Travelling Life (part 2)

Travelling life in 2015 is certainly different from those early days 30 years ago, the big sites have all gone, the convoy has gone. There was a sudden decline in the traveller population in the mid nineties with some going abroad and some moving back to houses. A hardcore group clung on to the lifestyle in the UK with a few remaining small sites being held onto as well as park ups available on farms and other privately owned land. UK travellers also kept the culture alive in mainland Europe particularly Spain and Portugal.

 

Since 2005 when this website started there has seen a growing number of people moving onto the road again. The numbers are nowhere near what they were in those heady days of the early nineties but increasingly more young and old people are choosing vehicle living as a cheap alternative way to live in today's society.

 

Life for today's travellers in the UK can be quite difficult. There are still some illegal sites dotted around the country, most of the decent ones are full. Most have the threat of eviction hanging over them even the ones that have been going for years. Sites still get evicted from time to time although there are a number of sites that are as safe as you are ever going to get. There are still farms that employ travellers and let them park up on their farms whilst working and the emergence of so many festivals now can provide somewhere to park and work during the summer once more.

 

The basics are still the same, finding water and wood are often top priority. Earning a living is also very important as despite the media image of benefit scroungers many travellers do not claim benefits. Some still manage to raise a family on the road. Most travellers still enjoy a good get together, good food and drink around a fire, listening to music or talking and telling stories of life on the road.

 

The main difference I think is there is far more people living on their own like this and there are far more people on the road who do not fall into the stereotype of a 'New Age Traveller'. If you can't or don't want to park up on a site then the other option is to park on your own, as it is increasing difficult to get a place on a good site, this is an option many take. Generally it is a lot easier, you are less likely to get moved on and people are more tolerant of one vehicle. This can lead to isolation although now more than ever at least it is easier to keep in touch with friends via the internet and mobiles. On illegal sites it often means you are living in very close proximity with people you may not always get on with but one advantage is you always have help around when you need it and someone to talk to when feeling lonely.

 

I try and have the best of both worlds when in the UK, a site where we can go, chill out with friends and get help with mechanical or other issues and a great park up in the countryside in a massive lay-by on a quiet road. We have been there nearly a year on and off with no problems and have made friends with local dog walkers there. I hope people notice that the lay-by is also cleaner when we leave than when we arrive as it is close to a city people come up here leaving all sorts of rubbish. We always take all the rubbish away when we leave.

 

There is a large amount of travellers in Spain and Portugal and a smaller amount in France, Italy, Germany and across Europe, in fact there are travellers all over the world! These people are not exclusively from the UK, there are many German, French, Italian and Czech travellers, and of course people from all over the world! There are many travellers who moved out to Spain and Portugal permanently, some have bought houses, some have bought land and still live in their trucks, buses or trailers and some still travel finding sites or places to park up. There ia also a huge amount of travellers particularly from northern and eastern Europe who travel to Spain and Portugal in the winter and go to their home countries for work in the summer. Many travellers go further afield into Morocco and other African countries and for the very adventurous through Turkey and into Asia.

 

The emergence of more people living on the road in the UK has also ignited or promoted some festivals and gatherings over the last few years. Certain festivals including but not exclusively the Horse Drawn camps, Alchemy, Boomtown, Bearded Theory, Surplus and the Something Else festivals have drawn in travellers and those connected with the scene.

 

Stonehenge is now open for free on 4 of the 8 pagan festival sunrises attracting many travellers especially to the 2 equinoxes and the winter solstice when the Drove road (the green lane that runs just by Stonehenge) is left open for van, truck and bus parking. At the summer solstice this lane gets closed and so many travellers end up parking on the Ridgeway near Avebury. Every year it seems more and more vans turn up.

 

One other main difference with travellers today is their vehicles. The law changed in the late 90s and anyone passing their car test after 1997 could only drive up to a 3.5 ton vehicle instead of the 7.5 ton previous licence holders could drive. Most people under 35 now cannot drive the big trucks and buses that were so common with travellers in the 80s and 90s. It is a shame but it is amazing what people have been able to do in a small space in a van! Different countries have different laws and many of the young French and Italian travellers we met in Spain and Portugal and big trucks.

 

Here is a collection of photographs of sites and park ups mainly taken between 2010 and 2014 in the UK, Spain and Portugal. Take a look at the Travellers Today page for pictures of today's travellers.

Santa Fe, near Granada, Spain.

Santa Fe, near Granada, Spain.

This is probably the biggest site in Spain on the grounds of an old Olive grove stretching for miles, with hot spring pools and pine forest right on the doorstop! Trucks and vans come and go with most people staying a few months before moving on. A few stay longer, it is tolerated by the police and locals who also enjoy a dip in Los Termales (hot springs).

