Get ready to roam with your home! When lockdown eases, what better way to enjoy the wonders of Britain than a campervan tour? Discovering five fantastic journeys…
- Cornwall is an ideal campervan destination – don’t miss Penzance Art Deco lido and the village of St Mawes
- Start a tour of Norfolk in Norwich, then visit the seaside town of Great Yarmouth and end in Sandringham
- Lap up stunning scenery in Scotland passing through Loch Ness and Cairngorms National Park
Hiring a campervan is a wonderful way to see some of the UK’s most beautiful countryside and coastlines.
But to enjoy the perfect four-wheeled holiday experience, you’ll need to plan ahead.
From the Scottish Highlands to the Cornish coast, here we discover five of the country’s best campervan driving routes.
RETRO STYLE: A VW CAMPERVAN COULD BE YOUR HOME FROM HOME
Medieval might: The 13th Century Caerphilly Castle with a leaning tower that makes Pisa’s look straight
Drive through the stunning Brecon Beacons to Brecon – start early to allow time for mountain walks and a picnic
Start in Cardiff and head west on the M4 for an easy 45-mile drive to The Mumbles, the headlands looking back across the waters of Swansea Bay.
Tour the ruins of Oystermouth Castle, then go bowling on the Victorian-era Mumbles Pier. Stay at Pitton Cross Caravan Park.
Relax on day two, driving just 15 miles past Three Cliffs Bay and other glorious beaches on the Gower Peninsula. It’s a surfing paradise here and the golf courses are great too. Stay near the flamingoes and butterflies of the Llanelli Wetland Centre at the adults-only Llwynifan Farm Caravan Park.
Drive 45 miles to Dylan Thomas territory in Laugharne by the River Taf. Find the poet’s writing shed and old boathouse home, then raise a glass or two, as he often did, in the bar of 250-year-old Brown’s Hotel. Stay at Antshill Caravan Park.
Take a 65-mile drive through the stunning Brecon Beacons to Brecon – start early to allow time for mountain walks and a picnic. Stay at the Caravan Club’s Brecon Beacons site.
Book-lovers will enjoy Hay- on-Wye, just a 25-mile drive away. More than a dozen bookshops complement its hugely popular annual literary festival, which is cancelled this year. Rent a boat on the river, then try a bookshop cafe for afternoon tea. Stay at Hollybush Inn and Campsite.
Food takes centre stage after a 25-mile drive to Abergavenny and its artisan bakers, cosy cafes and gastropubs. Stay at Wern Ddu Farm Campsite.
Drive 25 miles to Caerphilly for delicious cheese and a vast 13th Century castle with a leaning tower that makes Pisa’s look straight. Stay at Pen Y Fan Leisure Park.
ALL THE FUN OF THE FAIR AND A FAVOURITE ROYAL RETREAT
Beside the seaside: Enjoy candy floss, arcade games, a pier, and fish and chips on the beach in Great Yarmouth
Hit the road: Take a tour of Sandringham, said to be the Queen’s favourite country residence
Start in Norwich and head 40 miles south to arty Aldeburgh. This was composer Benjamin Britten’s home and he’s remembered (with some controversy) with the Scallop, a 12ft sculpture on its pebble beach. Stay at Beach View Holiday Park.
Drive 40 miles up the coast and throw yourself into the traditional seaside atmosphere of Great Yarmouth. Enjoy candy floss, arcade games, a pier, and fish and chips on the beach. Stay at the Caravan Club’s Great Yarmouth Racecourse site.
Leave the coast behind and head 17 miles inland to the pretty village of Horning. Rent a boat to mess about on the Broads, then relax in a waterside pub. Stay at the Caravan Club’s Norfolk Broads site.
Taste sea air again just 20 miles away in Cromer. Go crabbing on the beach or grab a crab sandwich near the Victorian pier. Stay at the Forest Park caravan site.
Head 20 miles west to the colourful beach huts and sandy shores of Wells-next-the-Sea. It’s pretty, peaceful and perfect for picnics. Explore saltmarshes and look for seals basking in the sun. Stay at High Sand Creek campsite.
Take it easy, driving just eight miles to Burnham Deepdale. There’s a craft and food market, or ‘get jolly’ at the 18th Century Jolly Sailor pub. Stay at Deepdale Farm.
Drive 15 miles to Sandringham, said to be the Queen’s favourite country residence. Take a tour of the house and see St Mary Magdalene Church where the Royals attend a Christmas Day service. Stay at the Caravan Club’s Sandringham Estate site, then it’s 45 miles back to Norwich.
Scenic spot: The viaduct over the River Nidd at the spa town of Knaresborough
Climb the 199 steps to Whitby Abbey, where the spirit of Dracula lives on – the Gothic architecture inspired Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror novel
Start in York and take a 20-mile trip on the A59 to the spa town of Knaresborough. Explore the dungeons of its ruined castle, then head into the shadows of Mother Shipton’s Cave and see her ‘petrifying well’. Stay at Knaresborough Caravan Club site.
Relax on day two as it’s just 12 miles to Ripon. Look at the carvings under the pews in the Gothic cathedral which gave Lewis Carroll inspiration for Alice In Wonderland. Pack a picnic and head to the National Trust’s Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden for your own tea party. Stay at the River Laver Holiday Park.
Drive 50 miles through the stunning North York Moors National Park to Lealholm, billed as ‘the prettiest village in Yorkshire’. Stepping stones cross the River Esk to the 250-year-old Board Inn pub. Stay alongside llamas at Lawnsgate Farm Campsite.
It’s then just ten miles to the coast at Whitby. Stand under the 19ft-high whalebone arch before climbing 199 steps to Whitby Abbey, where the spirit of Dracula lives on – the Gothic architecture inspired Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror novel. Stay by the sea at Sandfield House Farm Holiday Park.
