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The United Kingdom, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man motorhome country guide
The UK is probably the most diverse country in Europe and there is so much to see and do that a lifetime of weekends and holidays can easily be filled. Visiting country houses and historical industrial buildings will give you a good understanding of how the people that shaped the UKs countryside and industry lived. The National Trust, www.thenationaltrust.org.uk, and English Heritage, www.english-heritage.org.uk, members have free access to hundreds of historic buildings and places of interest. You can join at one of the more popular sites so there is no need to take out membership in advance. National Trust members also have access to buildings owned by the National Trust for Scotland www.nts.org.uk The National Trust offers free entry to members of affiliated overseas National Trusts, so bring your membership card if you are a member in: Australia, New Zealand, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man.
Camping is practical all year in England and Wales because of the mild climate, but it is best to tour from April to October to avoid dreary winter weather and cold spells. Cornwall, Ireland and Wales are the wettest regions of the UK. Scotland is a bit too cold for winter camping so plan a summer visit. Be warned mosquitoes are a problem.
Campsites, Motorhome Stopovers and Offsite-Parking in the United Kingdom (free wild camping)
There are 2400 campsites in the UK and a wide network of independent campsites are detailed in numerous campsite guides available from www.vicarious-shop.com There are several UK campsite directories online. Unfortunately the UK does not have a network of Motorhome Stopovers but does have about 4000 mini camping farm sites, with pitch fees as low as £3.50 per night. The easy way to gain access to these mini camping sites is to join one of the camping clubs. The Camping and Caravanning Club allows caravans, motorhomes and tents on its campsites. See www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk Tel: 02476 475442. Membership gives access to 110 club sites and 1500 certified sites (mini camping). Many of the larger club sites are open to non member visitors, who pay full rate. Annual membership costs from £37 and temporary three-month membership is available to foreign nationals for £10. Membership can be taken out at club sites. Members of The Caravan Club can camp in caravans and motorhomes at 200 club sites, including Crystal Palace in London and 2500 small certified locations (mini camping). Annual membership costs from £44 and it is possible to join at any club site. See www.caravanclub.co.uk Tel: 01342 318813.
Certified Locations/Sites (CL/CS) are restricted to a maximum of five member caravans/motorhomes per night. These sites are located at farms, pubs and in people’s gardens so you are able to experience true UK culture in otherwise inaccessible areas. Every site offers water and a waste disposal facility, some offer electricity and showers. Information about these locations is provided in the clubs handbooks and on their websites.
There are so few official Motorhome Stopovers in the UK that you could publish information about them on two sides of A4 paper. Visit www.UKmotorhomes.net for a current list. 500 pubs allow members of the UK scheme called ‘Motorhome Stopovers’ to stop for the night. Membership costs £30 per year and members have access to the pub database on www.motorhomestopover.co.uk. There is another UK scheme called Brit Stops that emulates France Passion, see www.britstops.com for details. Although by-laws generally exclude Offsite-Parking, in practice it is possible to Offsite-Park in the UK if you stop late and leave early. Avoid the obvious tourist hot spots and the coast. Pub landlords and farmers will often let you stop for the night if asked nicely. Some Scottish Islands allow Offsite-Parking, but check with the local tourist office first.
Driving your motorhome or campervan in Britain
Britain has some of the busiest roads in Europe and most towns in the Southeast and the Midlands experience rush hour congestion from 8.00-9.00hrs and 17.00-18.00hrs. Rural counties experience less congestion. The M25 around London can come to a standstill at any time as can the free M6 near Birmingham. Despite local opinion, the roads in the UK are good and most are free to use, apart from toll bridges crossing major estuaries and the M6 toll road around Birmingham. There are about 2000 low bridges in the UK. Bridge heights and road widths are often shown only in feet and inches not metres. Make sure you convert your motorhome or campervan measurements into feet and keep it on display in the cab. Truckers’ maps, showing bridge heights, are available at service stations. Country lanes are narrow and often two-way. Roads in the West Country and Wales can be very narrow and busy during the tourist season; be prepared to use the pull-ins provided or reverse if necessary.
London has both a low emission zone, www.tfl.gov.uk/lezlondon, and a congestion charge, www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/congestioncharging. There is no need to drive through London and it is easier, and probably cheaper, to stay overnight outside of the zones and use public transport to get in.
LPG is available in the UK, but not from every fuel station. A map of LPG stations is displayed at www.drivelpg.co.uk/map/index.php.
The Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man
There are three Crown Dependency islands: Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, none of these islands are part of the EU. Jersey and Guernsey are located off the coast of France. Motorhomes are accepted as long as campsites are pre-booked. Sea crossings must be made with Condor Ferries and motorhomes cannot exceed 7m in length. More information can be found at www.visitguernsey.com and www.jersey.com. The Isle of Man is located between Ireland and Wales and is accessible via ferry from both the UK and Ireland. There are 19 campsites listed on the tourist board website www.visitisleofman.com.