Eryri in UK's top 10 for 'wild camping' as camper van and motorhome tourism rises

Eryri's national park is among the top 10 "desired" places in the UK for an “off-grid” camping experience. And camper vans and motorhome touring is also on the increase.

Eryri received 12,000 searches per year for wild camping in research carried out by British automotive online marketplace place Auto Trader. It also cited going on 'off-road' adventures with friends and family as "the next big trend" according to Pinterest, with searches for "off-road camping" going up by 90% and 'adventure car' up by 80%.

But the trend for wild camping can cause conflict and anger with landowners and locals. The figures come as Cyngor Gwynedd opened the first overnight Arosfan camping site for motorhomes in March. They have been created in a bid to help better manage overnight stays in the hope the continental style 'aires' will bring extra tourism spending into town centres.

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Nine bays are available at Criccieth’s Y Maes car park in Criccieth in what is the first of four pilot sites in Gwynedd. Work is nearing completion at the Glyn Arosfan site in Llanberis, and is progressing on the Cei’r Gogledd (North Quay) site in Pwllheli and the Doc Fictoria car park (former Shell site) in Caernarfon.

Similarly Eryri's National Park Outdoor Recreation Position Statement 2024 - 2029 urges use of formal camp sites and calls for people to "book early". It also noted where permission is granted for wild camping on private land, it is encouraged campers to follow the philosophy of 'leave no trace. North Wales Live has launched a WhatsApp community group where you can get the latest stories delivered straight to your phone

According to the Eryri National Park Authority statement: "Within the National Park, wild camping can only be undertaken with landowner consent, this includes areas of `access land," the statement says.

Glorious North Wales
Glorious North Wales -Credit: (Image: Ian Cooper/North Wales Live)

"The authority cannot give consent for wild camping on other people’s land and under the General Data Protection (GDPR) regulations, the Authority cannot pass on landowners’ details without their consent."

Following the lifting of the COVID-19 restrictions it also states that "significant problems" had occurred as a result of people ‘fly camping.'

This had included littering, poor roadside parking, open fires and damage to designated areas. The authority says it continues to "receive high numbers of complaints" from landowners and the general public.

"Therefore, the authority encourages people to use formal campsites and to book early. When consent for wild camping is given the authority encourages people to follow the Countryside Code and the Wild Camping Code and adhere to the ‘leave no trace’ philosophy."

With regard to camper vans and motorhomes, according to the authority, touring has increased, and was popular with domestic and international visitors. It says it is working with stake-holders such as Gwynedd Council and Conwy Borough County Council to: "Encourage good practice, discourage irresponsible parking and off-road camping and will seek to ensure that this activity "remains legal and sustainable with minimal disruption to local communities."

Wild camping is not allowed without permission
Wild camping is not allowed without permission -Credit:PA

The authority also promotes the National Park Guide to Campervan and Motorhome Users pamphlet, which provides an up-to-date formal overnight sites location map, maintains website content and provides information for less formal sites and overnight parking areas that may be provided by the local authorities such as Gwynedd Council's Arosfan sites.

Auto Trader also said: "Eryri National Park was home to some of the UK’s most imposing mountains and dramatic scenery. For those who may want to go on an off-grid adventure but aren’t keen on hiking all the way up Mount Snowdon (sic), you can drive 'a circle of Snowdon' route, that will take you all the way around it, spotting the summit at various points on your journey."

Dartmoor was the UK's top wild camping "hotspot" closely followed by the Lake District and Peak District. In Wales, the Brecon Beacons and Eryri National Park ( Snowdonia ) came in fourth and fifth position, respectively.

Among a national list it had compiled, it recommended camping overnight at eco campsite Ysgubor Wen Eco, providing: "Camping for impressive, panoramic views of the national park."

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