Wild Camp in the UK with a motorhome or campervan (for free!)

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Ever wanted to go wild camping in your campervan or motorhome in Scotland, England or Wales, but weren't sure on the rules or how to find free places to stay? This post shares everything you need to know about motorhome and campervan travel and how to legally wild camp in the UK with a motorised vehicle

Wildcamping is one of our favourite ways to spend time in our motorhome- especially over the school holidays when campsites can become overcrowded.

It's also a great way to explore the local area- I often use the motorhome parking apps to find overnight stops near me which are perfect for a quick weekend getaway.

What is wild camping (for motorhomes or camper vans?)

Wild camping is literally free overnight parking. That's it. My parents often laugh at me- they consider wild camping to be up a mountain with a tent, but when it comes to motorhomes or campervans, parking in the middle of nowhere with no services, electricity or anything else is often referred to as wildcamping. You can call it free parking or free camping if you prefer.

 Want step-by-step advice on wild camping with a motorhome? Grab our complete guide here

Wild Camping with a motorhome or Campervan in UK

I remember when we bought our very first motorhome- it seemed impossible to find all these amazing locations to stay overnight. HOW did people find free parking for campervans or motorhomes? Is it magic? (Spoiler- it's not magic)

Wild camping sounds (and is) idyllic… but if you've never done it before it can definitely be intimidating.  Heck, is wildcamping even legal in the UK?

Wild camping in the UK with a motorhome- this is in the Brecon Beacons in Wales
Wild camping in the UK with a motorhome- this is in the Brecon Beacons in Wales

Don't worry- it's not as scary as it sounds and, hopefully, by the end of this post you'll feel confident to go off for a little adventure. If you're worried about safety, here are 12 tips to improve motorhome security both at home and while travelling.

We also recommend fitting an additional motorhome door lock for added security.

We've free camped in our camper all over Scotland, England and Wales (still waiting to try Northern Ireland!) and it's our favourite way to spend the evening and explore the country.

Today, I'm sharing some of our favourite tricks to find free overnight parking for motorhomes and campervans, in whatever area you want to spend time in.

Planning a UK road trip? We've been touring the UK in our van for 2 years- watch the video below for some destination ideas and inspiration!! >>

What are the campervan parking laws for wildcamping?

Well, that depends on where you are. I go into this in greater detail below, but the short answer is: in Europe, you (generally) have a lot more freedom finding free overnight motorhome parking spots than you do in the UK. Sorry to say but it's true- motorhome and campervan parking laws in the UK are strict! I break down the current camper wild camping laws for Scotland, England and Wales further down the post.

Wild Camping. What is it, is it legal and where do you go? How do you find places for a motorhome or campervan to wild camp in the UK? Tips and hacks for finding the perfect wild camping spots for your road trip. Wild camping is fun- this guide will help you get it all figured out. #motorhome #camping #campervan #wild #scotland #UK #tips #hacks #ideas #rvliving #rvlife #boondocking
Free overnight parking or wildcamping in a campervan

Wild Camp in the UK with a motorhome- Our first-time!

I remember the first time we considered wild camping in our van. I was absolutely TERRIFIED- I seriously thought we were going to be either murdered in our beds or woken up at 3am and moved on by the police (complete with a criminal record). Honestly, I'm not sure which one scared me most!

It all started when we headed off to Scotland for a week‘s holiday… and we didn't have a plan. This was difficult for me because I am a PLANNER. The whole concept was totally alien and honestly not that much fun- I spent most of the day worrying about where we were going to stay for the night.

When we did find somewhere to stay I worried we were doing something wrong. I barely slept (although some of that had to do with the lorries which used our quiet side street as a rat run during the night- live and learn!)

But as the new morning dawned, here is exactly what happened on our first night of wild camping….. NOTHING. Not a thing. Nobody cared, nobody commented. It was a little anti-climatic- and yet completely free-ing. And the more we did it, the easier and more fun it became.

So if this is you, please rest assured. Less than 3 months after that first night, we merrily wild camped our way around Europe without any issues whatsoever. In fact, it was one of the best holidays we've ever had.

