True freedom comes with four wheels, travelling uninhibited in your motorhome. The motorhome lifestyle allows you to go wherever you please, whenever you please. And being able to sleep in your form of transport also allows you to avoid the extra costs and hassles of booking accommodation wherever you travel to. But even with a motorhome, you must consider where to park or camp for the evening, and this can be muddled with unclear regulations and laws. That’s why we’re going to share with you some options for parking overnight or camping in the UK with your motorhome, so just keep reading!
The rules on parking overnight are super unclear, as there are no official rules prohibiting it in the UK. It appears to be up to the jurisdiction of each local government and law enforcement, who tend to follow the unofficial rule of allowing it unless it is on private property. Thus, stopping at a lay-by or in a public car park probably won’t get you in any trouble, but setting up camp on someone’s property or staying in the car park of a specific business could lead to you being asked to move. Our advice is to be on the lookout for truck stops along the roads, as these are not just for trucks! If you follow the rules of the trucker, by only parking long-term overnight, taking up one spot and generally being courteous, there should be no issues! Beware of safety at these, and always ensure you lock your doors and keep valuables out of sight. For car parks, just go and ask the owner first as many won’t mind. Often supermarkets or casinos allow motorhome owners to use their car parks overnight, as long as it isn’t for more than a night and nothing is being blocked. Lately there has also been the new trend of Nightstops, specifically allocated places for motorhomes to park for the night. Organisations and businesses can sign up to be a Nightstop, and may ask in return you purchase a meal there or simply allow you to stay for free! Sites like this one show you all the Nightstops currently registered, so you can always find your closest one. If you’re a business owner, consider registering to be a Nightstop to help your fellow motorhome travellers, it could result in some good karma for you or them visiting your store!
Wild Camping Rules
Car parks may be practical, but they don’t provide the best view to wake up to. If you’re focused more on the journey and stops, rather than your road trip destination, then perhaps some wild camping spots are more in line with what you’re looking for. You should try to follow the general rule of ‘leave only footprints, take only photographs’, as well as the following recommendations. Don’t camp on verges or in carparks, and always ensure you are out of sight of any walking paths and well known tarns. Stay for only a single night at each location, and try to arrive late and leave early. Keep noise to a minimum, and ensure your campfire is always in check. You’re a guest here, so make sure to act as one.
Wild Camping England
Here are some places for camping in England for free. There is a longstanding tradition of wild camping in the Lake District, so it is tolerated by landowners as long as you follow the wild camping code mentioned above. Two particularly good spots are Thornthwaite Beacon and Place Fell, which are both within reach of freshwater streams for drinking - but always boil and/or sterilize before you drink! When I considered free camping in the UK with motorhomes, my first thought was of Dartmoor National Park. This beautiful site appears to be the exception to the rules, as it explicitly allows wild camping at several areas within its proximity. Be sure to first research the areas allowing it, which can be done on their site. They strongly urge campers to stay at least 100m from any road, and hidden from roadside and residential view. Wild camping in the Yorkshire Dales is strongly restricted and discouraged, especially during grouse shooting season, but if you’re discreet you can usually stay a night without any issues. Cornwall is often filled with motorhome and campervan owners looking for a place for free motorhome camping, and there are numerous places to set up camp. We recommend Bodmin Moor, possibly around the Gold Diggings quarry, which also has wonderful spots for wild swimming. But be wary of the surrounding farmland, which is owned land and off-limits. For any other locations for camping in England for free, just do a quick search for a forum and follow general guidelines, and you should be fine!
Wild Camping Wales
A list of places for free camping in the UK for motorhomes must include Wales, given its suitability for camping and motorhome travel! This gorgeous country must be included in your road trip, and there are many spots for you to stay overnight. We strongly recommend staying in Snowdonia National Park, which is very wild camping friendly. As long as you camp off the beaten track and follow the general codes, you’ll have no issues. In particular, camping above Aber Falls is breathtaking, and will reignite your love for camping, nature and Wales! Wild camping in the Brecon Beacons can be slightly more difficult, but there are two locations where wild camping is allowed. At Melte and Llech Llia you can camp with up to 10 people, but groups of a bigger size or disobeying guidelines will be asked to leave.
So the main advice to take from this blog is when in doubt, check! Ask the owner of the closest establishment if you can park there overnight, or run a quick google search if this land is available for wild camping. Free motorhome parking is just about always thinking ahead. Free camping in the UK with motorhomes is a great idea for your next staycation, and will lead to a fun journey with unexpected stops. Just remember when camping somewhere to keep to yourself and follow the rules of courtesy, and you shouldn’t run into any trouble!
Written by Fleurine Tideman