UKC

Car park campervanning

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 Tringa 04 Sep 2022

I have just seen this article in the Press and Journal.

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/opinion/columnists/4732165/north-scotland-tourism-inspiring-ben-dolphin-opinion/

Am I the only one who feels this should not be encouraged?

Car parks(and laybys) have been used for years by people in campervans/motorhomes/cars as an overnight stop without any problems. I think this is partly because the numbers were relatively small and also because, in my experience, the visible sign was just the vehicle. There was nothing else - not chairs, no tables etc.

The above article makes it clear the family were only having a few drinks outside their van and we don't know where they were parked but I think this suggests it is OK to park where you like and treat it like a campsite. Other people might decide having a meal/barbeque/games is OK too and then, as has happened in some areas, decide to leave their litter and waste.

Given that some areas in Scotland have had problems with some visitors abusing the area I am surprised by this article.

I think it would be better if such overnight stops were treated more like aires. This is a longish read - https://alanrogers.com/blog/introduction-to-motorhome-aires - but includes the following

Motorhomes weighing up to 3,500kg are classified as cars in mainland Europe and, for safety reasons, car drivers are allowed to park and rest in their vehicles. This entitlement does not allow car drivers to put up tents or set up caravans because this is deemed camping. Owners of caravans and American-style fifth wheel caravans may think this unfair, but the rules are the rules and foreign tourists have no exemption.

A motorhome is not deemed to be camping if it is self-sufficient; therefore the occupants can cook, eat, and sleep within the motorhome as long as they do not place anything outside. An onboard toilet is a necessity and waste water from sinks must not be discharged onto the ground or into containers that need to be placed outside. Some irresponsible motorhomers ignore these rules and use levelling chocks, put out tables and chairs, wind out awnings, hang up washing, run generators, and generally set up camp. Imagine how you would feel if people were doing that opposite your home. Presumably you would complain to your local council and demand that they banned motorhomes from the parking area.


Dave

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 henwardian 04 Sep 2022
In reply to Tringa:

The friction between vanlife or holiday campervan hire and local residents comes up a lot on UKC. As always, it's a question of numbers and the actions of the people who use the vans and the proximity to residents. 

Earlier this week I was cycling along a public single-track road and came upon a group of 5 vans with English people who had decided to just park in a line taking up the whole road (I had to push my bike through grass to get round them). I pointed out that they couldn't really just block a public road, even if there was "another way around" and told them if they just went about 500 metres further, there was a big area with plenty of space for all their vans. They didn't look much like they were even going to check the area out let alone move there when I left.

I often see people with chairs and tables and bonfires parked right by the road or in a parking area. I don't bother saying anything because it's a futile conversation as what I think is reasonable actions or a person in a van/motorhome will be different from what they think is reasonable actions.

Sadly the sum of all this is that carparks get designated as "no campervans" or "no overnight parking" and it spoils it for everyone. There are already a number of carparks on Skye that have height barriers and signs forbidding overnight/campervans. The NC500 is becoming famous for inconsiderate camper parking and littering and so on.

Long ago, when more people started going to the countryside, the Countryside Code was created with rules like "no fires" and "close gates" and "don't **** with agricultural machinery" and so on. Maybe what's needed is an education drive around the vanlife phenomenon. Not sure I can ever see that happening though, first of all there'd have to be a robust discussion of what the rules should simplify down to and then you'd have the problem of trying to relate it to visitors from foreign countries - tricky.

In reply to Tringa:

Here is a photo of a notice I saw in a layby/viewpoint sort of thing near Loch Carron a few days ago. It all seems pretty reasonable, well mostly anyway. It seems to imply an acceptance that people want to and are going to enjoy the freedom of their vans whatever, but asks that they do it responsibly.

People have camped/vanned roadside in Scotland for ever and are not about to stop unless there are pretty draconian measures (well, I'm not anyway). Obviously it is the pressure of numbers which is the problem. I think that in Scotland this is only in certain places in a few summer months (mostly, probably, the disaster which is the NC500 and Skye).

It is interesting that on a lovely part of the NC500 that people tend to rush past I have recently been invited to camp and park in their fields by two farmers we met and invited into their house for a cup of tea by the old man from the nearest house to where we were camping. Meanwhile, a hundred miles further on there is campervan war......

