In the previous blog post, I talked about the places we went on our road trip across Great Britain. In this post, I am going to talk about camping and traveling across Great Britain. It is pretty easy, and straightforward. Don’t be scared they drive on the wrong side of the road. It is not that bad when you get used to it.
We didn’t plan too much as you would know if you read the previous post. Just the basics of going down south and driving north. We knew we wanted to visit Wales and Scotland as well as England.
The short message is that Great Britain is made for camping and road trips.
We got some large paper-based maps of the UK, and we try to use GPS only when navigating in the cities. Don’t get me wrong. I love the GPS when I am in a hurry or when I am browsing within an unknown town. But looking at a large map gives me the context and feeling I know where I am. This makes me aware of exciting stuff around me that might not be as easily found on the GPS. Every evening we would plan the next days’ route. In addition to the maps, we signed up for membership with Caravan and Motorhome Club. That gave us an idea of where to stay every night. (More about that in the camping section). The second thing that helped us the plan was membership with the English Heritage. They care for more than 400 historic monuments, buildings and places in England. They also partner up across Wales and Scotland, so their maps also show exciting landmark places in those countries. The last thing we used for planning was the “Back Roads Great Britain” from DK.com. That comes with 25 drives and brings you places you might not have planned for otherwise and served us very well. And the last part of the planning was just talking to the locals and get their input regarding where to go 🙂 British people are very friendly and helpful.
Renting a motor home
We rented our motor home with Just Go. They have a huge fleet of new motorhomes, and is very friendly and helpful. Though their service was a bit slow when picking up and returning the motorhome – due to being the high season I would assume. I would highly recommend them, and would definitively rent from them again.
We had a six berth motorhome, and it could easily take six people across three doublebeds.
The motorhome comes fully equipped, and we rented an outdoor dining set as well. Even the motorhome is new, and in excellent condition, it will make rattling and squeaking noises. We found the dinnerware that came with the motorhome to be the worst, and so we decided to take that out before going. We bought some simple, cheap plastic and paper-based dinnerware instead. That made a huge difference.
The fridge was huge and could be run off gas, electricity, and car while driving. Easy to use control panel makes it clear to you what is on and off at any given time. Tiny bathroom as expected, but fully functional. Hot water is heated with gas or electricity, and you could run hot water for 15 minutes. The motorhome came with the toilet cassette, and could quickly be emptied in any toilet. It is comfortable and clean to drain. It comes with a separate grey water tank that you unload at the camping stations. The cargo room was huge, and we were never close to filling that one up.
Our car was a Ford, and the engine fitted the car very well. It is not a speeding machine, but smooth and comfortable to drive. This was our first motorhome experience, and it really made us happy and wanted us to make another motorhome trip.
Driving in the UK is on the left side – wrong side for us. However, when you have a local car with the steering wheel on the right side, it is pretty easy, and you adjust quickly. After a couple of roundabouts, you stop thinking about it.
Speed limits are posted in miles per hour, and they do have enforcement in place, like traffic cameras.
There are very few toll roads (I can only think of one – the M6. Though there is also toll bridges, for example when crossing over to South-Wales) and within London city, there is congestion charge. The motorway is easy to drive. Though, on a trip like this, you don’t want to drive on the highway.
The system in UK three major classifications of the roads: M, A, and B. There is also some minor local categories, so you might sometimes see C roads, D and U for unclassified roads. M being a motorway, A and B being smaller and slower. We found the B roads to be generally very scenic drives, though really narrow many places. They will cut through narrow streets in old villages, and they will go through farmland with stone fences on both sides. The M roads are for transportation. They bring you quickly from A to B, and they have regular service stations. The service stations come with gas stations, grocery stores, coffee place, and restaurants. You can even camp there for the night (be aware it comes with a cost staying there for more than two hours), and they have showers and toilets you can use 24H.
Using the guide we got with the Caravan and Motorhome Club we usually found a camping site for the night. It seems that camping is very popular in the UK, and you can find everything from simple farms running camping to glamorous camping – or glamping if you like. Be aware that you should book before arrival, and that most of the close early in the afternoon or night. You can usually get some basic grocery stuff and camping equipment at the site, though not always. You can do laundry, and they will have showers and toilets.
They could have a variety of pitches, though we always selected one with an electricity hookup. We ended up paying between 20-30GBP per night.
Again, the guide from the Caravan Club indicates what is available and not, as well as the time of latest arrival and prices.
We bought grocery’s at M&S, Sainsbury’s or Tesco, with M&S food being a favorite.
You need to pay attention if you travel with kids, as some of the camping sites are reserved for adults only. In the guidebooks, this is clearly marked.
Links for resources mentioned: