Motorcaravanners in the know sing the praises of staying at CLs and CSs, says Dan Trudgian. But what is it that makes these campsites so special?

If you are a recent arrival to the world of motorcaravanning, you might have been a bit puzzled by articles about our pastime that mention CLs and CSs. What are they, and what benefits do they offer?

A quick overview

CLs, or Certificated Locations, are small private sites that hold no more than five units (motorhomes, caravans and trailer tents).

They can be used only by members of the Caravan and Motorhome Club, and there are more than 2000 of these sites dotted around the UK.

CSs, or Certificated Sites, are similar. These locations also hold a maximum of five caravans or motorhomes, but are exclusively for the use of members of the Camping and Caravanning Club.

The Camping and Caravanning Club has more than 1400 locations across the UK and Northern Ireland.

One difference between the two is that CSs also host up to 10 tents.

Facilities

On-site facilities will vary from site to site, but as a bare minimum, you can always expect to find drinking water, a chemical waste point and rubbish disposal.

Some sites offer a lot more than this. For example, facilities such as showers, electric hook-up and hardstanding pitches are not uncommon.

Owing to the nature of these sites as private enterprises, provision can be quite varied and quirky, however.

Some sites offer visitors the use of fishing lakes, while others might provide access to local farm produce, picnic tables, barbecue points and communal firepits.

A variety of locations

Private sites can be found anywhere, from the grounds of country estates, to working farms and locations that are surprisingly close to local attractions.

It is perhaps the wide range of such locations that makes private campsites so appealing. They can be situated in the heart of the rural landscape, where commercial sites would never be allowed the planning permission to create a large-scale development.

Here are just two examples of sites in my home county of Wiltshire, which are located a few minutes away from each other:

Thatado Farm CL (Caravan and Motorhome Club)

Situated in North Wiltshire, the CL makes a really great base for exploring the local area. Stay here and you are within easy reach of Malmesbury, Cirencester and Cricklade. It also offers connections to Bath and Oxford, and is on the edge of the Cotswolds.

Visitors to the site can expect to find:

  • Hardstanding pitches
  • On-site WC (exclusive use)
  • Pets welcome
  • 16A electric hook-up
  • Great TV reception
  • Suitable for motorhomes and caravans

The Fields CS (Camping and Caravanning Club)

The Fields site, located on the edge of the Marlborough Downs, provides very good access to many of North Wiltshire's attractions, including Avebury, Devizes and Marlborough. It is just 10 minutes away from the M4 and has excellent connections to the whole region.

Visitors to the site can expect to find:

  • Grass pitches
  • On-site WC, showers and washing-up area
  • Pets welcome
  • Rural, sheltered campsite
  • Electric hook-up
  • Suitable for motorhomes, caravans, trailer tents and tents

Cost savings

One of the main selling points of CLs and CSs is the potential cost saving. A pitch ranges from £6 to £20 per night, depending on season, facilities and location. Many sites charge per pitch regardless of occupants or extras.

I recently booked a CL in Hampshire that cost just £60 for five nights, although I did pay a supplement of £1 per night for our dog. This was still much cheaper than a local mainstream site, which would have cost us £140.

Also, because of its location, the CL was a far better option for us. It was quiet and closer to the places that we wanted to visit.

Find your own secret site

Talking recently to some site owners, I asked how they would sum up CLs and CSs to Club members. They compared these privately run sites with boutique hotels - small, quirky and possibly unique.

They might not always be cheaper, but they always offer something slightly different, whereas the large commercial sites could be aligned to a national chain.

The expectation of facilities, pitches and ambience will be recognisable, wherever you might stay. Private sites are renowned for being quiet oases in the heart of the countryside.

It can be quite difficult to find out about CLs and CSs, because avid motorcaravanners can sometimes be a bit reluctant to share great sites they have found!

Few people will want to let on about a favourite site, for fear of it becoming overpopulated during the peak season. However, if you take a look at the Club's websites, you will be able to read reviews written by motorcaravanners about particular sites, their facilities and locations.

MORE INFORMATION

Caravan and Motorhome Club CLs

Camping and Caravanning Club CSs

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