It was the polar opposite of negotiating congested roads and fighting through the summer crowds to find a nice spot to chill out beside the sea.
The increasing popularity of the ‘Staycation’ means that, in peak season, some parts of the Great British Seaside have become pretty much off-limits. You’re lucky if you can get within a mile of the coast before being ushered into some soulless car park and charged a tenner for the privilege of walking three-quarters of a mile to fight for towel space on an over-crowded beach.
For motorhome owners, the situation is even worse. Some coastal local authorities do their level best to make it virtually impossible to park your van anywhere within the parish boundaries and if you dare overstay your grudging welcome into the evening, stinging penalties will apply.
Which is a pity, because one of the true delights of owning a motorhome is the ability to turn it into a well-appointed beach hut from which to fully appreciate the beauty and grandeur of our stunning coastline.
Contrast this with our continental cousins, who positively encourage enthusiastic motorhome tourists to park up in the heart of their towns and cities or on dedicated slots or ‘Aires de Service’ beside the seaside, knowing that they will then spend money in the restaurants and cafes in the main tourist areas.
There are some honourable exceptions where enlightened tourism authorities have rolled out the red carpet. In the popular tourist destination of Cornwall, ‘Aires’ have popped up within car parks at Mevagissey and Tintagel while despite noisy media reports to the contrary, neighbouring Devon welcomes motorhomes to Appledore, Bideford, Clovelly and Exmouth and many more locations throughout the county.
The national picture is patchy, however, and where a handful of allocated motorhome spaces are available, they are often snapped up pronto.
But I’ve spotted a trend. The further north you venture, the more relaxed the locals’ attitude to motorhome parking. In the wilder reaches of Bonnie Scotland, wild camping is widely tolerated – although one glaring exception is the Loch Lomond area, where a change to local bylaws banned all forms of wild camping outside of designated campsites.
And you don’t need to head for the Outer Hebrides in search of the wide-open spaces that motorhomes are simply made for exploring in a motorhome. Look carefully and there are incredibly scenic parts of the English coastline where motorhomes are made welcome.
One of my absolute favourites is the unspoiled stretch of the Northumbrian coastline running from just north of Newcastle right up to the Scottish border at Berwick.