Cool Caravans • laTesT gear • Touring BriTain • praCTiCal aDviCe DisCover Touring Issue 4 autumn/ wInter 2012/ 2013
Your first choice for Adria Caravans, Bailey Caravans and Bailey Motorhomes
Caravan, moTorhome & Camping inspiraTion
£4.99 autumn/ winter 2012/2013
Buying your first motorhome Insider views on making the right choice
First timers and new romantics Falling in love with touring
New friends and new experiences Choosing your perfect site and settling in
of holidays and prizes to be won Visit our 2 conveniently located branches: GREAT PRICES ON THE LATEST 2013 MODELS LARGE SELECTION OF PRE-OWNED CARAVANS FULLY STOCKED ACCESSORIES SHOPS PURPOSE BUILT WORKSHOPS FAMILY BUSINESS EST. 1971
Fancy a night under canvas? Back to basics camping advice
Contact a member of our team today we’re always on hand to help with your requirements.
Toll House, A5 Watling Street Watford Gap, Daventry Northants, NN6 7UJ
The Rose Gardens Cambridge Road Hitchin, SG4 0JX
Call our Daventry Branch on:
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• Family Adventures • Cycle Tours • Nordic Walking • Castles & Keeps
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As well as all the fun, we’ve covered the essentials • Pick of 6 pitch types - from basic grass to fully serviced hard-standing • We welcome tourers, motorhomes, tents and trailer tents • Modern shower blocks and amenities • 24-hour security with touring wardens on many parks • Beach access on or near all parks
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Visit: haventouring.com/todiscover Terms and conditions: *Save up to 50% is available on selected spring and autumn dates in 2013. Offers are subject to promotional availability. Pets are £1 per night (maximum 2 pets per booking) and we cannot accept pets at Burnham-on-Sea. Facilities and entertainment vary by park and some may be subject to a small extra charge. Haven Holidays is a trading name of Bourne Leisure Limited, 1 Park Lane, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 4YL. Registered in England No. 04011660.
discover touring | contents
A warm welcome from our editorial team.
All-year touring advice from the Caravan Club.
16 The Age of Cool - some cool vans tested.
West of England Open country and striking urban life.
Winter in Ireland Legendary stories and unique festivals.
Magic in the Air Touring in the island of Ireland.
100 The art of buying Making the right purchase choice, every time.
102 Arriving on site Mixing in, settling down and cracking a beer.
Southern England Seaside attractions and inland activities.
Middle England Industrial heritage and rural beauty.
The East – fronting the North Sea Wide skies and undulating countryside.
Wales and the Welsh Marches Stunning landscapes in autumn and winter.
Herefordshire Canoes and tipis - and epic escapism.
The Glorious North Proud traditions and spectacular countryside.
134 Keeping legal Plenty can go wrong if you don’t know the laws abroad. 138 GERMANY SPECIAL Touring the Romantic Road; visiting Hymer, AL-KO and Truma, and so much more...
Cycling Samantha Bird thinks two wheels are good.
Nordic walking & running Tim Gibson gets hot under the collar.
Castles Suzanne Reid gets caught up in some fine keeps.
154 Camping Mark Round talks about life under canvas.
touring uK 28
Scotland in Winter Autumn colours and Winter snow.
Essential kit A few useful ideas about what to take on tour.
108 Hassle-free ownership There is plenty to consider when you buy your ‘van but don’t let this put you off! 114 Choosing the right caravan An overload of information to help you choose the right caravan, everytime. 123 Picking your perfect motorhome No need to look any further, turn here for the best advice.
Where to go? Picking the perfect site.
Type of trip we want What do you want? Seaviews or pools or both?
Innovations and technology Latest gizmos and gadgets, and a few surprises.
96, 112, 129, 132 Reviews & tests What’s hot and what’s not?
HistorY 152 Grand Touring What can we learn from our predecessors? 160 Caravan Club collectables From spoons to pennants you will amazed what is collected.
(see page 60)
CARAVANING IS OUR PASSION Modern design, innovative technology and an interior that invites you to relax. For more than 50 years we have looked for and found successful ways for you to enjoy your valuable free time. Bürstner - an unlimited sense of comfort and well-being. www.buerstner.com
Bürstner UK • PO Box 164 • Bishop Auckland • DL13 1WZ • Phone: 0 13 88 /53 79 60 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Hymer or Rapido?
*figures correct as of 02/10/2012
Highbridge are the only dealer in the Country where you can view both premium brands side-by-side. We have a selection of A-Class, Low Profile & Panel Van Models. So the question is, which one will you choose?
Highbridge Caravan Centre is a family run business with over 47 years of experience. As one of the Countryâ€™s largest Outdoor Leisure Companies, our success has been founded upon excellent customer service.
Huge choice of motorhomes*
view all our stock online
01278 782725 email@example.com
www.highbridgecaravans.co.uk Highbridge Caravan Centre Ltd, A38 Bristol Rd, Highbridge, Somerset TA9 4EX
discover touring | WeLcome
Welcome Year round touring
elcome to the fourth issue of Discover Touring, published to coincide with october’s Motorhome & caravan show in Birmingham. We hope it will bring a little sunshine into your life just as the days get shorter after a pretty dreary uK summer. in fact let’s make that a lot of sunshine! People like you and me enjoy the great outdoors all year round, whatever the weather, and the opportunities have never been greater. During the past few years huge strides have been made in caravan and motorhome construction and materials – and there’s absolutely no need to go without your home comforts. camping and caravanning has always provided the chance to get away from the rat race and
now you can do it in comfort. Modern technology will guide you to the remotest spots and get you home safely again. You can stay in touch with loved ones wherever you go – or just turn off the phone and forget about calls from the office. As usual, you’ll find this issue crammed with information about the latest caravans and motor caravans, where you can go with them and how to enjoy yourself when you get there. it’s full of practical advice, inspirational touring features, new products, all written by the country’s top outdoor leisure writers. i’m sure you’ll find Discover Touring a great read from cover to cover – and if you think you can do better there’s even the chance to become a contributor by telling us about your holiday experiences. get out and discover touring – you won’t look back!
Barry Williams, Editor-in-Chief
Hello and Farewell A message from our travel editor, Ann Somerset Miles
nto autumn and touring is as exciting as ever, with the vibrant colours of the outdoors and festivities galore: Halloween and Bonfire night are all too soon followed by christmas and new Year, and then valentine’s Day, and before you know it, there are signs of spring and – in 2013 – an early easter. since last writing, i’ve taken our motorhome to germany and ireland, and our caravan to Devon, shropshire and Wales, always seeking new experiences and exciting places to visit. in this issue, contributors also have been scouring the eight uK regions finding plenty of places outdoors where individuals or families can enjoy the open air and discover what
our beautiful islands have to offer in winter. There’s plenty indoors as well; the problem may be making time to explore all you want to discover! As for me, it’s time to move on and say “Farewell”. i have so enjoyed working with ‘Discover Touring’ and have met so many lovely people along the way. Although i won’t be involved with these pages, i’ll still be out on the open road, writing my Travel Blog and creating mixed-media travel journals in our studio-on-wheels. Maybe we will meet but whether we do or not, you can still follow my adventures at http://thetravelwritersblog. blogspot.co.uk. see you there.
discover touring | tHe teAm
Editorial Office Discovery Media group Discovery House 63 Dundale road Tring Herts HP23 5BX T: +44 (0) 1296 631 273 e: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.dmgpublishing.co.uk Advertising Office Discovery Media group, London T: +44 (0) 208 297 9073 e: email@example.com Editor-in-Chief: Barry Williams Travel Editor: Ann somerset Miles Design: satellite creative T: +44 (0)1442 827768 Advertising: rv sales T: +44 (0) 1793 721 797 The Caravan Club: Beth cooper and Joanna conway Publishers: Mark galbraith, firstname.lastname@example.org and Ben Lane, email@example.com With thanks to our authors and reviewers (in order of appearance): sarah Wakely samantha Bird Tim gibson seth Linder suzanne reid Terry owen rob Mccabe John Piggott David Hooper Douglas King John Wickersham colin rowbury roger Moorhouse Mark round Angela cox
(Finally, big thanks to the many helpful regional tourist offices around the uK and abroad) To licence or distribute this product, please contact Mark galbraith at the Advertising office (London) at +44 (0) 208 297 9073 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Discover Touring is published by Discovery Media group, united Kingdom. All rights in the material belong to Discovery Media group and may not be reproduced, whether in whole or in part, without their prior written consent. Front cover image supplied by caroline Mills. Illustrations: carmi Latham Discover Touring – issn 2045-8088 The publisher makes every effort to ensure the magazine’s contents are correct. All material published in Discover Touring is copyright and unauthorised reproduction is forbidden. The editors and publishers of this publication give no warranties, guarantees or assurances and make no representations regarding any goods or services advertised in this edition.
issue 1 spring/ summer 2012, issue 2 Autumn/ Winter 2012, issue 3 spring/ summer 2013.
Back issues of Discover Touring are available at £5.99 for one issue, £10.99 for two issues and £14.99 for three issues. Please send your cheque made payable to Discovery Media group Holdings at Discovery Media group, 63 Dundale road, Tring, Herts, HP23 5BX.
Find out more in the choosing the right caravan section.
The future is now! The future is the new Globebus!
In 1987 we developed a new Van Class with the Dethleffs bus. And today we revolutionise it - with the new Globebus for 2013. We have given it an excellent exterior design, made it shorter and conjured up more interior space. Unique for this vehicle class: The spacious bathroom of the Globebus 8. Enter the future. Now at your dealer location! Lowdham Leisureworld Lowdham Road - Gunthorpe Nottingham - NG14 7ES Phone: 0115 9663838 email@example.com www.lowdhams.com
Alan Kerr Ltd Patrick House - Blythe Way Paignton - Devon - TQ4 7QP Phone: 01803 522098 firstname.lastname@example.org www.alankerrltd.co.uk
Pullingers Leisure Vehicles Ltd 11 First Avenue - Halstead Essex - CO9 2EX Phone: 01787 472747 email@example.com www.pullingers.co.uk
Premier Motorhomes & Leisure Ltd Main Road - Birdham - Chichester West Sussex - PO20 7BU Phone: 01243 511189 firstname.lastname@example.org www.premiermotorhomes.com
Dethleffs GmbH & Co. KG Phone 0049 (0) 7562 / 987881 www.dethleffs.co.uk · email@example.com
3A’s Leisure Motorhome & Caravan Company Stephen’s Way - Pensarn Carmarthen - SA31 2BG Phone: 01267 234459 Lee@3asleisure.co.uk www.3acaravans.co.uk
Donaghey Motorhomes Drumnahoe – Letterkenny Co. Donegal Phone: 00353 (0) 749129235 firstname.lastname@example.org www.donagheymotorhomes.ie Cara Motor Homes Ballywilliam – Rathkeale Co. Limerick Phone: 00353 (0) 6964400 email@example.com www.caramotorhomes.ie
Touring | auTumn & winTer
Seasons to be cheerful
There’s been a real movement towards all-year touring in the past couple of decades, write the experts at The caravan club.
aravans and motorhomes are now so well insulated and heated that there’s no deterrent to touring in the cooler months. You also benefit from fewer holidaymakers competing for pitches, and you miss the peak season holiday dash to the most popular resorts. All in all, this is the most relaxing time of year to take a well– earned break. The Caravan Club is well geared up for winter touring, with 34 Club Sites open all year round and even more open until the New Year. Club Sites take on a whole new personality at this time of year. You can enjoy the changing colours of autumn, crisp winter mornings and the wildlife and flowers that herald spring. You might choose sites close to great events
or seasonal celebrations – whatever your interests, you’re sure to find touring at this time of year a real joy. Why not stay near one of the country’s magnificent cities and plan to do all your Christmas shopping there? The Club has put together all sorts of savings for you to try winter touring. It has frozen the price of pitches booked for breaks from the 4 January to 14 March next year for instance. Choose from beautiful city sites such as Edinburgh and Sheepcote Valley in Brighton to the elegance of Chatsworth House or Stanmore Hall. Sites open at this time of year also offer a ‘Kids for a Penny’ discount to give families a really affordable break. There are midweek discounts of 50% off at ten Club Sites between 4 November to 20
December 2012 and 4 January to 14 March next year too. So you could, for example, visit Tredegar House Country Park in Wales or Alderstead Heath, close to London, from Monday to Thursday and make a real saving. With a fantastic choice of sites, a price freeze and great value offers, it’s a wonderful time to go touring. Picture yourself cycling through the autumn landscape filled with reds, yellows and oranges, or wandering through frosted countryside to the local pub with its crackling wood fire welcoming you. Don’t miss out on these autumn and winter touring joys. The Caravan Club wants to share them with you, so they’ve put together these spectacular offers so you can enjoy using your caravan, motorhome or trailer tent all year round for less. Go on – give off-peak touring a try, you won’t be disappointed. For more information visit: www.caravanclub.co.uk/ awtouringdt4
CONFIDENCE AND CONTROL
THE CONFIDENCE TO DEAL WITH WHAT YOU CAN SEE,THE TECHNOLOGY TO CONTROL WHAT YOU CANâ€™T. The AL-KO ATC anti-snake system is proven to improve the stability stability of the towing outfit, providing you with the maximum confidence and control throughout your journey. If you are buying a new caravan, AL-KO ATC is now offered by most of the leading caravan manufacturers. If you are looking to protect and upgrade your current investment, ATC can easily be retrofitted through our UK network of Premium Fitment Centres or mobile fitting service.
Factory Retro-fit bookings and further information - 01926 818500 Mobile fitment bookings - 0800 389 4648 | www.al-koatc.co.uk QUALITY FOR LIFE
Room with a view â€“ Unicorn Seville in Rossini Upholstery
The new Bailey Unicorn seeing things in a different light. Since its launch two years ago the Bailey Unicorn has become a firm favourite with the discerning caravan owner providing the unique combination of superior performance, award-winning design and market leading value for money. The second generation of Unicorn models, arriving in September, take this philosophy a stage further by moving the designs for an Alu-Tech caravan on to the next level both in terms of accessibility and desirability.
For more information please visit
PraCTiCaL | essenTiaL kiT
Can’t leave home wi it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of camping kit that’s available these days; but just a small amount of forward planning can help ensure that you get everything you require, and allow you the time to search around for the best deals available. Author: Sarah Wakely
irst, make a list of everything that you think you’ll need. However, don’t feel that you have to buy all of your kit at once: purchase a bit at a time to spread the cost. Time – and experience – will help you work out exactly what you need to help make life onsite more comfortable; buying kit on impulse could prove costly. You must ensure that you don’t exceed your ‘van’s payload when packing, in order to remain safe and legal when on the road; one easy way of doing so is to keep a spreadsheet document listing everything, along with its weight. It’s also worth emptying your van once a year, checking all your kit and only returning what you’ve used at least once – safety kit such as fire extinguishers or a first-aid kit aside, of course. This is also a good opportunity to give everything a thorough check over and clean. 14
Onboard tanks can freeze
Those who own a caravan or camper without an on-board water tank will require a container such as an Aquaroll for collecting and storing fresh water, and a suitable container for waste water; both are available at all good accessory shops. Motorhomers might also find a waste-water container useful, too, particularly during the winter when onboard tanks can freeze easily if they’re not emptied regularly. If your unit has a cassette toilet, you’ll need a bottle of holding-tank chemicals. If you’ve a small camper with no toilet, consider a Porta Potti if you prefer to carry your facilities onboard. You’ll also require a gas bottle – you’ll need to check the size that your ‘van’s locker can hold – and a gas spanner, too. Both butane and propane gas bottles are available; the latter is the better choice if you’re planning to tour in freezing temperatures.
A water hose (made of food-grade materials), and a lead to allow you to hook up to mains electric when you’re onsite, are both useful pieces of kit; while a set of driveon ramps (or chocks) are a must-carry for motorhomers to level their van on uneven ground. A hitch-lock and wheel clamp will help to keep a caravan secure, whether you’re onsite or at home, and caravanners (and some motorhomers) will also need a corner-steadies winder and a portable step to aid access into the van. The former will also require a pair of towing mirrors, and a leisure battery, if your caravan doesn’t already have one. In time, you might also like to consider an awning – freestanding versions are available for motorhomes – and a set of outdoor chairs; bear in mind the impact that the weight of these will have on your payload, though. All of the kit mentioned here is available at good accessory shops.
PraCTiCaL | essenTiaL kiT
specialists such as raskelf can supply bed linen to fit an oddly shaped bed.
sachetsandmore.com specialises in small packets of food and bottles of toiletries – ideal for camping.
The garmin 560 satnav is suitable for those with larger vehicles.
Use local supermarkets
Some kit you’ll be able to take from home, but if you’re planning to tour regularly, then it’s worth buying equipment specifically for your van. Small items can be stored in lockers, but if you’re planning to stow items in larger spaces – such as under a fixed bed – consider some cheap plastic storage boxes to help prevent things sliding around too much. You might decide that you’d like to take your own crockery from home, but there are some very cheap, attractive sets of plastic plates and bowls available these days. To save money, try looking in your local supermarket: the bigger stores often sell a good selection. Silicone baking trays are light, easy to store, and can be used to squash between breakables in lockers to prevent chipped crockery. Another excellent way of saving space is to take individually sized portions of sauces and packets .
As for bedding: those who have a fixed bed might prefer a duvet over sleeping bags, as the bed can easily be left made up while you’re on tour. Those with a make-up bed will need to ensure that there’s enough space to stow your bedding during the day. If you do have a fixed bed that’s an unusual shape, you might want to look into ordering a sheet and duvet that’s been made to measure by a specialist company.
A good road atlas
Before you hit the road, it’s also worth considering a satnav specifically designed for larger vehicles. These aren’t cheap, but they do allow you to input your unit’s dimensions; the satnav then calculates a route for you that should avoid any relevant dimension restrictions. However, it’s always worth carrying a good road atlas, too. Last, but most important of all, is the safety-related kit that you should ensure
remains within your motorhome or caravan at all times. These include a suitable fire extinguisher and fire blanket, and a basic first-aid kit. If your unit isn’t already fitted with them, make sure to get a good smoke alarm and carbon-monoxide detector (the latter should be the type that sounds a warning if the gas is detected), both of which could save your life – and check that they work. A torch and tool-kit could also prove invaluable. Over time, you’ll find that you’ll quickly discover what equipment you’ll need to suit the tours that you love; if you’re in any doubt about whether something might be suitable, your local accessory shop should be able to advise you. And one final tip: if you’re away and discover that a certain piece of kit would be useful, make a note of it – it’s all too easy to forget what it was by the time you’ve returned home and unloaded your van.
Touring | The CooL waY
THIS IS THE AGE OF COOL! Author: Julia Hicks
There are some seriously ice cool ideas coming through from a number of British manufacturers – Discover Touring was allowed a sneak peak at a select few.
Must add on: A delightful, handcrafted, retro-style Teardrop caravan that will accommodate two people with ample storage and cooking facilities. Available in three exterior colours: Sage Green, Sun kissed Orange and Sky Blue. From £8,995 www.danburymotorcaravans.com
The Danbury retro style T2 Volkswagen camper van and the Teardrop caravan To celebrate all that is great with Britain, Danbury Motorcaravans has produced a limited build of the famous retro-style Volkswagen camper vans, the T2, with unique options and a price to match. This refreshed classic comes with new interior storage. From £29,999 www.danburymotorcaravans.com
The Dub-Box Shortie
Check out the new Shortie range from Dub-Box; the micro caravan with a six foot bed, which folds away to reveal a seating and day area, with funky colours to choose from and the usual excellent standard of finish, all this and more, with a price tag of around £9,500. Seriously, what are you waiting for? www.dub-box.com
The one and only four berth Dub box:
The 4-berth Dub-Box with added pop-top is a perennial favourite in the offices at Discover Touring. This is the ultimate in cool touring, with prices from £13,750. What are you waiting for? www.dub-box.com
Touring | The CooL waY
The Retro Rocket
It’s great to hear a success story about a young British manufacturing company. Worcestershire-based independent caravan builder, Retro Rocket, has recently taken over production of the former Silver Bullet retro-look polished aluminium caravans ¬re-named Atlantic – as part of expansion plans that include a forthcoming range of exciting new retro-British tourers, with a 1950s/60s design theme. Business is booming, as the company takes advantage of the rise in demand for new products with a vintage feel. Buyers of the company’s models get traditional design, coupled with modern production methods, durable construction materials and a range of creature comforts. The Atlantic range is available in 16, 18, 20 and 23-foot overall lengths, and each one is hand-built, to give a high level of exclusivity. Shortly-to-be-announced models in the new retro-British range include a lightweight budget-priced 10ft tourer for under £10,000, and also two competitively priced and uniquely styled 12ft and 14ft 4-berths. www.retro-rocket.co.uk
The UK’s newest and most exciting touring caravan manufacturer has launched its long awaited caravan ranges; Genesis and Chronicle. These ranges feature an electric slide out section that increases the interior living space by up to 5sqm.
The Genesis has two models within its line up
IB4 (Island Bed-4 Berth) has a large front lounge, side kitchen with the washroom adjacent and a full rear bedroom featuring a king size double bed. BB5 (Bunk Bed- 5 Berth) features a large lounge with an end bathroom but has the addition of two fixed bunk beds and a side dinette, which could also take an extra bunk should six berths be required.
Ü Discover More: Ice cool books
These books caught our eye over the summer – ultra cool pictures and descriptions of some wonderful, tantalising caravans, campervans and campsites. The ultimate coffee table treats; endlessly absorbing allowing you to delve into many remarkable machines and places to stay. These books are available on www.amazon.co.uk
My Cool Caravan
By Jane Field-Lewis and chris Haddon The blurb: “The days of utilitarian tin mugs and chipped crockery are a thing of the past. nowadays it’s easy to make your caravan look attractive with a few simple touches – a pretty coffee pot, a goosedown duvets and comfortable pillows. Arm yourself with a collection of old novels, a drawing book, maybe some old board games – all means of creating those valuable memories and having time to do something a world away from your everyday life.” Forty stylish caravans of all vintages from across the world – meet the people who refurbish and customise their caravans.
The Chronicle line up consists of four models
EB2 (End Bathroom-2 Berth) featuring a large lounge, domestic ‘L’ shape kitchen and an end bathroom – all on a 4.5m body. IB4 (Island Bed-4 Berth) featuring a large lounge, domestic style ‘L’ shape kitchen, island bed and an end bathroom. FB4 (Futon Bed-4 Berth) is identical to the IB4 except once it gets to the rear of the caravan as the island bed is replaced by a ‘domestic’ style sofa that converts into a double bed in seconds. BB4 (Bunk Bed-4 Berth) This model has a large lounge, domestic style ‘L’ shape kitchen with double bunk beds and a ¾ end bathroom. www.eterniti-caravans.com
My Cool Campervan
By Jane Field-Lewis and chris Haddon The blurb: “When people think of campervans they almost always recall the iconic vW T2 however, there is a world of forgotten campervans out there: the iconic Bedford cA, the classic commer, the vintage Dodge, the converted citroën H van, the big American rv and a distinctive world of individual conversions to campers.” Over 30 stylish campervans of all vintages and makes – a visual voyage into modern-retro campervans.
Cool Caravanning By caroline Mills
The blurb: “Taking to the road for an impulsive break has never been easier than with this hand-picked selection of fantastic caravan sites. Whether you’re looking for a great view, child-friendly spot, beach holiday, walking break, action adventure or just somewhere to relax and smell the roses, cool caravanning has something for everyone, from first-timers to old hands” Includes 54 locations around England, from the stunning Cumbrian mountains to the picturesque Cornish coast.
PLANNING | Where to go?
What’s the plan of action? Author: Sarah Wakely
There’s a lot to think about when you begin your first tour away. Most importantly, you’ll need to decide where you want to go – which isn’t always as easy as it sounds!
ou might prefer to tour somewhere that you’ve never been, or perhaps try a location that you’ve previously visited and loved – this can make things easier if you’re very new to touring, as you’ll already know the parts of the area that you’ll want to see, and those you don’t. The Lake District, Wales, the Peak District and England’s south west are all popular areas, so if you plan to visit any of these, you might find them busy; particularly during the school holidays. On the other hand, the sheer number of visitors to these regions does mean that there are a good number of campsites for you to choose from, and local attractions are more likely to be open all year. The time of year that you travel is very important: you’ll need to double check that there are sites open – quite a few close their gates around October, and don’t open them again until the following Easter. Of course, the routes to popular areas become very busy at certain times of the year, too such as on the Friday before a bank holiday, and during school breaks. To avoid sitting in queues, select another, less popular destination, or travel at an unusual time; for instance, early in the morning or even overnight. Alternatively, if you’re not travelling with children of school age, consider going mid-week; sites tend to be cheaper then, too. Also think about fuel costs. Touring to far-flung destinations is wonderful, but fuel is pricey, and you don’t want to blow your budget simply getting to an area. On your first trip, it’s a good idea not to travel too far from home – that way, if you forget anything you can always pop back and get it; you’ll also have less far to travel if you simply decide that you don’t like the site you’re on. u 18
The time of year you decide to travel is important; you’ll need to check that there are sites open.
Bilbo’s SE-35 Bilbo’s is celebrating 35 years of building quality campers by launching its Komba SE-35 at an amazing on the road price of £35,000.
DRIVE AWAY FOR
£35k including VAT and on the road charges
This is a NEW Volkswagen T5 Campervan built by Bilbo’s with no hidden extras. Price includes: • NEW Volkswagen T5 2.0TDI 84PS with ABS, ASR, EDL, ESP and VW CD/Radio • Choice of 3 base colours • Fitted with Bilbo’s award winning low-lie easy-lift side elevating roof • Driver and Passenger swivel seats with adjustable armrests • Huge double bed for its class • Separate built in 36 litre fresh water tank and 30 litre waste tank • Large dual charging 120AH leisure battery • Digital power management system • Fully functional kitchen including, sink, two burner hob and 65-litre compressor fridge with freezer box • Gas locker for either 2 x Butane or 1 x Propane bottles • Clip on sliding table • 240v mains system with 13 amp socket • 12v socket • Two fluorescent lights and three spotlights within living area • Space saving fitted storage cupboards • Thermal lined curtains for all windows • Front and rear safety belts • Inclusive delivery charge, vehicle registration, number plates and PDI Comfortable double bed
Spacious living area
Fully functional kitchen
• Taxed for 12 months • Half a tank of fuel
Building quality Volkswagen camper vans for 35 years. All Bilbo’s camper vans are Euro 5 compatible, NCC approved and are built by skilled English craftsman in our purpose built factory with build quality guaranteed through our ISO 9001 accreditation. To find out more about the Bilbo’s range, visit our showsite or visit our website. www.bilbos.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0) 1342 892499 (Monday to Saturday) Bilbo’s, Eastbourne Road, South Godstone, Surrey RH9 8JQ.
• Volkswagen Motorhome specialist • Finance available subject to status • Large range of fully prepared pre-owned vehicles • Part exchange of good conditioned vehicles considered • Largest stock of New and Pre-owned VW camper vans in UK
Prices and specification may change and so it is the responsibility of the reader to confirm specification with Bilbo’s at the time of enquiry. Part exchange considered. Photograph illustrates a SE Komba in Stone blue fitted with the award winning low-lie roof, at a on the road price of £35,000 including VAT and inclusive of delivery charge, vehicle registration, number plates and PDI. Model shown with optional window pack A at £370.
Volkswagen Motorhome Specialist
PLANNING | Where to Go? You’ll also need to choose whether you want to go to one destination for a period of time, or take a circular tour. The latter is easier if you have a motorhome, rather than a caravan – by their very nature, motorhomes allow you to make a quicker getaway from a site – but those with a caravan certainly shouldn’t discount multiple destinations. These type of trips simply take a little more planning, and perhaps not using an awning when you’re onsite!
What’s next? Once you’ve decided on the area that you’d like to visit, you’ll need to find a suitable campsite. Once you’ve decided on a site, you have two choices: you can either book it before you go, or simply turn up and hope that there’s room for you. The former is recommended if you’re planning to stay for more than a couple of nights, or if you’re touring during peak season or in a very popular area. On the other hand, not booking allows you to remain flexible – if you turn up at a site and don’t like what you find, you can always move on. The journey: Don’t try to cover too
much ground in one day: you’ll get tired or distracted, and that’s when mistakes happen. Instead, consider stopping off at another site on the way to break up your journey – you might discover a new area that you’d never even thought about! How far you travel in one day is up to personal preference, but it’s always worth investigating potential stopovers in case you’re delayed. Campsites can sometimes be tricky to find – they aren’t always well signposted – so try to arrive before dark to allow yourself the Family fun at Lleithyr Meadow Caravan Club site
best chance possible of finding the site straight away. Bear in mind that you’ll still need time to set your unit up once you get there, too. Some campsites also don’t allow arrivals after a certain time in the evening; make sure that you check this before you go. And find out whether they offer alternative arrangements if you are delayed, such as an overnight parking area – many campsites don’t. Have a quick look on Google Street View to familiarise yourself with the local area and plan your route – although bear in mind that, as you’ll be driving a larger vehicle, it’s likely to take longer than the estimated time. If you use a satnav, be careful to ensure that you’ll not be taken down any unsuitable routes; crosschecking with a road map is a good way of avoiding this. Finally, before you leave, take a look at a campsite’s website or ring to see if there’s a certain approach that the owner recommends which avoids narrow roads or low bridges – they’ll have been asked this question often. Also, double check that the postcode on the campsite’s address is the correct one for inputting into your satnav; this isn’t always the case. Don’t find out too late! If once you arrive, you do like a site, don’t be afraid to ask the owner if you can extend your stay for a couple of nights (for a fee, of course) – if the site’s not busy, they’ll probably be extremely happy to oblige. If you don’t like a site, you can leave; but you should pay for all nights that you’d originally booked, or, if you’ve already paid, inform the site owner that you’re leaving (although you shouldn’t necessarily expect any refund).
