Planning to RV in the UK? Read These Tips for Using Brit Stops!
Planning to RV in the UK? Read These Tips for Using Brit Stops!
How to use your GoLife Perks membership to save on a vacation in Great Britain.
By: Alyssa Padgett
RVing is popular in the States, but camping is even more popular in Europe. You’ll find no shortage of national parks, holiday parks (or what we call RV parks), and campgrounds across the continent.
After visiting all fifty states in my own Winnebago, I started RVing abroad and have camped in seven European countries. Most recently, my family and I visited England and Wales where we hired a motorhome for a two-week camping adventure.
When we’re RVing in the States, we love to use Harvest Hosts to camp at wineries and breweries. It’s a great way to get a taste of the local flavor in an area.
When we heard that the UK has a similar program called Brit Stops, we had to sign up. Their tagline “giving motorhome tourists an authentic taste of Britain and Ireland” is exactly what we were looking for. We knew this would be a great way to experience the local culture of the UK.
And with your Winnebago GoLife Perks membership, you’re eligible for a discount on Brit Stops!
What is Brit Stops?
Brit Stops is a motorhome stopover program where you gain access to pubs, wineries, and attractions across the United Kingdom. These participating businesses let you “stop over” for a night and camp for free.
When you sign up for the annual membership, you’ll receive the Brit Stops guidebook in the mail with a code and instructions for downloading their app to your devices. The book and app will list all of the 1,100+ Brit Stops locations across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland (collectively the United Kingdom). You’ll also automatically get access to “Irish Stops” across Ireland.
Just like Harvest Hosts, it’s customary to let businesses know when you plan on arriving by calling ahead. It’s also expected that you’ll patronize the business where you stop over. This is easy to do since most of the businesses listed, in my experience, serve food and drinks.
Some of the Brit Stops locations where we stayed offered other RV services too. We filled up with water, dumped tanks, and threw away trash at multiple locations. This unexpected benefit meant we could camp at Brit Stops almost every night of our trip without running out of water or needing campground services.
Campgrounds are surprisingly expensive in the UK while food and drink costs across the UK are slightly less than what you might expect in the States. So, while you are still spending money patronizing the pubs where you camp, it saves you money to stay at a Brit Stop, with the added benefit of a great meal. (And less cooking and cleaning for you!)
I always say the best way to experience a culture is through its food and Brit Stops is definitely the easiest way to eat your way across the country!
What is it Like Camping at a Pub?
Most of the Brit Stops are pubs. I worried a bit about what life would look like camping at pubs every night with a four- and a one-year-old. Surely sleeping at bars every night isn’t a recommended parenting hack.
But pubs in the UK are not what I pictured. I imagined they would mostly be bars that serve fish and chips at most. I was alarmingly wrong. Pub is much more synonymous with restaurant.
I dined on hunter’s chicken, paella, quinoa and feta salad, curries, fresh baked cakes, risotto, and a triple-layer chocolate and toffee pie that I’m still dreaming about. The UK as a country is also the most gluten-free friendly country I’ve ever visited, so I even indulged in gluten-free fish and chips on more than one occasion. If you have dietary restrictions of any kind, you will be pleasantly surprised at what these pubs offer.
Even more shocking is how family-friendly pubs are. Most of the pubs had playgrounds and outdoor seating, making them even more ideal than staying at a holiday park.
The playground pictured below was at a pub built in 1406.
Brit Stops are a unique blend of culture, food, entertainment, and history. (And beer…and cider…and wine…)!
How to Plan Your Stopovers with Brit Stops
Before heading across the pond, I used the Brit Stops book to plan our trip. With large maps of each country and region, I could plot our route and find nearby Brit Stops. The coverage offered was astounding. Since the UK is so much smaller than America, even rural and off-the-beaten path Brit Stops were no more than a 15-minute detour on our route.
