Most campsites near the Yorkshire and East Anglia stages of the Tour de France have long been booked up but you can still get in on the act at several pop-up sites on the route
The hum and thrum of the peloton swooping through the Yorkshire Dales and the Cambridgeshire/Essex countryside in early July is likely to be drowned out by the clamour of cycling fans trying to find a viewing point to catch a glimpse of their heroes.
Many of the campsites along the route have been booked up since last year, but there’s a host of alternatives popping up for those who weren’t so quick off the mark. Many of these are large-scale corporate events, such as Velofest in Kilnsey, high in the Dales, and the Rapha Tempest at Broughton Hall near Skipton.
But below the radar are several pop-ups from entrepreneurial locals. Prices and standards of these temporary campsites vary greatly – from fields with portaloos to sports club offering access to their facilities. Although all of them offer a parking-only option for those who don’t fancy a night under canvas, roads along the route will be closed to motorised traffic throughout the day with travel severely restricted, so for the two Yorkshire stages spectators are advised to arrive at the campsites by Friday 4 July.
For stage three on 7 July, the race will start at midday from Parker’s Piece in Cambridge, passing the university colleges of St John, Trinity and Kings, before leaving the city via Trumpington Road and heading for the Essex countryside and Epping Forest en route to London. It coincides with Cambridge’s Big Weekend (5-7 July) a huge free celebration with music, food and all manner of entertainment. There are not yet as many pop-up campsites on this leg of the journey as in Yorkshire (news on timings and camping spots will be updated on Guardian travel as they become available).
But what this leg lacks in steep climbs it will makes up for in speed and a spectacular sprint finish along the Mall in London. As with the first two legs, there will be road closures along the route for most of the day, starting at 7.30am.
Stage 1: Leeds-Harrogate
190km, Saturday 5 July, riders depart Leeds Town Hall 11am
1 Yorkshire Festival of Cycling, Harewood House
Estimated peloton time: midday
Large-scale event with camping pitches at the official start of the race. Camping for three nights costs £175pp, or £335 for an eight-people package. Catering and bar on site.
• 020-8834 1946, festivalofcycling.org
2 Pool Road Campsite, Otley
Estimated peloton time: 12:12pm
This campsite in the home town of Olympic racer Lizzie Armitstead is a great place for fans to stay as the route passes the campsite itself on the Saturday, and goes through Blubberhouses, seven miles to the north on the Sunday (at about 12:29pm). Three nights’ camping for up to four people costs £125 for a tent and £150 for a campervan/caravan. Catering and bar on site.
• 07899 052653, tourcamping.co.uk
3 Skipton Rugby Club
Estimated peloton time: 12.47pm
As with Otley, the race passes through the town – along its famous high street – on the Saturday. And from this site there is also easy access to spectator spots along the middle section of day two’s route. Three nights’ camping costs £45 for the pitch plus £5pppn. Catering and bar on site.
• no phone, pitchero.com/clubs/skiptonrugbyfootballclub
4 Kidstones Camping, Kidstones Pass
Estimated peloton time: 1:33pm
This is one of the most spectacular settings on the route – on the steep 3km climb to the 424m pass, the riders leave Upper Wharfedale and enter Bishopdale. Access to this campsite is along the route itself, so early arrival is essential. Three nights’ camping for up to four costs £149 for a tent, £199 for a campervan/motorhome. No bar or catering, but there’ll be a big screen for catching the rest of the action.
• no phone, kidstonescamping.co.uk
5 Ripon Racecourse
Estimated peloton time: 3.51pm
A campsite on the famous racecourse on Boroughbridge Road south of the city, with catering and bar on site. It’s walking distance from the Saturday route, and a short drive from the A59 for the Sunday route. Three nights’ camping for up to four people costs £150.
• 01765 530530, yorkshire-camping.co.uk
6 Pop-up Pateley, Pateley Bridge
Estimated peloton time: several
Although not on the route, Pateley Bridge lies right in the centre of the first-day circuit, with easy access to viewpoints at Threshfield (1:08pm), Masham (3:31pm) and Ripon (3:51pm). It is also a short drive from Blubberhouses for the Sunday stage (12:29pm). Four nights’ camping at the town’s Showground costs £155 for up to four people (same price for motorhomes). There will be a bar and entertainment on site, and the price includes use of facilities at Nidderdale Sports Centre.