PLANNING | Where to Go?
Sites for all with
The Caravan Club
Checking in at Treamble Valley Caravan Club site
Whether you’re touring on your own, as a couple or with a family, The caravan club has a network of more than 200 wonderful club sites all around the British isles, so you have the widest possible choice of sites for that perfect holiday.
rom seaside resorts to historic cities, from the Cotswolds to the highlands of Scotland, they all offer you a warm welcome, the highest possible standards and excellent facilities. There are 34 sites open all year, and even more at Christmas and the New Year. Let’s take a look at some of your site choices. If you’re looking for a seaside family holiday, there are Club Sites at Scarborough, Brixham and Woolacombe. With safe beaches close by and all the glorious attractions you would expect from a traditional coastal resort, these are sites just made for you. If you want to be spoilt and not have to leave the site for any reason, Hillhead in glorious Devon has as its
own restaurant, bar, magnificent facilities and even entertainment in season. If you want to take the kids to visit Alton Towers, Legoland or Chessington World of Adventures, there are lovely Club Sites close to these popular attractions too. 50 Club Sites are in or near National Parks, where you can relax in idyllic countryside. Staying in the heart of one of these precious places is a real privilege. The Caravan Club is one of very few organisations welcomed in these protected areas. Here you might explore RSPB reserves, enjoy walking, cycling, fishing or sailing, or just revel in the peace and quiet and do nothing at all.
Some Club Sites are set in open countryside with panoramic views but you may prefer to stay in a cosy woodland setting. Two of these leafy havens are the Club Sites on the Royal Sandringham Estate or Chatsworth Park where you can holiday in style. For spectacular countryside, consider the highlands of Scotland, Snowdonia or The Lake District. If history fascinates you, there are sites near Stonehenge, Stratford-uponAvon and countless National Trust properties, castles, cathedrals and gardens to explore. If you’ve always wanted to visit medieval York, Edinburgh, Cambridge or London or any one of dozens of historic cities, The Caravan Club has a site close by. Join The Caravan Club and you’ll soon be planning that ideal holiday. It may be active and adventurous or simply a chance to relax and get away from the stresses of life. Whatever your choice, you’ll love touring with The Caravan Club. For more information visit www.caravanclub.co.uk/ joinus or call 01342 488120
activities | cycling
A summer on two wheels Sustrans is working tirelessly to make it easier and safer to get around on two wheels – whether you’re heading to and from work, out for a weekend ride or you’re taking your bikes on holiday.
NEWS FLASH: it’s a sunny day as the 2012 Tour de France comes to a close in its traditional manner on the champs elysees. contrary to tradition, however, is the sight of a British winner, Bradley Wiggins, whose trademark sideburns creep out from under the specially streamlined yellow helmet. He is crowned the fastest overall rider. Author: Arthur Newby
tier down from ‘Wiggo’ on the podium that day was fellow British rider, Chris Froome. This was the first time any British rider finished on the Tour de France podium, let alone two of them in first and second place. Minutes before, BBC sports personality of the year, Mark Cavendish, had been awarded his trophy for finishing that day’s race first for the fourth consecutive year. The tour was a triumph for British Cycling and as the media paraded the historic triumph, the glory continued. Ten days after mounting the Champs Elysees podium, Wiggins crossed the line outside Hampton Court Palace to win Olympic gold. He, again, shared the podium with Chris Froome, this time in the bronze position. A few days later it became clear their GB teammates would 22
once again dominate the Velodrome, swiping seven out of 10 gold medals on offer. Against this backdrop and inspired by their heroics, the British public visited the shops. Newspaper reports revealed that, in the final week of the Tour de France, a total of just over £21 million was spent on bicycles and accessories (1), and during the Olympics, chain store Evans Cycles saw sales rise by an astounding 35 per cent (2). This year has also seen the number of people taking their bicycles on holiday increase by 48 per cent compared to 2010 (3). All this seems to cement the so-called ‘Wiggins effect’ as very real. Team GB has revitalised our fascination with the bicycle. Luckily in Britain you don’t have to be an elite athlete surrounded by support cars and masseurs to get out and enjoy the road.
getting into it
Whether it’s tootling along a country lane into the village or haring up and down winding Highland roads, cycling is great for your health. As a cardiovascular exercise, your body gets used to it very quickly and if done regularly it helps reduce the risk of a range of diseases including heart disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes. Of course if you have concerns, it is worth checking with your GP before you get started. Besides your cardiovascular system, it helps elsewhere in your life; improved fitness leads to improved self-esteem, happiness and reduced stress. Whether on your own, with friends or family, you can set the pace you feel comfortable with, stop whenever you want and plan a distance that suits your ability. Unlike running and other high-paced sports, cycling is a low impact exercise meaning it’s easier on the joints, so it’s a possibility for most people. For many of us the prospect of getting on a bike on UK roads is a daunting one, but thankfully Sustrans’ ever growing National Cycle Network offers safe, signposted and scenic routes across rural and urban Britain. With more than 13,000 miles, one-third of the network is entirely traffic-free and the rest on quiet lanes or traffic-calmed roads. Moreover thousands of signposts dotted
activities | cycling along the network make it even harder to get lost, even if you might want to. Today, the network has grown to such an extent that 80 per cent of Caravan Club sites are within four miles of the network, meaning it has never been easier to get out and cycle when staying at a campsite. Indeed, as part of the alliance between Sustrans and the Caravan Club formed in 2005, Sustrans’ volunteers have produced cycling notes for 27 campsites and are creating more. These feature tailored cycling maps, directions and suggestions for safe routes to ride around the local area, pointing out things to see, other routes to take, how easy they are and how suitable for children they are. These are available at the campsites’ receptions or on the Caravan Club website (www.caravanclub.co.uk). Alternatively, a wealth of information on local routes, as well as interactive maps, can be found on Sustrans’ website (www.sustrans.org.uk). Once you’ve sussed out your destination you can purchase the right map for your trip by going to the online shop (www.sustransshop. org.uk) or calling Sustrans’ information line on 0845 113 0065.
The Caravan Club and Sustrans
Bulverhythe Coastal Link, Hastings to Bexhill connection, linking to National Cycle Network Route 2 ©Sustrans Credit: J Bewley/Sustrans
Before you depart
While packing a bike into your boot is possible, it’s most definitely easier with a rack. You can browse online to see what’s available, but its best to go into a shop and get the advice of a specialist. If you plan on leaving the car at home, most train services have cycle facilities. Most train companies advise booking your bike space over the counter, ‘phone or online. Many locations around the country offer cycle hire, but if you’re dusting your own down it’s worth checking it over before you set off. Tyres need to be pumped, brakes working safely, the saddle at the right height for comfort and any extras included such as lights, locks, hi-vis clothing, puncture repair and helmets. So whether it’s a cruise along the waters of Llyn Trawsfynydd, Snowdonia; a climb to reach a view over the plain of York to the Pennines; or a roll through Cornwall’s mining heritage from one coast to the other, cycling is a fantastic way to explore and take in the local area. You can enjoy the peace and quiet of the rural network and off-road paths, pausing at scenic locations, local attractions, and wildlife hot spots and refuel with a picnic, in a pub, cafe or restaurant. When going into town or to visitor centres, you needn’t worry about parking, while easing congestion and pressure on local roads from car traffic. You might even fall into conversation with someone along the way.
(2) www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/aug/11/team-gbboosts-uk-retailers (3) Daily Telegraph, #48,892 (07/08/2012) Holiday makers pack bicycles to emulate heroics of ‘Wiggo’ – p8
The caravan club’s huge network of sites includes many close to the national cycle network, 12,600 miles of signed cycle routes co-ordinated by sustrans.
he Club has been a partner of Sustrans for many years, supporting this charity dedicated to making it easier for people to travel by foot, bike or public transport. The Club believes that cycling should be encouraged as an environmentally friendly, healthy and cheap way of getting out and about when touring. Around half of all Caravan Club Sites are less than a mile from a National Cycle Network Route, with many more being within five miles, so you’re bound to find routes to explore around your holiday destination. Much of the network is along riversides, through parks, or following disused railway lines and canal towpaths. The rest consists of quiet lanes, on-road routes and traffic free paths.
caravan club sites for cyclists
Here are a couple of very different Caravan Club Sites that give you a great opportunity to explore on your bikes. Tredegar House Country Park Caravan Club Site is only seven miles from beautiful Cardiff. The historic 17th century house is one of the architectural wonders in the UK. There is an orangery, walled gardens, woodland and an adventure playground too. The seven-acre caravan site includes an exquisite ornamental lake. There’s an easy
seven-mile cycle route from the park that runs partly parallel with the River Usk, past the fascinating ruins of Newport Castle then following the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. At the end of the route is the Fourteen Locks Canal & Visitor Centre, a good place to stop for a picnic before the ride home. A second suggestion for keen cyclists is the New Forest Caravan Club Site. This is the home of The Club’s Centenary Gardens, located just three miles from the pleasant village of Bransgore in the National Park. There is an excellent dog walk, plus play equipment and a safe play field for the youngsters too. Set in beautiful rolling countryside it’s a great base to explore on your bike, with a Sustrans route only 200 yards from the site. One cycle route follows the Mude Valley Greenway to the delightful attractions of Avon Beach and Mudeford Quay. There is also a traffic free ride to Bournemouth and Poole on the disused Castleman railway to the pretty village of Brockenhurst. The Caravan Club and Sustrans make it very easy to plan a holiday that enables you to enjoy biking to the full. Now is the time to fix up that bike in the graden shed and breathe new life into your next tour. For more information visit www.caravanclub.co.uk/sustrans.
activities | cycling
Not for the faint-hearted
Discover Touring’s intrepid extreme sports nut, samantha Bird, tamed the north norfolk coastline in what must be the maddest event in the world (probably).
fter a thorough handover by the kindly staff at Halfords, I took possession of the Carrera Vanquish road bike. This good-looking two-wheeled aluminium beast was to be my mode of transport on one leg of the gruelling Norfolk Superhero Challenge. This eccentric, typically British event takes place on the wild north Norfolk coast (a campers’ paradise) and consists of a one-mile swim, four-mile kayak, 45-mile cycle (hence the need for the Carrera) and an eight-mile run across bogs and wet sand. Mad, you say – you would be correct. But like all things in life, if you don’t try you just won’t know. So that is how I found myself in June – on a surprisingly cold morning, with wetsuit zipped up, bracing myself for the cool waters of the north Norfolk seaboard and the first leg swim. Entering this event is hard enough in itself, let alone competing in it. It is by invitation only, so inevitably there is a long waiting list. But when you’re accepted forget all thoughts of reserved, methodical athletic types; the Superheros in question are quirky, fun and out for a laugh. They all want to do well, sure, 24
but they don’t want to be taken too seriously. You run in pairs and your time is registered when both of you cross the finishing line. The biking element takes you on a circular route from Burnham Overy Staithe (where you dump the kayak), via Sandringham (and its palace) through South and North Creake and back to your starting point at Burnham Overy. The Carrera stood up well to the pounding – being light, decisive and compact. In fact, it was so good that I stayed as the frontrunner the whole way round (not a tactic we had discussed), cutting a narrow path of air for the benefit of my partner behind. As a result I almost did not finish the run – ‘shattered’ is too light a word for the tiredness on the last leg run. A beer and a plate of comfort food later, and all was well with the world. This is a great event and who would not be beguiled by the names of the winning trophies, perfectly summing up this unusual happening. The Lord Nelson Trophy for men (or The Lady Hamilton for women) will be up for grabs next June, see www.norfolksuperhero.co.uk for updates.
Ü Discover More: Carrera Vanquish
The carrera vanquish Large road Bike features a fantastic specification, which includes 18-speed shimano Tiagra shifters with sora front and rear mechs, Tektro r720 dual pivot brake callipers and shimano WHr500 wheelset fitted with continental ultra sport tyres. A true performance bike, built for speed, the vanquish features a lightweight, double-butted 7005 semi-compact aluminium frame equipped with a lightweight alloy fork with 1-1/8” alloy steerer. The carrera vanquish road Bike uses semicompact frame geometry, which provides a lighter, stiffer frame with increased stand over height. Available from www.halfords.co.uk.
What’s new for 2013? Here’s a taste of just some of the enhancements for the new season:
BODY CONSTRUCTION INTEGRITY WARRANTY
• Brand new exterior body shape for Hi-line and Lo-line – introduction of the ‘Skyline’ roof light to both variants • New ‘Sport line’ pack including dark metallic grey paintwork and LED daytime running lights • New exterior entrance door featuring central locking, fly screen, window, waste bin, umbrella holder, storage pocket and gas strut • New stainless steel microwave with fully fitted ABS surround • Savannah now available with double bed conversion to rear singles • New en-suites, larger shower cubicles, more storage and larger basins • New status TV aerial with in built digital signal finder with the Media pack • New style 15” drop down monitor with the media pack
• • • • • • • • •
New fabric schemes Extra LED reading lights to all lounge areas Front mud flaps to all models New Tracker RB – Island bed model Solar panels are now 100 watt* New Omnistore ‘4900’ awning New Truma ultra store boiler and fire New captain style cab seats All models now fitted with ‘on the move’ heating
2013 models will be arriving at our dedicated dealer network throughout September and October 2012
Download our 2013 newsletter for more information, visit the downloads section on our website www.auto-trail.co.uk
together we’re going places Auto-Trail VR Limited, Trigano House, Genesis Way, Europarc, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, DN37 9TU, United Kingdom
+44 (0)1472 571000 email@example.com www.auto-trail.co.uk *standard on Frontier only
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cornwallâ€™s finest parks
independent, top graded parks, offering fabulous facilities, superb locations and superior service - especially for families and couples - choose a great holiday from cornwallâ€™s finest quality parks
H O L I D AY PA R K camping
Quite simply a five star holiday
01637 875778 www.hendra-holidays.com
Hendra Holidays, Newquay, Cornwall, TR8 4NY
Only 100m from the be
Call: 01637 876531
or book online at www.porthbeach.co.uk Porth, Newquay, Cornwall, TR7 3NH www.cornwallfinestparks.co.uk
cornwall’s finest parks
independent, top graded parks, offering fabulous facilities, superb locations and superior service - especially for families and couples - choose a great holiday from cornwall’s finest quality parks
One of Cornwall’s Finest Parks 2011
G D FRIENDLY
Camping : Touring : Holiday Homes
01872 572407 www.newperran.co.uk
Rejerrah, Newquay, Cornwall TR8 5QJ
✶ Award winning park set in beautiful landscaped parkland ✶ Superb touring facilities ✶ A range of well maintained/spacious pitches ✶ Secure storage area for your caravan leave your tourer with us for the season! ✶ ‘Ready tents’ - pitched and ready for you! ✶ Luxury caravans for hire & for sale ✶ Ideal base for Crantock and Newquay’s beaches ✶ exploring the local area ✶ Heated outdoor swimming & paddling reserve ✶ Play areas, TV & games room, café & takeaway and launderette ✶ Special rates available - quote ‘DISCOVER TOURING’
Go Glamping in 2013
Check out our new range of Safari tents, Teepees & Bell tents unique outdoor experience!
01637 830 308 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Book online: www.trevella.co.uk Open all year
A multi-award winning family park ideally located for exploring Devon and Cornwall
INDEPENDENT, TOP QUALITY GRADED, FAMILY TOURING AND HOLIDAY PARKS
Easy access Hardstanding pitches Shop, off license and Wi-Fi Special offers from £72 p/w
01752 851332 www.dolbeare.co.uk “...a green champion” - David Bellamy
A park for all seasons Quintrell Downs, Newquay, Cornwall TR8 4QR
Voted BEST SMALL SITE IN UK 2012. A multi-award winning site set in a wooded valley, close to sandy beaches cycle routes, walks gardens and historic sites. Also offers camping, touring, Wigwam camping cabins, holiday caravans and cottages.
2012 BEST SMALL SITE
Holiday Park of the Year 2008 - Shires Magazine Top 10 Best Holiday Parks in Cornwall - Cornwall Today 2009 Caravan Holiday Park and Holiday Village of the Year 2010 - Visit Cornwall - Bronze
Set in beautiful countryside, Trethiggey is an award-winning touring park just minutes from Cornwall’s “Coast of Dreams” and some of the finest beaches in Europe.
Centrally positioned for top attractions including the Eden Project, we’re only seven miles from Newquay International Airport.
COTTAGES, HOLIDAY CARAVANS, TOURERS & WIGWAM CAMPING CABINS
Tehidy Holiday Park, Harris Mill, Illogan, Redruth, Cornwall. TR16 4JQ
Tel: 01637 877672 E-mail: email@example.com Online booking: www.trethiggey.co.uk
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The West of England Contributors: Tanya Aspinwall, Rebecca Carter, Phillip Harper, Nina Jukes, Grahame Madge, Ann Somerset Miles, Mia Sampietro
Main image: A murmuration of starlings over the Avalon Marshes. Credit: RSPB Images / David Kjaer
exploring western counties is always a joy â€“ so much open country, together with striking cities, towns and villages.
utumn and Winter is a wonderful time to be out of doors, with colourful falling leaves underfoot, wide open spaces when bare trees do not obscure your view, and in the west of England, particularly, miles of coastline. Much of our countryside is cared for in such a way that visitors have open access at all times of the year, and indeed are welcomed by conservation organisations without fear of trespassing on farmland. So whether you favour the coastal counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset, or inland Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, the West of England will not disappoint. 28
Nature on the Move: A visit to any of the nature reserves cared for by the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) will offer far more than bird-watching. The Somerset Levels contains the largest inland concentration of wetland birds in England, including the Avalon Marshes reserves and Ham Wall which lie within the northern part, about two miles west of Glastonbury. Itâ€™s a peaceful area, steeped in history, archaeology, wildlife and atmosphere. In this newly created wetland, a safe home is provided for many rare species including water voles and otters. Millions of starlings fly in during the winter, to roost in the reedbed at dusk. Large flocks of ducks, particularly gadwalls, shovelers and teals are on the open water. Wintering bitterns and little egrets feed in the shallow
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Above: Stonehenge in the snow – an iconic landmark. Credit: English Heritage Below: The alluring fishing village of Polperro, in Cornwall. Credit: Holiday Cottages Polperro
cut areas in the reedbed. Birds of prey such as peregrines, merlins and short-eared owls regularly hunt over the reserve. Events are held throughout the year for families and for those who want to learn more about wildlife. A visit to any of the South West’s estuaries in winter is a must to witness the vast numbers of wetland birds escaping bitter conditions further north and east. RSPB sites around Devon’s Exe Estuary or Dorset’s Poole Harbour are fantastic for observing the vast wintering flocks of ducks, geese and wading birds whose swirling masses enliven a visit on even the coldest day. RSPB boat trips around Poole Harbour and along the Exe Estuary operate throughout the winter. The RSPB’s Bowling Green Marsh near Exeter is rewarding at high tide as estuary birds are
forced to seek shelter from the rising waters bringing them within easy view of the hide. Further north is a wetland reserve managed by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) at Slimbridge, on the Severn estuary between Bristol and Gloucester. After journeys of 1,000 miles or more, over-wintering birds fill the lakes, ponds and river’s edge; starlings create extraordinary patterns in the dusk sky; then, as the night thickens, a wonder of nature occurs when skeins of Bewick’s swans alight on the lakes in a fall of white feathers. A marvellous opportunity to see species from far afield. Come Spring, and wildflowers will be blooming; drakes assume their showiest colours; courtship rituals begin; boxing hares are in the fields and the reserve is alive with the sight and sound of those flocks of ducks, u Discover Touring
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geese and swans getting ready for their long flights back to their polar breeding grounds.
Western Heritage: if it’s history that
enthralls you, a visit to the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge is unforgettable. Looked after by English Heritage, and located on the vast Salisbury Plain, seeing it on a snowy winter’s day can be stunning. Take the complimentary audio tour and learn more about the mysteries surrounding this prehistoric awe-inspiring creation, the true meaning of which has been lost in the mists of time. Or venture almost to the tip of Cornwall and Falmouth for a visit to Pendennis Castle, one of the finest mighty fortresses built by Henry VIII to defend the country against invasion. The castle has seen action in many conflicts and was one of the last royalist strongholds to fall during the English Civil War. Visitors will appreciate the handson experience in the Discovery Centre and also visit the exciting interactive exhibitions bringing the castle’s history to life.
Coastal Delight: The village of Polperro
is one of the most beautiful historic fishing villages in Cornwall (on its southern coast, south west of Liskeard). With its own working harbour and narrow winding lanes crammed with white-washed fisherman’s cottages, many only accessed by foot, the village claims ten good reasons for visiting: Relaxed pace of life – the rest of the world feels as if it is a million miles away; Stunning walks and scenery – it’s situated in an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ and was one of the first Conservation Areas in SE Cornwall; An exciting calendar of events – fireworks evening (Saturday 3rd November), Christmas market and Lights 30
Top left: Knighthayes Court walled garden (National Trust), Tiverton, Devon. Credit: Ray Quinton Bottom left: Minnows Caravan Park, Tiverton, Devon, convenient for canal walks and exploring locally). Credit: Ray Quinton Middle top: Towpath on the Grand Western Canal, alongside Minnows Caravan Park. Credit: Ray Quinton Middle bottom: The Pump Room Trio (Bath) plays whilst you enjoy coffee, lunch or tea in the restaurant. Credit: Ray Quinton Below: A character from a Jane Austen novel is apprehended by the law, in Bath. Credit: Ray Quinton
Switch-On (Sat 8th December) and the infamous New Year’s Eve fancy dress party; A dark and murky past – goods such as tea, gin, brandy and tobacco were often smuggled to Polperro from Guernsey; History – The ‘Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing’ houses a remarkable collection of early photographs, ship models and memorabilia; Eating Out – traditional pubs selling fresh local seafood and other Cornish fayre plus bistros, tea-rooms, cafés, restaurants, a bakery, confectionary and fudge shops, sandwich kiosks and ice-cream parlours; plus quirky independent shops and galleries; campsites nearby; modern facilities in the form of free WiFi, a post-office with banking facilities and cash points. There is mobile network coverage for users of Orange and T Mobile and a large public car-park at the top of the village with regular trams that transport visitors down to the village. Last but not least, there are countless attractions within a half-hour drive.
Gardens Galore: can be found within
the West of England: you have only to search the list of National Trust locations to decide which to visit first. Discover the magnificent Stourhead estate (in Wiltshire, near Mere) set around a huge lake, scattered with classical and gothic buildings. Visit the circular temple dedicated to Apollo, find peace and quiet in a mystical grotto or explore the woods and gardens on foot. Why not try Killerton, in Devon – a green oasis just eight miles from Exeter, making it the perfect pit-stop en-route to and from Cornwall. Take a stroll and enjoy far-reaching views towards Dartmoor and Haldon Hill or discover the ice house and rustic summerhouse known as the ‘Bear’s Hut’.
Also in Devon, just off the M5 at Tiverton, is Knighthayes Court with its beautiful parkland – in spring a mass of naturalised daffodils – and restored kitchen garden surrounded by original sheltering brick walls.
Technology advances: For more
information on fantastic National Trust gardens, be sure to check out their new, free gardens iPhone App available for download in the iTunes store that lists all National Trust garden properties, providing overviews, photographs and seasonal highlights.
Western Stopover: Perfect for Killerton
and Knighthayes is Minnows – the affiliated Caravan Club site at Tiverton; equally useful for anyone wanting to explore the central area of Devon and south Somerset, or en-route to other destinations farther afield. As it also has private access to a restored section of canal, the less-able can enjoy the quiet and level towpath, whilst the more energetic can take advantage of all twelve miles. The National Cycle Route is also adjacent along the towpath with miles of off-road cycling from the campsite.
Town and City Breaks: Autumn, Winter and New Year is also the time for indoor pursuits, festivals and celebrations, and perhaps some retail therapy. With ‘park-andride’ now readily available in many cities and larger towns, there’s no excuse for not enjoying what urban areas have to offer. Take out the map and plan an away-break at a convenient campsite – just compare a road atlas with the Caravan Club map, which clearly indicates all club sites and CLs. How about any of the following areas? Cornwall: Truro, Falmouth u
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Ü Discover More: Batsford Arboretum: www.batsarb.co.uk
History on your Doorstep:
Wherever you travel, you are likely to be within striking distance of numerous privately-owned historic houses, stately homes, castles and spectacular gardens. supported by The Historic Houses Association, there is a diverse range of properties within the west of england waiting to welcome you. Postcodes should help you locate the properties more easily.
Historic Houses Association (HHA): www.hha.org.uk
Minnows Caravan Park affiliated Caravan Club site:
tel: 01884 821770; www.ukparks.co.uk/minnows.
National Trust Gardens:
www.polperro.org and www.lovepolperro.com
Open all year: Not all Caravan Club sites open through all twelve months of the year, but one that is, is at Moreton-in-Marsh (north Gloucestershire). A wooded site, within walking distance of this small market town on the edge of the Cotswolds, it is convenient for many attractions. Walk from the campsite to Batsford Arboretum and Garden Centre and enjoy the spectacular autumn colours as you follow the children’s trail through the woods; or marvel at eagles, owls and hawks in the Cotswold Falconry Centre. Then eat in the elevated Garden Terrace Café (locally sourced, freshly prepared food) and shop to your heart’s content in the plantsman’s garden and gift centre. West Country Gems: There’s so much
from which to chose in the west of England – where will you visit first?
Trebah garden, Mawnan smith, nr Falmouth, Tr11 5JZ.
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB): www.rspb.org.uk
chambercombe Manor; ilfracombe, eX34 9rJ; Powderham castle; Kenton, exeter, eX6 8JQ; Tiverton castle, Tiverton, eX16 6rP.
Traveller’s Tales (our travel editor’s
blog has more details on many items): http://thetravelwritersblog.blogspot.com
and Penzance; Devon: Exeter, Plymouth and Barnstaple; Dorset: Shaftesbury, Dorchester and Lyme Regis; Gloucestershire: Cheltenham, Chipping Camden and Stroud; Somerset: Bath, Bristol and Taunton; and finally Wiltshire: Salisbury, Marlborough and Swindon. Only a taster of towns; there are plenty more just waiting to be discovered.
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT): http://www.wwt.org.uk/visit-us
Abbotsbury subtropical gardens, Abbotsbury, DT3 4LA; Athelhampton House, Dorchester, DT2 7Lg; Forde Abbey, chard, TA20 4Lu; Highcliffe castle, christchurch, BH23 4Le; Lulworth castle & Park, east Lulworth, Wareham, BH20 5Qs; Minterne gardens; Minterne Magna, Dorchester, DT2 7Au; sherborne castle, sherborne, DT9 3PY.
Berkeley castle, Berkeley, gL13 9BQ; Painswick rococo garden, Painswick, gL6 6TH, sezincote, Moreton-in-Marsh, gL56 9AW; sudeley castle, Winchcombe, gL54 5JD.
Top: The National Waterways museum at Gloucester Docks is next door to the fabulous warehouse Antiques Centre. Credit: Ray Quinton Middle: Outside @Bristol Science Centre. Credit: @VisitBritain / Pavel Libera Bottom: Fantastic fresh food at the Batsford Arboretum, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire. Credit: Ray Quinton Top right: Autumn at Sherborne Castle, Dorset. Credit: Historic Houses Association
Hestercombe gardens, Hestercombe, cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton, TA2 8Lg; Kings Weston House, Kings Weston Lane, Kings Weston, Bristol, Bs11 0ur; Milton Lodge gardens, Wells, BA5 3AQ; Abbey House gardens, Malmesbury, sn16 9As.
Bowood House, calne, sn11 0LZ; corsham court, corsham, sn13 0BZ; Longleat House, Warminster, BA12 7nn; Lydiard House & Park, Lydiard Tregoze, swindon, sn5 3PA.