For example, when we looked for a place to camp while visiting Oxford, there were six options within 15 minutes of downtown. Considering what a popular destination and large town Oxford is, I was surprised we could find places to park so easily! We stayed at the Rectory Farm (SE42) just outside of town.
Because there are so many Brit Stops locations, the UK is divided into regions and each Brit Stop is numbered. For example, The Sporting Chance in Wales is W37 and Jinney Ring Craft Centre is WM29 (West Midlands 29). I highly recommend both!
After routing our trip around the country, there were only two nights where I couldn’t find a close by Brit Stop (Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and Snowdonia National Park in Wales). Even then, Brit Stops were only an extra 30-40 minutes away.
When planning our trip, I followed the guidebook instructions and found that many Brit Stops don’t require you to call ahead. Since we often had at least two or three Brit Stops to choose from in an area, this gave us great flexibility. Once in the UK, I used Google Maps to look up the businesses and choose where to stay based on who had the best-looking food.
Alternatively, my husband would use Google satellite view to see the parking lots at pubs and use the size of the lot to determine which Brit Stop had a better parking spot!
Our Favorite Brit Stops
We made this road trip in two motorhomes, bringing along our family plus my in-laws. I asked everyone in the family to choose their favorite stop.
Our road trip started on a high note with one of our favorite Brit Stops of the trip, Jinney Ring Craft Centre (WM29).
We did not know what “craft centre” meant before arriving. We parked after closing and found that the center was a small collection of stores. It felt like a tiny village with a restaurant, bakery, multiple shops, and even a chocolatier.
Behind all the stores were sprawling gardens for eating, a space where they host weddings, and fields of animals. Our kids loved exploring while we watched the sunset over the mountains in the distance.
In Snowdonia National Park in Wales, we stopped at two Brit Stops that we adored. Bryn Arms (W61) was perfect for dinner and offered plenty of outdoor seating. We travel with two young kids, so their playground was a hit.
We also loved Cross Foxes (W59), a cozy pub with an amazing menu. Our stopover for the night was at the edge of the parking lot so we were surrounded by bushes on one side and a babbling brook behind us. Even on a rainy evening, it was idyllic.
(Yes, both of those pubs are inside the national park and have amazing menus!)
My husband insists that the absolute best stop was Halfpenny Green Wine Estate in England. We arrived just prior to closing and grabbed two bottles of wine and some chocolate truffles from their expansive shop. Our motorhome was surrounded by vines loaded with grapes and open green spaces.
Using Brit Stops for More Than Overnight Stays
Brit Stops was our go-to app for finding free places to camp all over the UK. But it was more than that. We quickly learned that the roads in Great Britain are not built for motorhomes! With roads and buildings older than my country, finding parking for a large vehicle was stressful.
We used the Brit Stops app for sourcing nearby restaurants where we knew we would be able to park two motorhomes safely and easily.
My favorite lunch of the trip was the asparagus risotto from Bellman’s Cross (WM36). This was one of the fanciest pubs we enjoyed during our trip, with warm rolls and butter, delicious mains, and a luscious dessert menu.
We didn’t camp at Bellman’s Cross, but it was a convenient lunch spot for us in between adventures. It gave us so much peace of mind to head somewhere that we knew the motorhome would fit!
Traveling the UK in a Motorhome
If you’ve never RVed abroad but dream of one day visiting Europe, the UK is a beautiful, easy-to-navigate country for Americans to visit. You can camp at a pub 20 minutes away from Stonehenge and camp with castle views on the coast of Wales.
Hopping in a rented motorhome in a foreign country may sound like too much. But you can actually even ship your Winnebago across the pond and enjoy your vacation in the comfort of your own home on wheels!
Before you book your trip, check out this video from our recent trip to England to get a better idea of what Brit Stops is and what it’s like RVing in Europe:
Don’t forget! GoLife Perks members receive 18% off the retail price for Brit Stops (UK) subscriptions. See more details here.
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