In 2018 we spent 5 weeks in Denmark, Norway and Sweden- and only stayed in a campsite for one night!

Wild Camp in the UK with a motorhome. What is it, is it legal and where do you go? How do you find places for a motorhome or campervan to wild camp in the UK? Tips and hacks for finding the perfect wild camping spots for your road trip. Wild camping is fun- this guide will help you get it all figured out. #motorhome #camping #campervan #wild #scotland #UK #tips #hacks #ideas #rvliving #rvlife #boondocking
Motorhome Wild camping

How to Wild Camp in the UK with a campervan- Practicalities

Ok, first things first. There's no point planning a wild camping trip if your van/ motorhome/ vehicle isn't set up for it. There are a couple of motorhoming essentials to check first:


Consider what your water requirements are. In the motorhome, we carry 95 litres, which is enough water for 3/4 days if we're very frugal- but that does include a quick shower for each of us every day.

There are some great solar devices which can store water on your roof so it warms up as you drive- allowing you to have a nice hot shower when you park for the night.

We also carry one of these lifesaver jerrycans, which is AMAZING for getting clean drinking water wherever you are. If you're planning on wild camping, it's one of our most essential pieces of motorhome kit. 

 Want step-by-step advice on wild camping with a motorhome? Grab our complete guide here


Consider your…errr… bathroom set up. Motorhomes are easy- but even with a bathroom/ toilet installed you need to make sure it has enough space to take …. anything you put into it. No point camping in the middle of nowhere and then realising the toilet is about to overflow & needs emptying.

Alternatively, consider how you will ‘do your thing' in the woods/ countryside around you. You'll need a small trowel or equivalent and a way of disposing of soiled toilet tissue- PLEASE don't leave that in the woods. Waste (including urine) must be at least 100m and ideally 200m away from any water source.

Small bags designed for dog owners are useful for this- they're scented and help to stop any smells until you can reach a bin. Or you could have a fire and burn it. Don't bury sanitary products- wild animals will dig them up.

Consider your grey waste capacity too. Many people empty grey waste (which is water from sink and shower) into the wild. If you're going to do this, please use products which will not be harmful to the environment and don't empty black waste except for in approved areas where it won't do any damage.

For this reason, we tend to empty grey and black waste at the same time in an approved motorhome emptying facility (sadly, there aren't many of these in the UK so we tend to ask campsites if we can pay to use theirs.)

Fires while wild camping

Talking of fire, there is nothing more romantic than an open flame, as you sit around of an evening and enjoy your secluded spot.

HOWEVER: Please ensure the fire is off the ground and doesn't leave any scorch marks and be sensible- if it's been very hot and dry the surrounding area is likely to go up with a stray ember and could potentially cause a devastating wildfire. Nobody wants that. Also, having a fire is not always sensible or tolerated. It depends entirely on where you are and what is around you.

Remember, wild camping is not always a ‘right', more of a tolerance from the land owner. A fire could be the thing which gets you moved on.

We LOVE our BBQ/ Fire, which is set off the ground and folds flat when not in use. We leave it to cool off overnight (make sure it's definitely out!) and then it folds away very easily the next day. Such a brilliant bit of kit.

Wild Camping. What is it, is it legal and where do you go? How do you find places for a motorhome or campervan to wild camp in the UK? Tips and hacks for finding the perfect wild camping spots for your road trip. Wild camping is fun- this guide will help you get it all figured out. #motorhome #camping #campervan #wild #scotland #UK #tips #hacks #ideas #rvliving #rvlife #boondocking
Find free overnight stops for motorhomes or campervans in the UK

Cooking while wildcamping with your campervan

 We've already mentioned using a campfire (when it's safe and sensible), which is an obvious and fun method to cook on, but if you use gas check that there is enough gas in your cylinder. Especially if you use it for heating.

We use our van all throughout the winter and we find one 6kg gas bottle lasts us about 3 days- which is used for cooking, fridge and the heating on constantly nearly all the time (have I mentioned it's COLD in the UK??) Obviously, it lasts us a lot longer in summer!