Willingcott caravan club site “Willingcott re-visited, and it was fantastic! My husband, I and our two terriers have just returned from another great break at Willingcott. The staff is always so friendly, giving you a lovely warm welcome. The location is perfect and the site is quiet and relaxing. There’s easy access to all the beaches – most are dog friendly – and amazing coastal walks. When you visit a place this stunning who needs to go abroad! We’ll be re-visiting many times in the future.” – Di Harvey
lovely open site with grassy areas separated by flower bedecked Devon banks, Willingcott Caravan Club Site is a peaceful retreat out of season. This is the perfect family holiday base at other times of the year with one of the best Blue Flag beaches at nearby Woolacombe, also known as a surfer’s paradise. There are magical sea views with glimpses of Lundy Island from vantage points on the site. For active holidaymakers there’s direct access from the site to the Sustrans Cycle Network and a superb golf course just ten minutes’ walk away. If you are a bird watcher, Braunton Burrow is just seven miles away and for fishing you can enjoy nearby Blakewell Fisheries and Slade Lakes. With miles of coastal footpaths for hardy walkers and dog owners, this holiday getaway offers something special for everyone. Discover Touring
REGIONAL TOURING | SOUTh WEST
Things to do in the south west
Surf’s up in Devon
Compiled by Arthur Newby
Swing for it in Cornwall
Holywell Bay Golf Club is situated on the breathtaking north coast of Cornwall offering panoramic countryside and coastal views overlooking the magnificent Holywell Bay beach. It has an 18-hole par three. Originally purchased as a farm, the golf course was created with a hand-held lawnmower in 1964 and extended as the years went by. The current golf course was redesigned in 2002 and recent aerial photographs have shown that holes 3, 4 and 5 are on top of an ancient burial ground.
The course has first class fairways and immaculate greens making it a competitive for beginners or more advanced players. Membership is available at a very modest cost although you don’t have to be a member to play and no handicap or dress code is required. Advice and golf hire also available. The separate 18-hole pitch & putt has an amazing cliff-hanging 17th hole, which is a real challenge and brilliant fun for both experienced players and novices alike. With thanks to Holywell Bay, 01637 832916, firstname.lastname@example.org
Head to South Hams in Devon and follow signs to Bantham. The beach has to die-for views over to Burgh Island and its famous Art deco hotel . Our task that day was to surf. Although 44, I hold dreams of being in California and surfing. My two youngest are completely agile, so this would make for an interesting experiment. We were booked in with Bantham Surf Academy for a two-hour lesson on a wet and windy day in May. After slipping into a very tight wetsuit and bright yellow top, we were ready to hit the waves. Not so fast, sonny – warm ups first and basic principles. After jumping up and down on the beach pretending to surf our instructor, with a slight raise of eyebrows in my direction, declared we were ready for the real stuff. Cool! The sea conditions that day were good – apparently the best they had been for a while. Remarkably we all got up – and although for a short time only – we did feel that surf freedom that people talk about and understood all to well why some folk create a life out of it. Fantastic day. With thanks to Bantham Surfing Academy, 01548 853803, email@example.com
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REGIONAL TOURING | SOUTh Of ENGLANd
From seaside attractions to inland activities: the south of england is well worth exploring. Compiled by Carol Plunkett & Ann Somerset Miles
f you were beamed from outer space into England’s southern counties, an extraterrestrial visitor could be totally bemused by its diversity of landscape, its wild places, its history and architecture, and its many attractions. From the chunk of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire north of London to the long coastline of the English Channel (white cliffs of Kent and secluded harbours of Sussex and Hampshire), there is so much to discover. Not forgetting of course the inland ‘home’ counties of Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Surrey. Let’s explore the region county
by county, with one or two tasters for the coming season.
Bedfordshire: How many with touring
outfits ignore Bedfordshire because they are driving straight through; up or down the A1 or the M1 motorway, south around London, or to places north? Which is a shame, for it has much to recommend a visit. Its underlying rocks (mostly clays and sandstones) give rise to a changing landscape: in the south lies part of the chalk ridge – the Chiltern Hills – whilst the major northerly section was once watermeadows in the broad drainage basin of the
Great Ouse river and its tributaries. Indeed, its very name stems from the 11th century: Beda’s Ford (or river crossing). Nowadays, Bedfordshire is a mixture of open country and the cosmopolitan towns of Bedford and Luton. Visit the 100-year old Shuttleworth Collection at the Old Warden airfield (easy parking) near Biggleswade: an aeronautical and automotive museum, and one of the most prestigious in the world due to the variety of old and well-preserved aircraft. Or enjoy the serene gardens of Woburn Abbey and follow the information trail and children’s quizzes, and visit the Antiques Centre.
REGIONAL TOURING | SOUTh Of ENGLANd
Main picture: The National Trust’s Stowe Landscape Gardens are superb at any time of year. Credit: Ray Quinton Top left: Camping in the New Forest. Credit: Ray Quinton Middle left: The iconic Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth. Credit: Matt Sills Bottom left: Cycling anywhere around Southern England keeps you fit. Credit: Tourism South East Top right: Autumn – a superb time for walking. Credit: Tourism South East
Discover More: www.experiencebedfordshire. co.uk; www.shuttleworth.org; www.woburn. co.uk/gardens Stay at a CL, or Ashridge Farm CC Site.
Berkshire: West along the M4 ‘corridor’ from London into Berkshire , there’s Windsor, which celebrates Christmas in regal style. Start your seasonal celebrations with a visit to the Castle or skate on the rink in Alexandra Gardens, which will be open daily from10am-8pm. Or attend a carol service at Eton Chapel, join the residents and businesses of Eton for a candle lit procession
to Eton Square for their annual Christmas light illumination: live Reindeer, Father Christmas and a marching band! Have your photo taken with Father Christmas on his sleigh before he returns to Lapland. Discover More: http://www.rbwm.gov.uk/ web/christmas_windsor_eton_events.htm
spectacular views, hidden corners and over 40 temples and monuments, Stowe is the perfect spot for a winter’s walk, or for a meal in the stunning new ‘barn’ restaurant. Discover More: http://www.visitbuckinghamshire.org
Buckinghamshire: This surprising
counties has so much to offer during the winter months. Not only is the New Forest a stunning blaze of colour as autumn strikes but it is also perfect for camping, and for brisk wintry walks with miles of circular and linear walking routes, and traffic-free cycle tracks. It’s a living and working environment; a place where ponies and cattle freely graze the land and help to keep the patchwork of different habitats intact. If the weather turns inclement, nearby Beaulieu provides a respite with its fantastic attraction, the National Motor Museum which this year hosts the largest ever collection of James Bond vehicles. The museum is also now the home of a permanent exhibition celebrating the history of leisure touring caravanning: it showcases The Caravan Club’s unique and historic collection of memorabilia. Visitors can discover the story of the Club, formed in 1907, and learn how the caravan holiday has changed from its beginnings in 1885. From the flag flown by pioneer horse-drawn caravanners to novelty items collected by members in the 50s and 60s, many of the objects, ephemera, film footage and photographs in the exhibition are on public display for the very first time. Visitors can also discover new technologies in the caravan industry, including the u
county contains some of Britain’s national treasures and has many unique and fascinating attractions. The surrounding countryside of the beautiful Chiltern Hills, an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) since 1965, makes this a relaxing destination for seasonal holidaymakers. Visit Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury: built in 1874-89 by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild to display his outstanding collection of art treasures and to entertain the fashionable world. The 45 rooms on view combine the highest quality French furniture and decorative arts from the 18th century. Waddesdon also has one of the finest Victorian gardens in Britain, famous for its Parterre, seasonal displays, shady walks and views, fountains and statuary. Travel to Quainton and visit the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. Exhibits include a coach from the royal train of 1901 and one used by Churchill and Eisenhower in 1944. Steam train rides available. Or visit the National Trust’s Stowe Landscape Gardens just outside Buckingham, with its brand new car park, and experience the satisfying ‘crunch’ of walking on frosty grass in this unique and beautiful landscape garden that includes wide open spaces, wooded valleys, and ornamental lakes. With
Hampshire: This largest of the southern
REGIONAL TOURING | SOUTh Of ENGLANd
Above: Portsmouth (Hants) Christmas Festival. Credit: Jo Monck Top right: Victorian Market, Portsmouth, Hants. Credit: Tourism South East Bottom right: Eating in the new Barn restaurant at Stowe Landscape Gardens, Buckingham. Credit: Ray Quinton
development of the Bailey of Bristol AluTech construction system. Outside the New Forest area, cities such as Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester come alive as Christmas approaches. Winchester’s Christmas Market (running daily from 22nd November to 23rd December) is inspired by traditional German Christmas markets. The pretty wooden chalets are situated in the Cathedral’s historic Inner Close surrounding an open-air real ice rink. Offshore too: with a great range of campsites to choose from, it’s hard to beat boarding the ferry and crossing The Solent to spend a Christmas on the Isle of Wight that you´ll never forget. From a Santa Special ride on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway to the experience of a true Victorian Christmas at Queen Victoria’s favourite residence, Osborne House, you’ll discover magical festive possibilities for all ages. Walk along the famous fossil beaches, ride the chairlift down Alum Bay and gather some of their unusual multicoloured sands or visit Dinosaur Isle for a truly Jurassic experience. Or visit the Garlic Farm, the UK’s largest grower of garlic and learn about growing garlic, garlic for health and the power of garlic – and taste garlic ice-cream! Discover more: http://www.visit-hampshire. co.uk; http://www.campingintheforest.co.uk; http://www.beaulieu.co.uk/beaulieu-events; www.islandbreaks.co.uk.
Hertfordshire: An often forgotten county, Hertfordshire is England’s hidden secret. From picturesque villages to woods, canals
and market towns, all steeped in history. Go exploring: unwind in miles of open countryside – on London’s doorstep, but where villages, hedgerows and open fields seem to belong to a bygone age. Take a walk on the wild side at Paradise Wildlife Park, Broxbourne, where you can get close to some of the world’s most majestic animals, including lions, tigers and zebras. Visit parks or nature reserves such as Winnie the Pooh’s 100 Aker Wood near Elstree. Hertfordshire also offers an ideal shopping experience. If you want top high street names, the larger towns such as St Albans and Stevenage have them a-plenty. Popular chain stores can be found everywhere and there is a chance for bargain hunting at The Galleria, which straddles the A1(M) at Hatfield. Discover more: http://www.hertfordshirelep.co.uk
Kent: The second largest county in southern England, Kent boasts a coastline that stretches from Gravesend on the Thames out to the North Foreland near Margate, south to Dover and on west to Lydd. Inland are the North Downs and the High Weald – an area of mystery and narrow lanes. And how many of us rush through this ‘garden of England’ towards the Channel Tunnel or ferry, ignoring beauty on our own doorstep? Whether you are looking for relaxation and the chance to unwind or for something more active including great fun for younger family members, then Kent has much to offer. Whether you choose award winning attractions and best-known places or smaller
less well-known ‘little gems’, you can stay at home and discover some of Kent’s convenient campsites, knowing that there is much to explore. The choice is yours – from enchanting gardens, historic houses, mysterious castles, cathedrals and country churches to fascinating museums, animal parks, steam trains, amazing maritime heritage and much more. Discover more: http://www.kentattractions.co.uk
Oxfordshire: Oxfordshire lights up the dark days of winter on 23rd November with a spectacular evening lantern parade through central Oxford: live performers in the streets and many of the city’s world famous museums celebrate with dance, music and other welcoming activities. (Make use of Oxford’s excellent park-and-ride facilities.) If fresh air and exercise calls, then a winter cycle trip with Capital Sport, hand-warmers included, followed by tea at the Randolph Hotel before a roaring fire, or a 14-mile river- and canal-side stroll with lunch at a picturesque riverside inn; either will surely appeal. Christmas is a magical time to visit Woodstock’s Blenheim Palace. From 10th November to 14th December inclusive, the Palace will be decorated in the theme of the story of the Three Kings. Visitors will follow the imagined journey of the Three Kings from the Great Hall, past two magnificent Christmas trees and through the State Rooms festooned in exotic silks, to the Saloon where the grand table will be dressed with gilded tableware, shaded by jewel-encrusted golden palm trees. u
na e or ri th ld t f Ma n fie ou rd n o ich 3 ok ha tio r L 201 Lo Orc ruc nea er s st al m ng on n m Ki r c ca su de try ing un ven en o op C
Grove Lock Mari n a “ The friendl y M arina” A
picture is worth a thousand words - as this image at Grove Lock Marina on the Grand Union Canal south of Leighton Buzzard, clearly shows.
Opened in December 2009, this fabulous new marina is the newest owned and managed by Pridewater Estates Ltd - a company dedicated to developing the finest leisure boat marinas on the canal system.
Picture shows Grove Lock Marina on the official Opening Day celebration June 2010
• High level of security • Caretaker on site • Bollards supplying metered electricity and water to every mooring • Top quality toilets and showers • Four Gold Service berths each with a private bathroom • Free WI-FI • Pump out, Elsan, gas and diesel sales
• Ample free parking • 6 acres of attractive landscaped meadows • Peaceful and tranquil atmosphere in a beautiful location • Five pitches each with water and electricity connections exclusively for Caravan Club members
For more information visit To discuss pricing and availability of moorings and caravan pitches call our Caretaker, Paul Catling, on the number below, any day except Wednesday.
Grove Lock Marina, Grove, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire LU7 OQU. T: 01525 377 444 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Castle Combe circuit has joined forces with Discover Touring to offer readers a great opportunity to experience the excitement of driving a racing car around the historic and famous circuit and save 15% on normal prices. opened in 1950, the circuit has seen most of the major names in motorsport competing including drivers such as stirling Moss, Ayrton senna, nigel Mansell and current Formula one commentators David coulthard and Martin Brundle.
You can also follow in the tyre tracks of these illustrious names, experience the thrill of saloon car driving before taking the wheel of a Formula Ford single seater race car. After tuition in the saloon you will be strapped into the racecar; no heater, no radio but sheer performance designed to lap the circuit as quickly as possible.
In the club castle combe is used by many caravan and motorhome clubs who can enjoy a beautiful site just a mile or so from the world famous castle combe village, the scene for filming of steven spielberg’s, Warhorse, and with many events that take place around the 1.85 mile international circuit between mid-March and mid-october
– there is lots to watch as well. Full details on castle combe circuit and the range of Driving xperiences, which make great christmas or birthday presents experiences, can be found at www.castlecombecircuit.co.uk or telephone the circuit office on 01249 782417 for further information. offer ends 31/01/2013. Courses are available from £99.00 – £345.00, but if you are looking for a present as a reader of Discover Touring just book on line at www.castlecombecircuit.co.uk and when prompted add the promotional code of DT2012 and receive a 15% discount on any driving voucher purchased.
Discover Touring 39
REGIONAL TOURING | SOUTh Of ENGLANd
Top left: Autumn in Arundel, West Sussex. Credit: Tourism South East Top right: Steaming through the winter countryside. Credit: Tourism South East Middle: Shopping in The Lanes, Brighton, E.Sussex. Credit: Tourism South East Bottom right: Fresh fish in Hastings, east Sussex. Credit: Tourism South East
Or go shopping. The easy-parking attraction of Bicester Village is well known and Oxford’s compact centre makes Christmas shopping easy. But Oxfordshire’s market towns have much to offer, too, with family butchers, bakers (if not candlestick makers) an inspiration to self-catering campers, caravanners and motorhomers. Indeed, Winter’s an excellent time for some retail therapy. Discover more: www.visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com
Surrey: Surrey has a wealth of autumn and winter attractions: from rural crafts to Christmas carolling at a country house, there is plenty of variety. The beautiful setting of Loseley Park, just outside Guildford, offers an unusual Christmas shopping activity. Sourcing talented makers and designers from all over the UK, a day at Loseley’s Rural Crafts for Christmas event (Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th November, 2012) provides a unique opportunity to work your way enjoyably through your gift-shopping list. On Saturday 8th December, from 8pm to 10pm, 40
nearby Hatchlands Park offers a festive evening of Christmas music and readings, performed by Ayres and Graces. Enjoy complimentary soft drinks, biscuits, mulled wine and mince pies in the tea room. More autumnal culinary experiences are offered at Denbies Wine Estate, near Leatherhead, where you can do everything from making cheese and Christmas puddings – and of course wine, amongst their range of autumn and winter workshops. Discover More: www.visitsurrey.com
West Sussex: It’s not every day that you can pop into a chocolate studio and make your own chocolate, so why not book an appointment with Le Salon Du Chocolat and make some hand made treats. They have a range of workshops and experiences available and whichever you choose, you will go home with a wealth of chocolate and a few tips too! Booking is essential. Set on the outskirts of Chichester at the foot of the glorious South Downs, they are just a stone’s throw from the famous
beaches of West Wittering and Selsey, a mile from Goodwood and its farm shop, and a five-minute stroll from Chichester’s lovely historic town centre. The nearest campsite, which is convenient for the Chichester area, is the pretty Nunnington Farm Campsite at West Wittering. Whilst in the area, why not visit the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust’s Arundel Wetland Centre within sight of the ancient castle? There’s much to see and do on this 65-acre site, with family activities on tap, including their popular boat safari. You’ll be accompanied by an expert to point out the plants and wildlife around you. In autumn, as leaves start to fall, the bare trees make kingfishers easier to spot. There are likely to be numerous migrant wading birds, too, such as black-tailed godwits, green sandpipers and greenshanks, passing through almost every day. Discover more: www.lesalonduchocolat. co.uk; www.camping-in-sussex.com; http://www.wwt.org.uk/visit/arundel
REGIONAL TOURING | SOUTh Of ENGLANd
southland caravan club site “Love this site! We went to Southlands twice last year and had a wonderful time! In fact we are about to make our third trip as soon as the site opens! I am disabled and found the accessible facilities absolutely wonderful, very difficult being mobility impaired when using a caravan site but Southlands make it easy. I would recommend this site to anyone looking for some peace and quiet as outside holiday periods it is lovely!” – A Club Together Member
ituated on the outskirts of a small village in the Isle of Wight’s beautiful Arreton Valley, Southland Caravan Club Site has level and well-drained meadowland pitches with trees and shrubs to give you a peaceful feeling of privacy. Plus the crossing is simple and great value because ferry bookings through The Caravan Club are discounted for members. The caravan park is the perfect base to explore the island, and within easy reach of some of the island’s finest beaches. Nearby Newchurch village is charming, with a pleasant Norman church and a country inn serving fresh hearty food. Slightly further afield there are loads of fun activities available including sea and freshwater fishing, golf, tennis, squash, swimming, horse riding, windsurfing, sailing and more.
Have you dreamed of being a travel writer?
Win a writing commission!
Take yourself back to your school days… What did you always want to become? A fireman? A nurse? A pilot? A teacher? A fashion designer? Towards the top of your list may have been travel writer. Perhaps you never quite realised your dream… Discover Touring wants to hear from caravanners, motorhomers and campers who are aspiring scribes. We’d like to hear about your travel tales, your road trip anecdotes and your homespun or far flung touring experiences – and share them with our readers. Humorous, insightful, reflective: the style and the content are entirely up to you. To enter the Discover Touring travel writing competition all you need to do is send us in your very own touring tale of no more than 250 words. The winner will have their tale published in the next issue of Discover Touring and will be offered a commission to write further touring tales, paid at standard magazine rates. There are two runners up prizes of either men’s or ladies’ sprayway outfits, each comprising top quality jackets, fleeces and pants.
Competition rules: 1: entries of no more than 250 words in a Word document to be sent as an attachment by email to email@example.com before 10th February 2013. 2: please include your name, postcode and telephone number in your email. 3: please do not send photo images at this stage. 4: Judging to be held by Discovery media Group on 11th February 2013. 5: Competition is not open to the family or partners or employees of Discovery media Group or the Caravan Club or competition sponsors. 6: the winner will be notified in writing that they have won the competition (or a runners up prize) on 14th February 2013. 7: All entrants agree to have their accredited touring tale article published in a future edition of Discover touring. 8: entrants’ details will only be used by Discovery media Group to administer the competition winner and runners up, and to make all entrants aware of forthcoming issues of Discover touring. 9: entrants’ details will not be passed on to any third party.
activities | Running
Saving £10 a night makes our Beautifully landscaped with first class facilities, our Club Sites can be found in glorious locations across the whole of the UK. With a choice of over 200 Club Sites and around 2,500 exclusive, small Certificated Location Sites, join The Club and you’re sure to find your perfect site.
Join The Club
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regional touring | MiDDle englanD
Middle England Formerly the industrial heartland of central england, the landscape of the Midlands is as beautiful as any more rural region. Authors: Tanya Aspinwall, Sharon Gilbert, Mark Hibbert, Sarah Kinnersley, Grahame Madge, Ann Somerset Miles and Ian Weightman
regional touring | MiDDle englanD Main picture: On top of the world – the most westerly high point in Middle England – The Malvern Hills. Credit: VisitBritain / Pete Saunders Top: ‘Your car deserves them both.’ Credit Shell Art Collection Bottom: National Trust Christmas lanterns. Credit: NTPL
New motoring art exhibition: the
Heritage Motor Centre near Warwick has teamed up with The Shell Advertising Art Collection to celebrate the best of motoring poster art in ‘That’s Shell – That Was!’ This exciting new vibrant exhibition runs from 15 September until 27 January 2013 and showcases 40 selected Shell posters, characteristic of Shell advertising from the 1920s until the 1950s, and original artworks. A wide range of artists not often associated with commercial art were commissioned to produce poster designs in a variety of styles. Many went on to become famous names in British contemporary art, including Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, John Armstrong, Ben Nicholson and Edward Ardizzone. Stephen Laing, Curator for the Heritage Motor Centre says “We are very excited about staging this colourful new motoring art exhibition with Shell. More than just a celebration of a golden age in British motoring, these posters are now recognised as superb pieces of art in their own right!”
Stoke and the Potteries: Welcome to
he midland counties could be regarded as England’s hub: roads radiate to its centre from all areas of the UK. It is blessed with a circle of campsites and dozens of CLs , all handy for accessing both countryside and city. Yet it is incredibly sad that as a country we are now more famous for what we once made than for the iconic products that sprang from Midlands industry. Home to aviation, coal-mining, railways, canals and the motor-car; from heavy engineering to ceramics and lace-making, we lost not only our manufacturing base, but the skills that were instrumental to the Midland’s success. Yet this rich heritage is not totally forgotten and many former locations that were once thriving are now museums where we can enjoy splendid days discovering the past. And some industry is re-emerging. We can marvel at the rich variety that is Middle England.
the World Capital of Ceramics! Stoke-on-Trent has enough history and heritage to entertain around four million visitors a year. Add to this a couple of the UK’s biggest attractions, and it’s easy to see why a city known worldwide as ‘The Potteries’ has become such a popular – if somewhat unexpected – visitor destination. World-famous backstamps such as Wedgwood and Emma Bridgewater mean almost everyone will have heard of ‘Made in Stoke-onTrent’. But even if factory tours and the chance to buy some of the nation’s finest ceramics are a key reason for visiting The Potteries, there’s plenty more on offer. It’s easy to see why – thanks to the proximity of both Alton Towers and Drayton Manor Theme Park. And The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery is home until 13 September 2013 to over a hundred specially chosen artefacts from the free, family friendly Staffordshire Hoard: Dark Age Discovery. The largest ever find of AngloSaxon gold treasure in the UK, they were discovered in what had been the heartland of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, and are decorated with characteristically stylised intertwined animals. On the edge of Stoke lies The Trentham Estate, an amazing mix of stunning gardens, children’s adventure play area, including the UK’s first Barefoot Walk, the exhilarating high rope adventure Aerial Extreme, and the unique Monkey Forest, home to 140 endangered Barbary Macaques. Add in to the mix Trentham Shopping Village – with u Discover Touring
regional touring | MiDDle englanD Top left: Creswell Crags offers year-round events. Top right: Indoor fun at CountryTastic. Credit: Ray Quinton Bottom left: Tree-climbing at Middleton Lakes RSPB reserve. Credit: Andy Hay rspb-images.com Bottom right: CountryTastic – where’s the piggy? Credit: Three Counties Agricultural Society
shops, cafes and restaurants – and it’s no surprise that the 725-acre Estate offers one of the UK’s most diverse days out. And at Christmas, it is transformed into a seasonal shopping destination – complete with Christmas markets, frosty winter gardens and lakeside ice-skating.
Winter Festivities: Some grand activities within the Midlands over the coming months are being organised at National Trust properties. In particular, to the south of the region, Coughton Court outside Alcester (Warwickshire) is holding a nine day Winter Festival from Saturday 24 November to Sun 2 December. Festive stalls will line the stableyard selling local produce and crafts, whilst the National Trust shop will be trading seasonal gifts and treats from the converted Victorian stables. In the Tudor restaurant, the smell of traditional seasonal fare; mulled wine and mince pies will assail the senses. The celebrations culminate on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 December with the well loved Coughton Court Christmas Wassail. Near Knowle just south of the M42, Baddesley Clinton will be dressed for a traditional
Victorian Christmas. With flickering candles, garlands and a warming log fire, the moated manor house makes a relaxing start to the holiday season. As well as visiting the house take a stroll around the gardens and lake, or work up an appetite on the Estate Walk, a 1.75 mile way-marked trail around the edge of the estate. There are fantastic views and it’s a perfect time of year to spot wildlife and enjoy the winter sunshine. The Barn Restaurant will be serving Christmas lunches and there are some attractive gift ideas in the shop with Christmas cards, decorations, local wine and chutneys.
The Peak District: Historic border country is home to one of Britain’s largest open-air markets with a history stretching back centuries, Chesterfield in north-east Derbyshire will be in a festive mood as the town gears up for its annual Chesterfield Arts and Market Festival, 1-3 November 2012. Music beneath the world famous ‘Crooked Spire’ Church, a ‘Battle of the Beers’ challenge featuring Derbyshire’s finest real ales and a continental market are just some of the treats in store. Elsewhere, follow trails
through the area either by car, on foot or by bike to sleepy villages among green hills before discovering a fascinating garden or stately home – from majestic Chatsworth to the Italianate gardens and vineyard of less well-known Renishaw Hall. A great visit any time of the year is Creswell Crags, a picturesque limestone gorge honeycombed with caves and smaller fissures, internationally recognised as home to Britain’s only known cave art. Featuring some of the most remarkable Ice Age artefacts ever found, the visitor centre offers a wet weather haven too – offering a fascinating glimpse of life during the last Ice Age. And the fairytale Bolsover Castle is always a firm favourite, boasting a Discovery Centre with audio-visual displays, extensive grounds and year-round events.
Birdwatching: It’s easy to escape from the urban areas in the Midlands to the quiet retreat of an RSPB reserve. RSPB Sandwell Valley, just north of Birmingham, is an oasis for wildlife where visitors can find an array of wildfowl, including wigeon, pochard and teal gathered around the island and across
regional touring | MiDDle englanD
Ü Discover More: Bolsover Castle:
Heritage Motor Centre: Top: The time-capsule of Chedham’s Yard. Credit Chedham’s Yard
Middle: Visiting a show at The National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. Credit: Ray Quinton
Bottom: Canal boats in central Birmingham. Credit: VisitBritain / Howard Sayer
Stoke and The Potteries:
National Exhibition Centre: RSPB:
The Trentham Estate: www.trentham.co.uk
The Staffordshire Hoard: www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk.
Ü Discover Where to Stay: www.caravanclub.co.uk and www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
the lake. Tufted ducks migrate to Sandwell Valley escaping the cold to overwinter with the resident wildfowl. Nearby is the newest RSPB reserve of Middleton Lakes, close to Tamworth. In the cold, a wintering bittern maybe found sheltering in the reedbed. Majestic raptors flying overhead can include peregrines, short-eared owls and hen and marsh harriers, highlighting the wealth of species that can be seen here.
Easter Family Treat: If you and your family are thinking of paying a visit to the lovely county of Worcestershire over the Easter holidays next year, then why not call in at CountryTastic (4 April 2013) – a fun-packed food, farming and countryside event for youngsters, their parents and grandparents. Designed to reconnect little ones to the sources of the food they eat, and allow them to see the wonders of British country life in all its glory, the event, held at the beautiful Three Counties Showground in Malvern, Worcestershire, has become an annual popular day out for families from right across the region. It’s all about hands-on, interactive learning activities and a generous portion of fun. There’s lots to
see and do under cover, should April showers threaten. Inside or outdoors, little ones and big ones alike can enjoy milking demonstrations, butter-making, duck-herding, tractor rides, cake decorating, painting, livestock, dray horse rides and donkeys, and there’s plenty of safe green space for children to let off steam, adults to relax, and the whole family to enjoy a picnic.
A unique heritage attraction: To the south of the region lies Chedham’s Yard, the BBC Restoration winning site located in the village of Wellesbourne, Warwickshire. The well preserved ‘time capsule’ and former 19th-century blacksmith’s and wheelwright’s workshop has seen a steady influx of visitors since opening in June. Having won the TV programme in 2006, the charming and unique heritage site has been carefully restored from derelict buildings to a well preserved complex complete with a new oak visitor centre and café serving delicious local produce. The Yard was previously run by five generations of the Chedham family, the last of whom, Bill Chedham, still lives in the village. After closing its doors in 1965, it lay undisturbed for more than 35 years. Thanks
to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the BBC Restoration Trust, visitors are now able to step back in time and gain a wonderful snapshot of working life in the 19th century. The Yard is crammed with over 4,500 artefacts including craftsman’s tools, equipment and items made on site. A programme of activities and special events take place aimed at families including demonstrations from the blacksmith, willow weaving, story-telling and country crafts. The Yard is open to pre-booked visitors every Saturday until the end of October, re-opening next Easter.
