Campervan Trip: Yorkshire to Loch Lomond
I don’t quite know what it is that attracts me to the idea of the campervan. Whether it’s the idea of freedom, travel, or even the new minimalist ideology that comes from the Insta campervanners I follow; but for some reason, I’ve fully bought in. So, when I was offered the chance to take Willow, a modern V W campervan on a little trip, I jumped at it.
I’m going to share with you a little bit about my experience, my thoughts on the van, a few lessons I learnt and also, hopefully, help you to plan for your campervan trip.
Our Campervan Trip
I suppose my trip started right where I am now, in front of my laptop screen. On All About Adventure Camper Van Hire’s website. Browsing the booking tool to choose the camper van I wanted and reserve it. With a few clicks I had reserved Willow, a VW T 5 camper van and after a follow-up email (to provide my driver’s licence and a bill for proof of address) I was ready to go.
I had a very loose plan for my trip, the only set agenda being that I had to pick up a friend in Wales and my girlfriend from up in Glasgow. Other than that we were free as a bird.
Collecting the Campervan
I was, unfortunately, running late, but Andrew was happy to work around me. When I finally rocked up at All About Adventure Campervan Hire’s depot Andrew took a couple of details from me and gave me a tour of the camper van. Andrew demonstrated how to lift the elevating roof, how to use the onboard battery and how to hook up to electricity if available. Using the water, and how to turn on the gas (I wished I had listened more carefully here!).
The drive over to Wales was pretty effortless, the van drove really nicely and handled very well at 70 when driving on the motorway. The sat nav and music took a little bit of getting used to but when I had got the hang of it worked well. I appreciated being able to connect my phone to the Bluetooth system to play music and speak to people on hands-free as I was driving this part on my own. When I arrived at my destination I had to reverse onto my friends drive which was made easy with the rear-view parking camera.
The next day we got up and hit the road, the journey up to Glasgow took us about 5 hours and by the time I got there I was fed up with driving. Unfortunately, our second driver had had a little too much of a good time the night before, so we decided it best that I continue to drive. We took a little downtime to go to a supermarket and stock up on supplies for the weekend. This is probably where we could have been a little more prepared. We bought lots of things i.e. condiments that we could have brought from home.
We headed out of the city and within about 40 minutes we were surrounded by gorgeous scenery and the regular photo stops began.
By the time we arrived at our target destination Loch Lomond, I was done. We drove past a small little campsite called West Highland Way Beinglas Farm so, we decided to pull up and fortunately they had space for us. Within minutes we had set up camp and had cracked a couple of cold beers ready to enjoy the last of the summer afternoon.
We were all pretty tired so, decided that tonight was not the night for cooking. We headed to the bar on site which was nice and cosy with a small fire outside and lots or people enjoying themselves.
We had a cracking meal and returned to our campsite for a few drinks but didn’t last long. The number of midges was horrendous. We bought anti-midge candles from the local shop but the constant fight against them had us return to the bar which we were very grateful for and spent the rest of the evening. Inside the campervan they didn’t seem to be too much of a problem.
The next day we hit the road early in search of a nice view of Loch Lomond. Once we had picked our breakfast spot we cooked bacon sandwiches to fuel us for the day ahead before heading west.
Argyll Forest Park
We stopped off at Argyll forest park which according to Scotland Forestry (click here for more info) is Britain’s oldest forest park. We enjoyed rugged peaks and wild rivers with small waterfalls and features which along the way people played in. The beautiful walk up took us around 2 1/2 to three hours (although we did not continue to the peak).On our return, we were greeted with a £30 parking ticket (despite displaying a ticket) as well as another 40 or so motorists in this popular spot- between three of us, not too much to pay for those views I thought.
Photo Hot Spot – Rest and be Thankful
We continued to head west and came across Rest and be Thankful. Offering breath-taking scenic views of the mountains, it demanded a stop to take it all in. Well worth a visit and wish we could have stayed a bit longer.
An Amazing Wild Camping Stop
We continued to head west to Oban. We had decided that due to wild camping being legal in Scotland due to the ‘right to roam’ law, tonight was the night that we were going to try out wild camping. We just needed to find the right place to pull over to spend the night. We travelled for what felt like a long way and had given up on the idea of finding a nice place to stop. We decided the next layby that would fit our V W campervan would be the one, regardless of the available vista or space.
We lucked out, completely by chance we came across what must have been one of the best places to stop in the area! It was on the A819 directly opposite Kilchurn castle, which we had failed to even notice in our search. We parked up, grabbed a few beers and headed over some fields to enjoy the view of Kilchurn Castle.
We settled in for the night and cooked a pretty simple meal on the two hobs that the campervan provides. I really enjoyed cooking and especially with the amazing view we enjoyed. Campervan cooking was actually easier then I had thought, yes, space is at a premium but it’s manageable, especially seen as though we could also step outside. Wild camping was exactly the experience I had hoped for and I preferred it to camping on a campsite (plus we had the bonus of no midges for company tonight!).
The weather took a bit of a turn for the worst and the rain came in so we closed the van up and chatted in the back of the van which was very comfortable between the three of us. Sleeping on the side of such a fast-moving road was a little loud. Every now and again a fast car would come past during the night which was quite loud but also made the campervan shake a little. Next time I think earplugs would be a good idea.
Whilst wild camping has its benefits, not having a toilet on board and no campsite facilities obviously has its drawbacks. The key to wild camping is leaving everything as you found it ready for the next people to enjoy. We managed ok using the facilities of cafes and pubs that we were visiting already. However, after a few beers, that middle of the night wee cant be avoided! We were only wild camping for one night and were careful to not leave anything behind. It was clear from the toilet roll littering the small woods across the road from the castle that many before us had not. It was a shame. I think for any longer out in the open camping we would have to look into portable toilet options to make sure we were not leaving our own ‘mark’ in the beautiful places we had come to enjoy.
We finished our trip with a few photo stops heading into Oban where we walked around the small town, and up to Mc Craigs Tower (More info here). Had lunch at a lovely vegan-friendly café and headed home.
For Next time
The entire trip cost us a little over £100 in fuel and the cost of a campsite pitch for one night. The campervan had loads of space between the three of us and we could happily have had one more person, even when we retreated to the van during the rain. I personally loved the freedom of just setting off without a plan and making do with what we could find. However, there were a few times that were a little stressful that perhaps with a little planning could have been avoided and made sure we didn’t miss out on any must-see spots.
Wild camping was awesome - just having the freedom to live in nature, not just visit it, was really special. Keeping a eye out for bigger areas to not be directly next to the road might make for a better nights sleep, but in this case, would have sacrificed the view. Cooking in the van is a great experience. The key is keeping things simple.
A little planning can go a long way, we could have saved time not having to go shopping while we had the campervan seen as it was a pretty short trip. Bin bags are helpful and helped to keep us organised. Keeping the van tidy is a good idea as you are in a confined space and can sometimes end up on top of yourself. Next time I would make sure to think about what I can take from home and avoid having to pay for specifically for the journey.