‘I’m a caravan expert – drivers must not break little-known rule’

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Drivers could be slapped with “unexpected fines” for breaking a simple driving law while travelling, according to a caravan and motorhome expert.

Max Schmidt, head of CamperDays, has warned motorists must never sleep in their caravan or motorhome without first checking whether they are allowed.

He warns wild camping laws mean owners just check it is legal to camp in an area before pulling over and pitching up.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Mr Schmidt explained: “One thing’s for sure, you must not sleep overnight in a vehicle parked on the street.

“In rural, non-residential areas such as national parks, wild camping laws mean you cannot park your vehicle overnight without the landowner’s permission.

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“When taking a road trip, it’s best to do some forward planning and book a parking spot in a dedicated public campsite, to ensure you don’t run into any unexpected fines or unwanted conflict with local residents.”

The Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act allows the public to access “open country” for leisure purposes.

GOV.UK makes it clear that landowners are at discretion over whether or not to allow camping on their property.

Caravan and motorhome owners could also find themselves in hot water even if they drive onto a piece of land without doing proper checks.

A portion of the ruling reads: “The CROW Act has a list of general restrictions that limit what people using their open access rights may do, unless you give them permission to do something on the list, or the right to do something already exists.

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“They cannot ride a horse or bicycle, drive a vehicle (except mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs), bring an animal, other than a dog, camp.”

Motorhome Protect reiterates the warning, urging road users to make sure they don’t breach the regulations.

They commented: “If you want to park up somewhere off the beaten track – and not in a caravan or motorhome park – you need to be careful whose land you end up on.

“Land in Britain is typically owned by someone. So, if you want to partake in a bit of ‘wild camping’, you’ll need to get explicit permission from the landowner. If you don’t, you could be in breach of the law.”

Drivers based in Scotland have extra freedoms with the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 allowing the public to camp on most unenclosed land.

However, Mr Schmidt has warned there are still safe havens for caravan and motorhome owners in England to enjoy the countryside without any fears.

He added: “One exception to this is Dartmoor, where the right to wild camp on the grounds was recently reinstated.”

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