Top 11 Tour of Great Britain

vanlife camping sites lake district camping and caravanning club keswick

Top 11 Tour of Great Britain

With so many fascinating places around the world we often overlook the incredible historic sights, rolling green countryside and pretty villages right here on our own doorstep in the UK, so before we get too carried away with our tales and tips of travels from other destinations further afield, we thought we’d give you a little insight into some great places to tour in your van right here in good old Blighty :))

1.The Lake District

This area, is of course, famous for the beauty of the lakes, mountains and pretty little villages with so much to offer in Englands’ largest National Park.  Boat trips on the lake and The World of Beatrix Potter at Bowness on Windermere, walking the impressive landscapes and famed paths such as Skiddaw or Scaffel Pike will certainly keep those more active vanlifer’s occupied.  The bustling towns of Kewsick, Kendal and Ambleside provide ample browsing opportunities when those hiking boots need a good earned rest, overall, it’s basically an outdoor enthusiasts dream which will leave you wanting to go back for more.  Roads are generally narrow and can be very busy in peak season, so make use of public transport to get around and campsites get booked up quickly so it may be wise to ring ahead.

Our pick of the campgrounds:

Keswick – Camping and Caravanning Club on the shores of Derwentwater is perfect, situated a few minutes walk to the town so no need to worry about transport.

Coniston Water – Caravan and Motorhome Club site on the banks of Lake Coniston, it’s in a natural leafy setting with a bus stop close by.

2. The Cotswolds

Beautiful buildings built in character Cotswold stone, quaint villages, green countryside and charming market towns.  It’s just adorable and is also an area of ‘Outstanding Natural Beauty’, you definitely can see why!  We love the gorgeous chocolate box towns of Chipping Norton, Chipping Camden, Bourton-on-the-Water, Moreton in Marsh, Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter, not forgetting Broadway, there are just so many to see and all with a quintessentially English feel.  It’s also a short distance away from the university city of Oxford where you can explore the historic spires, home to so many scholars past and present.

Our pick of the campgrounds:

The Caravan and Motorhome Club has several sites,  Moreton In Marsh has good transport links whilst Bladon Chains in Woodstock is situated on the Blenheim Palace Estate, home to the Duke of Marlborough and birthplace to Sir Winston Churchill, visit his resting place in the pretty village church, Broadway and Bourton-on the-Water sites are also good and very central to everything, all have good public transport.

The Camping and Caravanning Club has a site just outside Oxford.

 

3.  Derbyshire

Home of the Peak District National Park, the first National Park in Britain, plenty of good walking to be done here along with a mix of historic industrial towns and elegant country estates, including the fascinating Chatsworth House with it’s surrounding fields of rolling green countryside and a great farm shop.  Buxton is an elegant Spa town and Bakewell has a pretty meandering river and an array of bustling shops and cafe’s.  Our favourite is Castleton, overlooked by the ‘shivering mountain’ of Mam Tor it’s got some great walks, pubs and even caves to visit.

Our pick of the campgrounds:

The Caravan and Motorhome Club site at Castleton is great, really convenient for walking to the village, pubs and walks and right on the bus route too. They also have a selection of sites throughout the Peak District.

4. Cheshire

From walking the Rows at the Roman City of Chester to a shopping spree at the Cheshire Oaks designer outlet village, there’s also canal walks, pretty villages, good restaurants and country pubs or wonder back to the past to the heart of the Industrial Revolution at Quarry Bank Mill, or explore the world of English Aristocracy at one of the many country estates such as Tatton Park, Lyme Park or Dunham Massey.  Then there’s the massive satellite at Jodderill Bank or Concorde at the Manchester Airport Visitor Centre before taking in the gentle woodland walks and more energetic biking tracks through Delamere Forest.

Pick of the Campgrounds:  

Camping and Caravanning Club Site at Delamere Forest, it’s perfect for the forest trails right next to the site and is also next to the railway station where you can hop on the train to Chester for a great day out.

Caravan and Motorhome Club Site at Cheshire Oaks, it’s within walking distance to the Cheshire Oaks designer outlet village and is also on the doorstep to a number of pubs and a canal walk which takes you in to Chester if your energetic enough, there’s also good public transport.

Chester itself allows overnight payable parking at the Little Roodee Car Park next to the river.

5.  Cornwall

A beach lovers paradise and on the whole, very van friendly compared to lots of counties in the UK, with some car parks offering designated van parking.  Roads can be narrow and busy so make good use of public transport.

There are plenty of little gems here, St.Ives with glorious blue waters, quaint harbour and narrow streets, we parked up just outside and got the train to town which takes a good scenic route along the coast.  Padstow is a delight with lots of Rick Stein products and restaurants for foodies and a beautiful coastline, we parked up just outside of town and caught the bus to avoid the narrow roads and crowds.

Tintagel, King Arthur territory is another delight, easy van parking in the town and great walks.  Megavissey with it’s narrow streets and lovely little harbour is also a delight, the very narrow streets are best avoided, so park up outside of town and walk in! Marazion has the St.Michels Mount, the tidal island which can be reached on foot when the tide is out or just laze on the beach if the weather permits, Cornwall certainly has some of the best!

There are lots of campgrounds throughout Cornwall, Visit Cornwall has a detailed list, we have stayed at Godrevy Park Caravan and Motorhome Club site at Hayle and also at some car parks throughout the county where signs allowed but these are continuously changing often to prevent overnight stops!

6.  Ireland

Perfect for a trip on the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin.  A wealth of things to do on the Emerald Isle, allow plenty of time to see it’s natural splendours and relax in the company of the extremely welcoming Irish Folk.

