Ever heard of Brit Stops– the book of free motorhome parking spots around Britain? I'll be honest, we'd heard of it, but never really looked into it until very recently. Turns out, that was a big mistake!
Our introduction to Brit Stops
The other day, we were wild camping in the motorhome in Wales and looking for more free camper parking spots near us. At least, we were trying to.
The problem was, we had no internet. Not a stitch. Not even the phone had a signal. We were in the middle of nowhere and thus, had no way of finding a new place to go!
After a few minutes of doing the ‘hunt for a signal' dance, our friends reached beneath their seat and pulled out… a book.
Like, an actual book. On paper and everything. It was the 2019 edition of Brit Stops.
What is BRITSTOPS?
Brit Stops offer FREE motorhome and camper parking stops around the UK and Ireland.
Yes, you read that right- FREE MOTORHOME AND CAMPER PARKING SPOTS– all over the UK!
Brit Stops was created in 2011 as a way to try and emulate the France Passion scheme, which is a scheme throughout France where vineyards (and other locations) offer parking to motorhomes in the hopes of selling some of their produce. Brit Stops is actually part of a scheme called FEFI (Fédération Européenne de la Formule Invitations) which includes France Passion and other similar schemes across Europe.
It's a way of promoting the local produce and beautiful areas of the country, both to UK residents and visitors from abroad. The UK is notorious in not being very welcoming to motorhomers used to French aires or wild camping- the motorhome and campervan parking laws are strict. Brit Stops might just be making that easier!
How does it work?
The 2019 edition has over 700 places listed where you can stop for the night. There are country pubs, vineyards, farms, shops, local breweries and even a llama park!?!
All these places offer free overnight parking for motorhomes or campers- with no obligation to buy. However, if you're going to go for a meal or a drink anyway, it makes perfect sense that you would buy from the pub, or get your milk/ eggs the next day from the shop, or sample the local ales… all things we enjoy doing as part of our motorhome travels.
Free camper parking in the UK and Ireland
Obviously, if you're stopping for free you can't expect any services. There is no water, waste disposal or electric and there are unlikely to be showers or toilets for your use.
Basically, you're staying on someone's land for free. There are a few rules (most of which are exactly the same as wild camping):
- No awnings, outdoor furniture or pup tents
- Only stay for 24 hours and don't leave your van unattended (unless given special permission by the host)
- No generators or noise at night- it's someone's house.
- No fires or BBQs, except with approval from the host.
- Arrive during working hours- again, it's someone's home.
- Be mindful of your children, especially if you're staying somewhere like a farm. There's a lot of trouble for unsupervised kids to get into.
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Aires in the UK
I LOVE this idea. I have been moaning about the lack of aires in the UK for ages- and it seems that there are slowly becoming more options; especially in England where wild camping is becoming notoriously difficult.
Heck, there are even Brit Stops near ferries or the tunnel for you to use before you head off to Europe.
Are dogs allowed at Brit Stops?
Each location has a full breakdown on what is allowed. Dogs are allowed to stay at many Brit Stop places, but not necessarily allowed inside the pub/ shop/ llama park. If in doubt, phone ahead and ask.
Is Britstops for caravans?
Sadly, at the moment, Brit Stops is just for motorhomes or anything marked as a motor caravan on the logbook. So no caravans, no unconverted vans, no cars and no tents. Which is exactly how it is at most of the aires in France.
Is there Motorhome parking near me?
Just look at that map- there is almost guaranteed to be a Brit Stop near you! What's even nicer, some of the locations will allow you to leave your camper there for the day while you go explore the local town or area, so you can sometimes get free parking too!
Is there a Brit Stops app?
Not at the moment- and maybe never. I'll be honest, it was kinda nice looking through the book- so much nicer than campsites. There's a little information about each place, what facilities they have and what you can expect. It feels very personal and friendly. I think an app might lose some of that- although I suppose all the relevant information could be shared there too.
One thing to note is that ‘hosts' are allowed to close their site whenever they like (for personal or business reasons), so it's always advisable to phone ahead before setting out. If there was an app, this might make it easier to see if a place was closed or full before you decided to visit.
Although, if there was an app, we wouldn't be sitting around a table in the middle of Wales, looking at pictures and debating which lovely country pub to visit for Sunday lunch. And wouldn't that be a shame.
(To avoid confusion, no, this isn't a sponsored post. Just a review of a service we hope will be around long enough for us to find the Llama park!)
Have you ever used Brit Stops? We'd love to hear your experiences- drop them in the comments below.