NOTE: We've tried the ‘light' 6kg gas bottles and in our opinion and experience we get much less gas out of them than the normal bottles, so we switched back.


We try hard to keep our power useage to a minimum. When we wild camp we make sure we have topped up all phones, ipads, laptops and the wifi dongle as we are driving (using 12v chargers), so we don't use our precious battery when we're camped.

We also carry a small generator- as an EMERGENCY BACKUP! I refuse to be that couple in a motorhome who ruins a beautifully serene location with a noisy electric engine- but I agreed to it for when we tackle the wilds of Norway later in 2018. We use the bare minimum of lights of an evening, preferring instead to sit & chat by a fire until bedtime.


We spent 3 weeks exploring Denmark and Norway in Summer 2018- and only stayed in a campsite once (we wanted to use the laundrette.) During that time our power systems worked great! We mainly used an inverter whilst we were driving to charge our laptops and a generator which we used twice whilst we were far away from everyone else.

Both worked really well and we highly recommend them!

This is the generator we use and LOVE.


Make sure you have enough water, food, tools, fuel & spare parts if you are going somewhere really remote.

If you are going somewhere cold & snowy, snow chains or special tyres might be a good idea. Also, make sure your vehicle is in good working order before you set off. Breaking down in a remote car park is not going to enhance your holiday!

Motorhomes wildcamping on the Isle of Skye
Motorhome Wild camping on the Isle of Skye

Wild Camping UK- How to find free places to stay with a motorhome

Some people just head off into the great unknown without a plan and pull into a convenient lay-by when they find one. I prefer to be a little more organised. (Did I mention I'm a PLANNER?!!) Having said that, I designed an entire route around Norfolk and we ended up in Cornwall instead! So I tend not to look for locations until we're in the area and ready to stop.

To do this I need internet in the motorhome. If you're going somewhere really remote (like London) you might need to do some advanced searching. If you need the internet whilst you're driving, we highly recommend this Wifi dongle. We've used it all over the place and rarely had a problem finding a signal. We use the yellow one, but there are several versions which all get great reviews.

Motorhome parking Apps

I use three apps to find free overnight motorhome parking. Each app has its pros and cons, and we use them for different things.


The best app for motorhome wildcamping in the UK is searchforsites.co.uk, which we really like due to its ease of use and wide range of various options. Most places have photos and a review- which we find really helpful when picking a location. However, this site is a PAIN to use on a mobile phone, especially if you could go anywhere within a 20-mile radius and are looking for options.

Each time you come back to the main map you need to search all over again.

Searchforsites.co.uk has a small subscription cost for the year and works really well across the UK & Western Europe for wild camping sites.

Wildcamping in campervan next to Stonehenge
Where to go with a campervan? How about places like this?


The other motorhome parking app we use is park4night.com. This site is FREE to join & use and works across Europe- it's actually our preferred option to use in Europe, as most of its users are based on the continent. It lists a lot of car parks and approved motorhome overnight stops, which is useful if you need something with hardstanding and not too far off the main roads.


Again, I tend to use this motorhome parking app more in Europe instead of the UK, but it has one feature I love- you can narrow down your options by length or height. As we spend most of our time pulling a trailer, it's really useful for us to know which free overnight spots won't be suitable for us. It also has several options which aren't listed on the other two apps.

I tend to check all sites, read the reviews, look at the photos and then pick somewhere. Most sites have a postcode so we put that into the Sat Nav and off we go!

Wild camping in the UK- amazing for stargazing!


We recently went wild camping in Wales with our motorhome and some friends- and they swear by Brit Stops. Brit stops is a collection of farms, pubs, breweries and other businesses, which often allow motorhomes to park for free overnight on their land, in return for the hope of some sales (food, drink etc) the next morning.

 Want more advice on finding overnight parking spots with a vehicle? Grab our guide here

Motorhome pub stopovers

The other option is to find pubs which allow/ encourage motorhomes to stay over. Many pubs will allow campers to stay in their car park or even in a dedicated field for free, as long as you eat in the pub that evening. Seems pretty fair to me! You can use the motorhome parking apps above to find good motorhome pub stopovers near you.

