UK Campervan Adventures

Jessica Ley 20.7.16

Starting in London, we hired a van with the plan to travel through England and Wales, up into Scotland and finish up Ireland. With a 6 month old baby, we figured we’d aim for flexibility. Working from a rough itinerary, we organised most stopovers on the go.

We rented a Spaceship camper fitted out with a small fridge, a small amount of storage space and fold out mattress. We would have preferred something bigger (vehicle type not guaranteed until you turn up). The smaller van made navigating smaller streets easier, although was less fuel efficient.

Tips

  • Call campsites day before or day of arrival to check they can take you (our trip was June, we could easily book same day). We read articles with recommendations but also ended up looking in google maps for close by sites on the way.
  • Get up early for sights
  • Factor in fuel costs- It cost us around £50 every 2 days. Pay more for a more fuel efficient car if you can.
  • Book hotel stays day of arrival, there some bargains to be had!
  • Book ferry ahead of time, with option for flexible date ticket for an extra 10 pound. This got more expensive closer to the date.
  • Plan a few things you want to see/ do in each area before you go. But you can certainly be flexible with your itinerary.

Things we took:

  • UK wide SIM card for Google maps. The one from 3 allowed you access to data from outside the UK (could still be used when we went into Ireland and internationally).
  • Soft shell bags were best for packing in the car. For us, these had to go in the front seats at night.
  • Pre-packaged supermarket meals were great. For about £2.50 per person, you could get something fairly easy to heat up on the gas stove.
Also in our stash were fairy lights, chargers, a supermarket coal bbq, iPhone and iPad holders (for navigation and watching movies), and down sleeping bags.

Day 1 Sussex-Salisbury

4.06

Picked up our camper from Hayes, Sussex. Argos, 5 min walk away, proved handy. We needed a baby car seat and sorted it here.

We started in Salisbury, lovely town to visit and pick supplies up from. We then travelled to Stonehenge Campsite, simple, but well facilitated.

Salisbury town 20 mins from campsite
Stonehenge Campsite and fire-pit available for hire

Day 2 Salisbury- Plymouth

5.06

Started at Stonehenge. We bought a National Trust pass, which covered a number of sites we planned to visit.

We then drove the coastal road, stopping at Durdle Door, Dorchester. A big walk down the hill to the view and then the beach, but worth the effort!

We ended up at Riverside campsite, close to Plymouth.

Stonehenge, Durdle Door on the coast towards Plymouth & Riverside Campground, 15 mins from Plymouth.

Day 3. Plymouth- Bay View Farm, Cornwall

6.06

We headed to Datmoor National Park, and did the short walk to the Devil’s Cauldron. We then drove to the other end for the falls lookout. The loop between the two can be hiked in around an hour, with baby in tow, we opted to drive it.

Penzance was our next stop, a two hour long drive. We had the most beautiful and surreal views from the Menack theatre, Porthcurno. Would have loved to have longer in this area, but headed back to Bay View Farm, Cornwall. This was an incredible campsite, with excellent views, facilities and campfires allowed.

Dartmoor National Park- the Devil’s Cauldron and White Lady falls; The Menack Theatre, Penzance; Bay View Farm, Cornwall.

Day 4 Cornwall- Cheddar Gorge

7.06

We Stopped in at Exeter for breakfast then headed to Cheddar Gorge. A ticket to the Gorge tower can be purchased, or the National Trust office will point you in the direction for the free half-hour walk up the hill to see it from their side.

The scenic drive through Cheddar Gorge
The Gorge from above.

We stayed at Cheddar Gorge campsite, 5 mins from the town. A very simple, but relaxed site with free wifi and a drop around fire pit service.