Full Circle: And so we have looped around
the region, radiating out and back from the central hub of Middle England and into Birmingham, the UK’s second city, where visitors of all ages and inclinations can always find something of interest at the superb National Exhibition Centre (campsites locally, too). For antiques and craft, model railways and motorbikes, BBC Good Food, sewing and photography – and a whole lot more, visitors come from far afield and all regions for splendid days out in this most central of locations.
regional touring | MiDDle englanD
Blackwall Plantation caravan club site “ This was the first time we had towed our caravan and the first time on a Caravan Club Site and we were delighted with our choice. The reception was very friendly and helpful and we were so grateful to a lovely couple who helped and gave us lots of tips when we were setting up and leaving. The facilities are top class, extremely clean and well maintained and yet the site remained relaxed and we did not feel bombarded by rules. We would definitely stay again and recommend this site. Carsington water is a very short stroll from the site and a lovely place to visit.” – Julie Jordan
estled within an attractive pine plantation, Blackwall Plantation Caravan Club Site, close to the fine market town of Ashbourne, is beautifully landscaped with pitches in open clearings separated by trees. It’s a great base for walkers wishing to explore the scenery of the Valley of Dovedale in the beautiful Peak District National Park. The site is right next to popular Carsington Reservoir, which has a great selection of leisure facilities including fishing, sailing, windsurfing and a children’s playground. There are local villages, all with excellent pubs and restaurants offering hearty food, only a three19:44 RVsales_ad_flat_02A_p4p.pdf 1 06/02/2011 mile stroll away.
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*† Children must be aged 16 years or under to qualify for free entry. Carers accompanying a blue badge holder qualify for free entry. **Booking transaction fee applies, booking closes 16 January 2013 (9pm). KidZone open Friday - Sunday. Information correct at time of going to press.
regional touring | east of englanD
Fronting the North Sea A region of wide skies, undulating countryside and captivating cities, towns and villages.
Contributors: Mark Hibbert, Phillip Harper, Danielle Howard, Grahame Madge, Ann Somerset Miles
Main picture: Anderby Creek on the Lincolnshire coast.
rom the Humber to the Thames, the flatlands of Lincolnshire and East Anglia are perfect for touring – no lowgear hills to cope with! It’s a rural landscape incorporating the Wolds, Fens and Broads, leafy lanes and those big skies arched over all. A painter’s paradise, a walker’s and cyclist’s dream. Cold in winter, but with less rain – wrap up warm and travel towards the shore or stay inland, wherever your fancy takes you. The coastal counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex and the inland shires of Cambridge, Bedford and Hertford, and – in area largest of all, Lincolnshire – all seven are waiting to welcome you.
Lincolnshire; a county for all seasons: whether a break in the
contemporary cathedral city of Lincoln, a brisk winter seaside walk, unspoilt countryside or a spot of cycling or walking, head towards the Lincolnshire. Coast, countryside and market towns offer a mix 50
of indoor and outdoor seasonal charms in Britain’s fourth largest county. There’s more to Lincoln than simply heritage and culture, but it’s a great place to start. From October 2012 onwards, there’s even more history to experience, thanks to a brand new Heritage Skills Centre – the first new building within the imposing Norman castle for more than a century – offering the chance for visitors to view craftsmen at work. And the city offers a sizzling treat at the end of October when Lincoln celebrates the county’s most iconic export – the Lincolnshire Sausage. The BIG Tastes of Lincolnshire Sausage Festival, on Saturday 27th October 2012, is set within the picturesque setting of cobbled medieval streets and dramatic Lincoln Castle. And for Christmas, the city hosts one of Europe’s biggest traditional Christmas markets with colourful stalls nestling around the cobbled square overlooked by the floodlit 12th Century Cathedral, Castle and black and white timberframed buildings.
regional touring | east of englanD
Top: Eastgate, Lincoln. Middle: Kinema in the Woods. Bottom: Scallop Shell sculpture on Aldeburgh Beach.
Around the County: There’s plenty
more seasonal fun to be found elsewhere including the colourful Skegness Christmas Illuminations and Louth Christmas Craft Market, on Sunday 2nd December, with over 150 stalls plus food and drink. Or how about a trip to the pictures? Tucked away in the Edwardian spa town of Woodhall Spa, the Kinema in the Woods must be one of the most unusual cinemas in the country – and has been showing films since 1922. Known as the ‘Flicks in the Sticks’ by the hundreds of servicemen who used it during the 2nd World War, it is believed to be the UK’s only full-time cinema still using rear projection. And where else can you walk ‘til the cows come home’ and also celebrate the works of ‘Olympic’ poet Alfred Lord Tennyson? The Water Rail Way is a riverside walking and cycling path that follows the route of the old Lincoln to Boston Railway Line. Dotted along it are a series of sculptures, mostly by local artists, and all Lincolnshire themed. So, you can
walk as far as the cows (Lincoln Red Cattle, of course) or cycle past Lincolnshire’s own Curly Coat pigs. Other works create a sculpture trail inspired by the poems of Lincolnshire-born Tennyson. Born at Somersby in the Wolds in 1809, his words were chosen to appear on the Athlete’s Wall in London’s 2012 Olympic Village: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” Think of seaside treats and you’ll probably think of Lincolnshire’s famous good oldfashioned bucket and spade family favourite resorts. But there’s a quieter side to the coastline and one that takes on a special feel during the autumn and winter months. Lincolnshire’s Natural Coast might surprise you. There are unspoilt beaches to stroll and nature reserves to watch bird and sea life… or how about an amazing place to see seals? During November and December, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s Donna Nook Reserve, in the north of the county, is home to one of the UK’s most accessible breeding colonies of grey seals.
East Anglia: Farther down the east coast
is Suffolk, whose location means it tends to have a drier, sunnier and less windy climate than most of the UK, making it an ideal place to explore all year round. The county offers some incredible sights and experiences to explore; from the Broads in the north to the beautiful wool towns in the south, the greenery of the west to the actual coast in the east. And the winter and springtime period brings some truly memorable coastal and cultural events which are a must for touring visitors. November 2013 will mark the centenary of Benjamin Britten, the most celebrated British composer of the 20th century who was born and bred in East Anglia and whose music was inspired by Suffolk’s landscapes and seas. Aldeburgh Music is planning a year-long programme from November 2012. As well as events and performances held in his honour at Snape Concert Hall, visitors can enjoy the Benjamin Britten u Discover Touring
regional touring | east of englanD Top: Aldeburgh beach people Credit: Visit Suffolk Bottom left: The iconic avocet at RSPB Minsmere. Credit: David Tipling rspb-images.com Bottom right: On stage at the Theatre Royal, Bury St.Edmunds. Credit: Visit Suffolk Below: Essex beer and oysters. Credit: VisitBritian/Rod Edwards
sculpture ‘The Scallop’ on the shingle beach at Aldeburgh.
A walk on the wildside: There’s
nothing like a walk in the fresh, crisp winter air. October 2012 sees the reopening of The Sailors Path, an ancient route on Suffolk’s heritage coast linking the historic seaside town of Aldeburgh with Snape Maltings, home to the Snape Maltings Centre and world famous Aldeburgh Music Festival. The path gets its name from the sailors who moored at the Maltings to unload goods, only to find their boats stuck at low tide and so had to walk home to their cottages in Aldeburgh. The path became their commuting route. Running for just over six miles, the path offers a variety of landscapes mirroring its position within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). There are views over the meandering River Alde, sheltered sections within the ancient woods of Blackheath Estate, and lovely walks along river walls with views of marshes and reed beds. The surrounding wetlands are a bird-watching paradise and home to the occasional seal.
For bird-spotters and nature lovers, there’s so much to see, hear and experience at the RSPB Minsmere nature reserve: from splendid woodland, rare birds, avocets and terns, otters and bird watching – stay until dusk in winter to witness roosting harriers, swans and starlings returning before warming up with a meal in the tea rooms. Families will enjoy the Wild Zone and Wild Wood Adventure. The Wild Zone has many fun activities including a play tree and the chance to become a bittern or a sand martin! In the Wild Wood Adventure you can build a den and find mini-beasts. Choose an idyllic walk or head to the coastal lagoons to see an impressive variety of birds. Be sure to keep an eye on the reedbeds, too, and take a rest at one of the many lookout points along the way.
Food and the Arts: Suffolk is a mecca for fine food and drink and Bury St Edmunds annual Christmas Fayre is not be missed. Set in one of Britain’s best loved market towns, Bury St Edmunds has plenty else to explore on a rainy day, whether you’re passionate about history, art, shopping or food. For
lovers of the arts, a trip to the Theatre Royal at Bury is essential as it’s the only surviving Regency playhouse in the country and the only theatre under the wing of the National Trust. Festive highlights include A Christmas Carol (19th-21st November, 2012) and Rapunzel and the Rascal Prince (30th Nov 2012-13th Jan, 2013).
A further look around the region: head into Cambridgeshire and
Peterborough; its cathedral boasts one of the country’s most spectacular cathedral west fronts. Highlights include the painted nave ceiling, carved Victorian Choir stalls… and the burial place of two queens. Near to Peterborough is the village of Helpston and John Clare Cottage, birthplace of the man regarded as one of the greatest English poets; he came to be known for his celebratory representations of the English countryside and his lamentation of its disruption – and that in the 19th Century! Anglesey Abbey, Garden and Lode Mill, half way between Cambridge and Newmarket, is a celebrated National Trust garden, with sweeping avenues and classical
regional touring | east of englanD
Ü Discover More: Aldeburgh Music: www.aldeburgh.co.uk
Peterborough & John Clare’s Cottage:
Discover Where to Stay
The Camping & Caravanning Club run 12 sites that stay open throughout the autumn and winter period – and certified sites as well: http://campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
statuary, and magnificent foliage in shades of red and gold making a backdrop to an autumn walk. The spectacular yellow leaves of the field maple make a fine entrance to the temple lawn. Berries along the pilgrim’s lawn provide further colour, while the working water mill and house full of treasures provide plenty to do. Enjoy a brew with a view in the Redwoods restaurant – ideal for relaxing and enjoying the scenery. There’s also the shop with everything from local chutneys to pottery as well as fresh flour ground from Lode Mill, plus a plant centre and second-hand bookshop to enjoy.
More Bird-Watching: A treat for the wildlife enthusiast at any time of year, historic East Anglia has a wealth of wintering birds, from wildfowl to birds of prey. The north Norfolk coast – with its vast skies – comes alive in winter as skeins of pink-footed geese fly from their roosts on the Wash at dawn to inland feeding grounds. The RSPB’s Titchwell Marsh can be the perfect location to witness this sense-filling spectacle. RSPB Lakenheath – a restored part of the Fens – is becoming
a centre for cranes, and in winter the birds Top: The west front of Peterborogh cathedral are perhaps slightly easier to see; whilst Bottom: Autumn colours at Anglesey Abbey, at Norwich’s RSPB Strumpshaw Fen, the Cambridgeshire. Credit: NTPL, Richard Todd reserve abounds with teals, gadwalls and shovelers who flock to the reedbeds to over-winter.
There’s a lot more to discover:
in these Eastern counties than space allows in this issue – so do look out for our fifth edition in time for Easter 2013.
Left: Surveying at the RSPB Lakenheath reserve. Credit: Norman Sills rspb-images.com Above: Thames Gateway Futurescapes RSPB reserve on the South Essex Marshes. Credit: Eleanor Bentall rspb-images.com Discover Touring
regional touring | east of englanD
cambridge cherry Hinton caravan club site “Visit to Cambridge Cherry Hinton: what a great site, clean, well run by friendly staff. The pitches were placed well into the landscape. Places to eat only a short walk away as is the bus stop with a frequent service into the centre of Cambridge. Booked a combined walking tour of the city and a punt along The Backs on the River Cam. You do not need to use both tickets on the same day. Open top bus tour and a visit to American War Cemetery are a must do. A two-week visit gave us a chance to see only a fraction of the places we wanted to see. Roll on our next visit. There is something for everyone whatever your taste”. – Mr Hassall
his is a fascinating and quirky site set in an ancient quarry works, within an area of Special Scientific Interest. Cambridge Cherry Hinton Caravan Club Site has been imaginatively landscaped to create the impression of being in the heart of the countryside but in reality it is right on the edge of the city. It’s only a ten-minute bus ride to the city centre of beautiful Cambridge and there are also very good cycling paths from the site into and around Cambridge. You have easy access to guided walking tours of the nearby medieval colleges where you can enjoy the atmosphere that makes the city famous. Wander along the River Cam to see colleges like Corpus Christi, Magdelene and the Bridge of Sighs. Don’t forget to visit world-famous Duxford Air RVsales_campsites_uk_ad_p4p_3.pdf 1 08/09/2011 Museum while you’re in the area.
Simply ‘click and search’ for whatever you want for your ideal touring holiday www.campsites-uk.co.uk
From trauma to wonder a caravanner’s tale by Club Member David Hunter
Way back in 1989 we took out
Caravan Insurance with The Club. We did this primarily because we wanted to support The Club but also because it offered specialised caravan insurance. Last autumn we were truly thankful we had made that decision. On the way to Dover all was going well, we were looking forward to another wonderful touring break, when disaster struck.
We were involved in a truly traumatic accident that resulted in our beloved caravan being written-off.
Fortunately because I’d insured with The
Club I had a ‘new for old’ policy. But it was the way we were dealt with that was completely staggering. It was exemplary, there’s really no other word. Everybody along the line was helpful as well as professional. I really felt the trauma of the
accident was mitigated by the fact that everyone was so helpful and informative. We were kept in the loop all along the way. We were given the option of having the cost of the caravan or a replacement.
n the end we chose to take the cost and were able to choose the caravan that suited us and of course we’ve insured it with The Club.
Top 5 tips when choosing insurance The Club knows that your caravan is one of the most precious and valuable things you own. So it makes sense to ensure the insurance policy you choose does offer the
protection you want. Whoever you choose to insure with, the helpful hints below will ensure you’re on the right track to finding a policy that is right for you.
All insurance policies vary – make sure the one you choose meets all your requirements
Get several quotes and compare the cover on a like-for-like basis e.g. sum insured for the caravan, the equipment, contents and excess – then compare the price
Make sure that you can meet any policy terms and conditions. For example, are there storage or security requirements? Check exclusions or limitations
Did you know?
Ask trusted friends about their insurance experiences and arrangements
If you tour abroad, check how much continental cover you get with your policy
Any surplus income generated from the scheme goes into enhancing Club Sites and services.
7 good reasons to insure with your Club 1
Designed by caravanners for caravanners
New-for-old benefit of 5 years and 15 years available
Cover for caravan, equipment and contents
Loss of use and personal accident benefit
No-claims discount of up to 35%
Dedicated Caravan Claims team with 40 years experience
As you would expect, an unbeatable package of quality cover, at a competitive price, exclusively for members
Find out more or get a quote online at:
www.caravanclub.co.uk/DT4insure or call 01342 488061 Opening hours 9.00am – 5.30pm Mondays to Fridays. Calls may be recorded. The Caravan Club Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
The Club’s Caravan Insurance Scheme is the largest caravan insurance scheme in the UK. It was created exclusively for members in 1972. 40 years on we can now call upon a wealth of experience and knowledge in this essential area.
Regional TouRing | Wales and BoRdeRs
Wales and the Welsh Marches some of the most stunning of uK landscapes welcome visitors this autumn and winter. Authors: Sara Whines, Pat Edgar, Richard Fishbourne, Nina Jukes & Ann Somerset Miles
Main picture: Dawn in Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park (Forest of the Kings.) Forestry Commission
ou will always find a warm welcome in the principality of Wales – which with the English border counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire offers so much to the touring visitor, no matter what the season. In years past, boundaries shifted and changed, with Offa’s Dyke acting as a near impenetrable boundary. Now the division is seamless, and yet whether you are exploring Welsh Marcher country or Wales itself, you are unlikely to be disappointed.
Starting in Wales: Cwtch – cuddle – up
by the fire or pull on your gloves and head out into the country. Whichever, Wales has something for everyone this winter. There’s nothing better than a cosy Welsh inn after a long winter walk or a muddy mountain bike ride, and Wales is full of places to explore whatever the weather. Walkers can now enjoy wild winter rambles by the sea on the Wales Coast Path, which was opened earlier this
year and is the first continuous path around the edge of any country in the world. The stunning bays of Pembrokeshire are equally beautiful in winter as in summer, and can often look even more dramatic, whilst the more sheltered Cardigan Bay area is perfect for those looking for beauty, without wanting to get too windswept! Inland, the Clwydian Range AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) has some fantastic walks and Snowdonia’s snow dusted peaks look fantastic at this time of year. For mountain bike enthusiasts, or simply groups who want to try it out for the first time, Afan Forest Park with its panoramic trails for all abilities, is located just off the M4 – perfect for those wanting to reach fantastic riding, fast!
Food Heaven: Of course, not everyone will be looking for an active adventure and many will have food on their mind! Whether looking for interesting foodie gift items or just
Regional TouRing | Wales and BoRdeRs
Top: Nash Point on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. Credit: ©VisitBritain / Rod Edwards Middle: Late autumn produce. Credit: ©VisitBritain / Joanna Henderson Bottom: Cardiff Bay and Millennium Centre. Credit: ©VisitWales
a seriously good meal, the Brecon Beacons is a tough act to follow. This area of south Wales is overflowing with top-notch producers and award-winning restaurants. Local producers include smokeries, cheese makers, chocolate makers and even the Penderyn Whisky Distillery. There are also regular farmers’ markets in Abergavenny, Brecon and Llangynidr.
Christmas Markets, Christmas Shopping: For those looking to really
embrace the festive spirit, this year’s Welsh Christmas markets offer something for everyone. Cardiff Christmas Market (15th November to 23rd December 2012) is a great choice for foodies, with local Welsh wines and cheeses as well as traditional crafts, whilst Caerphilly Medieval Christmas Fayre (10th / 11th December 2012) allows you to take a step back in time with a host of festive goodies. Alternatively wrap up warm
and head to Cardiff or Swansea to enjoy the open-air ice rinks and festive fairground rides. But what is Christmas without at least a few days of Christmas shopping? With new shopping centre as well as some of the cutest shopping arcades in the country, Cardiff is fast becoming one of the UK’s most stylish shopping destinations. Alternatively, towns across Wales offer any array of chain free shopping options. Try Conwy and Mumbles for a host of boutiques and antique shops or Abergavenny for top-notch delis.
New Year Festivities & Winter Activities: After Christmas itself comes
New Year and the Welsh have a tradition of descending on Cardiff to enjoy live music, great food, ice-skating, funfairs and fireworks, with many of the celebrations taking place at Cardiff Castle or Cardiff City Hall. Other celebrations including the Nos Galan road race, a five-kilometer-run in the Cynon Valley
in south Wales which celebrates its 54th anniversary in 2012. On New Year’s Day, it is customary to exchange bread and cheese, so don’t be confused if you find yourself presented with a lump of caerphilly! Even after the festivities, there’s lots of winter activities for all ages, from Wales’ fabulous museums including Cardiff ’s new National Art Gallery and the unfailingly interesting St Fagan’s Museum. To delve deeper into Welsh heritage on a rainy day, try a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site at Blaenavon, where you can go deep into an old mine; discover science at Techniquest in Wrexham, or run into some daleks at the brand new Doctor Who Experience, due to open in time for winter 2012.
Back to the Countryside & Coast – Pembrokeshire: Unspoilt landscapes,
towns and villages will enthral those who tour in this far corner of South West u
Regional TouRing | Wales and BoRdeRs
Top left: : A site of pilgrimage: St.David’s Cathedral, Pembrokeshire. Credit: Visit Pembrokeshire Top right: The wonderful Wye is the public’s favourite river. Credit: Richard Fishbourne Bottom left: Feeding time for red kites at Bwlch Nant-yr-Arian. Credit: Fores try Commission Bottom right: Hiking in the Brecon Beacons. Credit: Visit Wales
Wales with awesome scenery and a range of outdoor activities and attractions to visit. The coast path, long sandy beaches and small private coves become the domain of walkers, often with their dogs now that the beach restrictions have been relaxed. With 186 miles of coastline, mostly within the National Park, there’s more than enough space for everyone. Pembrokeshire also boasts an impressive array of man-made attractions, from ancient castles and historic sites to museums and galleries open to visitors all year round. These include Pembroke and Carew castles, the Castell Henllys reconstructed Iron Age Hill Fort and St Davids Cathedral; acclaimed as one of Wales’ greatest monuments it qualifies St Davids as the smallest city in Britain. Unique to the UK is the Flying Boat Centre in the historic dockyard at Pembroke, which was the base for the world’s largest flying-boat station in WWII. Families with younger children will enjoy Folly Farm Adventure Park, near Kilgetty which is open every weekend. Kids can touch and feed the friendly animals at the attraction, which has several wet-weather options including the largest undercover vintage fun fair in Europe. Also open all 58
year for families is the Heatherton Sports Park, near Tenby which has a range of activities from a tree-tops trail to archery, bumper boats and laser clay shooting.
Bird watching in Carmarthenshire: There’s much to spot
and enjoy on the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust reserve at Llanelli, on the south coast. In autumn, little egrets create a comical sight as several attempt to roost in the same tree whilst high tides push migrating waders closer to the shore and the hides. As winter approaches, the estuary fills with up to 50,000 waterbirds, with rarities like the bittern sometimes among them; up above, birds of prey are hunting and, as dusk falls, may include representatives from all five native species of owl. And as spring returns, lapwing and shelduck begin their noisy courtships; wild orchids are among the many wildflowers coming into bloom; the first of the new season’s ducklings hatch.
Back to the Forest: Head for the Forestry Commission Wales centre at Bwlch Nant-yr-Arian, about nine miles due east from the mid-Wales coastal resort of Aberystwyth, for the daily red kite feeding
sessions at 2pm. Red kite feeding can be at its most spectacular during the winter. With less natural food around, up to 200 of these magnificent birds swoop from the heavens to be fed beside the visitor centre. When the show’s over, why not take a stroll around the lake or, if you fancy something more energetic, tackle one of the world class mountain bike trails? Head north and you’ll find Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park, near Dolgellau. Open seven days a week, it has something for everyone, from wheelchair and pushchair friendly walks to challenging mountain bike trails, orienteering and running routes, geocaching and MP3 audio trails. The walk to the Pistyll Gain waterfall is especially spectacular in the autumn and winter and there’s also a visitor centre offering great local food to warm you up!
From Wales to the Welsh Marches:
Two of our great rivers – the Severn and the Wye – rise in Wales, yet are at their most spectacular as they pass through English Counties. In 2010 the ‘Our Rivers’ campaign awarded the wonderful River Wye the accolade of the public’s favorite river. It has a soft serenity through its entire reach, which is oh so enchanting. The lower reaches of the
Regional TouRing | Wales and BoRdeRs
Ü Discover More: Wales:
www.visitwales.co.uk and www.visitpembrokeshire.com
Blists Hill Victorian Museum: www.ironbridge.org.uk
www.forestry.gov.uk (click on Wales)
Discover Where to Stay: Top: A twisting Herefordshire lane in Autumn. Credit: ©VisitBritain / Britain on View Bottom left: Meet Santa at Blists Mill this Christmas. Credit: Ironbridge Gorge Museums
There are 19 caravan club sites in Wales and five in the Welsh Marches – plus dozens of hidden-away cLs just waiting to be discovered.
Bottom right: Cwm Idwal in Snowdonia. Credit: Michal Tekel
Wye Valley AONB that wind progressively through Ross-on-Wye, the Peregrine infested limestone gorges of Symonds Yat, Monmouth and past the dramatic ruins of Tintern Abbey, are of course very distinct from the boulder strewn plunges, shuffling away from upstream Rhayader. As the river joins forces with the Irfon at Builth Wells it doubles in size as it oozes along, only a stone’s throw away from the Royal Welsh Showground. At this point it is still not legally navigable. Having chuckled over many miles of pool and riffle between Builth and Gladestry the Wye then offers a unique opportunity to visitors in it’s legally navigable disposition all the way down from Gladestry to the Bristol Channel.
Exploring History: If you’d rather be exploring old buildings in the Marcher Counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire, rather than taking riverside walks, here’s a couple to whet your appetite. English Heritage take care of Stokesay Castle near Ludlow (SY7 9AH) and Wroxeter Roman City (SY5 6PH). Both in Shropshire, the evocative Stokesay Castle is one of the finest and best preserved fortified medieval manor houses in England; visitors can explore the
castle, timber framed gatehouse, moat and parish church. Wroxeter City was the fourth largest city in Roman Britain and today the city comes alive with a replica town house and remains of a 2nd century bath house. An audio tour and fabuloius site museum reveal how Wroxter worked in its heyday, and the health and beauty practices of its 5,000 citizens.
Going Back in Time: Perfect for winter visiting is Blists Hill Victorian Town, open seven days a week. It’s one of the ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums in Shropshire (TF7 5DU), with a variety of special events and something for every member of the family. Amongst many festivities, ‘residents’ at Blists Hill will be busy preparing for Christmas over the two weekends of 8th-9th and 15th-16th December; open 10.00am-4.00pm. Go along to experience the atmosphere of a bygone era and you will be treated to an array of traditional celebrations from the 1800s, listen to stories of life more than 100 years ago, and have a chance to do some Christmas present shopping. Mr Morton’s Christmas Celebrations will see the magnificent Iron Rolling Mill transformed into a place for a
‘workers Christmas party’ where you will be able to enjoy festive food and a wide variety of seasonal entertainment, including a singa-long with carol singers around the town. Then next Easter, you can join the residents again as they celebrate Easter over the Bank holiday from Friday 29th March to Monday 1st April. A highlight will be the unusual pastime of egg dancing and a ‘hunt-thechick’ competition.
Take your Camera: The spectacular
scenery in this region will have you reaching for your camera time and time again. Winter is an excellent time for photography as the light is invariably softer and the sun less harsh. An amateur photographer, Michal Tekel, got it right when he was visiting Snowdonia National Park, and entered his photo in a competition launched by the UK Association of National Park Authorities. Michal said, “I took this photo because it was a really breathtaking view – it was the combination of the mountains surrounding the lakes that I thought was really special.” And that’s what Wales and the Marches country is all about: green rolling hills, rugged rock, soaring mountains, reflective lakes and thousands of acres of sky.
Regional TouRing | Wales and BoRdeRs
Tredegar House country Park caravan club site “ We spent last New Year here with friends. The wardens were very welcoming and the site is nicely laid out with an ornamental lake in view. Tredegar House is very beautiful and also has a cafe open nearly all year… On the way home we visited the RSPB site at Newport. It is a wonderful place with full facilities and you can even walk dogs round the outer edges, really worth a visit for all ages.” – A Club Together Member.
redegar House Country Park Caravan Club Site is perfectly placed only seven miles from the beautiful town of Cardiff, with its castle, National Museum, Bay Development and vast shopping centre. Situated only a mile from the M4 motorway the Country Park boasts a 17th century orangery and garden, woodland, walled gardens and adventure playground open throughout the year. The seven-acre site is delightful with an exquisite ornamental lake and offers 79 generously sized pitches. Take the opportunity to visit Tredegar House, which is often described as one of the architectural wonders of Wales. Recognised as one of the most significant 17th century houses in the whole of the British Isles, it’s open between Easter and September. During your stay, don’t forget Newport’s other attractions – close to the caravan park you can visit the restored Transporter Bridge, Pwll Mawr (Big Pit mining museum), Roman Caerleon and the lovely Wye Valley.
Win a fantastic holiday
at one of 6 stunning Cornish locations
INDEPENDENT, TOP QUALITY GRADED, FAMILY TOURING AND HOLIDAY PARKS
£3,000 of touring and static holidays to be won!
To ENTEr: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the answer to the following question:
What is the Cornish word for Cornwall? 1. Cymru 2. Cornouaille 3. Kernow Terms and condiTions: 1: The competition is jointly set up and administered by Discover Touring (the Promoter) and Cornwall’s Finest Parks (the Sponsor). 2: No purchase necessary. 3: Winners will be drawn at random from all correct entries received by email on or before 31st March 2013. 4: Winners will be notified by email from the Promoter on or before 7th April 2013 and will be put in contact with Cornwall’s Finest Parks who will administer the prizes and confirm bookings. 5: Prizes totalling a value of over £3,000 comprising selected weeks staying on selected Cornwall’s Finest Parks, either in a static caravan or on a touring pitch. 6: Dates and accommodation types are subject to availability at time of booking. 7: Participating parks include: Newperran, Tehidy, Trethiggey, Trevella, Porth Beach and Hendra. 8: The booking conditions of individual parks also applies. 9: Additional on site services, outside of accommodation, are not included in the competition prizes. 10: The prizes have no cash value or alternative and are not transferable. 11: The value shown in the competition is the maximum available within the valid from/to dates, the actual value of the prize is deemed to be that of the period booked by the winner. 12: Only bookings for families and couples can be accepted. 13: The Promoter reserves the right to end the competition at any time without prior notice. 14: Winners names will be published in the Spring 2013 edition of Discover Touring. 15: By entering the competition you agree that Discover Touring, as Promoter, and Cornwall’s Finest Parks, as Sponsor, may contact you from time to time by email with relevant information and offers. 15: Under no circumstances will your email address or other personal data be shared with or handed over to a third party, other than for the administration of prizes. 60
Regional TouRing | HeRefoRdsHiRe
Tipping over the edge Author: Ben Lane
A few days on the river Wye messing about in canoes is a great way to see a slice of Herefordshire countryside.