Watch the video about how we find Wild Camping for Campervans & Motorhomes

This video shows you how we use the motorhome parking apps and how I find free overnight parking places near me.

Motorhome Wild Camping in the UK – our routine

Depending on what we're doing will depend on how we look for wild camping places. If we're heading into the countryside for a weekend, we'll look for remote car parks or lay-bys which won't have much noise or passing traffic- if you're living in a motorhome in the UK or spending a lot of time in it, this is important.

If we're just stopping on the way to somewhere else, such as on the way down to Cornwall, we look for places not too far off our chosen route. Again, we try to pick somewhere quiet that's not by a busy main road. After that first night in Scotland, when our poor van shook violently & woke us up every time a truck went by, we've never parked up by a main road again!

UPDATE… yeah, we forgot about this rule whilst we were in Norway and spent an awful night parked up next to a road which was busy all night, with trucks rushing past and shaking the motorhome- even with the legs down! Never again… at least until the next time!! 🙂 

Campervan wild camping
Wild camping with a camper.

Campervan Travel and Free Camping with a motorhome in the UK- the legalities

So, after all this advice, is it even legal to wild camp in the UK in a vehicle? The honest answer is….. kinda.

Wild camping in England & Wales in a motorhome

Pretty much every piece of land in England & Wales is owned by someone, and you DON'T have right of access onto their land without their permission. Therefore if you are asked to move on, you need to do so. Wild camping is also prohibited on Open Access lands (shaded orange on Ordnance Survey Maps) and in most National Parks.

HOWEVER, there are many places in England & Wales where wild camping is tolerated. Heck, we camped next to Stonehenge for the night and spoke to the security guards from English Heritage at 6am (we were filming the sunrise). They didn't bat an eyelid at the fact we were parked there, for free, for the night. There were in fact several other vans around and they could easily have asked us all to move if it was an issue…. but they didn't. Because it wasn't. (UPDATE- apparently it is now and the Drove is now closed. Sob)

It's a lot easier to wild camp in the UK if you head for more remote areas- such as Cumbria, Devon, Cornwall (out of summer!), Southern Wales and Scotland. Here landowners are more used to wild campers and much more tolerant- although they still have the right to ask you to move.

The practical answer is that most people don't mind in the slightest as long as you are not on their doorstep, not making noise and not disobeying an obvious parking sign saying ‘no overnight camping'. A bit of courtesy and consideration will go a long way to making your wild camping trips more enjoyable.

Wild Camping Scotland motorhome or camper

Scotland has long been considered much more tolerant of wild camping than the other countries in Britain. However, some confusion exists about the definition of ‘wild camping'. In Scotland (and honestly, probably elsewhere!) wild camping means a tent or even just a sleeping bag, far far away from a road and any civilisation. Camping by a roadside in a motorhome is generally called ‘free camping'.

The Scottish Outdoor Access code which is often quoted does NOT apply to motorised vehicles, so, contrary to popular belief, it is NOT ok to just park a motorhome or campervan wherever you like in Scotland.

Sadly, the pressure on the infrastructure is creating more and more tension between residents, tourist boards and motorhomers. A few irresponsible idiots who leave rubbish and human waste lying around have led to many more restrictions on where you can legally park overnight, and there is increasing pressure to shut down even more places- especially in the heavily congested areas of the Isle of Skye and NC500.

