Campervan UK

Submitted: Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 08:27
ThreadID: 132275 Views:1819 Replies:8 FollowUps:9
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Hi
I'd like hear from those of you who have hired a camper van to travel around the UK (not other places like NZ, Europe, USA etc).

I would like to get some recommendations (or non recommendations if you had a bad experience) and information on who you hired from, the ease of use getting around (particularly in some of the narrow streets), number of places to camp (either free or in campgrounds) and if you thought the camper van option was value for money as compared to hiring a car and staying at B&B's. We will be traveling in the UK in about 5 weeks and will spend 3 weeks traveling around England, Scotland and Wales.

Thanks in advance
Regards

Snolly

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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 09:09

Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 09:09
Havent hired a campervan in the UK - driving a smallish (manual) sedan was stressful enough even on country roads where visibility can be restricted by walls and hedges. And the roads are very narrow. We saw a few camp grounds on our travels but they seemed to be in out of the way places, not necessarily close to the tourist spots. Apparently camping in the bush in undesignated places as we can sometimes do here is a no-no over there. By contrast we found car hire to be quite cost effective and there are plenty of cottages and B&Bs to choose from, even in the more affordable price brackets, although pre-booking is probably essential.

Cheers,

Val.
J and V
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Follow Up By: Member - SNOLLYGHOSSTER - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 09:24

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 09:24
Thanks for the info Val.
Regards

Snolly

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Reply By: Member - tazbaz - Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 09:13

Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 09:13
Much better to hire a small car and stay in B&B's. Campers are too large for the narrow roads and too large to park in most villages, and free camps are few and far between. That was our experience in 2012 when we hired a three berth camper from Just Go (just north of London). I still shudder from the thought of that dreadful three weeks with that "pig" of a vehicle
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Follow Up By: Member - SNOLLYGHOSSTER - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 09:25

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 09:25
Thanks for the info.
Regards

Snolly

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Reply By: Member - Robert1660 - Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 09:41

Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 09:41
Hi Snolly,
We spent about 6 weeks driving the UK IN 2014. I also thought at one stage that a campervan might be a good option. However, having driven a Vauxhall Astra some 7000 km in the time we spent there my views concerning campervans changed somewhat. The roads in the UK, although having excellent surfaces, are frequently very narrow. On numerous occasions, even on "A" roads and particularly in towns, the roads can become essentially single lanes controlled by traffic lights or very courteous drivers. Yes, UK drivers in these situations are indeed very courteous. The A82 along Loch Ness was particularly narrow even though it was a major tourist road.
On many occasions we would meet an oncoming campervan and wonder how we were going to get by.
In Dartmoor we literally had to pull into a driveway to allow an oncoming horse to proceed. On Google Streetview have a look at the A382 as it passes through Dartmoor NP.
The hedgerows and lack of road edging also make for interesting driving. You just cannot get off the bitumen.
I now know why Landrover Discoveries are as narrow as they are.
We took the B&B approach. On average they cost about £70 per night for two people. We booked all of them from Aus before we left and found that it is best to book with them directly as you can save a few pounds and you can be sure that the dates you want are actually available. The quality of the B&B's we stayed in was exceptional. Our hosts were extremely hospitable and of course the breakfasts kept you going for most of the day.
We frequently stayed in farm based B&B's with names such as "Park Farm Barn" and "Rushop Hall". Staying in the English countryside is like visiting a scene printed on a Chocolate Box.
Obviously a campervan gives you another perspective, however from my experience they would have the potential to be problematic.
Regardless of what you do in the end I am absolutely certain that with good planning you will have a fabulous time.
If you do hire a car we booked ours over the net with Europcar. I know others have found them rubbish. We collected the car at Heathrow immediately after we arrived. Because it was very early in the morning there was no waiting and we found the staff at Europcar to be most helpful. Because of the length of the hire they ensured that the car we finally took had a jack just in case we needed to change a tyre. Drop off was a little manic because of the sheer number of cars being returned at that time but no issues.
Go for a manual car as it appears that there is quite a premium on automatics. I think that this is what might be called the USA Tax.
If you take out travel insurance before you leave check whether it covers the excess car hire insurance. This can avoid having to pay those fees to the car hire firms.
If you haven't driven on English motorways before prepare yourself. Speed limit is 70 mph, no km/ h over there. Trucks take the outside lane, cars doing 70 mph take the middle lane and those doing 90+ mph the inside lane. It appears that excessive speed on the motorways is accepted. Nevertheless when a very well marked speed camera appears everybody behaves.
Robert
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Follow Up By: Member - SNOLLYGHOSSTER - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 09:27

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 09:27
Thanks for all the info Robert. I checked and you are quite correct re the price difference between manual and automatics. It is quite substantial.
Regards

Snolly

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Reply By: B1B2 - Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 10:59

Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 10:59
Snolly,
We hired the Motorhome in Paris - Avis. When we got to UK for a few weeks we found that most supermarkets had height barriers, free camping was nil. We were 2 and 2 kids and always left the motorhome at the campsite and took a bus or tube, depending where you were. The kids loved the double decker buses. Some CP's were fantastic like Falbarrow in the Lakes District with it's own pub. Others were a short walk to access pub/restaurants. London had the Lee Valley Liesure Centre, and we took public transport to town.
I never found the narrow lanes too much of a problem except I was LH drive which had you leaning into the stone walls. The rear vision mirrors on the motor home were great it gave you a good look at the line on the road which was a necessity as you did need to tuck yourself in sometimes.
I would use a motorhome again because of the freedom to stop without booking ahead.