Left top : Quick to settle in. Left bottom: Ready for war with the neighbouring ‘tribe’. 62
fter a thorough briefing on the art of paddling a canoe by the Tipi Adventure crew, we are ready to be let loose downstream, alone, to find our campsite for the night. We soon get the hang of this ‘art’ and buoyed by our forward momentum in sturdy Canadian canoes on the River Wye – a great deal of tension is released. We have two canoes and so we opt for an all-boys’ crew versus an all-girls’ one. Our task that day is to reach base camp, some six miles downstream – our home that night would be a Native American tipi. Three hours downstream and we are still moving on gamely. We decide a competition is a good idea – first to base camp wins. One small thing: I own the map and only I know the exact whereabouts and distance to our end point. With this small advantage, I begin to pace our canoe to better effect, coaxing it on rhythmically, as we near the final stages.
Regional TouRing | HeRefoRdsHiRe
Main: : The race to the campsite is on. Top: A fire inside a tent seems so wrong, but then again, so right. Bottom: Mastering the fine art of paddling.
Picking up the stroke We are just a few hundred metres away; I know that, so I signal to my sailors up front to pick up the stroke. We move ahead by a short nose. The girls have not seen our push. We pick up the pace again – they realise our intent and respond with quicker strokes and screeches. Neck and neck we bolt down the Wye. There is not much in it when we round the final spur and spy a pontoon in the distance. Both canoes dig deep and we start to converge as we make a beeline for the best route round the bend. And then it happens: our vessels collide with an almighty wallop – a possible disaster is only just averted. Our adventure has really begun. The race is declared over. We manage ever so carefully the last few strokes to the pontoon in order to arrive in good shape, in one place and in time for tea, food and a fire. At the pontoon we clamber out from the canoes and scramble up a bank of grass to spy our home for the night. This is the
next big thing in camping – the tipi – often (wrongly) called a wigwam. You are positively encouraged to light a fire inside, which is naturally counter-intuitive in camping lore. You are left to your own devices – and expected to survive on your own wits (emergency numbers are given out, but it has to be serious to make a call – running out of milk is not considered serious). We settle into our campsite quickly and wave at our one and only neighbour – camped some 100 metres away; they wave back cheerily. We make home, hang out our damp clothes to dry and light the barbecue. The surrounding countryside is truly beautiful – behind there is a wide-open field full of doleful brown cows and in front there is a high tree-lined escarpment – no buildings or other members of the human race (apart from our neighbours) are visible. We are truly in the wilderness. We sleep well that night and awake with that sense of freedom that is hard found in the usual hustle and bustle that is the UK.
The next day, we manoeuvre our canoes further downstream to our pick up point – and are duly returned to our motorhome and its homely mod cons to continue our tour of the region. We reflect on this experience and conclude that – in terms of camping under canvas – this was one of the best trips ever.
Ü Discover More: canoe england has over 400 Affiliated clubs and over 200 local Approved centres. of those clubs and centres more than 100 have sport england clubmark accreditation. centres usually offer a range of courses and programmes from beginner taster sessions to advanced skills, as well as fun days and group or individual tuition. www.gocanoeing.org.uk Trip organised by Tipi Adventure, 01432 870 700, info@tipiadventure co.uk
Regional TouRing | noRTheRn england
The Glorious North Diverse counties with proud traditions and stunning countryside. Authors: Anthony Yates, Debbie Sharratt, Phillip Harper, Grahame Madge, Ann Somerset Miles
Main image: Tarn Hows in the Lake District. Credit Visit Britain, Britain on View
he huge hunk of land that lies between England’s midland counties and Scotland is so diverse, it takes a while to get to know, and certainly more than one holiday to visit even a half of it. Down-to-earth and yet sophisticated, with wilder spaces to discover and explore: hills, valleys, moorland and mountains. The Peak District to the south, and either side of the ‘backbone ‘ – the Pennines, which act as a watershed for the great rivers of Ouse and its tributaries in the east, and in the west the Mersey, Dee and Ribble. North towards the Wear and Tyne with the Cumbrian mountains and Lake District way to your left as you drive up the A1(M) or M6. And further north still – the Esk and Tweed, and the Cheviot Hills, which together form the boundary with Scotland.
In the East: Dominating the area in
terms of size is Yorkshire with its delectable Dales, rugged North Yorkshire Moors and subtle Wolds. Discover the less well-known landscape of the East Riding (in which The Yorkshire Wolds are situated), for it is the one which has inspired one of our greatest living artists, David Hockney. It can now be explored more ways than ever before – on foot, and by bike. Hockney’s most recent exhibition, ‘A Bigger Picture’, at the Royal Academy in London, took the nation by storm at the start of 2012, and helped to show the stunning Yorkshire Wolds in a completely new light. This golden triangle of picturesque countryside – with York to the west, Bridlington to the east, and Hull to the south – is filled with fresh air, fabulous views and fascinating market towns and villages.
Regional TouR TouRing | noRTheRn england challenge of the new 150-miles ‘Yorkshire Wolds Cycle Route’.
Head north for some city enjoyment: Durham, recently
Particip ating in a Big Sk Bike Rid ies e. Credit Visit Hull Yorkshir & East e
Middle: Marshside RSPB reserve on the Ribble estuary . Credit Andy Hay RSPB-images
Hockney produced his iconic works of art featuring the region’s sweeping roads, majestic skyscapes and rolling hillsides. The gentle hills, tranquil trails and country pubs make this ideal walking country for both the experienced walker and the strolling novice.
Walking or Biking: Looking for a long distance trail? Then the 79-miles of peaceful walking on the Yorkshire Wolds Way could be for you. New to walking? Then ‘Try A Trail’ walks from the villages and market towns of Welton, Market Weighton, Thixendale and Settrington sample short sections of the Wolds Way national trail using a new pack of walks – Walk the Wolds. Featuring 15 individual, artistpainted route cards for walks of varying lengths, and degrees of difficulty, these can
Autumn sunl ight in the Yo rkshire Wolds Credit Visit Hul . l & East Yorksh ire
now be purchased from all local Tourist Information Centres or online. Another new initiative is the Big Skies Bike Rides, which help to illustrate exactly why this hidden corner of England is such a perfect place for some peaceful exploration on two wheels. Taking full advantage of the fact that the Yorkshire Wolds offers miles of country lanes and quiet roads, these eight well-marked circular bike trails, ranging in length from 17 to 24 miles, start from stations on the Yorkshire Coast railway line, and from Malton Railway Station. All trails are in the recently published visitors’ guide, ‘Yorkshire Wolds & Beyond’, as well as online. Keener cyclists, meanwhile, are likely to be tempted by the
voted the best destination city in England by Guardian readers, is the jewel in the crown of an extraordinary county. The dramatic skyline is one of the most stunning city panoramas in Europe, dominated by Durham Cathedral and Castle World Heritage Site. Gourmet treats, original crafts and antiques are just some of the temptations on offer in the specialist shops and markets, tucked alongside cosmopolitan restaurants and elegant boutiques on Durham city’s winding lanes and in the county’s market towns. Stay on the Grange Caravan Club Site, open all year round and only 2.5 miles from the city. Winter brings a wealth of activities and events to the county which are well worth getting wrapped up for. The Durham City Food Festival returns for a unique celebration of regional, national and international food. Between 27th / 28th October, there will be a gourmet food marquee on Palace Green with demonstrations by worldrenowned Michelin-starred chef, Jean-Christophe Novelli and other quality regional chefs as well as local and continental markets. Durham Book Festival with its annual celebration of all things books takes place in October (ends on 30th) when a host of household names take over the city with book-based discussions and interactive events. Both Beamish (NW of Durham city) and Durham Christmas festivals offer a wide range of festive entertainment for all the family. And don’t miss the ‘Lucile in the Year of the Titanic’ exhibition, on show at The Bowes Museum (Barnard Castle) until January. It’s an exhibition centred on an exquisite wedding dress of 1912, designed by Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon, in the year she was rescued from the ill-fated Titanic. Lucy, known as Lucile, was the first British designer to achieve international renown. Her clients included royalty, aristocracy and theatre stars. She was most famous for her tea gowns, lingerie and evening wear.
Searching for Castles and Gardens: English Heritage properties
will not disappoint you up north. u
Regional TouRing | noRTheRn england Seek out Carlisle Castle in Cumbria (CA3 8UR), which for nine centuries has dominated the city. Explore its ancient furnished chambers, stairways and dungeons, with the ‘licking stones’ parched Jacobite prisoners used for moisture to stay alive. Or Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, near Morpeth, (NE20 0DX); a ruined medieval castle enlarged into a Jacobean mansion, Greek revival villa and 30 acres of outstanding Grade 1 registered gardens. Climb to the top of the tower for stunning views across Northumberland. In the south of the region near Doncaster, Yorkshire, is Brodsworth Hall and Gardens (DN5 7XJ), a beautiful Victorian country house. Inside you will find possessions that took more than 130 years to gather together, from the grandest piece of furniture to family mementoes and humble domestic items, all still in their original place. For opening times, visit English Heritage online. National Trust properties are as stunning in the autumn and winter as they are at any other time of the year. In the west is Lyme Park in Cheshire (SK12 2NR), which nestles on the edge of the Peak District, and sits within a 1,300 acre park featuring sweeping moorland, stunning views and elegant formal gardens. The Hall itself surveys wooded slopes, the lake and the Lime Avenue, providing memorable scenery especially in the autumn months, when the colours change with the seasons. Then there’s the World Heritage Site of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, near Ripon, Yorkshire (HG4 3DY), where you can explore the extensive ruins of the Cistercian abbey and discover the elegant temples, neoclassical statues, canals and moon-shaped ponds of the Royal Water Garden. And not far from the conurbation of Newcastle upon Tyne is Gibside (NE16 6BJ) – an 18thcentury landscape garden on a spectacular scale, a haven for nature and a taste of the country on the edge of the city. With events every weekend, discover fine views, winding paths and refreshing open spaces while exploring elegant buildings and ruins.
Coastal Delights: The north is blessed with a coastline on both its flanks; stunning on a hot day, yet winds can whip the sea into a frenzy in winter months when even a brisk walk along the shore becomes a challenge. Don’t neglect the hinterland – those areas that we all too often drive through in our rush to reach the coast. For therein lie so many delights. For a more gentle pursuit, go bird-watching at the RSPB’s Marshside Reserve on the Ribble Estuary. A carefully conserved wilderness, yet only a couple of miles from the seaside metropolis of Southport and its CC campsite, a day spent at the reserve may well bring a welcome respite. Indeed all of northern England is rich in 66
Enjoying a proper York shire tea. Credit Visit H ull & East Yo rkshire.
Abbot Hall Art Gallery. on Credit Historic Houses Associati Top: Durham – best destination city in England Credit Visit County Durham right: Belsay Hall Castle and Gardens. Credit English Heritage
wildlife. The main bird spectacles occur on lowland wetlands and along the shoreline, where tens of thousands of ducks, geese and wading birds throng together to spend the winter, especially along the ‘softer’ parts of the coast, where the land merges almost imperceptibly into the sea. On the east coast the Humber and Morecambe Bay dominate in terms of number of birds, and the visitors to the RSPB’s Blacktoft Sands and Leighton Moss (respectively) will see a richness of birdlife. Visitors to these sites and to the RSPB’s Saltholme reserve, in the industrial heart of Middlesbrough, can witness thousands of wading birds jostling for position on mudflats.
Finding History: the north is rich
in historic houses and garden, open throughout the autumn and winter period – though check the website of the Historic Houses Association for individual property details. In Cheshire, visit the distinguished black-and-white timber framed Tudor Manor House of Bramall Hall, Stockport, Cheshire (SK7 3NX), set in 66 acres of
parkland. Or Tatton Park, Knutsford (WA16 6QN) – one of the north’s most impressive historic estates; enjoy the 50 acres of Gardens, an historic Mansion, a Tudor Old Hall and a 1930s working Farm. Cumbrian locations include Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal (LA9 5AL), an exquisite venue on the edge of the Lake District. Brantwood at Coniston (LA21 8AD) with spectacular views across Coniston Water was the home of eminent Victorian, John Ruskin, from 1872 until his death in 1900. All areas of the original house and those which he himself added, are open to the public. Most of the furniture and all the paintings and objects are original to the house. The 250-acre estate comprises eight distinctive gardens, ancient woodland, high moors and pastures which feature Ruskin’s own experimental landscape ideas. And whilst heading up the A1 through Northumberland towards Scotland, stop off at Bamburgh Castle (NE69 7DF), a royal stronghold dating back to 547 AD, with a huge square Norman keep dominating the coastal sand dunes and views across to legendary Lindisfarne.
n n Ow ow ome 5* ur H 99 yo day £6, li y Ho onl om fr Fantastic
Facilities Opened 2012
Fabulous Holidays on the Beautiful East Yorkshire Coast
County Durham: www.thisisdurham.com
Sand le Mere is an independently run Holiday Village nestled on the East Coast of Yorkshire and surrounded by stunning countryside, natural parkland & sandy beaches.
English Heritage: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/ properties/ Historic Houses Association (HHA): www.hha.org.uk National Trust Gardens: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gardens RSPB: www.rspb.org.uk Walking & Cycling, East Yorkshire: www.visithullandeastyorkshire.com and www.visithullandeastyorkshire.com/sports/ cycling-downloads.aspx
We invested over £4m in 2012 in our stunning new facilities including: • Indoor swimming pool with splash zone & wet play areas. • Brand new entertainment complex with loads to do and lots of places to eat! Plus • Caravan & Luxury Lodge holidays available and a fantastic new touring field. *Terms and conditions apply. Offer is subject to availability and applies to new bookings only. Check our website or call for more information.
Call us on 01964 670 403 (Discover Touring) Book online www.sand-le-mere.co.uk
Park coppice caravan club site “I caravan on my own, with my dog, and I have arthritis so I really appreciate the layout of the site with easy access to the dog walk. The friendly staff make sure I am on a pitch close to the service point and excellent toilet block, and everything on the site is immaculate, accessible and in a lovely setting. The TV signal strength is very good. There is access to the lake for walkers and boaters. Its location in the Lake District makes this site a must and Coniston is only a short drive away, handy for shopping and dining.” – A Club Together Member
et in 63 acres of beautiful National Trust woodland, Park Coppice Caravan Club Site has pitches grouped in open glades with easy access to picturesque Coniston Water. A short walk away there’s the lakeside launching point where you can enjoy watching – or try your hand at – a range of water sports such as dinghy sailing, windsurfing and canoeing. Coniston Pier is only one mile away, where you can take a steamboat trip or hire a boat. This site offers a scenic holiday getaway that will keep the whole family happy. The caravan site is ideally located for exploring the National Park, with its dramatic combination of Lakeland and soaring fell. Needless to say, the walking is matchless and you have a good range of paths to keep you on the go. Birdwatchers will not be disappointed so make sure you have your binoculars with you, especially in the Grizedale Forest. Younger families will thoroughly enjoy the adventure that this site has to offer. Discover Touring
Directory | touring parks
touring services accessories
West Country Motorhomes Bristol Road, Brent Knoll, Highbridge, TA9 4HG ✆ 01278 761200 email@example.com www.westcountrymotorhomes.co.uk Motorhome Dealer
Tavistock Caravans Woodlands, Gulworthy, Tavistock, PL19 8JE ✆ 01822 834945 firstname.lastname@example.org www.tavistockcaravans.co.uk
Workshop/approved workshop based workshop/Mobile
DEALers COUNTY DURHAM ROBSONS CARAVANS & MOTORHOMES Durham Road, Wolsingham in Weardale, DL13 3HU ✆ 01388 527242 email@example.com www.robsonscaravans.co.uk Caravan and Motorhome Dealer
Gloucestershire Golden Castle Caravans Cheltenham Road East, Churchdown, GL2 9QL ✆ 01452 713311 firstname.lastname@example.org www.goldencastle.co.uk Caravan Dealer
Hampshire Viscount Motorhomes Ltd West End Road, Bursledon, Southampton, SO31 8BN ✆ 023 8040 5062 email@example.com www.viscountmotorhomes.co.uk Motorhome Dealer
Northumberland Tyne Valley Motorhomes Byermoor, Burnopfield, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE16 6NS ✆ 01207 272777 firstname.lastname@example.org www.tynevalleymotorhomes.co.uk Motorhome Dealer
Shropshire Salop Leisure Emstrey, Shrewsbury, SY5 6QS ✆ 01743 282400 email@example.com www.salopleisure.co.uk Caravan & Motorhome Dealer Travelworld Halesfield 14, Telford, TF74QR ✆ 0844 8804938 firstname.lastname@example.org www.travelworldrv.co.uk Motorhome Dealer
West Midlands Chichester Caravans 309 Hagley Road West, Birmingham B32 2AN ✆ 01214 292004 email@example.com www.chichester-caravans.co.uk Caravan Dealer
West Sussex Roundstone Caravans Ltd Worthing Road, Southwater, Horsham, RH13 9JG ✆ 01403 730218 firstname.lastname@example.org www.roundstonecaravans.com Caravan Dealer
West Yorkshire Drivelodge Motorhomes Waring’s Works, Crosshills, Nr Keighley, BD20 7RS ✆ 01535 637777 email@example.com www.drivelodge.co.uk Motorhome Dealer
Wales Flintshire Flintshire Caravans 76 Station Road, Queensferry, Deeside, CH5 2TE ✆ 01244 830438 firstname.lastname@example.org www.flintshirecaravans.co.uk Caravan Dealer
Wiltshire West Country Motorhomes Turnpike Road, Blunsdon, Swindon SN26 7EA ✆ 01793 726666 email@example.com www.westcountrymotorhomes.co.uk Motorhome Dealer
Worcestershire Chichester Caravans Worcester Road, Upton Warren, Bromsgrove, B61 7EX ✆ 01527 831515 firstname.lastname@example.org www.chichester-caravans.co.uk Caravan Dealer Chichester Caravans Vale Road, Stourport, DY13 8YJ ✆ 01299 827441 email@example.com www.chichester-caravans.co.uk Caravan Dealer
Dorset Autovan Services Ltd 32 Canford Bottom, Wimborne Minster, BH21 2HD ✆ 01202 848429 firstname.lastname@example.org www.autovan.co.uk
Gloucestershire PGF Caravan Services 25 Glencairn Avenue, Tuffley, GL4 0SQ ✆ 01452 553 288 email@example.com www.pgfcaravanservices.co.uk
Glamorgan (Vale of) Lee & Turner Waterton Lane, Waterton, Bridgend, CF31 3UZ ✆ 01656 641300 firstname.lastname@example.org www.leeandturner.com Motorhome Dealer
Stirling Caravan Services Moonshine, Burcombe, Woodmancote, Cirencester, GL7 7EH ✆ 01285 831176 email@example.com
Repairers Cambridgeshire Martins Caravan Sales Ltd Unit 9 Anglia Way, Wisbech, PE13 2TY ✆ 01945 474666 firstname.lastname@example.org www.martins-caravans.co.uk
V & G Caravans 107 Benwick Road, Whittlesey, PE7 2HD ✆ 01733 350580 email@example.com www.vandgcaravans.co.uk
Cheshire Caravancare Ltd ✆ 07713001338 / 01925710250 firstname.lastname@example.org www.caravancarecheshire.co.uk
County Durham J B Caravans Unit 8r Hackworth Industrial Park, Shildon, DL4 1HF ✆ 01388 778855 email@example.com www.jbcaravans.co.uk
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Abbey Caravans & Leisure 285-291 Shore Road, Newtonabbey, Belfast BT37 9SR ✆ 0289 0365522 firstname.lastname@example.org www.abbey-caravans.com Caravan, Motorhome & Tent Dealer
Mobile Leisure Vehicle Services 15 Rodmell Close, Bromley Cross, Bolton, BL7 9DT ✆ 07773 288597 email@example.com www.mobile-leisure.co.uk
North Yorkshire Caravanman 6 Brompton Park, Brompton on Swale, Richmond, DL10 7JW ✆ 01748 811613 firstname.lastname@example.org
Northamptonshire Missions Impossible Ltd (Mobile) Honeyhurst Farm, Braunston, Nr Daventry, NN11 7HJ ✆ 01327 260724 email@example.com www.johndoman.co.uk
Oxfordshire Cross Country Caravans Ltd Shillingford Hill, Wallingford, OX10 8LN ✆ 01865 858899 / 07795342094 firstname.lastname@example.org www.crosscountrycaravans.co.uk
Somerset Taunton Caravan Services Ltd Gravelands Lane, Henlade, Taunton, TA3 5DL ✆ 01823 443491 email@example.com www.tauntoncaravanservices.co.uk Tourer-Techs Ltd Dulhorn Farm, Weston Road, Edingworth, Weston Super Mare, BS24 0JQ ✆ 0845 459 9971 firstname.lastname@example.org www.tourer-techs.co.uk
Directory | touring parks
Warwickshire Carls Mobile Caravan Services Covering: Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire & Worcestershire ✆ 07846 501009 email@example.com www.caravanservicing.net
West Yorkshire CMS Mobile Covering: North Derbyshire, North Nottinghamshire, North Lincolnshire ✆ 07752515873 firstname.lastname@example.org www.cmsmobile.co.uk
Touring Parks Directory tent pitches
children’s play area
electric hook ups
Berkshire Hurley Riverside Park, Hurley, SL6 5NE ✆ 01628 824493 email@example.com www.hurleyriversidepark.co.uk Open 1 March to 31 October
Cornwall Franchis Holiday Park Cury Cross Lanes, Near Mullion, Helston, TR12 7AZ ✆ 01326 240201 firstname.lastname@example.org www.franchis.co.uk Open All Year
Cornwall Quarryfield Caravan And Camping Park Crantock, Newquay, TR8 5RJ ✆ 01637 830338 / 872792 email@example.com www.quarryfield.co.uk Open: Easter to End October
Central Scotland The Caravan Doctor 5 Munro Way, Knightsbridge, Livingstone, EH54 8LP ✆ 07796 782038 firstname.lastname@example.org www.caravandoctorscotland.co.uk
Fife Advance Motorhome & Caravan Services (Mobile) 2 Victoria Rd, Kirkcaldy, Fife, KY1 2SA ✆ 07777 630081 email@example.com www.servicemycaravan.com
Wales Denbighshire Broadway Leisure Unit 2A, Coed Aben Road, Wrexham Ind Est, Wrexham, LL13 9UH ✆ 01978 660755 firstname.lastname@example.org www.broadwayleisure.co.uk
Glamorgan Caravan & Motorhome Services Ltd Unit D, Old Hide Market, Van Road, Caerphilly, Mid Glam, CF83 3EL ✆ 02920 850789 email@example.com www.touringservices.co.uk
Gwent Newbridge Caravans Ltd Glandwr Industrial Estate, Aberbeeg, Abertillery, NP13 2LN ✆ 01495 320111 firstname.lastname@example.org www.newbridgecaravans.co.uk
Gwynedd Hamdden Caravans Madog Street, Porthmadog, LL49 9DB ✆ 01766 513589 email@example.com www.hamddencaravans.co.uk
Cheshire Holly Bank Caravan Park Warburton Bridge Road, Rixton, Warrington WA3 6HU ✆ 01617 752842 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hollybankcaravanpark.co.uk Open All Year
Daleford Manor Caravan Park Daleford Lane, Northwich, CW8 2BW ✆ 01606 889545 email@example.com www.dalefordmanorcaravanpark.co.uk Open 1 March-1 January
Cornwall Bay View Farm St Martins, Looe, PL13 1NZ ✆ 01503 265922 firstname.lastname@example.org www.looebaycaravans.co.uk/camping.htm Open All Year
Bone Valley Holiday Park Heamoor, Penzance, TR20 8UJ ✆ 01736 360313 email@example.com www.bonevalleyholidaypark.co.uk Open All Year
Cardinney Caravan Park Crows-an-Wra, Penzance, TR19 6HX ✆ 01736 810880 firstname.lastname@example.org www.cardinney-camping-park.co.uk Open All Year
Dolbeare Park Landrake, Saltash, PL12 5AF ✆ 01752 851332 email@example.com www.dolbeare.co.uk Open All Year
Hendra Holiday Park Newquay, TR8 4NY ✆ 01637 875778 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hendra-holidays.com Open 25 March to 5 November
Higher Pentreath Farm Campsite Praa Sands, Penzance, TR20 9TL ✆ 01736 763222 email@example.com Open All Year
Meadow Lakes Holiday Park Hewas Water, St Austell, PL26 7JG ✆ 01726 882540 firstname.lastname@example.org www.meadow-lakes.co.uk Open March to October
Newperran Holiday Park Rejerrah, Newquay, TR8 5QJ ✆ 01872 572407 email@example.com www.newperran.co.uk Open 24 March to 27 October
Penvose Farm Holidays St Mawgan, Newquay, TR8 4AE ✆ 01637 860277 firstname.lastname@example.org www.cornwall-online.co.uk/penvose-farm Open All Year
Tehidy Holiday Park Harris Mill, Illogan TR16 4JQ ✆ 01209 216489 email@example.com www.tehidy.co.uk Open 24 March to November
Tencreek Holiday Park Polperro Road, Looe, PL13 2JR ✆ 01503 262447 firstname.lastname@example.org www.dolphinholidays.co.uk Open All Year
Trethiggey Touring Park Quintrell Downs, Newquay TR8 4QR ✆ 01637 877672 email@example.com www.trethiggey.co.uk Open March to January
Trevella Holiday Park Crantock, Newquay TR8 4EW ✆ 01637 830308 firstname.lastname@example.org www.trevella.co.uk Open April to October
Watergate Bay Touring Park Tregurrian, Newquay, TR8 4AD ✆ 01637 860387 email@example.com www.watergatebaytouringpark.co.uk Open 2 March - 4 November
Porth Beach Tourist Park Porth, Newquay, TR7 3NH ✆ 01637 876531 firstname.lastname@example.org www.porthbeach.co.uk Open March to October
Directory | touring parks
Touring parks continued Cumbria Waters Edge Caravan Park Crooklands, Kendal, LA7 7NN ✆ 015395 67708 email@example.com www.watersedgecaravanpark.co.uk Open 1 March to 14 November
Derbyshire Beech Croft Farm Caravan Park Blackwell In The Peak, Nr Buxton,SK17 9TQ ✆ 01298 85320 firstname.lastname@example.org www.beechcroftfarm.co.uk Open All Year
Ringstones Caravan Park Yeardsley Lane, Furness Vale, High Peak, SK23 7EB ✆ 01663 732152 email@example.com Open All Year
Devon Hoburne Torbay Grange Court, Grange Road, Goodrington, Paignton, TQ4 7JP ✆ 0844 288 1935 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hoburne.com Open 2 March-2 November
Essex Fen Farm Caravan & Camping Site Moore Lane, East Mersea, Colchester, CO5 8FE ✆ 01206 383275 email@example.com www.fenfarm.co.uk Open March-October
Gloucestershire Hoburne Cotswold Broadway Lane, South Cerney, GL7 5UQ ✆ 0844 288 1930 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hoburne.com Open 8 March-2 November
Hampshire Green Pastures Caravan Park Green Pastures Farm, Ower, Romsey, SO51 6AJ ✆ 02380 814444 email@example.com www.greenpasturesfarm.com Open March-October
Merley Court Holiday Park Merley, Wimborne, BH21 3AA ✆ 01590 648331 firstname.lastname@example.org www.shorefield.co.uk Open 8 February-5 January
East Yorkshire Sand le Mere Holiday Village Southfield Lane, Tunstall HU12 0JF ✆ 01964 670403 email@example.com www.sand-le-mere.co.uk Open February to November
Lincolnshire Glen Lodge Touring Park Edlington Moor, Woodhall Spa, LN10 6UL ✆ 01526 353523 firstname.lastname@example.org www.glenlodgetouringpark.com Open: 1 March to 30 November
Orchard Park Frampton Lane, Hubberts Bridge, Boston, PE20 3QU ✆ 01205 290328 email@example.com www.orchardpark.co.uk Open All Year
Wiltshire Stonehenge Campsite Winterbourne Stoke, Salisbury, SP3 4TQ ✆ 07880 746514 firstname.lastname@example.org www.stonehengecampsite.co.uk Open March to September
Scotland East Lothian Station Park Caravan Site & CL East Fortune Farm, East Fortune, North Berwick, EH39 5JU ✆ 01620 880231 email@example.com www.brandleisure.co.uk Open All Year
Thurston Manor Leisure Park Innerwick, Dunbar, EH42 1SA ✆ 01368 840643 firstname.lastname@example.org www.thurstonmanor.co.uk Open 1 March to 7 January
North Yorkshire Hoburne Bashley Sway Road, New Milton, BH25 5QR ✆ 0844 288 1915 email@example.com www.hoburne.com Open 15 February-4 November
Dorset Acton Field Langton Matravers, Swanage, BH19 3HR ✆ 01929 424184 firstname.lastname@example.org www.actonfieldcampsite.co.uk Please contact us for details
Kent Gate House Wood Touring Park Ford Lane,Wrotham Heath, Sevenoaks, TN15 7SD ✆ 01732 842062 email@example.com www.gatehousewoodtouringpark.com Open 1 March to 31 October
Yorkshire Hussar Inn Holiday Caravan Park Markington, Harrogate, HG3 3NR ✆ 01765 677327/677715 firstname.lastname@example.org www.yorkshire-hussar-inn.co.uk Open Easter-October
Fife Elie Holiday Park Shell Bay, Elie, Fife KY9 1HB ✆ 01333 330 283 email@example.com www.abbeyford.com Open 21 March to 31 October
Northumberland Lytton Lawn Touring Park Lymore Lane, Milford on Sea, SO41 0TX ✆ 01590 643339 firstname.lastname@example.org www.shorefield.co.uk Open 8 February-5 January
Riverside Holidays Satchell Lane, Hamble, SO31 4HR ✆ 02380 453220 email@example.com www.riversideholidays.co.uk Open March-October
Shamba Holidays Ringwood Road, St Leonards, Ringwood, BH24 2SB ✆ 01202 873302 firstname.lastname@example.org www.shambaholidays.co.uk Open March-October
Riverside Leisure Park Wooler, NE71 6NJ ✆ 01668 281447 email@example.com www.riverside-wooler.co.uk Open All Year
St Andrews Holiday Park Kinkell Braes, St Andrews, Fife KY16 8PX ✆ 01334 474 250 firstname.lastname@example.org www.abbeyford.com Open 21 March to 31 October
Oxfordshire Barnstones Caravan Site Barnstones, Great Bourton, Banbury, OX17 1QU ✆ 01295 7502898 email@example.com Open All Year
Somerset Hoburne Blue Anchor Blue Anchor Bay, Minehead TA24 6JT ✆ 0844 288 1940 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hoburne.com Open 1 March-2 November
St Monans Holiday Park St Monans, Fife KY10 2DN ✆ 01333 730 778 email@example.com www.abbeyford.com Open 21 March to 31 October
Wales Swansea Bank Farm Leisure Park Horton, Gower, SA3 1LL ✆ 01792 390228/390452 firstname.lastname@example.org www.bankfarmleisure.co.uk Open 1 March to 18 November
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regional touring | Scotland
Scotland in Winter
Autumn colours and winter snow await you in town and countryside. Author: Ann Somerset Miles
ou need time to tour in Scotland – it’s a big country, with stunning scenery enticing you to linger, and towns and cities crammed with activities. So plan to stay awhile once you are over the border. It’s a long way to drive from southern England, but worth it once you arrive. Finding campsites out in the country that stay open throughout the winter can be tricky, so check before planning your route. Or better still, find a suitable campsite first, and work from there. Both the Caravan Club and The Camping & 72
Caravanning Club suggest activities and places to visit local to each campsite. Spread out the map in anticipation, and metaphorically, your journey begins. To whet your appetite...
