Wales' Premier Independent Travel Magazine

Fresh Aires For Campervans & Motorhomes

Growth in motorhomes and campervans sparks new demand for continental-style aires.
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Pitchup.com says there is a growing trend for sites catering for short-stay motorhome stopovers. Councils in Scotland and Wales are among those recognising the need to provide facilities for campervans. Aires can reduce significant pressures on safe overnight parking and support the local economy

The UK is waking up to the need for a network of continental-style ‘aires’ to provide short-stay stopovers for motorhomes and campervans.

Europe has long realised the benefits for tourism from encouraging motorhomes and campervans to visit, but they can only stay if they can get access to fresh water and facilities for black water waste every few days.

Dan Yates, owner and founder of leading outdoor accommodation specialist Pitchup.com, said: “With the interest in motorhome and campervans, there’s a real gap in the market for a network of aires.

“Meeting the growing demand could bring substantial benefits to communities too. Aires can provide much-needed income for farmers in rural areas, bring cash into the local economy in towns, and also ensure that owners of these vehicles have somewhere safe and responsible to park.”

The Campaign for Real Aires (CAMpRA) was established to lobby for more aires in the UK, and provides a central source of information on how towns and small businesses can benefit from the year-round revenue stream by providing simple overnight parking and waste points. A spokesman for CAMpRA said: “British motorhome owners returning from Europe ask one question – ‘why does the UK not have the same aires (motorhome parking) system as Europe?’

“We are decades behind Europe and we have a huge gap in the UK market for the provision of motorhome tourism facilities, aires, that will help keep British motorhomes and their spending power here, and attract more European motorhome owners to this country.”

The UK’s National Caravan Council (NCC) said that 16,608 new motorhomes were registered with the  Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in the 12 months from 1 July 2020 to the end of June 2021*. This represented an 8.25 per cent increase on the previous record, which was achieved in the 2018/19 period. The boom has been attributed to Covid restrictions on travel, the ability to carry out other outdoor pursuits while on a campervan holiday, and the prevalence of WiFi internet connectivity on sites that allows people who have been working from home to work from anywhere.

The Highland Council in Scotland pioneered the use of aires last summer**, when it was believed to be the first local authority in the UK to temporarily relax planning regulations to enable landowners with suitable sites to provide continental-style motorhome stopovers. The council said it was adapting to the significant increase of motorhome ownership in the UK and the demand for self-contained holidays which had intensified during the Covid pandemic and which was creating significant pressures for safe overnight parking in rural communities.

And Gwynedd Council in Wales recently received funding from the Welsh Government for its “Aros-fan” project. This will see it upgrade assets such as public car parks in six destinations across Gwynedd to develop a network of locations that will create legitimate provision for ‘overnight’ parking and sleeping throughout the year for the purpose of motor homes in the county. In order to support the local economy, all six sites will be located within walking distance to key towns and destinations, will have basic services and will operate a strict 48-hour maximum stay. It is hoped the sites will be operational by spring 2023, and if successful they could pave the way for more in the future.

Pitchup.com has seen farmers and other landowners join its site after setting up their own aires through exempt organisations, such as MotorhomeFun and The Motor Caravanners’ Club. These offer the opportunity to set up caravan and camping sites all year round without needing a site licence or planning permission. However, before joining an exempt organisation, landowners should always check the small print as some can prohibit sites from being listed on internet booking sites.

For advice on how to set up an exempt site or permitted development site to go www.pitchup.com/how-start-campsite-caravan-park/#LicenceExemptions  and for more info on joining Pitchup.com visit www.pitchup.com/join/

For more information about aires, go to https://www.pitchup.com/guides/motorhomes/aires/

Here are some of the aires/motorhome stopovers, as well as pared-back sites offering a similar experience, which are listed on Pitchup.com:


59 Degrees North Motorhome Aire, Isle of Sanday, Orkney Islands

You would struggle to find a more spectacular setting than at 59 Degrees North Motorhome Aire, which has sea views on three sides. Guests have reported seeing the Northern Lights from this site, which opened in 2021 as Orkney’s first dedicated motorhome park. The family-run business is set in a five-acre wildflower meadow on spectacular Sanday, one of the most northerly islands in Orkney. The park is a five-minute walk from the sea at Roos Wick bay, looking out over a scattering of neighbouring islands including Eday, Westray and Papa Westray. You can see a number of lighthouses from this panoramic and untamed spot too. Facilities on site include black and grey waste-emptying facilities, a fresh water filling point and electric hook-ups. There are two really well-stocked shops on the island – you can support them by sourcing food, drink, souvenirs and fuel on Sanday itself.