Santa Fe, near Granada, Spain.

Santa Fe, near Granada, Spain.

It can get very muddy and is often strewn with litter as not everyone tidies up after themselves. Sometimes there are parties lasting for days, (this is home to the drag off) pumping out techno music but the site is big enough to get away from it.

Santa Fe, near Granada, Spain.

Santa Fe, near Granada, Spain.

Santa Fe, near Granada, Spain.

Santa Fe, near Granada, Spain.

Santa Fe, near Granada, Spain.

Santa Fe, near Granada, Spain.

Santa Fe, near Granada, Spain.

Santa Fe, near Granada, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

A large site on the most southerly tip of Spain with great views across to Morocco. This has been used for years by travellers as well as the kite surfers that come here. There was a big eviction in 2012 and the authorities fenced it all off and tried to get people to pay to park. Needless to say it didn't work and within a few months travellers were back on the land.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

The Pig Field, Tarifa, Spain.

Back street, Tarifa, Spain.

Back street, Tarifa, Spain.

We came here after being evicted from the Pig field but the police were not happy with us being here and it only lasted a couple of weeks.

Private land, Tarifa, Spain.

Private land, Tarifa, Spain.

We were able to stay here for a couple of months before heading to Portugal.

Private land, Tarifa, Spain.

Private land, Tarifa, Spain.

Órgiva, Spain.

Órgiva, Spain.

A favourite haunt of hippy expats, Orgiva and the surrounding villages has quite an alternative community.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

The valley of El Morreón was squatted during the 70s and 80s by alternative Brits looking for a better way of life. At the end of the valley where the track stops there is a small cluster of houses which was found abandoned by these first squatters. Now all the houses have been bought as well as some plots of land by alternative types with some living in tipis and yurts on their land whilst others stay in their trucks. There is still places to park here for a few months though.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

El Morreón, Órgiva, Spain.

Stanmer Park, Brighton, UK.

Stanmer Park, Brighton, UK.

Brighton has quite a few travellers living around the city, there is a large site out at Devils Dyke and one at the Race course as well as this smaller site at Stanmer Park. All are threatened with eviction regularly and Stanmer gets evicted quite often. The fact is that Brighton will always attract alternative people as it is an alternative city and so the travellers have to live somewhere!

Stanmer Park, Brighton, UK.

Stanmer Park, Brighton, UK.

Stanmer Park, Brighton, UK.

Stanmer Park, Brighton, UK.

Stanmer Park, Brighton, UK.

Stanmer Park, Brighton, UK.

Nerja, Spain.

Nerja, Spain.

On a back road between Nerja and Maro under the impressive Las Aguilas aqueduct is a large layby big enough for 6 or 7 vans. We would never have found this but luckily we met some German travellers in Nerja who took us there! There is also some old caves where some Czech guys were living.

Nerja, Spain.

Nerja, Spain.

Barrows Wake, Gloucester, UK.

Barrows Wake, Gloucester, UK.

Large car park with great views over Gloucester and beyond. Unfortunately it is a well known dogging hot spot and so you sometimes have to make it clear you are not looking for action! We have stayed here for the odd night but could be a great site!

Private land, Gouveia, Portugal.

Private land, Gouveia, Portugal.

We stayed on a friends farm for 18 months after our van ran out of tax, MOT and insurance and we ran out of money! Other people came and went, some travellers, some just holiday makers. The farm was beautiful and we had some very happy times there.

Private land, Gouveia, Portugal.

Private land, Gouveia, Portugal.

Private land, Gouveia, Portugal.

Private land, Gouveia, Portugal.

Random field, Portugal.

Random field, Portugal.

We stayed here for a few nights after the Freek Out & Freek Off parties. The music had got so bad at the after party, Freek Off that we found this field!

Barranco beach, Sagres, Portugal.

Barranco beach, Sagres, Portugal.

Beautiful beach side site down a long track, popular with travellers and surfers. People stay here for whole seasons and more. We got evicted in 2011 just before Christmas as the authorities were going to resurface some of the track. It reopened a while later but you cannot get as close to the beach as you used to be able to.

Barranco beach, Sagres, Portugal.

Barranco beach, Sagres, Portugal.

Barranco beach, Sagres, Portugal.

Barranco beach, Sagres, Portugal.

Barranco beach, Sagres, Portugal.

Barranco beach, Sagres, Portugal.

Barranco beach, Sagres, Portugal.

Barranco beach, Sagres, Portugal.

Barranco beach, Sagres, Portugal.

Barranco beach, Sagres, Portugal.