Lizzie Pope
Digital Editor

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If you've caught the touring bug but don't like pitching your motorhome at full-facility sites, what are your options? Does the UK need a fresh approach?

Why did you start motorcaravanning? Was it to see more of the world? To relish in the freedom of the open road?

To be able to get up and go whenever you please, choosing where you lay your head and waking to a fresh view every morning?

So when you discovered it’s not always that simple, did it make you long for more?

I am, of course, talking about the fact that, in most of the UK, wild camping is not permitted. Overnight parking, where signposted, is one thing, and there are exceptions if you’re touring in Scotland.

But for most people touring around most of the UK, the idea that you can pull over and pitch your ’van wherever you like is not a reality.

While no legislation forbids roadside parking, none permits it, either. It can be a sticky grey area.

What are the options?

Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re restricted to full-facility campsites.

There are Practical Motorhome’s very own Nightstops, offering free or very affordable places to pitch across the UK.

There’s also Brit Stops, which lists interesting places such as vineyards and farms, that welcome overnighting motorhomes. Plus some car parks do allow ’vans to stay the night – always check the signage.

But the lack of anything more wide-ranging and official is why a petition has been established to create safe, allocated overnight parking for camper vans and motorhomes across the UK. Which got us thinking.

Is there the demand? Well, possibly.

Sales of new motorhomes have almost doubled in the last five years. Consequently, as the appetite for motorhome holidays has grown and more people are filling campsites, who’s to say this hasn’t fuelled the desire to really get away from it all? And for this to be officially sanctioned and accommodated?

What’s the provision elsewhere?

It is a different story in Europe, as many Practical Motorhome readers will have experienced, with a healthy provision of dedicated stopovers. There’s a real feeling that motorcaravanning is welcomed and encouraged.

Aires de Service are found across France and are free or very cheap to stay at. Plus there’s the popular France Passion initiative, for inventive overnighting spots off the beaten track.

You’ll find aires in Holland, too, plus similar sites – known as stellplätze – in Germany and Austria, and another scheme of the same ilk in Belgium.

Again, in Italy, motorcaravanners can pitch at Aree di Sosta and also Fattore Amico. There’s similar provision in Slovenia, too, while there’s a limited aire-style offering and the Safe Nights scheme in Ireland.

And I’ve not even started on Scandinavia and Finland! Here, in addition to many campsites and well-appointed stellplätze, wild camping can be enjoyed thanks to the Common Right of Access legislation in place in Norway, Sweden and Finland (but not Denmark).

Is it time Britain changed its tune?

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