Wild Camping. What is it, is it legal and where do you go? How do you find places for a motorhome or campervan to wild camp in the UK? Tips and hacks for finding the perfect wild camping spots for your road trip. Wild camping is fun- this guide will help you get it all figured out. #motorhome #camping #campervan #wild #scotland #UK #tips #hacks #ideas #rvliving #rvlife #boondocking

Free Motorhome Camping UK- some basic guidelines

It's a tough one. We love to wild camp (or free camp, if you prefer), but we try to do it far away from everyone else. In the UK, that is becoming more and more difficult to do. At the moment, there are still places where it is tolerated for people to camp overnight, provided they are considerate and responsible, following these simple guidelines:

  • Only stay one night in any one place
  • Don't block access to fields or park in overtaking places (that's illegal)
  • Keep well away from buildings and don't block anyone's view (unless you seek owner's permission)
  • Take away all litter
  • Obey local bylaws (especially where you need a permit to park in certain places)

There are some beautiful places to stop in Scotland, especially in the Highlands, and it would be a great shame if these were closed off to Motorhomers completely. Having said that, many places in England are being shut off, so I expect the same to happen in Scotland before too long. Better get up there quickly while you can!

Another TOP TIP for Scotland- do not take your Motorhome into Edinburgh. Under ANY circumstances. You can take kids into Edinburgh, but not Motorhomes. There's nowhere near enough space!

How to wild camp in the UK with a motorhome or campervan. Tips and hacks for finding the perfect wild camping spots for your road trip. Wild camping is fun- this guide will help you get it all figured out. #motorhome #camping #campervan #wild #scotland #UK #england #tips #hacks #ideas
Wild Camp in the UK with a motorhome or campervan

Campervan Overnight Parking- what to do/ what not to do

  • “DON'T leave anything other than tyre tracks” was how it was explained to us- and I love that definition. If we want to keep wild camping, for free, across the UK, we need to respect the land we are staying on and the fact that most of the time we are there with kind permission of the landowner. The more people who leave rubbish/ cause damage, the quicker we're ALL going to be stopped from staying anywhere.
  • DON'T play loud music
  • DON'T put up awnings/ permanent structures. You need to look like you are just stopping for a few hours.
  • If there is a charge, pay it. It's still a heck of a lot cheaper than a campsite for a night.
  • You can always move. Should other people move in who are noisy/ unsociable or who you just don't want to be parked next to, then just start the van and move.

 Want step-by-step advice on wild camping with a motorhome? Grab our complete guide here

How to Wild Camp in the UK- Safety

Finally, a short word on safety. If you are wild camping on your own, PLEASE tell someone where you are going- or tell them where you are when you find somewhere. There are many reasons this is a good idea- and I hope none of them ever apply to you.

Wild Camp in the UK with a Motorhome. What is it, is it legal and where do you go? How do you find places for a motorhome or campervan to wild camp in the UK? Tips and hacks for finding the perfect wild camping spots for your road trip. Wild camping is fun- this guide will help you get it all figured out. #motorhome #camping #campervan #wild #scotland #UK #tips #hacks #ideas #rvliving #rvlife #boondocking
Motorhome wild camping- just look at those views!

I hope the above has been helpful and allayed some of your fears over wild camping in your motorhome. The best thing you can do is just get out there and give it a go. Good luck & if you find somewhere amazing, let me know in the comments below! 🙂

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The Ultimate Guide to campervan travel in the UK. Tips, tricks, how to find places to park for free- everything you need to know to have an AMAZING UK road trip. #campervan #campervanliving #travel
The Ultimate Guide to campervan travel in the UK. Tips, tricks, how to find places to park for free- everything you need to know to have an AMAZING UK road trip. #campervan #campervanliving #travel

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Awesome campervan living tips- including how to find the best campervan parking spots for free! Everything you need to know for campervan life on a budget. #campervan #campervanlife #vanlife

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29 thoughts on “Wild Camp in the UK with a motorhome or campervan (for free!)”

