Did you ever dream of the open road? How about surfing on golden, dune backed beaches, sleeping out under the stars or cooking up great grub for the family in the wild blue yonder? You are not alone.
What’s stopping you? The UK is a wonderful place to explore by camper van. Even the odd rainy day can seem like a breeze if you’re ready for it. And with a camper van you’ve got everything you need on board (including the kitchen sink). So if Mother Nature fails to play ball you can always hunker down to let it pass or pack up and set off to chase the swell or follow that elusive patch of blue sky. But if you haven’t got a van? Beg, borrow or steal one this summer. Or, failing that, rent one!
Where will you go first? Cornwall has always been the spiritual home of the UK camper van dweller so it’s only natural that we should include it. But there are plenty of other fantastic destinations to make that road trip this summer. Here’s our list of the UK’s top 5 camper van destinations.
Hit the road and enjoy the trip of a lifetime!
PURBECK COAST, DORSET
1. THE PURBECK COAST, DORSET
Between our stores at Swanage and Weymouth there is a whole world of fabulous coast and countryside to explore in this part of the South Coast. This area is part of the Jurassic Coast, which means little explorers will be able to seek out fossils at places like Kimmeridge or Swanage. There are plenty of natural wonders too, like the fabulous arch at Durdle Dor and the impossibly beautiful water at Man O’ War Sands. You can search for the elusive tidal swimming pool at Dancing Ledge or enjoy oysters on the seafront at Swanage. And, if you are really lucky, you might even get the chance to catch a few rollers at Kimmeridge Bay.
The Purbeck Coast is lovely. And it makes great camper van country because it’s got lots of nooks and crannies to explore, as well as plenty of fantastic camp sites to stay at. For locations it’s tough to beat Durdle Door Holiday Park on the Lulworth Estate above Durdle Door (lulworth.com
). Then again, Tom’s Field Campsite at Langton Matravers (tomsfieldcamping.co.uk
) is perfect if you like it a little more rustic. And the pub at Worth Matravers is something else. So pack up and go. You will love it.
DRIVING ALONG SAUNTON SANDS, NORTH DEVON
2. A TRAIL OF TWO RIVERS, NORTH DEVON
Welcome to our home! Saltrock was born on the golden beaches of North Devon so it stands to reason that it should be included in this list of the very best camper van trails – because it’s awesome! Aside from the best beach break surf this side of Bondi (well, Bude, at least) North Devon has some top spots for lazing away those summer days, including Valley of the Rocks at Lynton, Instow Beach on the Taw and Torridge Estuary and Greysands Beach at Westward Ho! Start with a curried sundowner at the Barricane Beach Café (best curry in Devon) before taking to the surf at Croyde Bay, or Saunton Sands if you’re the laid back longboarding type. Next take a trip across the rivers to Westward Ho! where you’ll find miles of sand backed by a gigantic pebble ridge. Park up for the day at Northam Country Park and take it all in…
When it comes to staying overnight in your van you can do it however you like. Torridge District Council allow camper vans to overnight in the fabulously appointed Seagate Car Park at Appledore (wake up to estuary views) while Ocean Pitch Camping overlooking Croyde Bay (oceanpitch.co.uk) offers you the chance to stay in a VW Camper if you happen to forget to bring your own. Again, if it’s adventure you are looking for, get in the van and drive to see us in North Devon!!!
Rent your dream machine at http://www.vwcamperhiredevon.com/
CAE DU CAMPSITE, WEST WALES
3 WILD SWIMS, WILD TIMES AND WILD CAMPS, WEST WALES.
What’s on your bucket list? If it’s camping on a cliff overlooking a beach, with an open fire while dolphins cruise by then you simply must make the road trip to West Wales. In some ways it is the ultimate camper van adventure, with wild swims, wild campsites and wild times to be had. Start out at our Cardigan store
where you’ll be able to pick up some clobber for your adventure (no cardigans there though, sorry), then head north on the stunning A487 to Aberystwyth. You might find a wave at The Harbour Trap or at Borth if it’s working, but if you are looking for something different, search out the red kites and red kite feeding stations around Machynlleth. After that, crabbing at Aberdovey is lovely, followed by a dip in the hard-to-find-but-well-worth-the-effort Blue Lake above Fairbourne. There’s a funny little steam train here too, which will take you to a ferry to cross the river to Barmouth for fish and chips by the beach. Awesome!