I have recently got a small van and, having just retired, am immensely enjoying the freedom to go when and where I like rain and midge proof at the drop of a hat. But I do avoid the busy areas (I am lucky to have the knowledge to do this) and would never crowd other people or locals. I'm certainly not stopping any time soon.


 Uncle Derek 04 Sep 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I have recently got a small van and, having just retired, am immensely enjoying the freedom to go when and where I like rain and midge proof at the drop of a hat. But I do avoid the busy areas (I am lucky to have the knowledge to do this) and would never crowd other people or locals. I'm certainly not stopping any time soon.

When you say you have got a small van, do you mean a small camper van with a toilet and all facilities inside, as suggested by the sign in your picture, or do you mean a small commercial vehicle, that you sleep in the back of, or something in-between?

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In reply to Tringa:

French truck drivers seem to do okay sitting outside their trucks, cooking their steaks on little fold-out stoves and tables at the side of their trucks. I confess to admiring their domestic arrangements...

In reply to henwardian:

> The NC500 is becoming famous for inconsiderate camper parking and littering and so on.

The 'NC500' seems to be supported by local tourist agencies. If you encourage them, they will come. Don't be surprised when they do.

In reply to Uncle Derek:

> When you say you have got a small van, do you mean a small camper van with a toilet and all facilities inside, as suggested by the sign in your picture, or do you mean a small commercial vehicle, that you sleep in the back of, or something in-between?

Peugeot Partner, into which I have just put a removeable bed (constructed by a friend) and comfy mattress. Really just a significant upgrade on dossing in the back of estate cars which I've done for decades. Just cook on the floor if too bad to go outside. Shall probably get a porta-potty for when the pleasure of outdoor pooing is inappropriate, but not got around to it yet. 

Post edited at 21:14

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In reply to captain paranoia:

> > The NC500 is becoming famous for inconsiderate camper parking and littering and so on.

> The 'NC500' seems to be supported by local tourist agencies. If you encourage them, they will come. Don't be surprised when they do.

I think they were just surprised by the scale of the problem they created. There do now seem to be some encouraging signs that some of the issues are starting to be addressed.

 ExiledScot 04 Sep 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I think they were just surprised by the scale of the problem they created. There do now seem to be some encouraging signs that some of the issues are starting to be addressed.

I don't see how they can be surprised, if people live trapped in urban sprawl and someone sign posts a week long escape route, even if a very small percent take them up on it, it becomes thousands a year. That and pensioners getting a partial lump from their pension to buy a motor home with (can't call them vans, as many are big enough to be houses on wheels). 

In reply to ExiledScot:

> I don't see how they can be surprised,

Well they obviously didn't think the problems through then if they expected the numbers they got.

 henwardian 04 Sep 2022
In reply to captain paranoia:

> > The NC500 is becoming famous for inconsiderate camper parking and littering and so on.

> The 'NC500' seems to be supported by local tourist agencies. If you encourage them, they will come. Don't be surprised when they do.

Sort of. The NC500 happened organically, it is now supported by tourist agencies because, well, that's their job. Sadly what is not happening as far as I'm aware is the building of the infrastructure needed to support the visitor numbers that are coming.

Also, this just popped into my head:  youtube.com/watch?v=bWDiRSBKNLE&

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 Maggot 04 Sep 2022
In reply to Tringa:

"I’d pulled alongside their motorhome"

"I was still there in that cold, midge-filled car park four hours later, sharing their wine"

Hmmmm, Scottish rangers approve of drink driving then? Especially when you consider that the alcohol driving limit is about 3/5ths of that in England.

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 henwardian 04 Sep 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Here is a photo of a notice I saw in a layby/viewpoint sort of thing near Loch Carron a few days ago. It all seems pretty reasonable, well mostly anyway.

Ugh, that sign is like an object lesson in how not to communicate information. Straight off the bat, they have waaaay to many words. Even if English is your first language, you're never going to read through all that stuff. They need to redesign it using standard symbols for things like sound and garbage and so on, cut out all the chatty stuff and make the symbols prominent and self-explanatory without needing to read the text. I guess I have to excuse them somewhat based on it just being a random trial of something.