  1. Hi Kat, 20 seconds to decide? It took me less than one second to decide to take voluntary early retirement from the Sellafield nuclear site when I was 57. The deal was far too good to refuse. Shortly after my wife of 27 years left to be with another man and, in retrospect, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. After selling the house and dividing all possessions I bought a 57foot narrowboat and continuously cruised for 13 years with my rescue dogs. In April last year I sold the boat and bought a motorhome that was 8 years old and had only 21,370 miles on the clock. I then drove two thousand miles around Scotland, including the NC500, and the north of England. So far I’ve only used campsites on four nights, much preferring to wild camp.
    Currently I’m parked on my friend’s farm with electric hook up and fresh water for £10 per week, plus helping with odd jobs. My two rescue dogs love it here because they can run free. As soon as winter is over we’ll be off on our travels again. Plan A is to drive the 1500 mile Wild Atlantic Way and tour Ireland for six months. Plan B, if A doesn’t materialise, is to island hop through all of the Outer Hebrides and then explore Orkney where I have a contact. Do you know that if visiting a friend or relative on Orkney you can claim 30% off the ferry charge? Contact Karen Binnie Douglas on Scottish Motorhome Wild Campers on Facebook.
    Best Regards,

  2. A nice read looking at all angles of wild camping in the uk. Ive never properly wild camped but would like to get out in my landrover with the roof tent on and do it as much as i can, and trying to convince my partner to think the same way, we’re moving from essex to cumbria next month so i think we’re heading the right way. My question is have you seen many wild campers in the uk with a roof top tent on their 4×4 and do you think if we find some spots tucked away we shouldnt have a problem with being moved on etc?

    • Hi Aaron! Don’t tell Mr WB- he loves a good 4×4/ roof tent combo. That’s like his dream life! 🙂 We’ve seen a few- especially in Europe. In the UK we try to stay as far from other campers as possible, but I’m sure there are a few around. I don’t see why you would have any more problems than anyone else- if wild camping is tolerated, then it’s tolerated, especially if you only stay for a night. Let me know how you get on!

  3. Hi
    Nice article we wild camp everywhere exept Dorset they don’t seem to like Motor homes.
    I just wondered how you have found the Hydrolic levelling system.

    • Hi David,

      Im actually writing a blog post on that right now! Hope to have it out in a week or two, but we really like it. Don’t consider it an essential though!

    • We had a great night on Exmouth sea front. They have a designated area for motorhomes, cost me £3.40 for 24hrs. See Park 4 Night.

  4. Thanks Kat
    Thanks for your comment as i have already booked mine in to have fitted in April,hopefully worth the expense.

    • Definitely worth the expense if you wild camp a lot like us! So much easier than chocks- and more stable. I’m sure you’ll love it.

  5. Hi
    Interested in Norway and Denmark
    Where did you travel from it did you rent a camper over there
    Great info by the way
    Thanks sharn

    • Hi Sharn,

      We drove up to Norway from the UK. There’s several posts on it (and the cost!) in the Norway section under Destinations. 🙂

    • There’s not one from the UK. We drove through Belgiumn, Holland, Germany, Denmark and got the Ferry from Denmark to Norway! 🙂 It was an adventure!

  6. Hi Kat,
    Great blog really helpful and insightful
    You mention you have the heating on all the time, does this include the night and what heating are you using, do you have any concerns regarding carbon monoxide poisoning whilst your sleeping if your using gas. If not what set up are you using.

    • Hi Paul- great question! We fitted a carbon monoxide in the motorhome and we always try and leave one roof vent open where possible/ safe to do so. But the van is a fairly big space, and we’ve never had any problems. The properly fitted heating systems are all tested to be safe for use overnight.

  7. First camper coming in September 2019 a Toyota Alphard but should be room for me and my French beauty Jaques Roosell, enjoy your advice and tips no end, can’t wait to get going. Keep up the good work all the best Dave.

  8. What a brilliant post. I can’t even drive but have been daydreaming about doing this recently. I think in maybe 2/3 years or so it could be a reality.

    • Not in our van. We’ve been on US road trips, but it costs a lot to ship a van, not to mention the trouble with getting Diesel in the US, so not sure we ever will!! We’re hoping to do Alaska in a few years- we’ll probably hire one then.

  9. This is just the blog/post I have been looking for. We have just recently booked a converted Citroen relay for a trip planned (ish) week around the South Coast of the UK with the view of purchasing one in a few years time. We also love remote/wild camping so your advice & tips were priceless. Totally agree with how Cumbria has more wild spots than many other parts & we look forward to exploring there too, amongst many other parts of Europe. Happy travelling 🚐


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