Plan your post-lockdown tour
This year’s summer holidays are set to be disrupted, if not abandoned altogether due to the global COVID-19 outbreak. It’s a big blow for many of us, and the uncertain future of holidays abroad means that UK trips are set to continue their recent resurgence as soon as domestic lockdown restrictions are lifted.
With so much time on our hands, planning for 2021 (and beyond) is what a lot of us are doing right now.
The UK has a diverse collection of landscapes to explore, with something unique to experience in each corner of the country. The best way to see it is to take to the road, stopping overnight at different locations along the way. It’s not a particularly new concept though, as many routes are long-established among the camping community.
We’ve picked out some of the best ones for you to include as part of your camping road trip.
Packing for your trip
Some of the routes suggested require up to 2 weeks of camping across various locations, so a decent amount of kit is required. For those that aren’t fortunate enough to have a campervan or motorhome, a robust tent that’s easy to pitch and pack away is top of the list!
Camping Road Trip Essentials:
North Coast 500
The NC500 is probably the UK’s most famous road trip route. It’s 500-mile loop across the Scottish Highlands with epic scenery every step of the way. The remote islands, rugged mountains and pristine beaches are jaw-droppingly beautiful and nature lovers will be able to spot wildlife that is scarcely seen elsewhere in the UK - look out for those dolphins!
Landmarks along the way include the Black Isle, Caithness, Easter Ross, Sutherland, Wester Ross and the great highland city of Inverness. Remember, wild camping is permitted in Scotland but it’s vital that you leave no trace, taking everything with you when you leave. For those that require amenities such as toilets and washing facilities, there are hundreds of campsites to choose from along the route. The NC500 is becoming very popular, so booking well in advance is advised if you're hoping to visit campsites in the summer months. Take a look at www.northcoast500.com for help planning your trip.
North Yorkshire Moors
This route lets you explore the rural charm of Yorkshire, meandering through rolling hills and pretty villages before heading to the coast for alfresco Fish & Chips!
The journey begins in the medieval walled city of York. After enjoying the various tourist attractions, you’ll head out on the A64 before making your way north on the A170 into the North York Moors National Park. You’ll find a number of campsites where you can pitch up, relax, and enjoy the wonderful views.
Next up is a journey east towards the traditional seaside resort of Scarborough, with its grand architecture, award-winning restaurants and other cultural delights. From there, continue north on the A171 to Whitby for more North Sea views and world-class Fish & Chips. Complete the loop back through the North York Moors and then south on the A172 and A19 towards Harrogate – be sure to stop off at quaint village shops, cafés and pubs on the way! The trip concludes with a visit to the serene spa town of Harrogate, where you’ll be able to relax with a traditional cream tea at the famous Betty’s Tea Rooms. Marvellous!
There’s a reason why Cornwall is so popular with UK holidaymakers, several reasons in fact! The idyllic sandy beaches, turquoise waters and rugged moorland are what sets it apart from the rest of the country. The 400-mile Cornish coast is well catered for when it comes to campsites, so you won’t be short of places to stay.
This particular road trip route actually kicks off in the neighbouring county of Devon. From the north-western fringe of the Exmoor National Park you’ll be able to pick up the scenic A39 Atlantic Highway travelling across the north coast, entering Cornwall itself and experiencing beautiful locations such as Tintagel Castle, Padstow and Newquay.
Newquay is a surfer’s paradise and the ever-popular Fistral Beach is a great place to take to the waves or soak up the sun. In the evening, the town really comes alive, with a densely-populated area dedicated to bars, clubs and restaurants. It really is a fun place to stay.
When it’s time to move on, hit the A30 and head towards St Ives before travelling on further to the rustic port of Penzance for some of the best cuisine the UK has to offer. The road trip comes to a close with a peaceful cruise along south coast roads, heading east back towards Devon.
North Wales & Snowdonia
North Wales is popular among UK tourists, mainly because it boasts a diverse landscape of lakes, mountains and beaches spread out over a large area - meaning many parts can be enjoyed in peace.
The most common route into the region is the A55 coastal road from the Northwest of England. However, to explore more diverse scenery, it’s recommended you meander along the A494 past Bala Lake into the heart of Snowdonia. As you drive west you’ll be astonished by the awe-inspiring mountains you pass on the way.
Once you’ve made your way through the hills you’ll discover the enchanting village of Portmeirion, which was somewhat unusually built in the style of an Italian settlement by eccentric architect, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975.
The next move is up to you. If you fancy conquering the summit of Mount Snowdon, then head north back into Snowdonia along the A498. Alternatively, you can proceed through Porthmadog on the A497 and follow it west past Criccieth Castle all the way up to Abersoch, a beachside hotspot that has dozens of local campsites to choose from.
When leaving Aberscoch, circle back onto the A487 to travel north to Anglesey. Take in the island’s ancient landscape and go Red Squirrel spotting in Newborough Forest before settling in at a campsite near the sea. Once you’ve returned to the mainland, all that’s left to do is cruise east all the way back to England on the A55, with the Irish Sea for company ou the window.
Causeway Coastal Route
This route is full of Irish charm and is one of the best roadtrips in Europe. It starts by taking you from bustling Belfast to the tranquil Strangford Lough. You then need to drive north up the A2 to get on the coastal road at Carrickfergus. This is where you will find the world-famous Giant’s Causeway, a natural wonder like no other.
Continue west to visit Castlerock and Magilligan Point and then back onto the A2 towards Londonderry. You can head back to Belfast in the opposite direction along the same roads, but if you are short of time you can whizz down the A6 to complete the loop. You’ll probably find that campsites aren’t as easy to come by as they are in England and Wales, so use a map to plan your stopovers beforehand.
We must reiterate that current government guidelines restrict activity in relation to travel and tourism. Be responsible, follow the rules and only travel where necessary (unless permitted to do so by the relevant authorities). This article is designed to provide inspiration for future trips only, and does not encourage the public to embark on camping holidays as things currently stand.