But. I do agree with the direction they are trying to take.

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 henwardian 04 Sep 2022
In reply to Maggot:

I hear that if a drink driver crashes in a forest and nobody is there to see it, it didn't actually happen because there was no sound... or something....

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In reply to henwardian:

> Sort of. The NC500 happened organically, it is now supported by tourist agencies

I thought that was what I said. I never claimed it was created by tourist agencies, just that they supported it, therefore encouraging its popularity. The route has always been there. It's just that the 'NC500' moniker was added to it, 'organically' or otherwise.

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 Uncle Derek 04 Sep 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

A similar set up to me, though I have a Dispatch, and a Porta Potti, which I consider essential,  for myself, and out of respect to other people, and to hopefully avert authorities feeling they need to legislate. But other opinions are allowed.

1
russellcampbell 05 Sep 2022
In reply to Maggot:

> "I’d pulled alongside their motorhome"

> "I was still there in that cold, midge-filled car park four hours later, sharing their wine"

> Hmmmm, Scottish rangers approve of drink driving then? Especially when you consider that the alcohol driving limit is about 3/5ths of that in England.

I thought that at first until I finished the article. However, Ben Dolphin near the end said that he walked home.  The Bavarians in the story wouldn't be driving that night. The only danger would be that they drank so much that they were still over the limit if they set off driving in the morning.

1
 dread-i 05 Sep 2022
In reply to Tringa:

Its a tricky one. People have the right to roam in Scotland and camp where they like, which is a fantastic freedom. But then we complain when people camp where they like. I've seen lots of vans, nose to tail, at beauty spots. Hardly the call of the wild. I've also seen vans parked in small lay-bys next to fast roads, which doesn't seem like it would be safe or picturesque.

People spend a lot of money on their vans, especially after lockdown and staycations. You can pay a fortune to hire a van for a week, in some cases more than hiring a cottage. I dont begrudge them parking wherever. I do think they should use more imagination when doing so. Scotland is big, and many parts of it are awesome. Sometimes you only need to go down the road a bit to find some actual wilderness.

In reply to dread-i:

For the avoidance of confusion, freedom to roam in Scotland does not include the freedom to park overnight nor to sleep in your vehicle.

In reply to tlouth7:

> For the avoidance of confusion, freedom to roam in Scotland does not include the freedom to park overnight nor to sleep in your vehicle.

Not according to the MCofS: https://www.mountaineering.scot/activities/camping/roadside-camping 

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In reply to Robert Durran:

Your link is about roadside comping in a tent, I see no mention of sleeping in a vehicle.

3
In reply to tlouth7:

> Your link is about roadside comping in a tent, I see no mention of sleeping in a vehicle.

I don't think that is clear at all. It mentions campervans. Anyway, it would certainly be absurd if you could sleep in a tent beside a car but not in the car.

1
 Darron 05 Sep 2022
In reply to tlouth7:

The right to wild camp in a tent in Scotland stems from 1998 legislation. The act specifically excludes motor vehicles. 

The right to sleep in a motor vehicle at the side of the road/ car park etc stems from an act in 2003 that allowed such. Legally this has nothing to do with wild camping.

I think confusion arises because some vehicle users refer to being off a campsite as wild camping.

In reply to Robert Durran:

That would be absurd wouldn't it....

How close you are entitled to camp to your parked car has not to my knowledge been tested in court.

 DundeeDave 05 Sep 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

"The Access Code notes that access rights do not apply to motor vehicles" https://www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot/practical-guide-all/camping

 Ciro 05 Sep 2022
In reply to tlouth7:

> For the avoidance of confusion, freedom to roam in Scotland does not include the freedom to park overnight nor to sleep in your vehicle.

No, but it's not an offence to sleep in your vehicle anywhere that is legal to park (residential streets, car parks, verges of roads without yellow lines, etc. - and that's anywhere in the UK.

Local authorities can set conditions for car parks, but otherwise anywhere is fair game.

In reply to Tringa:

I realise I have perhaps added to the confusion rather than reduced it.

I am not claiming that it is in any way illegal or a problem to sleep in your vehicle. However unlike sleeping in your tent you do not have an automatic right to do so in Scotland.