Last minute autumn break: If you hurry, you’ll just be in time to dash up the M6, past Carlisle, and turn west once over the border at Gretna, towards the CC Site at Garlieston in Wigtown Bay. (It closes on 5th November until the end of March). Perfect for taking advantage of your own personal
stargazing extravaganza. Galloway Forest Park in Dumfries and Galloway – the area inland from this portion of the coast – is officially one of the best places for stargazing in the world, having been the first to be awarded the title ‘Dark Sky Park’ in the United Kingdom, and only the second in Europe. On a clear night, Stargazing in Scotland is a truly unique experience and offers the chance to view over 7,000 stars, including the Milky Way, all without the need of a telescope. With light pollution at a minimum outside cities,
regional touring | Scotland
Main picture: The iconic Eilean Donan Castle near Kyle of Lochalsh. Credit: Historic Houses Association Top: Geese in flight. Credit: Wetlands & Wildfowl Trust centre: Overlooking Edinburgh. Credit: VisitScotland Bottom: An old ledger reminds one of Scotland’s literary past. Credit: VisitScotland
of barnacle geese, whooper swans and other birds arrive, taking advantage of the shelter in expansive salt marshes, tidal pools and grazing land. In winter, WWT Caerlaverock becomes a wildfowl wonderland as huge flocks of birds of many varieties create intricate patterns as they feed and come in to roost. By Spring, ospreys and warblers are arriving from the south and hedgerows are busy as nest-building begins; the first wildflowers come into bloom. The centre has an on-site Coffee Shop stocking a good selection of specialty coffees and teas, delicious homemade cakes, soup of the day, sandwiches/toasties and Panini, as well as a variety of snacks.
Heritage and Creativity: 2012 has
Scotland has some of the darkest skies in the UK and Galloway has long been a favourite destination for astronomers and amateur stargazers. All you need is a clear night!
Birding Spectacular: On your way,
stop off at the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust’s Caerlaverock Centre between Annan and Dumfries. A wilderness of 1,400 acres on the north Solway coast, it is famous for its vast flocks of visiting winter birds. In autumn, all eyes are on the skies as many thousands
been the year of Creative Scotland, celebrating Scotland’s world-class festivals and events, art, literature, architecture and design, and their wealth of arts and crafts – and it’s not over yet. It has provided an opportunity to spotlight the contribution that people and places have made in making Scotland a leading creative nation; a chance to recognize the country’s great historic names of culture and to celebrate contemporary icons; a chance to create a platform on a world stage for the talent of today. Wherever you travel, keep your eyes and ears open, for modern and innovative Scotland has been recognised by the UNESCO heritage titles awarded to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, and to the vibrant metropolis of Glasgow. In 2008 Glasgow was also named a UNESCO ‘City of Music’. The title is in celebration of
the city’s legendary music scene that stretches across the whole spectrum from contemporary and classical to Celtic and Country. Glasgow’s venues are equally varied and the city hosts an average 130 music events each week.
Focus on Writers and Writing:
Edinburgh was proclaimed a UNESCO ‘City of Literature’ in 2004, celebrating its literary culture and literary greats of the past and present. The city also boasts the National Library of Scotland, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, the Scottish Poetry Library and the Writers’ Museum. From writers’ trails to literature cities, and following some of Scotland’s most famous tales, the country’s literary offering takes in Scotland’s creative people, places, stories and events. Edinburgh is also a haven for book lovers with links to many writers including Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin and J.K. Rowling. Visitors can join a guided literary walking tour or discover the city’s literary heritage themselves.
Right Royal Occasions: to celebrate
the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, Scottish style: first – and only open until 4th November, visit Leonardo drawings by Leonardo da Vinci: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration at The McManus Art Gallery & Museum, Dundee. This is the only venue in Scotland to display ten of Leonardo da Vinci’s finest drawings from the Royal Collection during their tour of five venues u Discover Touring
regional touring | Scotland
with coffee and shortbread before an extensive tour of the distillery is rounded off nicely with a tasting of Royal Lochnagar’s very own whiskies.
Getting away from it all:
Top left: Royal Connections: Balmoral. Credit: VisitScotland Top right: Inside a whisky distillery. Credit: Matt Sills Bottom left: The cycle trails through Glentress Forest are superb. Credit: Forestry Commission Bottom right: Snow on the Scottish Highlands. Credit: VisitScotland
across the UK. The drawings demonstrate the artist’s incredible range of interests and skills, from painting and sculpture to botany and map making. From November 2012 onwards, The Queen: 60 Photographs for 60 Years at the Palace of Holyrood House, Edinburgh – an incredible collection of 60 images capturing both official appearances and relaxed family occasions from the past six decades, offers a wonderful chance to see remarkable candid moments from the Queen’s reign. And finally, a drop of the hard stuff: the Royal Whisky Tour at the Royal Lochnagar Distillery, Balmoral, Aberdeenshire. Daily (Monday to Saturday from 11.00am) on the edge of The Queen’s Balmoral Estate. You can begin your visit 74
Walking or cycling in stunning scenery is one reason why so many love Scotland. Just a mile away from Peebles in the Scottish Borders is the Forestry Commission’s Glentress Forest. It is the most visited attraction in the area because of its fantastic walking trails and world class mountain biking. There’s a brand new visitor development there, too, so after a walk taking in the sights of the Tweed Valley you can enjoy great food and a comfy and relaxed atmosphere in the café. Stay on the campsite at Glentress Forest Lodges – open all year (information is hidden away on their website – click on Prices & Booking to access it). Head way north to the Cairngorm National Park and Glenmore Campsite near Aviemore (a joint venture between The Forestry Commission and The Camping & Caravanning Club). With access to the exquisite beaches of Loch Morlich, this is a very special place that provides a truly authentic, back to nature, camping experience. Open all year round, it’s perfect for cycling or walking, winter skiing or taking in the many picturesque walking and cycling trails accessible directly from the
campsite. The National Park offers over 280 km of footpaths that pass through moors, woodland, riverside, loch edge and beautiful farmland. Visit the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre just a short walk from the main campsite entrance.
Ancestry: whilst you’re touring from place to place, you’ll undoubtedly already have become aware that Scotland has long been a country of rich history and heritage (an estimated 50 million people from around the world can lay claim to having Scots ancestry). In order to capitalise on the increasing interest in tracing family roots – and spurred on by shows like the BBC’s Who do you think you are? – VisitScotland has launched a guide to tracing Scottish ancestry which will highlight the unusual and surprising places people can go to learn more about their ancestors. Launched to coincide with St Andrews Day, the guide is available to download from 30th November. The guide comes in an easy to use map format and is suitable for those just starting to trace their routes to the more advanced and experienced researcher. It highlights a mix of Scottish visitor attractions, museums, libraries and research centres across the country and includes everything from the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther, Perth Museum and Art Gallery and Verdant Works in Dundee to a range of research centres including the Scotland’s People Centre based in Edinburgh. u
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regional touring | Scotland
Ü Discover More: Ancestors:
Left: Autumn colours at Drummond Castle Gardens, Crieff, Perthshire Perthshire. Credit: Historic Houses Association right: A perfect wintery scene. Credit: VisitScotland
Think Houses and Gardens: whilst
touring throughout Scotland, you will find many amazing castles, stately homes and gardens of great beauty. Most are privately owned and come under the auspices of The Historic Houses Association. Probably the most iconic of all is Eilean Donan Castle at Dornie, by Kyle of Lochalsh (IV40 8DX), which you will pass if you are on your way to the Isle of Skye (eight miles away over the bridge). The Castle is situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and is surrounded by majestic scenery. Although first inhabited around the 6th century, at least four different versions have been built and re-built as the feudal history of Scotland unfolded
through the centuries. Stay at the Caravan Club’s Morvich site at Shiel Bridge and on Skye at The Camping & Caravanning Club’s site on the shores of Loch Greshornish, located on a working croft. Book now for the new season, for both sites close at the end of October but will open again for Easter 2013. Scotland is an amazing country and worthy of exploration. It may be a long way north for many of us, with few campsites open throughout the winter, but that just adds to its appeal for a truly memorable touring holiday. So we’ll cover many more of these castles, houses and gardens in the next issue when we can recommend a variety of camping venues.
www.visitscotland.com/surpriseancestral Birding Spectacular (Caerlaverock): Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT): http://www.wwt.org.uk/visit-us Diamond Jubilee Celebrations: www.royalcollection.org.uk Historic Houses Association (HHA): www.hha.org.uk Leonardo exhibition: www.mcmanus.co.uk Scotch Malt Whisky: www.discovering-distilleries.com
Discover Where to Stay
Glentress Campsite: www.glentressforestlodges.co.uk; tel:01721 721007 Forest Camping: http://www.campingintheforest.co.uk/ scotland/glenmore-campsite Caravan Club: www.caravanclub.co.uk The Camping & Caravanning Club: www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
strathclyde country Park caravan club site “The Caravan Club has only just re-opened this site after a major refurbishment, so we don’t have any reviews yet. Why not be the first to write about it? We’re sure you’ll love staying here, so we are expecting glowing reviews!” – Julie Lacey, Member.
estled on the edge of picturesque parkland, the new Strathclyde Country Park Caravan Club Site is the perfect holiday location. The country park is just 10-minutes’ walk from the site, with 1,000 acres of mature woodlands, wetlands, wildlife refuges and neat open parkland. Set around Strathclyde Loch, there’s abundant bird and wildlife, miles of walking and cycle routes, as well as a whole range of watersports and golf. The Caravan Club has invested £2 million on this superb site, which includes two toilet and shower blocks, modern family washrooms and disabled facilities, an information room, a dog walk area, cycle racks and a children’s play area. There are also several sites of historic interest within the parkland, such as the Bothwellhaugh Roman fort and bathhouse, and there’s a nearby theme park for a great day out with the kids. The shops and museums of Glasgow are within easy reach of the site and, further afield, Loch Lomond, Stirling and Edinburgh are within an hour’s drive, making this site an ideal base for exploring Southern Scotland. 76
actiVitY | nordic WalKing
A walk like no other Ü Discover More: Get in gear: You can buy nordic Walking poles online, or from some outdoor stores The poles should be roughly two-thirds of your height, so that you can hold them comfortably in your hands Poles come with a removable rubber tip, to be used when walking on tarmac You’ll also need a good pair of walking shoes or boots, a rucksack to carry drinks, food and maps on longer expeditions, and comfortable, lightweight clothes.
Five of the best Caravan Club Sites for Nordic Walking: Exeter Racecourse, Devon: nordic Walk along the river exe, or head into the wilds of Dartmoor. Slinfold, West Sussex: Hit the beautiful trails of the south and north Downs from this handy location. Gowerton, South Wales: enjoy some of the uK’s most stunning coastal scenery along the gower Peninsula. Main image: Nordic Walking was pioneered by cross-country skiing enthusiasts, as a way of keeping fit during the off-season. It’s a great entrée to this popular winter sport. Credit: VisitScotland Left: Pausing for breath to take in the sights and sounds of village life. right: The equipment needed for Nordic Walking is easily stored in a car boot, or beneath the seats of a caravan.
nordic Walking is a perfect activity for a touring holiday. Tim Gibson shows you how to get started.
f you’re just getting into camping and caravanning, the good news is that your outdoor adventure has only just begun. Nordic Walking is a great way of exploring the countryside around your campsite. It’s also good for improving fitness, and burns 46 per cent more calories than normal walking. Even better, it’s easy to learn, and can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities, with very little needed in the way of specialist equipment. Nordic Walking was pioneered by crosscountry skiers, who realised that by walking with poles during the summer, they could maintain their fitness for the ski season.
To walk Nordic style, you plant each pole on the ground at the same time as the opposite foot (i.e. left pole, right foot; right foot, left pole, and so on) to help propel you along. The result is a workout for your upper body as well as your legs – and much faster progress. There are loads of places around the country to enjoy Nordic Walking. Indeed, anywhere that’s suitable for conventional walking is perfect for Nordic Walking, too. That means you can walk cross-country, or on tarmac. Whatever the surroundings, you’re bound to enjoy the buzz that comes from doing something just a bit unusual – rather like touring itself, as it happens.
Blackwall Plantation, Derbyshire: Perfect your technique by nordic Walking around the adjacent carsington reservoir. Low Manesty, Cumbria: stretch your legs (and arms!) around nearby Derwentwater, or enjoy the trails leading directly from the site.
The Bryce WP: The right footwear for nordic Walking is all-important. This exercise is more than a countryside stroll, this is all about high energy and burning calories damn quick. our footwear of choice for this pursuit is the Bryce WP. The Bryce is ready for adventure at a moment’s notice with a waterproof, breathable membrane and non-marking tread that clings to the trail. A TPu stability shank offers superior support in this comfy light hiker. What is stopping you? www.keenfootwear.com
actiVitY | running
Main image: Touring and running have one key thing in common: both of them provide a chance to get up close and personal with the countryside. Left: All you need to start running is a pair of trainers – but it’s vital to get the fit right if you want to avoid blisters.
running while on holiday in a caravan is the purest of pleasures. Follow Tim Gibson’s guide to making the most of the countryside right outside your door.
ention running to many people and they’ll immediately form an impression of lycra-clad fitness fanatics sweating their way through arduous half-marathons. But it needn’t be like that, because running is a fantastic way of exploring our beautiful scenery, and it can be done entirely at your own speed. When I first started running, I took off at an extremely slow pace and set myself modest targets. To begin with, I’d try to keep moving for just 10 minutes. Gradually, I built up to 15 minutes of non-stop jogging, then 20, then 30…and so on. Eventually, I could run for a couple of hours, and would cover twice as much ground as when I was walking. The really good thing about jogging on 78
tour is that you can return to your own space, with a warm shower on tap when you require it, and a comfy place to sit and bask in the post-exercise glow. What’s more, jogging can be enjoyed solo or in a group. Simply adjust the pace and distance to suit your companions, and everyone can experience the thrill of testing their mettle in the great outdoors. There are many events around the country from fun runs of 3-5 miles to half marathons, mararthons and even (some say!) ultra marathons; so why not plan a tour around an event that matches your ability? Find out the best places to jog to from your site, pull on your trainers, and get running. You may well discover that once you start, you just can’t stop.
Ü Discover More: Five of the best Caravan Club Sites for running: Putts Corner, Devon: great access to the coast, and the nearby woodland is ideal for getting started as a runner. Five Acres, Somerset: Breathtaking running on the doorstep at castle neroche, or around chard reservoir. Rowan Park, West Sussex: Jog along the seafront at Bognor regis, or around the city walls of chichester. Coed-y-Llwyn, North Wales: if your confidence is high, head to snowdonia for some hardcore fell running. Low Moor, North Yorkshire: no pressure, but if you haven’t jogged along Whitby beach at low tide, you haven’t lived.
Regional TouRing | iReland
Winter in Ireland
Author: Seth Linder
The island of ireland is renowned for its legendary stories and unique festivals
hey call the aromatic smoke that curls upwards from glowing turf fires the national smell of Ireland. You’ll find it in many a welcoming country pub as you relax with a pint of the black stuff after a bracing winter walk through some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe. Packed with events and festivals, winter is a great time to get to know Ireland better.
Loop the loop: From Donegal in the far
north to the spectacular Ring of Kerry in the south-west, both ideal locations for touring, there are some wonderful walking trails to enjoy. In fact there are now nearly 200 looped walks (where you return to the starting point) in the Republic alone.
Legendary walking: Combining the magical myths of Ireland with the landscape from which they emerged is a great way to get 80
inside the country’s cultural skin. Why not start at Slieve Gullion, Ireland’s most mystical mountain? Part of South Armagh’s Ring of Gullion, the most famous ring dyke in the world, and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the views from the wonderful circular walk (it’s also a great drive) on Slieve Gullion are worth the effort alone. It is said the beautiful Deirdre of the Sorrows was raised on these slopes and that the legendary Celtic warrior Cuchulainn is buried here. At the Lough of the Calliagh Bhirra at its summit the hair of another mythical figure, Finn McCool, was turned white by a witch.
Children of Lir: Along the wild northwestern coast of Mayo, you can trace the journey of the Children of Lir, turned into swans by their jealous stepmother, on the Children of Lir Loop walk. This three-hour walk takes you along magnificent clifftops,
through Irish speaking areas, to the marvellous Children of Lir sculpture. From here you can see the nearby island of Inishglora where the children lived for 300 years.
The Cattle Raid of Cooley: The Táin Way, a 40-kilometre route which can take upwards of two days, or be divided into more comfortable stages, takes you from medieval Carlingford on the east coast and its enticing restaurants by lough and over mountain and forest as you retrace the legendary ‘Tain Bo Cuailgne’ (The Cattle Raid of Cooley). Walls of Derry: On January 12th 2013,
a spectacular concert at the magnificent new Ebrington performance space begins a packed programme of events to kick off Derry-Londonderry’s momentous year as UK City of Culture 2013. As if that wasn’t enough, its famous walls, the most complete u
Regional TouRing | iReland
Festive Ireland ireland comes alive with festivals in the winter and there’s no better way of getting around the country, using the festival as a hook to get to know an area better. The Belfast Buzz: if you’re a Titanic fan, for instance, why not tie in a trip to the world’s largest Titanic attraction, the recently opened Titanic Belfast, with the 50th Belfast Festival at Queen’s. Based around the charming Queen’s university, the festival stages world-class drama, music, theatre, film, comedy and more at venues throughout the city between oct 19th and november 3rd. Magical music: ireland’s top jazz fest, the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival takes over the delightful southern city between october 26th and 29th with local and international jazz acts at major venues and free pub appearances alike. During the summer ireland is humming with traditional music events but none beat the atmosphere of Sligo Live, a folk, roots and indie music festival that uses every venue in the west coast town and also introduces you to adjacent ‘Yeats country’ between october 24th and 29th. ireland’s most famous opera festival, Wexford Festival opera, offers opera irish style – fun, informal and very high quality – between october 24th and november 4th. Food festivals: ireland’s growing foodie scene is reflected in the Savour Kilkenny Food Festival between october 15th and 29th, bringing open-air markets, family entertainment and the best of local produce to the city famed for its arts and crafts. The Listowel Food Fair (october 31st – november 4th) is another foodie gem, packing this famous Kerry literary town with celebrity chefs, tastings and lots of superb local produce. For a christmas theme turn to the Continental Markets in the grounds of Belfast city Hall from late november to just before christmas and galway’s colourful Christmas Market by st nicholas’s church between December 14th and 24th. Christmas at the castle: Bunratty castle and its adjacent medieval Folk Park offer christmas evenings (December 1st to 23rd) with traditional food, wine and live entertainment. it’s on the doorstep of stunning landscape too. At the Races: no one enjoys horseracing like the irish. The social highlight of the galway year, the Galway Races (october 28th and 29th) is cracking fun even if you’ve never seen a horse before. More horsey fun (and great socialising) can be found at the Leopardstown Festival in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, between Christmas Horse Racing Festival, December 26th and 29th. St Patrick’s Day: ireland’s patron saint is honoured each year on the anniversary of his death, March 17th, with a celebration in virtually every irish town and city. However, if you’re looking for the most spectacular sights and most riotous party, nothing compares with the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dublin. They take place between March 15th and 18th with a series of music and comedy events, dance, special walking tours, boat races and, of course, the biggest st Patrick’s Day parade in the world on March 17th.
Main picture: Slemish Mountain in Co.Antrim is the legendary first home in Ireland of St.Patrick. Credit: Ray Quinton Above: The pretty town of Carlingford, Co. Louth sits alongside the sea lough. Credit: Tourism Ireland Middle: The English Market in Cork. Credit: Tourism Ireland
The real deal: To get near the real man however, you have to come to northern ireland. You could join a special March 17th pilgrimage to the top of beautiful Slemish Mountain in county Antrim, where he herded sheep for several years. or travel southwards to Armagh, the city he founded and where two cathedrals bear his name. Armagh hosts a special festival with its own parade and a series of concerts. Most authentic though is the festival in the historic hillside town of Downpatrick in co Down. There are all kinds of crosscommunity celebrations here (and steam train rides!) but try and get yourself booked on one of the special March 17th walking tours that take in saul, where a replica church commemorates Patrick’s first church in ireland, and raholp, where he was given the last rites. The walk ends with a service at Down cathedral where he is buried (allegedly!), just around the corner from the st Patrick’s visitor centre in Downpatrick.
right: Celebrating St.Patrick’s Day (March 17th) in Dublin. Credit: Tourism Ireland Discover Touring
Regional TouRing | iReland in Ireland, celebrate their 400th anniversary too. Whenever you visit there’ll be something remarkable to enjoy, not least the Turner Prize, being held outside Tate Britain for only the third time. Walk the walls, stepping off to explore any number of cultural venues from the award-winning Tower Museum and its Irish history and Spanish Armada exhibitions to the unique Verbal Arts Centre, nestling beneath the walls, Ireland’s only dedicated literary centre. Other delights include the ancient St Columb’s Cathedral, the recently restored Guildhall and the welcoming traditional pubs, many with traditional Irish music. Derry is also a short drive from beautiful Donegal and the natural splendour of Ireland’s north coast.
Go to jail!: From the world’s second largest natural harbour to atmospheric avenues packed with great shops and cafés and tree-lined quays, Cork is a lovely city to walk around. Discover what life was like in a Victorian prison in the atmospheric Cork City Gaol, linger over superbly cooked local produce at the Farmgate Café upstairs from
the historic English Market, or travel a little further out to kiss the Blarney Stone at the top of the tower of the stunning 15th century Blarney Castle. Cork is a short drive from the port of Cobh, where you can learn about Irish emigration at the Queenstown Story exhibition and get a different slant on Titanic (Cobh was her last port of call).
Ü Discover More, Ireland: Getting There by Car Ferry:
Republic of Ireland: stena Line has sailings between Fishguard and rosslare, Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire, and Holyhead and Dublin. irish Ferries operates between Holyhead and Dublin and Pembroke and rosslare. P&o irish sea sail between Liverpool and Dublin, while the Fastnet Line operates between swansea and cork. visit www.stenaline.co.uk www.poferries.com www.irishferries.com www.fastnetline.com or for a full list visit www.discoverireland.com/gb/ireland-plan-your-visit/getting-there/by-sea Northern Ireland: stena Line operates between cairnryan and Belfast and Liverpool (Birkenhead) and Belfast. P&o Ferries sail between cairnryan and Larne and Troon and Larne. visit www.stenaline.co.uk and www.poferries.com
Discover Ireland Campsites:
Clare: nagle’s seaside camping and caravan Park, Doolin, www.doolincamping.com Louth: gyles Quay caravan Park, tel: 00 353 (0)42 937 6262 Cork: Blarney caravan and camping Park, www.blarneycaravanpark.com Sligo: greenlands caravan and camping Park, www.sligocaravanandcamping.ie Armagh: clare glen caravan Park, www.clareglen.co.uk
Top left: St.Patrick’s grave in Downpatrick. Credit: Tourism Ireland Top right: The Peace Bridge in Derry. Credit: Tourism Ireland Below: The English Market in Cork. Credit: Tourism Ireland
Belfast: Dundonald Touring caravan Park, www.theicebowl.com North Coast: The Ballyness caravan Park, Bushmills, www.ballynesscaravanpark.com
Discover Other Contacts:
www.discoverireland.com; www.discovernorthernireland.com www.titanicbelfast.com; www.gotobelfast.com www.derryvisitor.com www.cityofculture2013.com www.belfastfestival.com www.guinnessjazzfestival.com www.sligolive.ie www.wexfordopera.com www.savourkilkenny.com www.galwayraces.com www.listowelfoodfair.com www.leopardstownpavillion.com www.galwaymarket.com www.stpatricksfestival.ie www.saintpatrickcentre.com
Discover Touring’s Bookshelf:
ireland – DK eyewitness Travel series (Dorling Kindersley 2009, isBn: 978-1-4053-3376-4). st Patrick of ireland: A Modern Biography by Phillip Freeman (simon and schuster 2005, isBn: 978-0-7432-5634-6). A historical account of st Patrick’s 5th century crusade to bring christianity to the irish. irish Food and cooking by georgina campbell and Biddy White-Lennon (Lorenz Books, isBn: 978-0-7548-2476-3). An exploration of irish cuisine.
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There’s magic in the air Author: Ann Somerset Miles
Main image: The stunning view from above Lower Lough Erne, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. Credit: Ray Quinton
Author Ann Somerset Miles and her photographer husband Ray Quinton discover a different pace of life in a beautiful island.
uly 19th, 2012 saw the start of our weeklong motor home visit to the island of Ireland, and a journey of discovery. We opted for the overnight 22.30 Liverpool to Belfast Stena ferry, boarding at 20.00hrs. Ahead of us, under grey rainclouds was the long skein of waterside Liverpool. A painterly line, a wash of subtle colour. I feel the urge to sketch as well as write. So I do, for I am keeping a sketchbook-diary of our travels: “Few vehicles or passengers, we find our comfortable cabin and the ‘Metropolitan Restaurant’ and a menu to die for. Delicious food, silver service.” Dusk descends, shoreline lights pinprick as through a theatrical backdrop gauze; a transformation. The magic has already begun.