• 07943954777, popuppateley.co.uk
Stage 2: York-Sheffield
200km, Sunday 6 July, riders depart York racecourse at 11am
1 Harrogate Rugby Club
Estimated peloton time: 12:01pm
This is a good base for both stages, as the Saturday race terminates in Harrogate, and the Sunday route goes right past the campsite. Camping costs £24 a night for tents (£40-£90 for campervans and motorhomes), parking £20 extra. There will be catering and a bar on site.
• 01423 782907, pitchero.com/clubs/harrogaterugby
2 Bracken Ghyll Golf Club, Addingham
Estimated peloton time: 12:43 Saturday, 12:41 Sunday
This is a great place to camp for both days as the peloton passes through Addingham twice. Two nights’ camping for up to six people costs £200. Campers can make us of toilets, showers and the clubhouse bar and restaurant on site.
• 01943 830691, addinghamcyclecamp-ing.co.uk
3 Stones Top Farm, Oxenhope
Estimated peloton time: 13:19
Camping for three nights on this site right next to the route costs £127.20 for up to four people (with 50% of what you pay going to the Sue Ryder charity). There are toilets and washbasins but no showers, and a basic camp shop.
4 Lane Farm, Holme Moss
Estimated peloton time: 14:49
A gruelling 5km climb to 524m Holme Moss will put some colour in the cheeks of the riders as they pass this spot. The site is running a mini festival in the lead-up to the Grand Départ, with bar and entertainment, a food court and guided bike rides. Camping for as long as the site is open (1-7 July) for up to eight people, £300. Tents and equipment can be hired.
• 01484 720710, pedalandpitch.co.uk
5 Kirk Edge Road, High Bradfield
Estimated peloton time: 15:34
There’ll be plenty of action here as the riders race a steep descent into High Bradfield, and then negotiate a tight left-hand turn into an immediate climb, after which its practically all downhill to Sheffield. Camping for two people for two nights is £150. Catering and bar on site.
• no phone, steelstage.co.uk/camp.html
Stage 3: Cambridge-London
177km, Monday 7 July, riders depart Parker’s Piece at midday
1 Cambridge Camping and Caravanning Club, Great Shelford
Estimated peloton time: 12:10pm
This permanent site, on Cabbage Moor just a few minutes’ walk from the route, has showers and a play area, and pitches from £7pppn.
• 01223 841185, campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
2 Saffron Walden
Estimated peloton time: 12:24pm
There’s no campsite here as yet, but this will be a very good spectator spot, as riders will be approaching at speed and negotiating a 90-degree left turn into Hill Street, before heading out of the town along Radwinter Road.
3 Spains Hall Estate, Finchingfield
Estimated peloton time: 12:40
The peloton will squeeze across a tiny bridge over Finchingfield brook and then cross the village green, as they pass through one of the most photographed villages in England. A 10-minute walk from the route, the Elizabethan Spains Hall estate, a swanky wedding venue, with some self-catering lodges, is also offering camping pitches from £10 a night.
• 01371 811596, spainshall.co.uk
4 Church End, Shalford
Estimated peloton time: 12:50
Shalford Village Hall is planning to open up the village recreation ground for up to 60 tent pitches. The route passes the site, which will provide a great view of riders approaching the hill into the village. Prices TBC.
• 07505 282374, essexinfo.net/shalford/shalford-village-hall
5 Felsted village
Estimated peloton time: 1pm
In the village of Felsted the only obstacle is a sharp left turn on to the B1417 as the riders approach the halfway point of this leg of the Tour. Stay a few miles to the north in Great Saling village, where a site for touring caravans and motorhomes is opening a grassy area for tent pitches, with toilets but no showers. Three nights’ camping costs £60 for two people.
• 07917 592310, salinggrove.com/index.php/tour-de-france-camping
Estimated peloton time: 1:26pm
There’s no campsite here, but it will be worth staking out a viewing spot as riders will have to negotiate four 90-degree turns through the village.
Estimated peloton time: 1:48pm
Epping Forest council plans to open up North Weald Airfield for use as a “park and walk” scheme: the route passes directly by the former Battle of Britain airfield. Some limited camping space may also be made available: for more details see eppingforestdc.gov.uk. Further south, there is a permanent campsite in 50 acres of land at Debden House Conference & Camping Centre, near Loughton and a short taxi ride from underground stations at Theydon Bois and Debden.