Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for this review. I did not receive any payment and was not required to write a positive review.
The Brit Stops scheme has been established for a number of years now, and continues to get bigger each year.
The scheme, which was inspired by the France Passion scheme, enables members to stopover for a single night at locations such as pubs and farms around the UK. The stop is free, but the hope is that many stopover guests will buy some of their hosts’ produce — whether from farm shop, vineyard or pub restaurant.
I’ve been impressed by the speed and success with which the Brit Stops scheme has grown since its launch, and was pleased to meet Brit Stops founder Steve at the snow-bound Harrogate Motorhome Show last year, where he had wisely bagged an indoor stall! His rationale for founding Brit Stops was simple — having enjoyed using the France Passion scheme and travelling around France sampling the best of its food and countryside, he wanted to be able to do the same in the UK.
Brit Stops has continued to grow, and the 2014 guide contains more than 150 new stopover locations, taking the total to nearly 400, covering all of the UK (although inevitably some areas are better served than others).
How does Brit Stops work?
The concept is simple. For an annual membership fee of £25 (unchanged for four years), you get a copy of the Brit Stops guide and a windscreen sticker, which collectively serve as your membership id and provide you with full information about each of the stopover locations.
The guide is organised into geographical regions, and this year sees the introduction of Ordnance Survey maps, which are far more detailed and significantly easier to use than the maps included in the previous edition (post codes are also provided for sat nav users, of course).
Each stopover includes details of the type of location (e.g. farm, pub, vineyard) and any facilities that might be available, although this is not the name of the game, and many locations don’t offer facilities: Brit Stops locations are only suitable for self-contained motorhomes. (To see a sample location guide, on the Brit Stops website, click here)
The guide is excellent value at just £25, and should pay for itself in one or two nights compared to the cost of staying on a campsite. Although the organisers hope you will buy something from your stopover hosts, this isn’t required, and you won’t be under any pressure to do so.
That said, how often have you eaten/drunk/shopped out for food when staying on a campsite? The chances are that quite often, your hosts will offer something that you genuinely would like to buy, and might have bought anyway, making the Brit Stops scheme a win-win for everyone.
It’s also worth pointing out that directions to each location are included in French and German, as well as English, and the description of each location uses a standard graphical key, which is also defined in French and German, so the guide (as with many European guides) is fully functional in several languages.
Brit Stops 2014 is available from 1 March — for full details or to pre-order, visit www.britstops.com.