THE MONDAY MOAN – A once a week spot for us to moan about the stuff that perhaps we should all be moaning about that little bit more… 

I have a camper van – many of you will have seen it. I used to live full time in it and loved every moment… well, almost… ‘VanLife’ is a ‘thing’ and VanLife is amazing but the UK is NOT VanLife friendly…

Following a day wandering the hill tops and valley bottoms of Merthyr Vale and Aberfan we drove up to Mynydd Illtyd and parked on the side of the road and had a very enjoyable evening observing the changing light over the Central Brecon Beacons.

When we arrived there were a good few cars parked over the easier to drive on parts of the common and the occasional farmer drove by on a quad or with tractor.

By 8pm it was us and another van, a lovely couple from down South making the most of their new home converted van and the easing in travel restrictions in Wales.

Please note that there was no warden telling the day-trippers to get off of the common, no signs stating no parking on the common, no yellow lines, no gates, no signage saying no overnighting or no camper vans… Please also note that I have been staying in the same spot a handful of times a year for the past thirty years or so… No problem…

The couple were encouraged to park on the common by the presence of the other vehicles, believing, as you would, that that was ok. They had a great night but were rudely awakened by a National Park employee who we heard laying into them, effectively stating get going and he never wanted to see them again. They were young, had a van with a chimney and likely he just didn’t like the look of them. It was then our turn. He didn’t lay into us and he would have received short shrift if he had. But he clearly stated no overnighting was allowed.

In France, where I spend every summer in the van, touring in campers is actively encouraged and seen as an economic boon to the rural communities that benefit from this tourism spend. However in the UK, with attacks by officials such as the employee of the Brecon Beacons National Park on Mynydd Illtyd, communities are missing the spend and ‘explorers’ are harassed and driven away from the British countryside by very dodgy interpretation of local laws and signs barring entry or longer stays.

We say shame on the BBNP and their intolerance of what is only ever one or two vans every now and again (I’ve never seen another van overnight there before) and shame on the staff member who so rudely awoke those who genuinely believed that their camp was not breaking any laws.

I will continue to park on the roadside at Mynydd Illtyd common, a handful of times a year. My parking there does no damage to the environment whereas the farmers driving tractors and quads, the sheep and the horses, all of whom travel across the common and in wet conditions too, most certainly do.

Mynydd Illtyd is a strange place. The BBNP seem to be in awe of it. However, it is a common that has been trashed by very many years of farming and it’s biodiversity is limited to a few small flowering plants living, in the main, in a ‘desert’ of grass paths and a sea of ferns. Proper management of this place would see it reforested. But of course the BBNP seems not to be about land management. After all, who cherishes a sea of fern? It’s about pacifying the farming community and here is the reason, I believe, for the couples telling off.

But the farmers don’t own the land. We do! And, as they say, sharing is caring. Ban the farm vehicles on the common and actively manage regeneration and then I would encourage the putting up of access signage and the policing of vehicle incursions onto the common. Until then, BBNP, please don’t be rude to visitors to the the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Author

Walk leader @ Wales Outdoors, life model @ Cardiff Life Models and poet @ Self Published

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