Wild camping spaces sealed off at Bamburgh
No more wild camping at BamburghIf you’ve previously enjoyed wild camping in the lay-bys on the Wynding road that leads out of Bamburgh and provides excellent views of the castle and Northumberland coast, then prepare for disappointment if you return. While it is a public road, the lay-bys are unsurfaced and are on land that is actually the property of Bamburgh Castle Estates. Laybys are normally the property of the Highways Agency, but in this case the stopping areas were provided by the Estate and they could simply be fenced off or returfed.
In previous years the area was only frequented by the occasional campervan but had recently grown in popularity to such an extent that Bamburgh Castle Estates placed height barriers on the two car parks that lead off the Wynding. Last year there were over 30 campervans parked up in the laybys along the road, leading to a greater scale of disturbance. Bamburgh Castle Director Chris Calvert explained that, “It got mental last year, there were huge motorhomes filling spaces for four or five cars. People were using the tops of the dune as toilets and flushing grey water waste out. I was talking to one woman who was emptying washing up liquid and bits of breakfast onto what is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. The bits of food attract rats which then wreck the birds’ nests and the water has polluting chemicals in it.”
The result has been that following discussions with Bamburgh Parish Council and the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, bird’s beak fencing has been used to make parking bays and notices have been put up to inform visitors they cannot park there overnight. The spaces are small enough to prevent motorhomes, but do allow modest sized campervans to park for the day. There are now signs up telling people not to camp overnight and instead use the local campsites.” Chris himself patrols the parking areas in the evening and points campervan owners in the direction of the local campsites, of which there are eight in the area of Bamburgh, Seahouses and Beadnell.
While wild camping is illegal in England if you don’t have the land-owner’s permission to stay there, the practicality of the situation is that the land-owner, unlike a Council, has no rights to issue fines and would have to go to court to get an eviction notice to force any campervan owner to move. By which point they would be long-gone anyway.
Chris added that, “We are not anti-camper van, but they have their place and it’s only due to their reluctance to obey the law that we’ve had to take action. If it’s late and people can’t get into a campsite I usually direct them to the public car park in the village, which the local council appears to tolerate.”
However, that isn’t the end of the story. The Estate has just finished shoring up the granite cliff face of the castle to stop large chunks dropping onto the public below. The area of the grounds above is now scheduled for resurfacing with a hard-packed material suitable for motorhome parking and the Estate has applied for a licence to host motorhomes. The plan is that when the area is suitably surfaced, which will cost around £10,000 and is more likely to be completed for 2016, then a fresh water supply and waste point connected to the sewer will be added to provide an official overnight camping area.
The nearest camping site for motorhomes is a short distance from Bamburgh at Meadowhead’s Waren Caravan and Camping Park which has 39 motorhome pitches, starting at £21 per night.
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