Three words that have had too high a profile in 2020 are ‘pandemic’, ‘lockdown’ and ‘staycation’, and it looks like they’re still going to be around in 2021 – for a while, at least.
Throw Brexit into the mix as well and it looks like we’ll all be looking forward to staycation holidays in England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland in 2021 as they’re the only destinations it is sensible to plan or book at the moment.
But where are the best places for a lost-lockdown road trip and staycation in a camper van?
Need some staycation ideas? Read on…
Exploring the country’s beauty spots is best experienced in the comfort of your own camper van, where you can enjoy all the home luxuries such as a comfy bed, gas hob, fridge, sink and utilities whilst also having the freedom of waking up to a new backdrop every morning if you so desire.
There’s nothing like not being allowed to go out and about to make a campervan road trip sound even more desirable, so start planning now.
In a lockdown, you’re bound to start dreaming of other places you’d rather be, near or far. Taking the open road to distant places with a good soundtrack for the journey is very tempting, but you can also have great mini-adventure staycations close to home as well.
But where to go? Is there too much choice? Let’s face it; the UK is a beautiful country with an unbelievable amount of variety on our doorstep.
Best coastal locations
It’s hard to say ‘coastal location’ and ‘VW campervan’ in the same sentence, without thinking of surfing.
No prizes for guessing that the most obvious, and one of the most desirable coastal locations, is North Devon and Cornwall. It feels like every VW camper in the country is magnetically drawn to this beautiful coastline, often with surfboards on the roof.
Then, further west, heading into the county of scones with jam before cream, Cornwall has even more beaches popular for surfing in the waves brought in by the Atlantic.
They hardly need introducing… Fistral beach at Newquay is about the best known, but there’s also Polzeath (try Tristram Camping on the cliffs overlooking the waves with instant access to the beach) plus Bude, Perranporth and many more. Campsites range from small and simple, to large with loads of amenities.
If you think that area is going to be too busy, or too far to travel, then how about Pembrokeshire in Wales as an alternative? There are plenty of long sandy beaches to stroll along, or surf if you wish. Many of the smaller campsites on this coastline only accept camper vans or tents, as they’re not very accessible for bigger motorhomes or caravans. You can really get away from it all.
Best mountain locations
For mountains, the most obvious locations are Snowdonia in Wales, Scafell Pike in the Lake District, or Ben Nevis in Scotland. Which is the best? They’re all beautiful, so choosing one of them over the other is tough. They’re all havens for a multitude of outdoor pursuits with a wide choice of campsites around them.
You could even take in all three of these mountains in one staycation, if you have time, like the competitors on those fund-raising three peaks challenges when they conquer all three in 24 hours. A camper van would be perfect for a dash like that, but hopefully you’ll want to make it a bit more relaxing than that!
Relax in Snowdonia at Torrent Walk Campsite, which allows campfires, or stay in Cumbria at the National Trust’s Wasdale Campsite, which has 11 pitches for campervans with mains electric hook up and a very impressive location.
You’ll also be spoilt for choice of campsites in the Scottish Highlands. For its location alone, rather than proximity to Fort William, consider Invercoe Caravan & Camping Park or Caolasnacon Caravan & Camping Park overlooking Lock Leven. If you want to be closer to Ben Nevis, there’s Glen Nevis Caravan & Camping Park.
Best lake locations
If you like being by water, but aren’t so keen on sandy beaches, then a lake is a good alternative, and the UK is blessed with many of them.
You’ve probably already thought of the Lake District. It’s hard not to, and there are some quieter, less popular spots to stay away and plenty of open space – and water – to aid social distancing. Coniston Water is one of the smaller, quieter lakes, where there’s the excellent Coniston Park Coppice Caravan and Motorhome Club Site that has access to the lake and is walking distance into Coniston. The National Trust also has a campsite here – Hoathwaite Campsite.
But, what about an alternative, such as Rutland Water in the East Midlands? OK, it’s officially a reservoir, but whatever it’s called, any large expanse of water is always attractive and a good base for lots of activities (camping, cycling, fishing, walking and water sports). The obvious place to stay here is Rutland Water Campsite next to the sailing club on the south shore. If you don’t mind being four miles from the water, there’s Cuckoo Farm Camping. As its name suggests, it’s based on an organic working farm and welcomes families.
Rutland Water claims to be the largest reservoir in England and is surrounded by 3,100 acres of countryside. It was man made by damming the Gwash valley and flooding two villages in the process. It really is quite a gem and perfect for a UK staycation, but don’t just take our word for it.
Best woodland locations
Lots of woodland locations for staycations spring to mind that are perfect for a camper van trip.
Let’s start with the New Forest in Hampshire. It is a great place to base yourself for a family UK staycation with the beaches of the south coast and Isle of Wight on hand for days out to add plenty of variety.
Everyone loves seeing the ponies roaming wild, and there are plenty of wooded campsites – check out camping in the forest if you want somewhere simple to stay.
But, how about Thetford Forest in Norfolk? If heading to the New Forest is too much of a trek for your staycation, East Anglia might be an easier option. There are two great campsites on HM The Queen’s Sandringham estate, one run by the Caravan and Motorhome Club and the other by the Camping and Caravanning Club, so you may need to join (it’s well worth it), or pay extra to stay as a non-member.
Visiting Sandringham house itself is a must to see how the Royal family spend their time there, but there are plenty of other activities and things to see in the area, including woodland-based Go Ape if you want to get outside your comfort zone above the ground. The coast isn’t far away either.
Norfolk beaches go on for miles, and you can find reserves of seals as well.
There are plenty of forests in Scotland, too. Try the Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands with its pinewoods to hike in. It’s got the triple whammy of forests, lakes (Lochs) and mountains. Bring your binoculars, too, as there’s plenty of birds and wildlife to watch out for.
Best urban location
Fancy a city-break staycation in 2021? Our cities are quieter than usual while so many people are still working from home, and if you want to avoid public transport, then a staycation in a camper van is the perfect solution – if lockdowns or Tier levels permit.
Better still, there are campsites within easy reach of city centres.
For example, the Caravan and Motorhome Club has campsites in the centre of Bristol – Baltic Wharf, Edinburgh (the Edinburgh Caravan Club Site is closest to the city centre:), but there’s also Meadowhead Caravan & Camping Park, still only 4 miles from the city centre).
Other alternatives are Brighton, where there’s another Caravan and Motorhome Club site. If you’re not a member, try Chalky Downs Campsite, still only two miles from the sea, which welcomes tents and VW campervans.London has the Lee Valley Camping and Caravan Park in Edmonton, or there are two Caravan and Motorhome Club sites; one is at Crystal Palace and the other is at Abbey Wood.
There is also a Camping and Caravanning Club site a little further out of London, at Chertsey which is easy to get to from the M25.
Finally, York is an interesting place to visit and the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Rowntree Park site is very central. If you’re not a member of the Club, there are about a dozen other campsites around York to try.
Wherever your 2021 staycation takes you, there will be memories made that will last forever, and you’ll come back knowing and appreciating the UK better than before.
We’re sure you’ll agree that whether you drive north, south, east or west, you will find somewhere to enjoy in the safe surroundings of your own campervan.
Even if your staycation is ‘just’ a day out in your campervan, the change of scenery will still be very refreshing.
Find the perfect camper for your needs and lifestyle from our range of 3 bespoke campers.
If you want to do more planning and research, and you’re not a Club member, we’d recommend searching for campsites on www.coolcamping.co.uk, www.campsites.co.uk, www.pitchup.com or www.ukcampsite.co.uk.
Enjoy the ride!