A five-mile drive gets you to Robin Hood’s Bay and the twisting streets and hidden alleyways of ‘Smugglers’ Town’. Guided tours are great fun while the beach is prime fossil-hunting territory. Stay at Hooks House Farm.
Head 15 miles south to Scarborough, soon to celebrate 400 years as a seaside resort. Return to Victorian times in the Cliff Lift, the country’s first funicular railway, or embrace the new at a water park. Stay at Scarborough Camping And Caravanning Club.
Yorkshire’s food capital is 25 miles away in the town of Malton, with plenty of little eateries, shops and food markets. Then walk it off in the 1,000-acre grounds of Castle Howard. Stay at Brickyard Lakes Country Park, then it’s 20 miles back to York.
SCOTTISH STARS SHINE IN ALL WEATHERS
Novel setting: Browse the beautiful Leakey’s Bookshop in Inverness
Sporty: Hiking, biking and canoeing draw crowds to the Cairngorms National Park in summer
Start in Edinburgh and a 35-mile drive takes you to the shadow of Stirling Castle, where nine-month-old Mary, Queen of Scots was crowned in 1543. Climb 250 spiral steps inside the Wallace Monument that celebrates the Braveheart legend. Stay amid ghosts at Witches Craig Caravan Park.
Take in the stunning scenery on the 30-mile drive through the Trossachs to Loch Lomond. The famously reflective waters of Loch Achray are nearby. Stay at loch-side Cashel Campsite.
Ben Nevis awaits after a 90-mile drive to Fort William. Climb it yourself or climb aboard the Jacobite steam train that’s like a real-life Hogwarts Express. Enjoy incredible views at Glen Nevis Caravan and Camping Park.
Pack a picnic and look for monsters on the 70-mile drive alongside Loch Ness to Inverness. Here, Shakespeare-lovers can search for a copy of Macbeth in Leakey’s Bookshop, one of the most beautiful in the world, before heading to nearby Cawdor Castle. Stay at Bunchrew Caravan Park.
A 30-mile drive south takes you to sporty Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park. Hiking, biking and canoeing are draws in summer, but it’s equally easy to relax. The town is well known for its craft beer. Stay at Oakwood Caravan Park.
There’s more activity 55 miles south in Pitlochry, where you can try whitewater rafting on the River Tay or take guided climbs in nearby canyons. Stay at Blair Castle Caravan Park.
After a 30-mile drive, there are museums and galleries galore in Perth. Stay at Scone Camping and Caravanning Club site, then it’s 40 miles back to Edinburgh.
FEEL THE DRAMA OF POLDARK COUNTRY
Cornish charm: Part of the big harbour in the little village of St Mawes – a glorious place to tuck into Cornish ice cream
Make a splash: Head to Penzance where there’s a lot to fit in, including the Art Deco lido (above)
Start among the surfers in Newquay and drive 30 miles south-west to St Ives. While sporty types head to the beach, culture lovers can see the Tate gallery or the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. Stay at Ayr Holiday Park.
Roads get crowded so short distances are best. Head ten miles to Penzance where there’s a lot to fit in, including the Art Deco lido. Close by are Land’s End, the cliffside Minack Theatre and perfect Mousehole. Stay at Treen Farm Campsite.
Drive 15 miles to Helston on the edge of the National Trust’s Lizard Peninsula. Hike to the lighthouse or find seal pups, otters and penguins at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. Stay at Poldown Caravan Park.
It’s 25 miles east to St Mawes where the ‘little village with the big harbour’ is a glorious place to tuck into Cornish ice cream. Stay at Trewince Farm Holiday Park.
Start early to make time for The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project as you drive 35 miles to Bodmin and the heart of Poldark country. Check if there’s a Scary Cinema Night on at Bodmin Jail, with horror films projected against its walls. Stay at Mena Farm.
Head 20 miles north to Tintagel Castle, where King Arthur’s legend was born. The gorge footbridge is a wonder. Stay at Trewthett Farm.
Another 20 miles takes you to the foodie paradise of Padstow, home to celebrity chefs such as Rick Stein. Stay at Padstow Touring Park, then it’s 20 miles back to Newquay.
How to get behind the wheel – and dodge bumps in the road
Retro style: A VW campervan could be your home from home when lockdown eases
Who can rent a camper van? Most rental firms say you need to have had a full UK driving licence for at least two years and be aged between 25 and 75. Two (sometimes three) people can be named drivers.
How much does it cost? Anything from £400 to £1,400 plus a week, depending on the campervan, the location and season. Smaller vans sleep two people, bigger ones up to six.
Do I need insurance? Comprehensive cover is included with most rentals, but check the damage excess – this can be up to £2,000.
What type should I choose? Brand-new motorhomes will be more spacious, easier to drive and use less petrol. But plenty of firms rent out vintage VW campervans for the full retro experience.
What’s included? Bedding and cooking utensils are standard issue. Most campervans will have gas rings for cooking and small fridges, while large motorhomes will have toilets and showers too.
Are they easy to drive? It depends on their size and age. Start with a short trip to get a feel for the ride – and avoid bumpy roads.
Where can we stop for the night? You need to be in a campsite – lay-bys and car parks are off-limits. Fees normally include power and water and start at about £15 a night.
How do I find a van? Some agencies focus on motorhomes, some on retro vehicles. Six to consider are camperrentuk.co.uk, justgo.uk.com, bunkcampers.com, rockinvans.co.uk, quirkycampers.co.uk and coolcamping.com. Individual owners also rent out vans.
Top tips: Don’t drive too far each day – the fewer miles you cover, the more fun you’ll have. Pack light, especially food, as you can stock up as you go. And take a torch for late-night trips to the loo.
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