Belfast to Enniskillen and beyond: We wake early, called at 5.30am; a quick coffee as I watch mist rising from the hills behind Belfast Lough, a pearly sky. Disembark at 6.30am, negotiate the traffic system. Distances are misleading – Ireland is vast, spacious and beautiful. Driving west towards Co.Fermanagh,
sunshine and a pastoral scene of cattle and sheep. Two-and-a-half hours after leaving Belfast Docks we reach Enniskillen (the island town) easing our way towards the town centre and into the Shore Road Car Park right alongside the Erne waterway (links Upper and Lower Lough Erne). The High Street is full of independent shops but we aim for the traditional Butter Market. To my surprise, it now houses craft shops, studios and workshops. Enniskillen is a purposeful town with people busy about their own affairs, but incredibly friendly. “Lunch is enjoyed at ‘Rebecca’s Coffee Shop’ right at the heart of the Market – clearly the place to meet, and THE place to eat, for it is buzzing with happy conversation..” And so to our first campsite: Blaney Caravan & Camping Park, sedate and quiet with immaculately maintained pitches and an owner with whom we converse about the local area.
Dawdling and Exploring: My diary records: “Less planned mileage today so we aim to potter – we cannot leave without a
proper glimpse of Lower Lough Erne, for which we have been recommended a drive into Lough Navar Forest.” We do so with some trepidation, for the roads are rural and our Bailey motorhome is wider than is the norm. The road narrows with passing places, climbing higher, with amazing wildflower verges. At its highest point, we reach the Aghameelan viewpoint – a parking-cumpicnic spot with magnificent views. The lough and boggy shoreline far below is a haven for wild birds, dragonflies, newts and frogs. I sketch, then paint, then write. I am in my element and could spend all day here. On through the forest to Mahgo and a second viewpoint. I learn about its geology: “a huge expanse of water filling a glacial valley gouged out by massive ice-sheets during the last iceage, 18,000 years ago.” Spectacular. You can see the Atlantic Ocean and in the distance Slieve League (at 2,000ft, Europe’s highest sea cliffs) and the Bluestack mountains of Donegal. It’s hard to leave. But we must, so back to the main road and onwards to Sligo, and our campsite between the dunes, at Strandhill. What a treat, level hard-standing for the motorhome with orchids, harebells and wild thyme in the grass right outside our door. The camping park is 60 years old next year, and is but a stone’s throw from the village on the shore. We were tempted to eat out the moment we spotted ‘The Shells Seaside Bakery & Café’ u Discover Touring
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Top left: Ann works on location in her diary/ sketchbook. Credit: Ray Quinton Above: An area of scientific interest; unpolluted blanket-bog (and part of an ongoing restoration project). Credit: Ray Quinton Middle right: Jazz in Gracy’s Café Bar & Gastro Pub. Credit: Ray Quinton Far left: Colourful Westport, Co.Mayo. Credit: Ray Quinton
for its façade captivated me with its generic seaside colours of sand, and faded aqua/ powder blue. Likewise inside – and here on a chilly evening was warmth and camaraderie; obviously another place to eat and greet, to chatter and relax, for “At Shells, we love food, we love café culture, and we love to be a bit different.” The fish-and-chips were superb! We woke on our third day to another soft morning with rain in the brisk wind, aiming to reach Westport, on the west coast in Co.Mayo, by lunchtime. Which we would have done, had I not elected to take the longer coastal route! I so wanted to see the Achill Islands, but rain swept over the mountains, the road was more a very bumpy track for 100 chassis-rattling miles, and yet “I learned so much about Ireland’s past as we drove through vast flatlands of unpolluted blanket-bog with occasional small haymeadows, donkeys, peat cutting for fuel and the fantastic slate-coloured Owenmore river.” Salmon spawned in its waters have been tagged as far away as Iceland, according to the fascinating National Bogland Visitor Centre at Ballycroy.
Cosmopolitan Haven: Arriving at Westport House and its efficiently-run campsite in stately parkland meant we could relax for a couple of days. We were tired, hungry and ready to eat, which we did at the gregarious onsite Gracy’s Café Bar & Gastro Pub, enjoying not only the food, but a convivial evening of live jazz. Lovely. We were honoured next morning to be shown around Westport House by the owner’s eldest daughter. A remarkable house, tended with loving care; such elegance, and such pride in family history. A passion for the past, and concern for the future, is evident throughout 84
every fascinating room. Five hundred years of history and owned by the present family for over 300 of them. Three of the five daughters of the present Marquis of Sligo are heavily involved in the running of the estate and its many attractions. “If we had done nothing else in Ireland, this visit alone would have been worth the long drive.” We explored Westport itself, voted “The Best Place to Live in Ireland”. It’s a vibrant town with wide streets and a tree-lined ‘Mall’ which runs either side of the Carrowbeg river; flowers everywhere, shops to suit all tastes, numerous restaurants and pubs. At Mangos – specialising in seafood – we meet the friend who has been instrumental in commissioning this visit. Wine and conversation flows; we are still talking at midnight!
Pressing Onwards: Driving from
Westport to Athlone was a heads-down, getting from ‘A-B’ day. Almost to the very centre of Ireland, diagonally south-east across the plains of Mayo, back-tracking to use new motorway routes almost empty of traffic, to our next overnight destination. Our pitch on Lough Ree campsite at the southern-most point of the lough was idyllic, right on the shoreline with a slip-way down to the water’s edge. A quiet, laid-back site frequented by lake-lovers in wetsuits. “Alders outside our window, a solitary moorhen, delicately stepping along the waterline … the rain arrives, hammering on the roof. But what does rain matter when we feast by candlelight on smoked salmon, hardboiled eggs, brown Irish bread and home-grown salad given us by our lovely friend from Westport. All is so quiet; no traffic, no intrusive noise, utter peace.” Athlone on the broad Shannon, water over the weir thrumming in my ears. Stately plane
trees, swans, formal park, and behind me, a vast modern shopping complex, with space to park a motorhome. I sketch, and make notes on Irish river plants.
Camping Amongst Fruit Trees:
“Come on!” is by now ringing in my ears. We still have far to go but what a wonderful surprise is our next campsite: The Apple Farm between Cahir and Clonmell in Co.Tipperary. How remarkable, that we should overnight somewhere that is so picturesquely located and be able to talk to a farmer whose parents emigrated from Holland, bought land, and started this enterprise. The son is now the driving force and we chat about fruit growing as he kindly taxis us to our final special meal on Irish soil – in legendary Cashel. ‘Chez Hanz Resturant’ is up-market, located in a converted church/chapel and not for the down-at-heel; no scruffy jeans! Now a tasteful restaurant and art gallery, it is warm and inviting with wooden paneling, deep crimson-terracotta walls and stormy-sea-blue doors. Good food and conversation is surely the hallmark of any successful holiday.
The Sea, The Sea: “More villages along
another road; the land more fertile. Hot sunshine at last – everywhere is in glorious technicolour. We make for Waterford; discover good shopping and the ‘Fairtrade Granary Café’ and sit outside under the trees. There’s a lot of finality about today … our last long drive, though the 85 miles were on better roads, and our last campsite – St Margaret’s Beach, Rosslare.” Almost as far south-east as you can go in Ireland. We walk the twisty lane between high hedgerows, past an abandoned demesne, down to the beach. The sound of the sea in my ears, sand-leeks in the dunes,
Regional TouRing | iReland Middle: Camping on the shores of Lough Ree.. Credit asm Left: On the waterfront at Waterford Credit: Ray Quinton Top right: Packing fruit at The Apple Farm, Co.Tipperary... Credit: Ray Quinton Bottom right: Family fun on the beach near Rosslare. Credit: Ray Quinton Top right: Colourful buildings typical of Irish towns and cities Credit: Ray Quinton Bottom right: The author beguiled by the sea Credit: Ray Quinton
Ü Discover More, Ireland: Discover Where to Stay:
all campsites mentioned – and many more – are listed in the ‘caravan, camping & Motorhome guide’ published by Fáilte ireland. www.campingireland.ie.
and a gentle sea. An amazing sweep of firm, sandy beach; scampering children hurl themselves into the water. Even I discard socks and shoes and paddle in the warm water. “I photograph sea-foam, seaweed, a child’s sandcastle, a sand-art picture scratched with a stick. I watch the Stena
ferry draw towards Rosslare port, knowing that early tomorrow (July 27th) – on its return sailing – we will be passengers and going home.”
Oh to be in Ireland: My over-riding memory of the island of Ireland is of a
proud and courteous people, passionate about their culture. Endless space and quiet, if bumpy, roads. A week of delectable food, welcoming campsite owners, soft warm rain, and a watercolour landscape. Door to door from home, 1,000 miles. Magic in the air? Most definitely.
Fleming’s White Bridge caravan Park “Stayed at this site for a few years, it’s the best site in the country. Very clean, very well run, very safe site staff and owners are very, very helpful. You can contact any of them – nothing is a bother to them. A good family-run site for families, the toilets and showers are very clean with warm water, a good room for people to sit in at night and very good clothes washing rooms.” – A Club Together Member.
leming’s White Bridge Caravan Park is the ideal base for exploring Killarney’s Lake District and the magnificent scenery of southwest Ireland. A warm welcome awaits you at this family run, picturesque site in its secluded country setting just a mile from Killarney town. Facilities are maintained to a high standard and you’ll find the pitches have a real garden feel about them. There is a sleepy railway line close-by with trains running every few hours. You can book numerous excursions at the site, including the Ring of Kerry, boat trips and guided day walks. The site is close by the banks of the River Flesk where you can go fishing. This area is a paradise for lovers of the outdoors, offering hill walking, mountain climbing, cycle routes, golf courses, horse riding, historic castles and houses. For children, there’s a state-of-the-art playground in Killarney, a host of excellent restaurants, bars and a fine local pub. A must-see is Muckross House and the National Park. Other places of interest include Ross Castle, Torc Waterfall & the Lakes of Killarney. Discover Touring
ACTIVITIES | CASTLES
An Englishman’s home is his castle Suzanne Reid hitched up her caravan and went on the hunt for some of Britain’s greatest treasures.
astles began as defended settlements built during the Iron Age. At the most basic, men dug a ditch around the high ground on which the tribe lived, throwing up the spoil to create a ridge at the top. The structure was usually surmounted by a wooden palisade style fence, creating a secure environment inside, safe from wild animals and other tribes. Being on high ground they could be seen and oversee the surrounding land. The most famous and best preserved is Maiden Castle in Dorset. This structure has a complicated system of ditches and ridges that make finding the way in more complicated and therefore improving the security of the location. There are several earthworks marked on the map in this area and they can be hunted out from Crossways Caravan Club Site. The next prolific builders of defences were the Romans. The Iron Age settlers were overrun by the tremendous might of the Roman army at the height of its power. England is liberally littered with the remains of Roman fortifications from Hardknott
Fort in Cumbria that was only occupied for 70 years to the site at Vindolanda just to the south of Hadrian’s Wall that was rebuilt several times and continued to be occupied in some form or another for nearly half a millennium. The closest Caravan Club Site to Hardknott is Troutbeck Head and Vindolanda is just possible as a very long day out from here. The intrepid Roman hunter can even follow the route of Hadrian’s wall from coast to coast, provided you can make a very early start and take a picnic lunch to save time eating.
Norman conquest: Motte and bailey
castles were built during the Norman period. After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror wished to reward his knights for their faithfulness in battle with gifts of land within his new domain. This had the added advantage of scattering his own interest far and wide across the land. The knights needed to establish authority over their new estates and bring the indigenous population under Norman control. To
Main image: Chatsworth Top right: Bolton Castle Middle right: Middleton Castle Bottom right: Richmond Castle
achieve this, they built castles. The keep or stronghold was built for the knight to live in with his retinue. An area around the keep was walled off to provide accommodation for all the subsidiary activities, and stabling and supplies for horses. One of the biggest examples is Richmond Castle in Yorkshire and the most famous, the White Tower within the Tower of London. Dover Castle is built within the ditches of an Iron Age Fort and Pevensey is built within the old Roman Fortifications. The Normans sought high ground to construct their Castles to dominate the environment and to be seen to be in charge. Clifford’s Tower in York stands on a manmade mound but Peveril Castle in Derbyshire clings to the top of a natural cliff dominating the village of Castleton. The Caravan Club Site at Castleton is within walking distance and very close to the main show caverns in Derbyshire. The Normans reached Ireland where some stunning sites remain including Carrickfergus Castle, built in 1177 and still used until 1928. For sheer size it is
ACTIVITIES | CASTLES
advisable to allow a whole day to visit Enniskillen Castle.
Real castles: From the time of Edward
I castles became places in which to live and not primarily fortifications. They took on the rectangular form with towers at the corners that many of us have in our mind’s eye as a ‘real’ castle. The corner towers strengthened the defences and provided look out posts. The castles in Wales are superb, with many located around the coastline; most convenient for the twenty-first century sightseer who can mix a little sand castle building with some hands-on castle exploration. The Caravan Club Site at Min y Don is ideally situated between Harlech Castle and the sea. From Min y Don you can get to Caernarfon Castle. This deviates from the usual rectangle and has hexagonal Towers overlooking the Menai Straits. It is the location of the Investiture of the Princes of Wales in 1969. Through the Middle Ages many castles
were so altered that they became more like fortified manor houses. Leeds Castle and Hever Castle in Kent are both good examples with Bodiam close by as a ruined example. Stay at Tanner Farm Park near Goudhurst to explore. Eventually fortifications were almost forgotten. Some families abandoned their castles and left them to ruin. They went to live in more sheltered locations away from the inconveniences of being perched on a hillside in full view of every wind that blows and at the mercy of the rain and snow. This can be seen at Bolton Castle in Yorkshire, not far from the Caravan Club Site at Hawes. The castle is great fun. From one side it appears to be complete but the other side shows its ruinous state quite clearly. The newer manor house further down the valley is only just visible in a tree-lined park. At Middleham Castle, along the A684, relocation happened much earlier with the twelfth century keep overshadowed by an earlier motte and bailey visible in an adjoining field. In 1603, the crowns of Scotland and England became united under King James. The Picts evaded the Roman army and continued to live in tribes, consolidated into clans. Each clan had its own stronghold, many of which still survive into the twentieth century as homes. Some can be visited. Craigievar, Crathes and Drum Castles, are all within easy reach of the Caravan Club Site at Banchory. Banchory is close to the Queen’s holiday retreat at Balmoral, part of which is open to the public when the Queen is not in residence.
In a state: After the Restoration in 1660
powerful families rebuilt their homes. They moved away from fortifications entirely and created instead our stately homes. For those who wish to experience a little of this grandeur try the Caravan Club Sites within the grounds at Chatsworth, Longleat, Blenheim or Sandringham. Royalty still maintained their castles. Windsor Castle is well known to hold a place of affection in the Queen’s heart and yet its Norman origins are plain for all to see. The seat of the Dukes of Norfolk at Arundel in Sussex is another example. Stay on the Caravan Club Site at Littlehampton close to Arundel and perhaps take a long day to see Windsor as well. Castle Drogo in Devon lays claim to be the last castle to be built in the UK. Its finishing touches were made in the early twentieth century. The Caravan Club Site at Newton
Abbot is close by and within easy reach of Berry Pomeroy Castle. Berry Pomeroy is perhaps one of our more haunted castles from the Grey Man who mysteriously appears in tourist photographs to the White Lady who lures visitors to the castle dungeon where she ended her life, imprisoned by her sister who loved the same man. So, when you’re deciding where to explore next season try a few castles along the way. Opening times for the castles mentioned will be advertised locally according to season or use your trusty Google search.
Ü Discover More: Contact details of the sites mentioned in this article: Bladon Chains Caravan Club Site: Bladon road, Woodstock, oxfordshire, oX20 1PT. Tel: 01993 812390 Brown Moor Caravan Club Site: Brunt Acres road, Hawes, north Yorkshire, DL8 3Ps. Tel: 01969 667338. Chatsworth Park Caravan Club Site: Baslow, Bakewell, Derbyshire, De45 1Pn. Tel: 01246 582226. Crossways Caravan Club Site: crossways, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 8Be. Tel: 01305 852032 Dornafield Touring Park: Dornafield, Two Mile oak, newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 6DD. Tel: 01803 812732 Min y Don Caravan Club Site: Beach road, Harlech, gwyndd, LL46 2ug. Tel: 01766 780286 Littlehampton Caravan Club Site: Mill Lane, Wic, Littlehampton, West sussex, Bn17 7PH. Tel: 01903 716176 Longleat Caravan Club Site: Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7nL. Tel: 01985 844663 Losehill Caravan Club Site: castleton, Hope valley, Derbyshire, s33 8WB. Tel: 01433 620636 Silverbank Caravan Club Site: north Deeside road, Banchory, Aberdeenshire, AB31 5PY. Tel: 01330 822477 Tanner Farm Touring Caravan and Camping Park: goudhurst road, Marden, Tonbridge, Kent, Tn12 9nD. Tel: 01622 8322399 The Sandringham Estate Caravan Club Site: glucksburg Woods, sandringham, norfolk, Pe35 6eZ. Tel: 01553 631614 Troutbeck Head Caravan Club Site: Troutbeck, Penrith, cumbria, cA11 0ss. Tel: 01768 483521
PLANNING | choosing the right site
I would like a
pool and seaview
Author: Sarah Wakely
There’s almost a never-ending range of campsites on offer from large to small, tranquil to bustling, off-beat or in town that you’re sure to find something to suit you.
t one end of the spectrum are fullfacility, family-orientated sites; these often have bars, restaurants, children’s play areas and sometimes a swimming pool. You’ll often find entertainment in the evenings, and the campsite washroom facilities are usually plentiful to cope with the large number of campers. At the other end of the spectrum are quieter, smaller sites perhaps located in less popular areas; these might be for adults only and therefore generally quieter. Of course, there are pros and cons to both. Family orientated sites can be very busy, particularly during the school holidays, and often noisy. The cost of running all the facilities has to come from somewhere, so you’ll sometimes find that such sites are pricey. But if you’re travelling with children, or want to enjoy a drink at an onsite bar in the evening, these sites can’t be beaten. Smaller countryside sites often have less plush facilities, perhaps no hardstanding pitches, and sometimes even no mobile phone or television signal.
However, they do offer the peace and quiet that many tourers crave. Most sites are somewhere between the two, and identifying the sort of holiday you’d like is the first step in choosing the right site – or sites – for your tour.
What else do I need to consider?
As well as the facilities that you’d enjoy, such as cycle hire or a swimming pool, you’ll also need to think about whether a campsite offers the facilities that you consider important. For example, if you own a small camper without a washroom, then you’ll want to stay at a site that has full toilet facilities and possibly showers, too. On the other hand, modern motorhomes and caravans tend to have extensive onboard facilities, making their occupants quite selfsufficient – so you might choose to stay at sites that don’t have any washrooms. All sites will have a fresh-water tap and waste- and chemical-disposal points, but if you have a motorhome it’s worth enquiring whether a drive-over waste-water point is available – it makes emptying an onboard tank much easier. If you have a large motorhome you’ll need to think about how you’re going to get around once you’ve arrived, too. With care it’s possible to stop in many urban car parks, but those with height barriers will probably be inaccessible to you, and sometimes you’ll
The all-over, all-singing, all-dancing campsites will likely appeal to families with younger children.
There are plenty of secluded campsites, catering for those who seek peace. 88
PLANNING | choosING the rIGht sIte
Research is key before any tour: get it wrong and you could ruin your holiday, get it right and you will be back for more.
find that you end up having to park a long distance away and walk in. If this matters to you, find out what public-transport links the site offers, such as nearby bus stops, and how often services run. Catching a bus into town can very often work out cheaper than parking, too. A website such as Transport Direct (www. transportdirect.info) will easily allow you to plan travel from any campsite in the UK.
Finding the right site for you: A great place to research a suitable site is one of the many guidebooks that are available. Most, such as the AA Caravan and Camping Guide, focus more generally on sites across the UK, but others are more specialised. The Alan Rogers 101 series of guides, for example, feature its ‘Best Campsites’ on a number of themes, including sites for those with a dog, those who are touring with children, those who enjoy golf, and so on. All the campsites
in Alan Rogers’ books are inspected, too, so you’ll know that you can trust what you read. Specialist companies such as Vicarious Books (www.vicariousbooks.co.uk) also publish their own guides, such as Sea View Camping that – as the name suggests – concentrates only on coastal sites. There’s also a plethora of information available on the internet. The Caravan Club’s website (www.caravanclub.co.uk) is easy to use and will help you quickly find a site in the area that you’re planning to tour. Other, campsite-specific websites such as ukcampsite. co.uk or pitchup.com detail information about sites across the UK, and feature reviews from fellow campers – a great way to find out what a location is really like. They allow you to search by category, so you can opt for sites that are for adults only, or have WiFi. Also, have a look at the popular Trip Advisor website (www. tripadvisor.co.uk) for plenty of honest reviews.
Once you’ve arrived: Some site owners will allow you to choose your own pitch – think carefully about where you’d like to stay. If there’s a busy road nearby, selecting an area away from it will reduce the level of noise; similarly, a spot away from any bar or restaurant will minimise disturbance at night. If you’ve no onboard facilities you might want to choose a pitch close to the toilets, and those with children may prefer to be closer to play areas. Parking under trees offers shade on a hot day, but drips on the top of your caravan after rain can be irritating! Finally, if the weather looks like it might be wet, consider your getaway – grass pitches at the bottom of hills or in dips can become muddy, meaning it’s more tricky to drive away at the end of your stay. A hardstanding pitch reduces this risk.
Touring | rEViEWS
Innovation & Technology The team at Discover Touring receive many great stories and products – here they select the best of the bunch.
Wastemaster and Aquaroll (the portable water carrier that rolls across the ground) make light work of transporting fresh water to your pitch. Due to the products’ popularity they have become an essential and iconic part of caravanning life for 60 years. The company is celebrating its Diamond Anniversary in 2013. To commemorate this special date, the Aquaroll and Wastemaster are being produced in a metallic colour. www.aquaroll.com
Brenderup The history of Thule Trailers goes back to 1936 when Mr. ove ve Justesen founded “Brenderup Maskinfabrik” in the little village of Brenderup located in the west part of the island of Funen, Denmark. The team at Discover Touring had the pleasure of using the Brenderup 1150s trailer over the summer and were mighty impressed with its solid construction, aerodynamic curved top box and massive storage space. it travelled far and wide (Dorset and France) and was so unfussy that it was easy to forget it formed part of the car. it comes with a useful spare tyre and a forward third wheel to make it more manageable when manoeuvring into a garage or drive at the end of a long weekend away. Perfect for chores around the home and garden, but best of all for transporting camping gear on holiday. Top of the class in our opinion – and sensible price points throughout the whole range. www.brenderup.co.uk
CA Clase cA clase announces the launch of the new Megasat camping Tv. The cTv19sDvD is the latest product in a new generation of LeD 12v Tvs with integrated free-to-air satellite receiver as well as the normal digital terrestrial tuner (also known as Freeview). This makes it ideal for the camping and marine markets due to its flexibility of reception. suitable for 12v and 24v applications, the build of the Tv has shock resistance inherent in the design protecting components from travelinduced vibration, which standard home-use Tvs are not resilient to. www.caclase.co.uk
Dometic The dimensions and rectangular shape of the Waeco cool Freeze cF-35 make it easier to find a home for it when you have limited space. We were impressed with its capacity and managed to pack more into it than we thought would be possible. We liked the fact that it had good temperature control facility and a digital display of its current temperature. The speed with which it got down to the required temperature was efficient. Minor downsides: on some really hot days the internal temperature rose from -15 to – 7 and on occasions it took a couple of attempts to close the lid fully. great all round product however, and great value for money. www.my-caravanning.com 90
Designed for a roof thickness between 25 and 60 millimetres, and with built-in dimensions of 40 x 70 centimetres, The Midi Heki style is ideal for narrower roof layouts. The streamlined design of the rooflight neatly conceals the outer frame and sound-absorbing double acrylic glazing makes for enhanced comfort on board. The interior frame of the Midi Heki style has an integrated blind as well as a fly screen; both of which can be adjusted separately of each other. Adopting the opening mechanism from the current Midi Heki series, the crank locking system enables easy opening and automatically locks the rooflight when closed. The unit is available with or without forced ventilation.
Touring | rEViEWS
Westfalia Westfalia announces the launch of a brand new uK website for the complete range of towbars, electrical wiring kits and load carrying solutions. From the home page you can easily navigate your way around the site and access information based on your own choice rather than sifting through everything to decide what is of interest. Key sections include towbars & wiring kits, load carriers and a knowledge centre where visitors can access lots of useful and practical information and advice. You can easily search for a towbar either by vehicle make and model or by vehicle registration number. Fitting instructions can also be downloaded directly from the site. Towbars can be registered on the product registration page whilst a fitter search function means you can easily find someone local to fit your purchase. www.westfalia-automotive.co.uk
This company has developed a retractable towbar, the rX system, into the aftermarket. Available initially for the vW Passat (B7), further product applications will follow. The rX system has been developed on the back of many years’ research and development, in collaboration with many of the world’s leading motor vehicle manufacturers, to ensure they perfectly match each make and model of vehicle. Thanks to its compact design and precision rotation mechanism, the new system can provide design solutions that were previously not possible on some vehicles due to restricted installation space between the vehicle’s rear panel and the bumper. if a bumper cut is required, Westfalia has followed the exact cut specified by the vehicle manufacturer. The towbar is unlocked using an easy access handle positioned behind the bumper. The towbar neck is then rotated by hand into the final locked position. For safety, a warning tone will sound if the mechanism is not correctly located in the locked position. The electrical socket is conveniently located on the towbar neck, making the connection between car and trailer, caravan or cycle carrier easy. When not in use the towbar neck and electrical socket can be swivelled back and out of sight behind the vehicle’s bumper and is supplied complete with a 13-pin vehicle specific electrical wiring kit. www.westfalia-automotive.co.uk
Touring | rEViEWS Isabella The cosy corner, from isabella, the award-winning awning company, is the latest addition to its varied range of awning accessories. ideal for creating shelter or extra screening at the front of the awning, it provides a great place for you to sit and soak up the atmosphere at the campsite. The stylish and practical design makes this the must-have addition to your awning for the new season. With a depth of approximately 150cm, assembly is easy by virtue of its sewn-on beading and connection systems as well as the Tectum Pro system and lightweight carbonX fibreglass poles. The cosy corner offers flexible positioning options, either at the left or right of the doors at the front or in the middle of the awning. For those seeking a larger area, two cosy corners can be placed together, forming an extra angle. The isabella cosy corner is available in sizes to fit most isabella and ventura awnings and other makes of awnings. www.isabella.net
Isabella easy tensioning on isabella’s Zinox steel frames with the T-rex locking clamp. The newly developed T-rex telescopic lock fully lives up to its namesake. With a powerful bite, it mercilessly locks in place and keeps the poles tensioned in all weather conditions. With one press of the handle a discreet ‘click’ tells you that T-rex is locked in position. However, unlike the dangerous prehistoric giant, the telescopic lock can be released again when you wish – completely effortlessly. T-rex can be used together with the tensioning tool ‘Hercules Twin’. www.isabella.net
Raskelf A Yorkshire business couple has signed an exclusive contract to supply a new, lightweight, recyclable product to the leisure vehicle industry. Duvalay owners Liz and Alan colleran have produced the Duvalite range, which will include the first fully recyclable memory fibre mattress, ideal for the caravan, motorhome and boating industries. initial tests show the Duvalite mattress can shave 37 per cent off the weight of an average caravan mattress weighing 15 kilos, with the Duvalite weighing in at nine kilos. if memory fibre were also used in the soft furnishings, an overall saving of around 11 and a half kilos (two stone) would be made, making a significant impact on fuel costs. users will also find Duvalite technology will improve comfort, give better temperature harmony and dissipate moisture more effectively. www.duvalay.co.uk
The popular ventura Pacific 250 awning has been given a modern makeover for the 2013 season, with a brand new design and colour scheme in shades of clean-cut grey. This model boasts simple construction, making it particularly easy for touring. The material is a lightweight polyester fabric, which is also easy to keep clean thanks to its external coating. The awning is supplied with a choice of the Prenox steel frame or the lightweight iXL fibre frame for touring. For added ventilation there is a mosquito net with foil cover in one side or alternatively all of the panels can be either folded down or completely removed. if more space is required the 250 Annex (optional extra) can be zipped to either side of the awning, making this an ideal choice for growing families. so if you are looking to save time when camping, Pacific 250 is the ideal choice! www.ventura-camping.com/uk/
NoT geTTINg away wITh IT!
n 22nd July 2012, a swift caravan owner was going about his day unaware that he would become a victim of crime. His pride and joy had taken the eye of a passing group of individuals, but their interest was not one of admiration. The gang gained entry to the storage yard where the caravan was parked, and attached it to the rear of the vehicle before making off with it. Fortunately for the owner, he had had the forethought to fit his caravan with a HAL Locate tracking system when taking delivery. This is one of the few trackers to be approved by Thatcham, a highly respected quality standards organisation. The HAL Locate system quickly noted that the swift was on the move while still in a set mode and instantly sent an alarm message to eurowatch – HAL Locate’s designated emergency management organisation. The eurowatch operator was quickly in touch with the owner, who confirmed that his caravan should be stationary at the storage site and that, yes, it seemed his caravan had been stolen. The operator activated the tracking on the HAL Locate system and maintained a watch on it while the customer
reported the theft to the police. Armed with the customer’s crime reference number, the eurowatch operator was able to speak directly with the police and guided them to the caravan’s location – at a campsite. During the recovery operation, the police made several arrests and recovered not only the customer’s caravan (which was returned to him shortly afterwards) but also two other caravans that had been stolen in the area. A happy ending thanks to the customer’s foresight, the HAL/ eurowatch combination and the rapid response of the strathclyde police.
