If you are touring around the UK, then you are going to need somewhere to stay. While there is no shortage of campsites peppered throughout the country, we want to introduce you to a completely new concept. The idea of a ‘Brit Stops’.
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of Brit stops before. We are going to tell you absolutely everything that you need to know about them.
What is the Story Behind Brit Stops?
The Britstops system started back in 2009.
In France, there is a similar system known as ‘French Passions’. These stops will have you heading around the various vineyards and bakeries in France. It really allows you to experience French culture.
The Brit guide was based upon the French edition, although they are not produced by the same people. In the case of Britstops, the idea is to showcase the best of British culture.
This means farm shops, pubs, and some awesome village restaurants. However, with so many difference hosts signed up to the Britstops program nowadays, there is a little bit of authentic taste of everything for people to enjoy!
What is a Brit Stop?
A Brit stop is a free campsite for motorhomes and van conversions. Now, before you get all excited about the idea of ‘free’, a Britstop is not a conventional campsite by any stretch of the imagination. In most cases, it is just a small parcel of land on somebody’s property.
Brit Stops are not official campsites and not quite wild camping either. They are places where you will be able to park your motorhome for the night. They are often unique stopovers, located on farms, pubs, restaurants, and sometimes even at privately-owned tourist destinations e.g., zoos.
Brit Stops are more than just convenient rest stops for UK travellers. The roadside havens are designed to provide a memorable experience for all who enter, with plenty of amenities that make the journey easier and more enjoyable.
From cosy cafes and restaurants, to a farm shop to well-stocked retail stores, there’s something for everyone at a Britstop.
The idea is that you will stay overnight at one of these Brit Stops and, hopefully, make a purchase from the landowner. While you have absolutely no obligation to make that purchase, it is pretty much etiquette among Britstop users.
How Do You Find Brit Stops?
There are around 1,000 Brit Stops dotted around the UK. However, you won’t just stumble across them.
In order to learn about Brit Stops, you are going to need to purchase the Brit Stop book. This will set you back £27 plus postage and packaging. A new book comes out every single year, normally in March.
When you have your hands on the Brit Stops book, you will be able to flick through and see well over a thousand different Brit Stops. The team behind the book asks that you do not share details of the stops in the book, otherwise it will ruin the whole idea of the system. You wouldn’t be able to get in unless you own the book anyway. More on that in a short while.
Brit Stops UK have now also introduced a brand-new Brit Stops app as of 2022. The app has been developed by the company which provides a way to search for free motorhome parking areas.
Available in the web, iOS and Android version, this app enables users to find vacant spaces at Brit Stops UK-provided sites and fill in their data once they’ve parked; it also allows users to leave reviews on each of these sites. The app features country pubs and all the other great britstops across the UK.
The app is free to download but can only be used by Britstoppers who have purchased the book, as you will need the britstops app code to use the phone app which is found inside the book.
If you would like to check out the official Brit Stops website for more information and where you can also purchase the Brit Stops book, here is the link – Brit Stops Guide
How Do You Book a Brit Stop?
In most cases, you don’t. You just turn up to the Britstop and hope that there will be space available. Unless you are travelling during the high season, there likely will be some space at the stop, so you don’t need to worry about it.
In some cases, you will need to book ahead to secure a place at the Britstop. When you go through the Brit Stops book, you will find a wealth of information about each site. If they require you to call to book ahead, then this will be clearly marked in the book.
What Facilities Will You Find At a Brit Stop?
Not a whole lot.
The system has been designed specifically for those that are driving vehicles that are completely self-sufficient. This means that you will very rarely find much more than a concrete or grass pad to put your vehicle on.
You are essentially going to be in a car park. In some situations, there may be a water connection point or electrical hook-up, but these may have charges associated with them. You should always ask the operator of the site before you use them.
You may not find any toilets either. Well, at least during the latter part of the day. The Brit Stops that are located on the premises of shops, restaurants, and pubs may have a toilet that you can use. However, they probably won’t be a fan of you constantly using the facilities if you are not spending any cash.
Finally, there may be grey water disposal points. It is unlikely that you will be able to get rid of your black water, though.
The Brit Stops guide should give you a decent overview of the sorts of facilities that you will be encountering whenever you get to a particular Britstop. However, do make sure that you are using an up-to-date book, because the facilities can change, on occasion.
What Happens When You Arrive at a Brit Stop?
When you arrive at a Britstop, it is customary to say hello to the people that are hosting you. If it is not marked, then they will be able to point out where you can park your motorhome or converted van.
In most cases, the Britstop operator is going to ask to see your book. This is to ensure that you are actually part of the Brit Stops system as opposed to just randomly stopping by.
It helps to ensure that everybody is living by the rules of the whole system.
In most cases, you can arrive at any time of the day. However, it is best to arrive during the opening hours of the store/pub/or restaurant, just in case there is any confusion about where you are allowed to park, or if you want to use particular facilities.
It is worth noting that these stops are not designed for long-term stopovers. In most cases, you will only be allowed to stay for one night.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, and some of the Brit Stops providers may allow you to stay for longer in some cases, which may be at an extra cost, but try to plan to stay there no longer than a single night.