Cheddar Gorge Campsite

Day 5 Cheddar Gorge- Wales

8.06

First stop from Cheddar was Bath (45 min drive). Parking was relatively easy. We hopped on a bus tour, walked through the city, and visited the Roman Baths. We then continued on towards Wales. We stopped in at Barry Island (Gavin and Stacey) and continued to a beautiful camp site, ‘Our Welsh’ in Bridgend, South Wales where they had full laundry facilities, lovely bathrooms, views and plenty of sheep.

Hop on hop off bus tour, Bath; streets of Bath; Roman Bath museum; Barry Island.
Our Welsh Campsite in Bridgend, Wales. Just us and the sheep.

Day 6 South Wales- West Wales (via Swansea and Tenby)

9.06

Heading out from Bridgend, we drove into Swansea for breakfast, then continued on to the coastal town of Tenby. We stopped at Dales Farm for the night: camping fields at the top of a hill. Very simple facilities here, but great views and campfires permitted.

Quaint coastal town of Tenby, great to visit for lunch and supplies. Dale hill farm campsite. Inexpensive, limited facilities, but incredible views.

Day 7 Dale Farm- Snowdonia

10.06

Stopped for breakfast in St David’s and headed towards White Sand’s beach to do the coastal walk to St David’s Head. We followed the hour long scenic loop. It was a relatively easy walk and provided the most incredible views.

Next stop was Snowdonia National park. The husband surfed the artificial wave pool at Surf Snowdonia, located in the middle of the national park. We wanted to camp close to hike Snowdon the following morning and ended up wild camping in this incredibly scenic area.

Davids Head Coastal walk
The artificial wave pool at Surf Snowdonia
Wild camping in Snowdonia

Day 8 Snowdonia-York

11.06

Waking to wet and cold weather, we caught the train up Mt Snowdon rather than hiking it. The ticket office opens at 8.30 for first train at 9.00am. The train takes an hour up, half hour at the top (coffee shop and summit) then the hour back down.

At locals recommendation we stopped at Chester on our way to York, and this proved well-worth a visit.

We then headed to Hook Bay Farm campsite in Yorkshire. These were simple, beautifully kept grounds and usually have great views.

Snowdonia National Park
Exploring Chester by hire-boat and York
Hooks bay campsite- normally beautiful views of the bay, for us- fog!

Day 9 York

12.06

After camping in rain for a few days, we decided to stay a night in York, one of my favourite cities visited! We did a hop on hop off bus tour, walked the city wall and visited the Shambles. The Shambles Tavern and House of Mumbling Madness were good local recommendations for us.

The town of Whitby, passing through as we came from Hook’s Bay
York from the Raddison hotel.
York castle from the city sights bus tour

Day 10 York to Lakes District

13.06

From York, we stopped at the Brough castle, where there was a little cafe, then continued on for the scenic drive through the Lakes distinct.

We stopped at Fisherground campsite in Eskdale. True to the reviews we’d read, they were quite strict here, but they did allow campervans, had the option to buy campfire materials, and it was certainly a very scenic ground to stay in.

Stopping for ice-cream at Brough Castle
Driving through the hills of the Lake District
Fisherground Campsite

Day 11 Lake District to Airth (via Glasgow)

14.06

Continuing our drive through the Lake District, we headed over the border into Scotland and on to Hadrian’s wall.

We decided to stay the night at Airth Castle, and were able to make the reservation same day. There was a nice restaurant there for dinner.

The scenic Lake District, border into Scotland and Hadrian’s Wall.

Day 12 Airth to Glen Nevis via Edinburgh

15.06

Our next stop was Edinburgh, an hour from Airth. We did another hop on hop off bus tour of the city (some of these were great, the bus tour here could have been better) and explored the city by foot. We drove the scenic route towards Fort William, and enjoyed every bit of this beautiful area.

Hop on hop off bus tour of Edinburgh
Glen Nevis camping and caravan park
Wifi, coffees and hot food trucks at Glen Nevis campsite.