Price: An electric grass and gravel motorhome pitch starts at £20 per night for up to six people.

Book: Pitchup.com


Near Howe, Penrith, Cumbria

A 15-minute drive from Ullswater, and an hour to Solway Coast beaches, Near Howe’s small number of well-maintained grass campervan pitches are on a wild meadow with a backdrop of glorious Cumbrian countryside near Penrith.

The site is within the Lake District National Park and the owners can provide secure bicycle storage. There is also a large, fenced field for exercising dogs off the lead as well as a dedicated dog-wash area. There are hot showers, toilets and wash basins in the modern amenities block, as well as a washing-up sink, washing machine and tumble dryer. If you need rainy-day distractions, there are books and games to borrow in the laundry room too. Due to the hilly rural location at the top of a gravel track and with a narrow gateway to negotiate, only campervans up to six metres in length can be accommodated.

Price: From £18 per night for a non-electric, grass campervan pitch for up to four people.

Book: Pitchup.com


Snooks Farm Alpacas, Ferndown, Dorset

Waking up next to a field of alpacas is a highlight for families who stop over at this peaceful, family-friendly coastal location.

Bournemouth and the New Forest are within 20 minutes’ drive while Snooks Farm Alpacas’ free-range sheep and roaming goats will keep the kids entertained for hours, plus there are free-range duck and chicken eggs for sale here too.

The Alice in Wonderland-inspired theme park Adventure Wonderland is nearby, and a ski-ing and snowboarding activity centre is also only 10 minutes away. Bournemouth airport is close by too, making this a handy pre-flight stay or base for the popular airshow.

Price: From £20 per night for a non-electric, grass motorhome pitch for up to four people.

Book: Pitchup.com


Aylton Motorhome and Caravan Site, Herefordshire

Aylton Motorhome and Caravan Site offers adults-only touring pitches on a relaxed working farm. A 15-minute drive to the Malvern Hills and 20 minutes to Hereford, there’s been a farm on this spot since the early 16th century. It’s alongside an ancient orchard of pear trees that provide the raw materials for the perry cider that’s produced at the farm. There are bottles available to buy or sampling sessions by appointment. The farm is also home to pedigree Gloucester Old Spot pigs, Boer goats and Herdwick sheep as well as ducks, geese and chickens. Beehives have been set up, with honey from local producers available to buy for a particularly tasty breakfast treat; couple them with fresh eggs on-site or bacon and sausages straight from the family butcher. There are no toilets or showers on-site and only green chemicals can be disposed of at the farm.

Price: Electric grass touring pitches start from £26 per night for up to three people.

Book: Pitchup.com


Mill Cottage, Sheringham, Norfolk

This tiny, adults-only motorhome site in Sheringham is half an hour’s walk to the Norfolk town’s beach, golf course and promenade. Mill Cottage’s hugely hospitable owners Sharon and Charlie maintain this site rather meticulously (especially its splendidly peaceful and lush gardens), and work extra hard to ensure their guests have everything they need during their stay. Leisure-wise, pampering is a thing at this park too: Sharon is a certified beauty therapist and has a whole heap of beauty and relaxation treatments, from body, reflexology and Indian head massage to facials, nail care and more to give guests a hyper-chilled stay. Sheringham is served by a bus that drives out to Holt in one direction and to Norwich (via Cromer), in the other, as well as a vintage steam railway (also journeying to Holt) – spot on for when you want to leave the rig back at base.

Price: Electric hardstanding motorhome pitches start from £24 per night for two adults.

Book: Pitchup.com


Eyemouth Sea Aire, Berwickshire, Scotland

Eyemouth Sea Aire is a family-run motorhome stop just off the A1, close to sea fishing, boat trips, a swimming pool and golf course. A 20-minute drive to Manderston House, and 30 minutes to Holy Island, there are just a small number of pitches in a residential beach-side location. Facilities include a water point, black and grey water disposal and WiFi connection. Eyemouth is a down-to-earth fishing village with a beach, swimming pool and kids’ play areas. It’s a handy overnight stop on the drive northwards, and you can stock up with supplies in the local butchers, bakers and grocery stores as well as sometimes buy fish straight from the dock. Those who plan on hanging around for a while can book fishing charters and high-adrenaline rib tours of the coastline, walk the coastal path to Berwick-on-Tweed or feed the greedy seals that hang out daily in the fishing harbour. There’s also a lively pub right next door to the pitches.

Price: A fully-serviced handstanding and grass motorhome pitch starts from £17.50 per night for up to six people.

Book: Pitchup.com

Here’s another campervan related post:
Escape With Camper Tribes VW Campers

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