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  1. #1
    Senior Member Mustardman's Avatar
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    Hammocking Europe by rail

    I'm getting married in the fall, and we just booked our tickets for a three-week dream vacation to travel around Europe by rail. We'll be bouncing from country to country, taking in as many sights as we can.

    We'd really like to hammock at least part of it, but have no idea how to find appropriate campsites, or how to get to those campsites without too much interruption to our touristy pursuits, since we'll be traveling primarily to destinations that are easily reached by train. This isn't a hiking trip, it's a tourist 'take in the culture' trip, but we'd still like to use the hammocks some nights.

    Does anyone have any ideas or pointers to websites that might help us find places to hang? Any thoughts on what the rules might be in the UK, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France? Any hints on how to talk to a cop when you speak two languages - english, and bad english, when you get caught hanging somewhere you shouldnt?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Simon's Avatar
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    Jun 2011
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    It sounds like a great adventure I only got my first hammock a couple of weeks ago so am starting to look for sites here in the south east of England. 'Wild' camping is pretty much out unless you sneak into woodland at dusk and are out early - perhaps not the most relaxing of tactics. Places like southern Germany and France might offer greater possibilities. Of course the cultural parts of most countries tend to be in the urban areas so it's going to be difficult if not impossible to hammock your way around Europe. I have found a couple of (semi-rural) campsites that allow hammocks so far in the UK but will continue looking and making a few calls to update my list. Good luck with the trip - sounds great fun.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Sounds like an awesome trip! Very jealous. Interested to see what you find in terms of site options.

  4. #4
    Senior Member born2roam's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
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    As far as I know you can't legally hang in Germany ;-)
    Not sure about Belgium.
    In Holland (if, for whatever reason ending up there), only legally at campsites like "Paalkampeer plaatsen" (a central stick in the ground defines the campsite, if lucky with a water source nearby, usually no fire).

    Most 'regulated' campsites in Europe are geared a lot more towards ground dwellers and caravan/camper and are, again, afaik, not easily reached by train.

    But then again, I never really sorted out all the information.. Most times I just end up in the Scandinavian forests..... away from (cultural) sights....

    Btw, congrats!

    And keep us posted about the trip...

    Grtz Johan
    My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence.

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  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Hi there
    I live in France and do a lot of hammock-camping here, but I live in a rural, forested part of the country and have no problem finding a secluded spot for a night.
    I think your biggest problem doing stuff by train is that you won't really be in rural, wooded areas of the country. Train stations will mostly be in urban areas. In France the rail network is getting smaller and smaller in the outlying areas, even if it is one of the best in Europe for the major city destinations with the ultra fast TGV. So it really depends where you are going.

    Most towns in France have a private or municipal camp ground. (Paris has one very large site in the 'Bois de Boulogne') I spent a lot of time in these all over the country when I had my VW camper van. As has been said they are mostly set out for tents and motorhomes. I've never seen a hammock in one of these sites. I've no idea if its allowed or not... if they have trees I guess you'd need to ask.. use a site like to find a site and give them a call. They'll pretty much all have some one who speaks English.

    Other than that if you are in a rural area of France, there is so much space that, if you are discrete, you can pretty much set up where you like, and have very little chance of being troubled. There is very little police in these areas, a few 'Gendarmes' here and there but if you are causing no trouble and no one complains, they are unlikely to worry about you.
    Wild camping is not strictly allowed in France however, but overnight bivouacing is ok. People do it all the time on the 'GR' hiking trails. In theory no closed tents with ground sheets are allowed. This law is more aimed at people just setting up camp for the week in a well known beauty spot, than your overnight bivouac camper.
    In practice if you turn up late afternoon and leave early morning, even with a tent you'll not get hassled. So with a hammock I doubt even a gendarme would worry you.

    Cities will be harder though as you have all sorts of park wardens, local police and just more people. But I guess this is the same in the US. There you'll pretty much have to use official camp sites.


  6. #6
    MAD777's Avatar
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    First of all, congratulations on your marriage! This sounds like a nice honeymoon.

    I just got back from Spain a couple of months ago and hiked/camped a few days in Picos de Europa National Park in the extreme north-central Spain. We ddn't do campgrounds, just stopped when we were tired. Actually didn't see any campgrounds. (I don't do campgrounds in the USA either). We rented a car to drive to this remote gorgeous area.

    For the remainder of the 16 days, we used the wonderful train system to get around the country. You can get to any major urban centers by train but the rural areas means buses or hire a car. BTW, they don't speak English in Spain except occasionally in Barcelona.
    "Life is a Project!"

  7. #7
    Member Scotchbonnet's Avatar
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    Hi Mustardman, congrats on the wedding here in Scotland wild camping is completely legal due to our 'Right to Roam' act, if the link works you can find the details here

    most campsites aren't set up for hammocking, it's still pretty rare here but catching on.
    In England and Wales it's illegal unless you have the landowners permission.

    If you find yourself in Dumfries and Galloway, just shout out and I'll point you in the direction of some nice hangs
    Have a great time.
    “The censorious said she slept in a hammock and understood Yeats's poems, but her family denied both stories.”
    ― Saki, The Chronicles of Clovis

  8. #8
    dkperdue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAD777 View Post
    . BTW, they don't speak English in Spain except occasionally in Barcelona.
    We lived in the Andalusia reagion of Spain from 2001 -2007 and I found that if you tried to speak a little Spanish, the Spaniards were a lot more likely to try their English.
    Actually Barcelona was pretty consistent in the locals ignoring your Spanish as they would rather do Catalan.
    A lot more English in most of the larger cities, and most law enforcement seemed to speak a little.
    Get some good phrase books and practice some basics in the major countries you plan on visiting. We did a lot of travelling while we lived there, and my English, OK SPanish and horrible German served me pretty well.

    Seems to be a common fault with a lot of Americans travelling abroad. We will be in a country where the locals might speak 3 languages and we think they are wrong for not speaking English to accomodate us.

    Remember- It is their country, why should they learn your language?

    Most of the camping I saw in Spain and elsewhere were as has been described so far. Set up for tents and caravans, not a lot (if any) places for "primitive" camping.
    My son was too young in Scouts and my wife doesn't "do" camping so in our travels (as a family or for me as a solo traveller) it was mainly hotels and B&B's. When I solo travelled, I found the hostels and pensiones to be an excellent choice and they were usually easy to get to with regards to trains and city centers. Most all of them had someb ody there who spoke English (Except in Hungary- If it was obvious you didn't speak Hungarian, they raised their voice and spoke in German.)

  9. #9
    There is a campsite in the centre of Lisbon that has plenty of trees in the hotter parts of europe i have found campsites with trees to provide shade where you could ask. When i was travelling Europe with a tent I would catch a bus to a village then walk out so see if i could find somewhere hidden if there was no camp sites in near the city but i was a ground dweller then, I normally wild camp now in the uk and have hammocked at a festival in budapest

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