Day 13 Ben Nevis to Loch Lomond

16.06

Spent the morning at Glen Nevis campsite while the husband hiked Ben Nevis (n4.5 hours return to summit). The campsite looks out to Ben Nevis and surrounding mountains. It’s huge, separated into different sections with their own facilities. There’s a shop, a hot food van and an amazing laundry. The start of the hike is 5 mins walk from the campsite, challenging and warm weather gear required, but easily done in a day.

Heading to Ben Nevis Inn for lunch and drove to Oban to visit the distillery. Booking needed to be made early to do a tour, but the tasting bar upstairs is open until 4pm daily, with access to the exhibition room.

We continued on to Loch Lomond. We intended to camp, but needed an early start to get to the ferry from Cairnryan, and booked accommodation at Cameron House.

Lunch at the Ben Nevis Inn
Distillery at Oban
Loch Lomond

Day 14 Loch Lomond to Bushmills, Ireland

Ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast

17.06

We caught the ferry from Cairnryan. You check in about an hour before and it’s 2 hours to Belfast. The ferry itself is full of cafes and different places to sit. Lots of facilities for kids. You want to be quick out of the car for a good seat! The ferry was a great and easy experience for us.

Arriving in Belfast, we took the Causeway coastal drive towards Bushmills. This was my favourite drive of the trip. We stopped along the way for the scenery and walked the famous Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge.

The incredible coastal line of Northern Ireland
Carrick-a-rede rope bridge
Camping at Bushmills

Day 15 Bushmills to Galway

18.06

We stopped at the Giant’s causeway, Dunluce castle, and Dark Hedges. We then continued on to Londonderry for lunch.

We completed the long drive to Galway during the afternoon, and stayed at Bay View Caravan park. It was a beautiful site, close to the beach and with excellent facilities. It was pouring with rain, so we opted for wine, cheese & movies in the van.

Giants Causeway
The Dark Hedges
Movies and vino while escaping the rain.

Day 16 Galway to Kilarney

19.06

We visited Galway for breakfast and walked through the town and Latin Quarter, although it was pouring with rain.

We then took the scenic drive towards Limerick, stopping at beaches and castles along the way. Saw lots of castles, including Dagurie and visited the Cliffs of Moher.

We stayed the night at Woodlands Campsite. There were mostly motor homes set up here, and the grounds were well set up with excellent facilities.

Galway, Latin Quarter
Cliffs of Moher
Woodlands campsite, Kilarney

Day 17 Killarney to Cork

20.06

After cooking breakfast, we stopped in Killarney for coffee and continued on the journey.

We visited Blarney Castle, and stayed the night in a hotel in the Ambassador Hotel in Cork. This was a 20 minute walk from the city centre (you need a cab for the uphill journey home!).

Blarney Castle
Cork
Cork city in the evening

Day 18 Cork to Rostrevor (via Belfast)

21.06

Left Cork early to get back to Belfast. We spent the day walking around the city, enjoying our last day in Ireland.

We stayed at Kilbroney Park campsite. Again, beautiful grounds and like every stop, makes you wish you had longer!

Belfast Town Hall
Kilbroney Park campsite, Rostrevor

Day 19 Rostrevor to Dublin

22.06

Going via New Grange, we headed towards Dublin to drop the car off.

The ‘Dublin’ depot turned out to be a long and inconvenient way from the city, and only after a number of hours transit did we make it into the city.

Dublin itself was a beautiful city to visit. We had lunch at Ireland’s oldest pub, walked through Temple Bar and visited the markets. There was a lovely wine bar not far from temple bar, was a great way to finish this leg of our journey!

Farewell to the campervan
Temple Bar Dublin

An amazing journey

We finished feeling like we’d completed an epic challenge, especially given how much ground we covered in 3 weeks! We saw some amazing places, made great memories and loved the experience of camping at some of the most beautiful places imaginable. There are definitely a number of places we’d like to go back to and spend more time at. We certainly got a taste for campervan life and look forward to planning our next adventure!

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