From the bustling City of Dubin life itself, to the famous Giants Causeway and the dramatic wild Atlantic coastline and incredible rich heritage of Donegal, Galway, Limerick, Kerry and Cork, there is so much to take in.  How about a traditional Irish pub or marvel at the Titanic experience in Belfast City, then there’s The Game of Thrones itinerary for fans of the hit show.

Ireland has plenty of lovely camp grounds, so you won’t be disappointed in your pitch for the night, check out the Visit Ireland website for lots of extra information.

7.  Scotland

A must for the outdoor enthusiasts or the more sedate traveller! Scenery in abundance to keep you in awe with incredible National Parks like Loch Lomand, The Cairngorms, The Trossachs, so many fascinating and beautiful landscapes, stunning beaches and clear blue waters not to mention the hiking!  Then there’s the Lowlands, lands of Glacial Gems and interesting gardens, nature reserves, castles and amazing wildlife.  Edinburgh, the great Scottish Capital or Melrose and Ayr are all great places to visit.

Campsites:

Edinburgh, Melrose and Ayr all have sites by the Caravan and Motorhome Club whilst Visit Scotland provides a list of campsites and more information on wild camping.

8.  Shropshire

With a UNESCO World Heritage Site at Ironbridge, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and home to the truly impressive first Iron Bridge which crosses majestically over the River Severn. There’s historical towns such as Shrewsbury, originally a Saxon town with splendid Tudor architecture and Ludlow, a foodie lovers paradise boasting ever tempting food shops and food fairs and the market town of Whitchurch, the oldest inhabited town in Shropshire.  If you fancy a lake or Mere, then Ellesmere fits the bill with a picturesque lakeside setting for leisurely strolls or Church Stretton, known as ‘Little Switzerland’ and famed for its bottled water.

Campsites:

Ludlow Touring Park, Ludlow, is within walking distance of the town, or  The Camping and Caravanning Club have a site close to Oswestry and Shropshire with a bus stop located outside and footpaths leading to local villages.  Ellesmere has the Trotting Mare in Overton-On-Dee complete with a pub on site and Oxon Hall at Shrewsbury is ideal for walking trails.

9.  Yorkshire 

World Heritage Sites, Ruined Abbeys, Castles, The Yorkshire Dales and rugged wild coastlines. A van tour in Yorkshire taking you to the historic City of York with its magnificent York Minster, quaint, narrow cobbled streets and fabulous museums on the doorstep to rolling countryside and weathered moors.  From James Herriott country and areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, walking trails to suit all tastes, historic houses and elegant towns such as Harrogate with the famous and rather indulgent Betty’s Tea Rooms, treat yourself to an afternoon tea and watch the world go by!

There’s Northallerton with its’ Georgian high street and one of the oldest pubs in town, The Fleece, where Charles Dickens frequented.  Wenslydale famous for the cheese of the same name or Leyburn, a thriving market town popular for antiques. For a vibrant city day trip, take the bus or train to Leeds, fab shopping here and lovely ornate indoor arcades with top class names!

Camping sites:

York has Beechwood Grange on the outskirts but if you want to walk into the old Viking city then Rowntree Park in the centre itself situated alongside the River is perfectly positioned, both are Caravan and Motorhome Club Sites.

Hebdon Bridge Caravan and Motorhome Club Site has lovely walking with buses passing the site and a pretty town and is also close to Haworth Parsonage where the Bronte Sisters’ once lived.

10.  Mid & South Wales

From the glorious Gower Peninsula, Breacon Becons, Pembrokeshire and towns of Aberaeron, Newquay, Pembroke and not forgetting the capital, Cardiff.  We may be biased but we just love our own North Wales which we’ve dedicated a whole blog post to coming later but the rest of our amazing Welsh country is also just as fabulous.  Historic Castles, rugged coastline, wonderful wildlife and beautiful unspoilt beaches will all keep you perfectly occupied.  Cardiff has so much to offer, it’s a cool capital with a strong sporting connection, check out the Millennium Stadium now called the Principality Stadium for the latest Rugby, Music and Events.

Camping Sites:

Cardiff Caravan Park  in the heart of the city but set within parkland with a natural feel and within walking distance or a bus ride to the centre.

Freshwater East within Pembrokeshire National Park and Shawsmead Head at Aberaeron situated inland in pretty countryside about 4 miles from the coast are both Caravan and Motorhome Club sites.

 

11.  North Wales

It may be our No.11 on the list but it’s actually our No.1 destination, so we are dedicating a whole blog to our totally favourite and maybe slightly biased Welsh homeland region of the dramatic, cultural, historical and simply beautiful North of our Country, Wales.  Look out for our Best of North Wales Blog coming soon!!

Extra Information

You’ll notice that we have used lots of sites here to stay at, we wish we could give you overnight parking spots, Aires or similar but as a rule we don’t have those camperstop systems here in the UK that are available in other parts of Europe and it is usually frowned upon rather than encouraged!

Having said that there is the excellent Brit Stops Scheme which offers a choice of various locations to stop across the country ranging from pubs to farm shops, so it’s a great option, usually if you eat or drink at a pub or buy from a shop you will be able to stay the night in exchange.

There are also CL’s and CS’s both offering stays on private land for up to 5 vans and linked to the two major clubs, The Caravan and Motorhome Club and The Camping and Caravanning club, Practical Motorhome Nightstops Scheme  also offers places to stop, all payable to stay at.

Last but not least, enjoy our beautiful country all year round, it’s quiet out of season and cheaper to stay on sites during low the season but do check what’s open as many close in the Autumn or Winter until Easter.

If you want to know more about Aires, check out our blog for lots for useful information on Aires in France and Europe

 

 

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