Finally, drop into Cae Du campsite near Tywyn (caedufarmholidays.co.uk
) for a night under the stars with open fires, sea views from every pitch and a chance to see those dolphins. Go see. It’s magical.
SENNEN TO ST IVES
4. SENNEN TO ST IVES SURFARI, WEST PENWITH
Oh heavenly road. Take me to the place they call perfection! OK, let’s do it! If Cornwall is the spiritual home of the camper van then the road between St Ives and Sennen is the ultimate ‘slow road’ you should be heading for. It’s a magnificent drive, with twists and turns and secret beaches all along its 11 short but sweet miles. St Ives, your starting point, is a honey pot of a place, with all kinds of great stuff, including our Fore Street store
. The Alba Restaurant, based in the old lifeboat house, is worth a visit too. And you can stay at Ayr Holiday Park (ayrholidaypark.co.uk
), the best place to stay in town with a camper van. Views from your pitch are guaranteed to be magnificent, as are the views from the driver’s seat on the B3306. This road is one of the best driving routes in the South West. It takes you past Pendeen Watch, the lighthouse at the end of the world, where you may be lucky and catch sight of the rare Cornish Chough. Next stop is Cape Cornwall, unless of course you get a good map and don’t mind walking to a few hidden beaches.
Finally, just before you hit the surf at Sennen, stop off at Gwenvor, if only to look down from the cliff in wonder at the blue sea and white sand. Breathe in a lungful of that salty air and tell me you still believe you are in England. Is it possible? YES!
WIDEMOUTH BAY, ALONG THE ATLANTIC HIGHWAY
5. THE ATLANTIC HIGHWAY, NORTH CORNWALL.
Even if you don’t want to travel south as far as St Ives, you can still enjoy a trip along a coastal road that will take your breath away. From our Bude store
in North Cornwall, there’s a lot of coast (and surf) to explore along the way. The A39 Atlantic Highway will take you directly (almost) between Bude and the Padstow store
, but it’s the little roads that make it special. If your wagon is up to it then you might want to take the coast road between Widemouth Bay and Crackington Haven. It is a cracker of a road, but has some really steep sections, especially around Milook. Views to die for though. Stop at the Combe Barton Inn for lunch at Crackington or head up to The Strangles for a decent walk to a secluded beach. And don’t forget to do your #2minutebeachclean along the way. Next stop is lovely Boscastle, the Witches Museum and The National Trust Café or Boscastle Farm shop for supplies. Then it’s on to Merlin country at Tintagel before dropping into Port Isaac and Port Gaverne, two tiny places with beautiful clear water. Finally a stop off to park the camper van on the beach at Polzeath. It’s a great place to chill out for the day – and enjoy some waves. Afterwards check in to Tristram campsite (polzeathcamping.co.uk
) for a pitch right on the cliff. Lovely stuff!
Martin Dorey is a surfer, cook and camper van traveller. He was the presenter of a BBC2 TV show called One Man and his Campervan and has written 3 books on the subject of four wheeled living and two ringed cooking. He is currently writing and researching a book about the UK’s best campervan journeys, Take the Slow Road.
SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?Get ready for a Saltrock Roadtrip!
Get all your roadtrip essentials before you go - We've got a great range of graphic t-shirts and several different style shorts including our quick drying hybrid shorts - taking you straight from the campervan to the sea in minutes! Don't miss out on our selection of sunglasses and flip flops too, from brands such as Sinner, Dirty Dog and Carve - so they are made for adventure. And one last thing - a Saltrock Air Freshener is a must have to keep your campervan smelling good this Summer!