with than when you're on a walk camping. I guess if you compare van life to a B&B then it's unpleasant when it's wet, if you compare it to bivvying then it's luxury - it's all relative.

In terms of facilities you can get water in grave yards (there's always a tap) or if you're north of the border and it's not a dry summer there'll be an abundance of streams to fill up from. We usually take 4 or 5 5ltr water bottles for two and never run out between filling up. Most sports centres will let you use the showers for a small fee and often there's showers at train stations...and then there's always au naturel in streams and rivers but don't use soap near water, same goes for washing up. Solar showers are surprisingly effective but you do need sun which isn't always a given. Parking up is fine in most of scotland with the exception of the loch lomand area, south of the border you're more likely to get hassled but as other's have said if you're inconspicuous and park sensibly you'll probably be fine. I got woken up once in the lake district by the bobby but they just wanted to check I wasn't dead and then let me get back to sleep.

Apologies for the Scotland centric response but it's the area I know best and certainly the easiest to "wild camp/car camp" in. If you do travel to Scotland don't underestimate the midgies and park accordingly.

Post edited at 13:40
guy127917 - on 09 Mar 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

To begin with that is an issue, but you get over it after a while!


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