Choosing a campervan trip in London can save you a lot of money on accommodation and meals out. What’s more, you’ll have the freedom to experience the best of the city before touring the surrounding countryside.
Rental campervans come with a variety of features. Basic campers generally just have a bed and kitchen equipment. More luxurious motorhomes are fully equipped with toilets and showers too. A number of reliable brands make these vans including Volkswagen, Renault, Fiat and Toyota. There are also many campervan hire companies in London.
Dotted around the outskirts of the United Kingdom’s capital, you will find popular camping sites where you can park up your campervan for a few nights. It’s advisable to carry a good quality map for your trip, in case your GPS lets you down. Frequently, there are multiple routes you can use to get to a single destination. Some may involve exiting the major motorways. Having a map can help you navigate the smaller roads more easily. Don’t be tempted to avoid the B roads – these often meander through beautiful countryside. Slowing down your pace on these minor routes will give you more opportunities to admire the scenery and stop at points of interest.
One picturesque area to drive your campervan through not far away from London is the Cotswolds. This hilly landscape is peppered with pretty towns and villages. Take the M40 going west and you’ll be transported to a land of historic medieval sites. Many churches and villages were constructed with locally-sourced yellow limestone in the Cotswolds. Highlights include Stow-on-the-Wold and Burford, where you can shop for antiques and sit down with a cup of tea.
Whichever route you select, it’s important to make your reservation early at camping and campervan sites. They get booked out quickly at peak times of year. Here are a few favourites.
The Lee Valley Camp and Caravan Park is very popular. This spot is ideal for families, since it has a large play area plus trails for walking or biking. Keen golfers can practice on the 18-hole golf course in the park. It also has well-stocked shops, modern toilets and hot showers. An advantage of this campervan site is the fact that it offers discount cards for local attractions. These cards are given to all guests of the park. Climbing aboard a train to London is also possible if you fancy a day in the city. The park accepts campervans as well as motorhomes, but commercial vehicles are not allowed.
Located to the west of London, California Chalet and Touring Park is in Berkshire. Stay here and you will be stepping back in time. The place once served as a hunting ground for the Tudors, as it was part of Windsor Forest. Today, it is mostly used for fishing, although you will need a rod license to participate in this activity. The park is ideal for people who like the countryside feel. It is surrounded by amazing natural scenery that inspires a peaceful mind. Facilities in the area include toilets and a hot shower, so you will be well served if you come in your campervan. The site fully accommodates physically challenged guests too.
You may also choose to visit Hop Farm, a campervan site located next to the popular Hop Farm Family Park in Kent. Booking a space here means you will only have to pay half the entry price to the park. Other activities include canoeing, fishing, and kayaking. Bathroom facilities have been upgraded to meet 2018 standards, so you can expect a high-quality experience. For shops and other amenities, you will have to travel a distance of about five minutes.
These are just a few examples of the varied places where you can stay with your van to enjoy England. Let’s take a closer look at some of the top routes and regions you can access from London, plus things to see and do in the city itself.
Exploring London & Surrounding Areas In A Campervan
Before you venture out of London, take some time to experience all that this capital on the Thames has to offer. It rivals any city in Europe when it comes to historic attractions, arts and culture, dining and entertainment. London is also home to the famed Houses of Parliament.
At the heart of the city you can visit St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. Tower Bridge is another highlight that you will recognise instantly. The Southbank Centre has grown in popularity in recent years, thanks to its growing programme of events and festivals. Both the eclectic and the traditional are represented here. Close by, take a whirl inside the London Eye or see a production at the Globe Theatre.
If you have a taste for the macabre events of the old city, you shouldn’t miss the London Dungeon. Locals re-enact scary happenings from days gone by, tracing London’s darker side.
The city is easiest to explore on foot or by public transport. Consider parking your campervan at a site nearby and catching the bus or train back into the city. Alternatively, spend a few nights in the city before you hire a vehicle.
Once you are ready for some driving, you can get out on roads like the M4 motorway and the M25. The M4 connects all the way west across the UK to Wales. On the other hand, the M25 circles the exterior of the city, allowing you to join up with more rural routes.
With your campervan rental, you can tour neighbouring areas such as Wraysbury and Horsham within a week. If it’s your first time driving in Europe, you should take some time to educate yourself on the road signs.
Wraysbury is a village and civil parish in England. It can be reached via the M4 or the M25, meaning you can access it even with a larger campervan. This sleepy village has several landmarks and scientific sites of interest. One of these is the Wraysbury reservoir, a water supply point for the rest of London. Another site of interest is the Wraysbury and Hythe End Gravel Pits. If you like watching birds, you should take your binoculars along for a stop here.
For something a little more unusual, try the Wraysbury Dive Centre for scuba diving and snorkelling. In about 20 minutes from the village, there are plenty of attractions to explore too. These include Windsor Castle, the Magna Carta Monument and Langley Country Park. Camping and campervan parks abound in this area.
This market town is located southwest of London in Sussex. Horsham is well-known for its public art. Some of the famous sculptors whose works have been displayed in the town include Angela Conner, Lorne Mckean, Damien Fennell and Hannah Stewart. Capture some local history with a visit to the Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin. This is the oldest building in Horsham. The Museum and Art Gallery is also worth your time.
Continuing your campervan adventure south to the English coastline is an idyllic route from Horsham. Make your way to Brighton on the A23, journeying through peaceful villages, landscapes and golf courses. Brighton itself is famous for its beaches and a pier that springs to life in the summertime. From Horsham you could also cut across the South Downs National Park to the A3, taking the road to Portsmouth.
London is a great jumping-off point for touring other parts of Europe and the UK. Driving north to Scotland in your rental campervan is an excellent choice. Once there, you can visit Loch Ness, Edinburgh Castle, Ben Nevis and the islands.
Catch the ferry west from Scotland to reach Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Attractions such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, Guinness Storehouse and the Temple Bar will have you spellbound. Ireland is also the birthplace of the famous writer Oscar Wilde. It’s a country overflowing with castles, making it look a lot like a medieval empire.
Of course, you could finally think about crossing the channel to get to France. Taking the Channel Tunnel opens up a whole world of new driving opportunities. Ferry crossings to Rotterdam from Hull accept campervans as well, making Holland an accessible port too.
Before embarking on a long tour, ensure that your campervan insurance covers the whole of Europe as well as the UK.