 DaveHK 05 Sep 2022
In reply to Ciro:

> No, but it's not an offence to sleep in your vehicle anywhere that is legal to park (residential streets, car parks, verges of roads without yellow lines, etc. - and that's anywhere in the UK.

> Local authorities can set conditions for car parks, but otherwise anywhere is fair game.

My memories on this are a little hazy but a while back (10 years or more?) no overnight parking signs appeared in lots of car parks in the Highlands. This was pre campervan boom and from memory it was mainly to target travellers. It was challenged and I believe the ruling was that it had no basis in law.

I'm not sure what that adds to the discussion other that there are precedents for local authorities trying to stop overnight parking.

Post edited at 17:24
 rogerwebb 05 Sep 2022
In reply to henwardian:

> Sort of. The NC500 happened organically, it is now supported by tourist agencies because, well, that's their job. Sadly what is not happening as far as I'm aware is the building of the infrastructure needed to support the visitor numbers that are coming.

Are you sure about that? I thought it was launched by the North Highland Initiative in 2015 as part of a deliberate attempt to increase visitor numbers to Caithness and the east coast of northern Highland.

It has however been rather more successful in increasing numbers to the west than the east coast .

Unfortunately no one appears to have consulted anyone who wasn't working in the tourist industry which may account for some of the tensions.

OP Tringa 06 Sep 2022
In reply to rogerwebb:

> Are you sure about that? I thought it was launched by the North Highland Initiative in 2015 as part of a deliberate attempt to increase visitor numbers to Caithness and the east coast of northern Highland.

> It has however been rather more successful in increasing numbers to the west than the east coast .

> Unfortunately no one appears to have consulted anyone who wasn't working in the tourist industry which may account for some of the tensions.

I could be wrong but I thought it was to increase economic viability of the Highlands by way of encouraging tourism. However, as you say, I don't think anyone not involved in tourism was consulted.

Apart from not thinking how increased numbers would impact on the area there was a lack of joined up thinking. Soon after the introduction of the NC500 Highland Council decided it could not afford to maintain a number of rural public toilets and closed them! In some cases the local communities took them over.

Dave 

 DaveHK 06 Sep 2022
In reply to Tringa:

> Apart from not thinking how increased numbers would impact on the area there was a lack of joined up thinking. Soon after the introduction of the NC500 Highland Council decided it could not afford to maintain a number of rural public toilets and closed them!

HC is flat broke so projects that need investment to either improve infrastructure (like toilets) or further monetise visitors (like aires or a campervan pass scheme) are going to be pretty limited for the forseeable. 

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OP Tringa 06 Sep 2022
In reply to DaveHK:

> HC is flat broke so projects that need investment to either improve infrastructure (like toilets) or further monetise visitors (like aires or a campervan pass scheme) are going to be pretty limited for the forseeable. 

Fair point. As a an ex-civil servant in the DWP who used to talk to local authorities on a daily basis(I did not talk to every authority but I reckon over my years I must has spoken to about 200) just about every one of them said they were trying their best to comply with the law, and other demands, with inadequate funding.

Dave

 Dax H 07 Sep 2022
In reply to captain paranoia:

> The route has always been there. It's just that the 'NC500' moniker was added to it, 'organically' or otherwise.

Prior to it being given a lable bikers would tour Scotland but not in great numbers. Mainly because the average biker sticks to what they know, the ride to their local biker haunt and maybe to the sea-side. 

Suddenly though the NC500 had a name and a well published route to follow and it became the thing to do and obviously post about on face book. Add in camper vans and groups of sports cars and its purgatory. 

OP Tringa 08 Sep 2022
In reply to Dax H:

> Prior to it being given a lable bikers would tour Scotland but not in great numbers. Mainly because the average biker sticks to what they know, the ride to their local biker haunt and maybe to the sea-side. 

> Suddenly though the NC500 had a name and a well published route to follow and it became the thing to do and obviously post about on face book. Add in camper vans and groups of sports cars and its purgatory. 

Unfortunately giving the route(which loads of commercial and other vehicles had used for years) a name has attracted some who would never have considered visiting northern Scotland and I think do it more so they can say they can say they have done the NC500.

Dave


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