Enjoy the trip,

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Follow Up By: Member - SNOLLYGHOSSTER - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 09:28

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 09:28
Thanks for the info, it's been very helpful.
Regards

Snolly

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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 13:43

Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 13:43
Hi Snolly,

Contrary to other opinions, we hired "campervans" to tour Britain way back in 1987.
One family of 3, (9 yo boy) were in a four berth Bedford Motorhome and the other family (4 girls ranging between 4 and 15) had a larger 6 berth Fiat Motorhome and we went everywhere between Land's end, Cornwall in the South of England, to John O'Groats at the northern tip of Scotland.

At only one place did we experience "difficulty" when my Cousin driving the Fiat tried a sharp left and then a sharp right turn at St. Ives, at the tip of the "toe", as we headed back north. A simple reversing procedure, assisted by 100 smiling locals, had us back on the straight and narrow again.

The road along Loch Ness was a doodle, as was everywhere else we diverted to, into Wales, a ferry across to the Isle of Skye and everywhere else we chose to go. There is now a causeway across to Skye from the Mainland.

The roads would not be any narrower today and the choice of vehicles probably more diverse than those of "30 years ago".

There are plenty of camp grounds with power to stay at, although perhaps a little different than what our Caravan parks over here are. I don't know of any free sites, but the costs were not all that prohibitive. The cost of fuel may be another thing:-)

We chose this method to get a mob of 9 around Great Britain in the most practical manner. It is not easy to rock up at a B&B with nine people and expect to be accommodated. We also purchased a touring guide book of Great Britain which was of great assistance to us on our journey.
Bill


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Follow Up By: Member - SNOLLYGHOSSTER - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 09:29

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 09:29
Thank you Bill for the info.
Regards

Snolly

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Follow Up By: Ron N - Friday, May 06, 2016 at 11:03

Friday, May 06, 2016 at 11:03
I toured around Southern England and Scotland with my elderly mother in 1988, using a hired Vauxhall sedan and B&B's.
It worked out very well. We rarely booked ahead, just found a B&B in a back street about 4:00PM and booked in. We toured in September, so I guess the "high season" was over. It was a very balmy month and most enjoyable.

The traffic congestion was considerable then, and I'll wager it's much worse today.
I have photos of the massive motorway congestion from that year, even in the middle of the day in the middle of the week - and it was pretty bad.

The M4 from Reading into London would be a good drive, then the traffic would all come to a stop 30kms out of London as London tried to cope with the traffic influx.
I understand London now has a congestion tax, so its not even worth taking your car into it. If you do manage to get in, there's no parking - and if you do find parking, it costs a fortune.

Britain has a superb public transport system in the populated areas, so no problem with getting around. Trains are plentiful and very fast, and buses are frequent and cover wide areas.

The other point is that nearly all of the original villages feature narrow streets, building overhangs, and sharp bends - usually with substantial traffic added.
Driving a motorhome that is anything other than "Compact" is a major challenge, through many places.
Even in the Highlands of Scotland - despite the minimal amount of traffic - the roads are often quite narrow, and there are many restrictions such as sharp bends and one-lane ancient bridges.

I wouldn't consider a motorhome unless it was a compact, van-size vehicle.
Then, with a motorhome, there is also the constant problem of break-ins and theft.
Crime in the U.K. is quite high in many areas, and motorhomes and campers need to be secured at all times.

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: Member - Balvenie Pastoral - Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 13:48

Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 13:48
We travelled extensively throughout UK & Ireland about 10 years ago, when the $AUD was @ 35P, so cost was an issue. We leased a Peugeot for 12 weeks on the "Open Europe" scheme, and bought a Maggiolina Roof top tent over there, for less than one third of the local price. We mixed B&B's, farmstays, Pubs and rentals with camping. The one thing to know regarding camping / caravaning is join the Caravan Club. There are lots of sites around for camping, mostly frequented by Gypsies. The Caravan Club has has extensive facilities throughout the UK & Europe, No gypsies permitted - if you want a higher standard and SECURITY the Caravan Club is the answer. We met many interesting and engaging professionals and retirees and the Caravan Club option saved us heaps, allowing us to have the extended stay over there. We ended up shipping the Maggiolina home with all our accumulated gear in it for the cost of shipping 4 suitcases & sold the Maggiolina at a profit ..... Good luck
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Follow Up By: Member - SNOLLYGHOSSTER - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 09:30

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 09:30
Thanks for the info re especially re the Caravanning Club.
Regards

Snolly

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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 16:27

Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 16:27
Years ago we hired a small sedan and stayed in B&Bs for a couple of weeks.
Had a great time.

In 2014 we spent a couple of months in the UK in a motorhome. It was not hired.
We enjoyed that at least as much and it was certainly cheaper for us than B&Bs.
We "free camped" every where.

In England and Wales there is almost no "wild" camping. We used a publication called Brit Stops which is a list of commercial premises (pubs, farm shops etc) that allow free over night stays, no strings attached. Was great.

Scotland is very different from England and we spent a month there "free camping" in the traditional sense. Scotland was a highlight.

We spent another month free camping in Ireland.

Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: Member - SNOLLYGHOSSTER - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 09:31

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 09:31
Thanks for the info re Brit Stops Peter. I checked them out and it sounds like a good system.
Regards

Snolly

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Reply By: Michael H9 - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 12:09

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 12:09
The only other thing to keep in mind is that some caravan parks in the UK and Europe may close for the winter season. That was the case when I was there but that was 10 years ago now.
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Follow Up By: Member - SNOLLYGHOSSTER - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 19:35

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 19:35
Thanks Michael but we will be travelling in about 4 weeks so hopefully the weather is a little warmer than is currently the case.
Regards

Snolly

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