Do You Have to Purchase Something at a Brit Stop?
The whole reason the Brit Stops system was designed was to help showcase the many local businesses, shops, farms, and pubs of the United Kingdom.
While it is not expected for you to purchase something when you stay at a Brit Stop, it is almost always worth doing. These locations have been carefully selected for the quality that they offer.
A lot of people that are travelling around the United Kingdom staying at these Brit Stops often get to enjoy some fantastic meals, and even stock up their fridges and freezers.
Can You Explore the Whole of The UK Using Brit Stops?
In the 2021 edition, Brit Stops finally got around to adding stops in Northern Ireland (as well as some locations in the Republic of Ireland), which means that you can now explore the entire country using Ireland Brit Stops.
Of course, there will be parts of the country that will be a little bit better covered with Brit Stops than others. However, there will still be multiple Brit Stops wherever you head.
A lot of people have toured the entirety of the United Kingdom using nothing more than their Brit Stops book.
You may have to change up plans a little bit since some places could be full and, on occasion, you may find that certain Brit Stops are closed for personal or business reasons. You probably won’t have to drive too far to find a new Brit Stop, though.
How Do You Plan a Brit Stops Holiday?
This part is pretty simple. You should already have a rough idea of where you want to travel, and probably when you want to travel.
Once you have picked up a Brit Stops book, then go through the pages and find the destinations that you really want to take your motorhome or converted van. As we said, there will be plenty of Brit Stops no matter where you end up travelling.
We suggest that when you are making a note of the potential Brit Stops that you want to head to, you check the facilities. This is especially important if you have a motorhome that is a little bit larger than normal.
Most of these Brit Stops are nothing more than car parks and they are not able to accommodate larger vehicles. It will be clearly located in the guide if you are able to bring one of those larger vehicles along with you.
You should try and come up with a Plan A and a Plan B for each step of your trip, just to take into account the fact that not every Brit Stop will be open all the time. This is going to be especially important when you are travelling during the high season.
Are There Any Restrictions When Using Brit Stops?
Yes. For starters, you must only head there with a motorhome or a converted van. Brit Stops are not able to accommodate tents or unconverted vans. If you do take a converted van along, then it must have a toilet built into it. While this isn’t going to be checked, there won’t be any facilities that you can use for the bulk of the day. Basically, you will need to be self-sufficient.
You must also remember that you are not staying at a campsite. This means that you cannot treat it like a campsite.
You won’t be able to pull an awning out, nor will you be able to set up your own chairs outside of the Brit Stop. If you are staying there and not travelling around, then you must stay inside of your vehicle.
You should also ensure that you treat the hosts and people with respect. These sites are often located at working businesses. This means that the hosts are not going to be constantly around. You will also need to ensure that you are causing the minimum amount of disruption to everybody in the area.
There may be additional requirements on top of this. Every entry that you find inside of the Brit Stops guide should be fairly extensive and it will list what you can’t do at the site, as well as any days that you can’t stay there.
For example, if you are planning on bringing a dog along, then the guide will tell you whether that particular stop will accept dogs or not.
The Advantages of Brit Stops
Obviously, the big advantage is that you are going to be staying somewhere for free. Travelling around the UK can be expensive at the best of times, so every little bit of money that you can save is going to be working absolute wonders for your wallet!
A lot of these sites are in excellent locations too. This doesn’t just mean for those visiting that want to access the best sights in the UK, but for those that want to discover and enjoy some amazing food or local produce.
Due to the placement of Brit Stops, there will almost always be a few places that you can head no matter where you in the UK. This means that you can plan your entire trip around Brit Stops.
The Disadvantages of Brit Stops
Obviously, the major disadvantage is that these are not working campsites. This means that they will be lacking facilities, and they may be closed at a moment’s notice.
You also won’t be able to book the Brit Stop location. While this is generally not a problem, you may have to check out several potential locations if you are staying in the height of the summer. This is likely only going to become more of a problem when Brit Stops becomes even more popular.
Conclusion – Are They Worth It?
If you have a motorhome or a converted van, then Brit Stops are absolutely worth it. They are a great way to explore this country at an affordable price. Sure, they have some downsides. However, the positives more than outweigh them. Once you start touring the country using Brit Stops, you may not want to use anything else!
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I love everything about travel, from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new foods! I believe that travel is one of the best forms of education you can get, I have learnt so much about myself and about the world from travelling all over. Travel is something I feel so passionately about, and I love the fact that we are now lucky enough to have this opportunity to do what we love as much as we can, it’s a dream come true.
Before we started travelling, I worked in local government in administration. I had been in this job for several years and had reached a complete brick wall where I was so fed up, but didn’t know what else to do. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was to travel, and had wanted to do that for many years.
There were hundreds and hundreds of places on my wishlist that I wanted to go to, and I knew that going on a weeks holiday maybe twice a year if we were lucky wasn’t going to cut it.
After being in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, and working from home staring at the same 4 walls every day, 2021 seemed like the perfect time for us to take the risk to finally do what we had dreamed of for so long.
It was a hard decision to completely change our lives, but so far it has been the best decision we have ever made!