How to avoid having to carry guide-books!
I ditched the paper guidebooks and used electronic wizardry to find accommodation for the nights ahead.
Generally, I liked to have accommodation sorted out a week in advance. That way, I had a clear idea where I was heading every day, and also a week in advance. As well as giving me peace of mind, it also meant that if I didn’t have time to find accommodation on any given day, I had plenty of days “in the bank”. Plus, it made it easier for people to work out where to meet me, and also if I was unable to confirm accommodation arrangements immediately, it wasn’t a disaster as I had plenty of days to sort things out.
Most nights (55 out of 79), I stayed in “official” campsites, which I found using the excellent “ukcampsite.co.uk” website. From there, I navigated to an on-line search tool which allowed me to mark roughly where I wanted to be, and then try and find campsites that were both open and which would accept tents.
I’m not a great fan of wild camping and in the end I only had to do it four times because there simply weren’t any campsites open anywhere near where I wanted to be. At one point, near Flint, I couldn’t find anywhere at all and the wild camping opportunities looked pretty non-existent as it was quite built-up. But the excellent Mold tourist office came to my rescue and managed to find a farmer who let me sleep in an adjoining field and gave me breakfast in the morning!
This all worked pretty well except on Merseyside where I found what looked to be a good campsite just where I needed it to be. I almost booked it, when I took a closer look and only then realised it was actually a nudist camp. I’m pretty broad-minded but I think that might actually have been stretching things a bit far..
Once I’d identified the campsites for a week in advance, I emailed or phoned to make sure they were actually open and had space. That way I knew where I was heading, and was confident of a place to sleep at the end of the day. And if for any reason it was closed or not answering my calls (as happened near Bridgwater), I still had a week to sort out alternative plans.
Because campsites weren’t conveniently placed at 18 mile intervals exactly along my pre-plotted route, i had to make sometimes lengthy detours, or longer / shorter days, to get to sites that were within a day’s walking distance of the previous one, and which were generally heading in the right direction.
About once a week, I allowed myself the luxury of a b&b or cheap hotel. For B&B’s, I used the “Air BnB” facility, and the Air BnB app on my iPhone, to find places to stay. Air BnB had three advantages for me:
- You can see where you are on a map and find all the b&bs nearby that have spaces for the night you want
- It’s relatively inexpensive to stay
- You get to stay in some really interesting places, and meet some fascinating people
So all in all, I’d highly recommend it and would definitely use it again.
Using technology in this way meant I never once had to resort to a guide book to find accommodation. The down-side of course was that I needed a good network connection in order to be able to log on to the various websites and apps. But, because I was already logging on to do my blog, this wasn’t normally a problem.