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SaTellITe TV oN The moVe
love sleep z love duvalay z z
Written by the experts at Maxview.
hen visiting a campsite in the uK or, even more so, across europe, one of the things you will notice is the number of satellite dishes, of all shapes and sizes, either sitting next to the caravans and motorhomes or sitting proudly on the top, peering to the sky. With the switchover to digital Tv all but completed in the uK, satellite Tv equipment has become more of a necessity than a luxury if you want to be sure of parking up, settling back and enjoying all those programmes that you receive at home. While a conventional aerial will often suffice, these have always been somewhat hit and miss for the mobile market. now with digital there’s no more looking at Coronation Street through a snowstorm of interference. The signal is either there, or it’s not – and all too often, it’s not! so how does satellite Tv work when travelling and why are there so many options? First, it’s not the black art that some may think it is. if we think about an aerial for a moment. We all know that a signal is sent by a broadcaster to a transmitter. These are normally on top of masts at the highest point in an area. The signal is then broadcast by that transmitter and collected by your aerial that you’ve pointed towards it. in a similar way, a signal is transmitted up to a particular satellite, which is then beamed back to a particular part of the earth and, assuming you point your satellite dish at that satellite; you receive the programmes on your Tv. To choose the equipment best suited for your needs you can ask yourself three simple questions:
Where am I going? if you’re staying in the uK, then a small dish will be big enough. if you intend to travel in to europe then generally, so far as satellite dishes are concerned, bigger is better. Whether it’s on a tripod, on the roof, or in a dome, there’s no point in heading off to spain with a 40cm dish expecting to keep up to date with the events in eastenders. To receive most (but even then, not necessarily all) uK channels in spain, a dish of at least 85cm is needed.
What channels do I want to watch? it was the case that if somebody wanted satellite Tv in their leisure vehicle, it was because they had sKY at home, and still wanted it when they were away. nowadays, people don’t necessarily want sKY, they just want to be sure of receiving digital quality Tv whenever and wherever they choose. if around 300 channels are enough, including all the conventional terrestrial channels, and digital radio, then free-to-air will do the job. This is the most popular choice for mobile use. There’s no subscription, receivers designed for the mobile market are readily available, and there’s no restrictions on use in europe.
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How do I find the signal? First, you can use a manual system, tuned by hand using such things as a compass and satellite finding meter. With a little patience and practice these can be very quick and easy to set up. second, you can use a semi-automatic system, these are operated by a remote control to manually adjust the internal dish to find the signal. Third, fully automatic, press a button and all the hard work is done for you. clever electronics locate your desired satellite and lock the dish onto the signal. All three types are available in portable or roof mounted systems, but for practicality, the bigger dish systems tend to be mounted on the vehicle roof. With thanks to Maxview.
Touring | REVIEWS
ost of us now accept that a towbar is a safety critical piece of equipment. Today, the best quality towbars are produced in highly efficient factories utilising precision manufacturing systems, in a quality controlled environment that has to meet the exacting standards of vehicle manufacturers. It is ironic that when we specify the electrics for the vehicle, so many choose to have an installation that bypasses the vehicle’s safety systems and which doesn’t interact with the vehicle’s highly sophisticated control systems. The almost exponential increase in the sophistication of vehicle electrical systems, and their ability to interact with all functions of the vehicle, has led to an increase in demand for vehicle specific wiring kits. Vehicle specific wiring kits have been designed to work in harmony with the vehicle and fully integrate with all of the cars safety and towing systems as well as allowing the car to know when a trailer is being towed. If the car has been wired using a simple bypass relay, it cannot see the trailer and the towing safety features will not be activated. When the car knows it is towing it can interact with some of the following towing related safety systems: n Trailer Stability Programs n Reversing Cameras n Built in Bulb Failure Indicator Systems n Adaptive Cruise Control n Brake Electronics n Suspension Systems n Park Distance Control Systems n Cooling Systems n Fog Light Cut Off The list above does not just apply to high specification luxury vehicles, but can be found in an increasing number of day-to-day towing vehicles. If the
vehicle has been wired with a bypass relay it cannot interact with the vehicles towing specific systems. This could lead to an increased risk of damage to the vehicle. Some vehicle’s will require additional diagnostic work to activate the towing functions. This is known as coding. Many specialist towbar installers now have the necessary coding equipment required to do this job. The coding tool plugs into the vehicles OBD plug, and then by following a series of predetermined steps, the towbar installer will activate the vehicle’s towing features. The installation of towbar electrics is no longer a simple choice of 7, twin or 13 pin electrics. The vehicle owner must now decide if they wish to utilise all the additional features that are within the vehicle that will enhance the safety of the vehicle and its passengers. With thanks to Westfalia.
It’s you! L
ucky prize-winner Leah Marks picked up the keys to a new Bailey Orion 530-6 caravan courtesy of Discover Touring from Mervyn Hughes of Cosford Caravans in June. Simon Howard of Bailey (right) and Leah’s family also attended the event. On receiving her prize, a beaming Leah said: “We are amazed and still in shock. The caravan is wonderful and reminds us of a Tardis – the space inside is much bigger than you would expect and easily accommodates us and our
two young boys. We can’t wait to start touring. Wales, here we come.” This exciting prize was up for grabs as part of a year-long free to enter competition open to Discover Touring readers through their dedicated ‘win a Bailey’ website. As with all Orion models the 530-6 has a lightweight and aerodynamic bodyshell making it easy to drive, easy to park and easy to store, thus providing the flexibility of use as a mobile base from which people can enjoy
their chosen leisure activity. It is built using the same high performance Alu-Tech construction system featured in the other Bailey ranges and also includes a GRP outer skin for extra durability. The Orion includes a number of luxuries, such as a microwave oven and a branded Radio/CD/MP3 player with stereo speakers, to ensure that you will be totally self-contained. For more information on the Orion range please visit www.baileyorion.co.uk
! W E N
THE NEXT GENERATION! WITH NEW SLEEK, MODERN HANDLE DESIGN & CHASSIS
RE OUR QUEST CATALEISURE LO TOD GUE AY* Visit us at our stand for hands on demos of this system! Twin LNB as standard. Choose from a 65cm or 85cm dish.
Search ‘MAXVIEW LIMITED’ Ergonomic handle design optimises positional accuracy. With clear easy to read elevation angles (A).
Manual, roof mounted system - How does it work? Simply adjust the system from the comfort of your vehicle with the easy to operate direction unit. Effortlessly raise and rotate the dish to locate and lock onto your favourite UK TV channels, anywhere in the UK and across into Europe. The ideal budget alternative to those considering a fully automatic dish system.
Handle is mounted onto vehicle ceiling. (A).
To find out more detailed product features visit www.maxview.co.uk or alternatively ask your dealer. Also available to download or order online is our latest leisure catalogue, or request a hard copy by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (quote code DT1)
When in park position, the system is compact & hidden out of view & only a little higher than most vehicle sky lights. Only 17cm in height!
Is the UK’s only manufacturer of both satellite & terrestrial touring products with UK customer support. Come and see us!. This year why not visit us at one of the many motorhome shows & dealer events we support. See our brand new exhibition vehicle for hands on demonstrations of this product & chat to our TV reception experts. Check our website for show dates. WE HAVE A NETWORK OF PROFESSIONAL INSTALLERS READY TO TAKE YOUR ORDER, HERE ARE JUST A FEW... Adventure Motorhomes. Highbridge, Somerset Tel: 01278 785712 www.adventuremotorhomes.co.uk
Leisuretech Services. Clitheroe, Lancashire Tel: 01200 442277 www.leisuretechservices.com
M & E Motorhome & Caravan Services. Lisburn, Co.Antrim Tel: 02892 622161 www.mandemotorhomes.co.uk
United British Caravans Ltd. Wideopen, Tyne & Wear Tel: 01912 363156 www.unitedbritishcaravans.co.uk
Knowepark Caravans & Motorhomes. Livingston, West Lothian Tel: 01506 411827 www.kpcm.co.uk
Vanplus Leisure Ltd. Crosshands, Carmarthenshire Tel: 01269 846399 www.vanplus.co.uk
Brownhills Motorhomes Ltd. Newark, Nottinghamshire Tel: 01636 704201 www.brownhills.co.uk
Camper North East. Tyne & Wear, Co. Durham Tel: 01914 921708 www.camperne.com
TJS Caravan Services. Mansfield, Nottinghamshire Tel: 01623 424702 www.tjscaravanservices.co.uk
Solar Solutions. Poole, Dorset Tel: 01202 632488 www.solarsolutionsltd.co.uk
Wensum Caravan Services Ltd. Fakenham, Norfolk Tel: 01328 878306 www.wensumcaravan.co.uk
Broadlane Leisure Ltd. Leek Wootton, Warwickshire Tel: 01926 858880 Alcester, Warwickshire Tel: 01789 763432 www.broadlane.co.uk
Essanjay Ltd. Poole, Dorset Tel: 01202 683608 www.essanjay.co.uk
Outdoor Bits Exmouth, Devon Tel: 0845 8698940 www.outdoorbits.com
Automate. Newark, Nottinghamshire Tel: 0845 652 9501 www.auto-mate.org.uk
Danum Leisure. Askern, Doncaster Tel: 01302 708566 www.danumleisure.com
Also available through most other professional motorhome dealer workshops.
Helpline No.: 01553 811000 Head Office No.: 01553 813300
*Request a copy of our leisure catalogue by emailing email@example.com (quote DT1)
reviews | 2013
What do the UK’s big five manufacturers have to offer for 2013? Discover Touring finds out what’s new and what’s hot from the big five UK manufacturers.
Author: Terry Owen
he good news for consumers is that the competition between the various manufacturers has never been so strong. Specifications for caravans and motorhomes are continuing to increase while many caravan weights continue to fall, making this year’s models accessible to a wider range of towcars and drivers. How is this possible? The answer lies in innovative design, attention to detail and advanced construction techniques. Most prices have moved up a little so those looking for a bargain should search out any 2012 models that are still on the forecourts, as these may now be attracting a discount. Bargain hunters should also look at dealer specials, where available. They are based on existing models but come with extras at a price hard to match if bought separately.
The beauty of Bailey: Founded in 1948 Bailey is the UK’s longest established caravan manufacturer. In the autumn of 2009 it caused a stir by producing a range of 96
End lounges are always
popular, this is the Bailey Approach 640.
caravans using an entirely new construction technique, which it christened Alu-Tech. The technique differed from traditional methods by dispensing with wood framing in the sides and roof along with most external screws. In came bonded panels made of composite materials, clamped together by means of interlocking aluminium rails and internal bolts. The result was a very strong and warm caravan. The range was called Pegasus and it became an instant hit, so much so that during the next year Bailey transferred all its production to Alu-Tech. There are four ranges of touring caravans – Orion, Olympus, Pegasus and Unicorn. Entry-level Orion models are characterised
by their rounded back end, low weights and GRP body shells, the latter giving resistance to minor knocks and bumps. Families might want to look at the Orion 450/5. It has five berths and an amazing amount of space thanks to a triple-bunk arrangement. Olympus caravans received a much-needed makeover for 2012 with warmer and more stylish interiors. Their better-specified Pegasus sisters received a similar makeover in 2011. This was not only designed to improve on the previous rather bland interior but also to place the Pegasus model firmly in number two position to the top of the range Unicorn. After its launch in July 2010 the Unicorn became a runaway success but three years
reviews | 2013 Below: Coachman Pastiche 525/4 showing L-shaped kitchen. Left: The stylish Coachman Pastiche 525/4. Middle left: Interior of the Elddis Autoquest 115. Bottom left: Elddis Avanté.
and airy inside with wellappointed kitchens and washrooms. All models are fitted with 100 litre tanks for both fresh and waste water. Prices start at a competitive £41,000 on the road.
The class of Coachman:
on Bailey has decided it’s time for a re-vamp. Unicorn weights are reduced by up to 100kg and the centre front window now extends up into the roof. Step inside and it all makes sense, with an unhindered view of the world outside, set off by a sumptuous interior. In autumn 2011 Bailey launched its first ever range of motorhomes – the Approach. These too use Alu-Tech construction and are unchanged for 2013. They share much with their caravan cousins and might persuade some to swap to a motorhome for the first time. If there is a downside it’s that, with a body width of 2.424m (7ft11in) excluding mirrors, they are not ideal for those who like to explore narrow lanes. There are five layouts to choose from starting with the six metre long 620, two berth model and moving up to the 7.5 metre 760, six-berth model, which features an overcab double bed. The motorhomes are spacious
Coachman Caravans was established in 1986 and has since earned itself a reputation for producing well made caravans where quality comes first. This can mean that Coachman vans are sometimes heavier than their competitors but quality comes at a price. The Amara range is designed with families in mind and, for 2013, there are no less than nine models including two new ones. One of these, the 565/4, is the increasingly popular twin bed, end washroom layout. The other is the 580/5, a parallel front bunk, side dinette layout with a washroom in one corner and twin bunks in the other, making it ideal for a family of up to four. For the 2012 model year Pastiche, VIP and Laser models were given stunning new shapes with raised shoulder lines front and panoramic roof windows. It was quite a departure for such a traditional company but the new vans were an instant hit. For 2013 the six model Pastiche range contains an amazing new layout in the shape of the Pastiche 525/4. In concept it’s similar to the Amara 580/5 but by reversing the positions of the washroom and bunks Coachman has managed to transform the kitchen into an L shape. There is even a walkin wardrobe. The bunk area can be closed off by a curtain leaving access to the washroom from the rest of the van. It’s aimed firmly at what Coachman refers to as the Grandparentdemand sector of the market and will surely be a big seller. The VIP/Laser ranges represent the top of the Coachman offering with the Laser models being the twin axle variants. New
for 2013 is the Laser 620/4, which is a twin-axle caravan without a fixed bed. If you can live with that the result is a no compromise van with large front bunks, wide side dinette, fridge freezer, large end washroom and acres of kitchen workspace. Those with children might be interested to know that the side dinette can be made into a single bed, or bunk beds, and closed off with a curtain.
The enterprise of Elddis: Elddis has
a heritage dating back 1964; manufacturing touring caravans and Britain’s best selling range of motorhomes, the Autoquest. Up to now the construction techniques used by Elddis have been traditional but, for the 2013 model year, it wanted to come up with something that would set it apart from its competitors. Three years ago Elddis joined forces with Henkel, an international company specialising in chemical bonding. Following extensive testing Elddis has now eliminated 90% of the external screws in favour of bonding the body shell together. The new technique has allowed the bodyshell to become lighter and stronger with joints that will not let the weather in. Elddis calls it ‘SoLiD’ construction, standing for Strong, Light and Dry. For 2013 Elddis is offering five ranges of caravans – from the entry level Xplore through the Avanté, and all new Affinity to the Crusader and Buccaneer. The Xplore range is ideal for those new to caravanning wanting a lightweight tourer but with all the important kit included. There are several family friendly layouts to choose from. The other ranges offer increasing levels of specification with plenty of choice for families and couples alike. The new Affinity range comes with Alde wet central heating as standard and offers a high level of specification for the price. Sitting at the top, Buccaneer models come with some of the best kit money can buy. New for 2013 is a twin bed, end washroom, layout – the Fluyt. It costs a little over £24,000 and may well prove popular with retired couples. Shortly after its launch in 1988 the Autoquest motorhome range became u Discover Touring
reviews | 2013
Lunar Ven us 320/2.
Lunar Quasar 546 – rear bunks.
a best seller and remains so today. It’s easy to see why. Keen pricing and compact styling make Autoquest motorhomes an attractive, go-anywhere proposition. Specification levels may be modest but that doesn’t seem to matter too much for those looking to get a toe hold into the world of motorhoming. No less than eight layouts are now offered including the new 175 low line two berth featuring a large end washroom and fridge freezer. It’s perfect for couples who want go away for extended periods. In 2011 the Autoquest was joined by the upmarket Aspire – a motorhome designed to offer a higher level of specification, for its price, than competitor products. Cab air conditioning, cruise control, wet central heating, fridge freezers and ceramic bowl loos combine with contrasting woodwork to give a luxurious effect. There are four layouts on offer with prices starting at around £44,000 for the two berth model. Elddis has a ‘belts equal berths’ policy whereby all its motorhomes have the same number of designated travelling seats as berths. This means you can legally carry all those you can provide a berth for – high time someone realised this equation. 98
orn Bailey Unic
double bed, they are really only suitable for children if used as singles. Move up to the family oriented Ariva/Quasar range and the choice widens considerably. The Quasar 546 has double bunks in the offside rear corner and a three seat dinette where the kids can eat or amuse themselves. The whole area can be closed off with a curtain – perfect for mums and dads wanting a bit of peace. It costs in the region of £17,000 and has an MTPLM of 1440kg. New for 2013 is the Quasar 524, a four berth model with an end washroom and side dinette that will convert into a pair of bunk beds. The Stellar/Lexon range gains two new models. The Lexon 640 twin bed, end washroom layout and the family friendly Lexon 650 with fixed bunks and an end washroom. The Clubman/Delta range is Lunar’s finest with the Delta versions being the twin axle models. Five of the seven layouts have fixed beds and, although they can sleep four, they probably work best as super luxury two berths. The family friendly Delta FB (fixed bunks) is dropped for 2013 but some may still be on forecourts. For 2013 the top three ranges gain deeper front windows designed to give the vans a lighter, airier feel. It’s Lunar’s answer to those who are not so keen on roof windows and prefer a more traditional look. The Stellar/ Lexon and Clubman/Delta ranges also get a new curved front panel for a more contemporary look.
The common sense of Swift:
Since its foundation in 1965 Swift has grown to become the UK’s largest producer of touring products. This Swift Challeng growth has been achieved, at least in er SE – interio r. part, by the acquisition of other brands such as Abbey, Sprite, Bessacarr, Ace and Autocruise. The liveliness of Lunar: Lunar For 2013 Swift is offering seven ranges of Caravans was founded in 1969 at the time of caravans and eight of motorhomes. That may the moon landings, which is how it acquired sound a lot but, some ranges are really clones of its name. From the outset the Lunar ethos others, differentiated by wood colour and fabric has been one of building lightweight luxury changes. All models come with the Tracker tourers. It’s been very successful in this Retrieve vehicle tracking system as standard. respect and has carved a niche section of the The entry level Sprite range comprises seven market with products up to 15% lighter than models. There are several models to suit families many rivals. but the most practical for those with children In recent years all manufacturers have been is the four berth Musketeer EB (end bunks that reducing weights but Lunar has somehow can be screened off) and the six berth Major 6 managed to stay just ahead of the pack. In (fixed bunks with individual curtains and a side February 2012 it launched into the lower end dinette/double bunks with curtain). of the market with a new range of vans called The Challenger and Eccles Sport models Venus. The objective was to make them the were launched for 2012 and became instant lightest most affordable caravans in the UK. best sellers for couples and families alike. For For 2013 the six model range starts with the 2013 the popular sunroof option becomes Venus 320, a two berth, end kitchen model standard across the 10 model range. with an MTPLM of 905kg. Challenger/Sterling Eccles models get The two four-berth Venus models have a complete makeover for 2013 and gain fixed beds so limiting the length of the front the suffix SE. Weights are down by up to bunks. Whilst these do make up into a decent 125kg and Alde wet central heating become
reviews | 2013 Coachman Laser 620–4
Swift Sprite Alpine 2 – interior.
standard. There are seven models to choose from. Couples are really spoiled for choice but families too should find something to suit in this increasingly upmarket collection. The flagship Swift Conqueror/Sterling Elite models continue largely unchanged with minor tweaks to trim levels and specifications. Most of the models have fixed beds and are perhaps aimed at couples but the side dinette in the 530 makes up into a single bed or two bunks. From the Autocruise small van conversions right up to the coach built Kontiki at
8.5 metres long, Swift has a comprehensive motorhome offering. The budget Escape range is already a firm favourite with first time buyers, offering great value for a coachbuilt motorhome. One of the most popular layouts is the end lounge 686, which works equally well for couples and families of up to six people. It tips the scales at 3650kg but can be downgraded to a more licencefriendly 3,500kg by the removal of one rear seat belt. Specifications are upped on Sundance/
E400 models for 2013 with the addition of Truma Combi boilers for heating and hot water. The five best-selling layouts have been retained and three new ones added, each with four travelling seats, so ideal for families. Bolero/E500 models were re-launched for 2012 and receive minor improvements. All models are ‘low line’ meaning none has an over cab bed. Top of the range Kontiki/E700 models gain Alde wet central heating for the first time.
orion (6) £12,995 – £14,695 olympus (4) £14,995 – £17,295 Pegasus (6) £16,295 – £18,895
Approach (5) £41,000 – £45,000
unicorn (5) £18,895 – £21,995 Amara (9) £15,495 – £19,945 Pastiche (6) £19,945 – £21,745
coachman has never made motorhomes
viP/Laser (8) £20,795 – £25,975
Xplore (5 ) £10,999 – £13,999 Autoquest (8) £33,499 – £37,479
Avanté (8) £15,149 – £18649 Affinity (4) £18,999 crusader (6) £20,999 – £23,999
Aspire (4) £43,899 – £48,999
Buccaneer (5) £24,299 – £27,199
venus (4) £10,795 -12,895 Ariva/Quasar (8) £13,995 – £ 16,695 stellar/Lexon (6) £16,195 – £21,395
Lunar last made motorhomes in 2008
clubman/Delta (7) £19,795 – £24,395
sprite (7) £12,485 – £15,260
Autocruise (7) £38,395 – £43,835
challenger sport (10) £15,495 – £18,799
sterling eccles sport (10) £15,495 – £18,799
escape (4) £33,995 – £37,155
challenger se (7) £18,149 – £21,849
sterling eccles se (7) £18,149 – £21,849
sundance (8) £37,995 – £45,985
Bessacarr e400 (8) £37,995 – £46,235
conqueror (6) £19,795 – £23,749
sterling eccles elite (6) £19,795 – £23,749
Bolero (7) £50,195 – £53,595
Bessacarr e500 (7) £37,995 – £46,235
Kontiki (4) £69,995
– Discover Touring
PRACTICAL | BuyIng
of buying Author: Rob McCabe
so, you want to buy a caravan. That’s your first good decision – you won’t regret it for a minute. But you have many other big decisions to make before you hand over any cash – let’s steer you in the right direction.
100 Discover Touring
uying anything new brings its own special delights: everything is, er, new, you’ll benefit from bang-up-to-date styling and equipment, and you’ll get the full works so far as warranties are concerned. On the downside, new caravans are (for the most part) expensive, especially when you add on the £500-plus delivery charge that’s added to the cost of almost every new caravan – don’t get caught out by that one when you’re working out your budget. And as soon as you drive off the forecourt with it, its value will already have dropped substantially – just as with cars.
A lot of sense
If you do your homework, shop wisely and are prepared to haggle even just a bit, buying second-hand makes a lot of sense. If you were considering buying new, look instead for a nearly new (one or two years old) caravan from a reputable dealer who holds a franchise to sell the make you’re interested in. He’ll usually have the best stock, often comprising hardly used caravans from customers who trade up every year or two as a matter of course: you’ll benefit from their willingness
PRACTICAL | BuyIng devices all thrown in. Don’t be blinded by that, though – the condition of the caravan is far and away the most important criterion. Check for damp. You may be able to smell it but either way, check all the corners on the walls and inspect inside all the lockers. Consider taking a damp meter – you can get one for £15-£20. If the floor feels spongy to walk on, it’s likely that delamination has taken place. It’s repairable but expensive so, if you encounter it (or damp), walk away. Thousands of caravans will be free of trouble.
What about eBay?
When making that all-important buying decision – test everything, think it all through and imagine life as a tourer.
to haemorrhage cash by saving a packet, and you’ll still get a warranty. There’s no waiting list and there’s no delivery charge to whack on. While looking, don’t be surprised to chance across a caravan that’s a good few years older than your intended target yet still looks almost new. Half the price of a new one? With an awning? And a motorised mover? I’ll take it.
We could fill the entire magazine with this one – determining which interior layout is best for you should take up a huge chunk of your pre-purchase homework time, because if you get this wrong, you may regret it. Always take the whole family to look at a caravan you’re interested in. Get everyone to try their designated bed for size. Sit in every seat. Get everyone to sit up front on the sofas together. Haul the table out and sit around it. Where will the telly be situated? Would everyone be able to see it? Is the loo in the right place… and do you really need a big washroom taking up all that space at the back? Is that really all the kitchen workspace there is? If there are just two of you, a permanent-bed four-berth is a great choice. If there are four
of you, consider a six-berth to give you a bedplus-extra-seating option… the list goes on, but please take the time to get it right!
Private sale or dealer?
If you’re buying used, these are your two choices. You’ll pay more at the dealer’s, obviously, because he has to make his profit. But, as we’ve seen, he’ll often have the best choice and you should – on all except the cheapest sold as seen caravans, get some sort of warranty and possibly a pre-collection service. If you see anything that’s not right – a loose cooker lid or a missing window catch, say – make a list and ask for them to be sorted. You can also spread the cost by paying for the caravan with your credit card – worth considering, especially if you have a zero per cent purchase rate for a certain period. And if you have a problem, it’s often (not always…) easier to get resolution from a trader than from a private seller. Buying privately is the cheapest way to become a caravan owner. The seller often includes all the caravan’s equipment in the deal – it’s not unusual to find an awning, stabiliser, water containers, mains lead and security
This can be a great way to grab a bargain – but never, ever bid on one without going to see it first and subjecting it to the kind of scrutiny we’ve discussed above. Key in your postcode and limit your search to a reasonable distance from home. Before you go to the trouble of travelling to see one, you may want to ask if it has ever been smoked in – you’ll struggle to rid a caravan of the smell of stale fag smoke. All that considered, the main thing to guard against on eBay is getting into a bidding war and paying over the odds, just because you don’t want to be beaten. Stick to your budget and let the others pay over the odds: there are plenty of caravans out there. If you ignore my advice and bid on one unseen (honestly – don’t do it!), don’t hand over the money if you turn up to collect it and find that it’s far from being in the excellent condition it was described as. Walk away and consider yourself all the wiser.
Should I hire before I buy?
It’s worth thinking about if you’re not entirely sure that caravanning is for you, or if your other half needs a bit of convincing! Lots of reputable dealers operate a hire service: think of £300 a week as a benchmark figure. If you go for it, pick a model that has the layout that suits your needs most and, obviously, make sure your car is capable of towing it. The dealer will give you a thorough demonstration of how everything works before you take it away, which will be valuable. For just a little bit more money than that, though, you can actually buy an old, cheap caravan in good, serviceable condition. That’s what I would do. If the family still love going away in something with burnt orange upholstery and flowery curtains (they will, honestly), you know you’re on to a winner and can go off and invest in something much newer and posher. You can sell the oldie for what you paid for it, or maybe even a bit more if you’re cheeky – there’s always a market for bargain-basement caravans that have a few years in them yet. In conclusion: research is key so use the internet, talk to dealers, involve the whole family and even friends, visit the shows and never rush your decision, as it is a big decision.
Discover Touring 101
PRACTICAL | ARRIvIng
Ye hah, we’ve arrived
but what now? Author: Rob McCabe
After all the excitement of researching, choosing, buying and collecting your new caravan, the most exciting part of this brave new world is yet to come – loading it with all your holiday gear, hitching up and setting off on that first holiday. it’s a great feeling!
here are alternatives to a touring holiday, but they come with a warning! You can always find a cheap flight and hotel deal, but flying to a distant destination is to deny yourself the pleasures of seeing the changing countryside along the way, immersing yourself in the local markets and culture and buying local delicacies. Mainstream hotels have become so internationalised that you could be anywhere when inside one. 102 Discover Touring
Make the journey to your chosen site as relaxing and fuss-free as possible by planning your route beforehand. When booking a new site, it’s a good idea to ask the owner or warden about arriving on site: what landmarks should I be looking out for as I get closer to it? Is the B876 a good route for caravans? On the subject of good routes, don’t rely 100 per cent on satnav. I still wince at the memory of being guided on to a steep, narrow Devon lane that would have been a challenge
for a solo car, never mind the caravan that I happened to have on the back at the time. It caused chaos, with motorists coming the other way having to reverse sometimes hundreds of yards into a gateway so I could squeeze past. I’ve never been so glad to see a main road in my life. So, keep to the main drag; and if you are using satnav, scroll through the route list before you go and double-check any you’re not sure about with the help of a road atlas. If you have access to a computer, Google Streetview is brilliant for this – you can take a virtual ‘drive’ and see for yourself what any unfamiliar B-roads look like. Allow yourself plenty of time for the journey – but not too much! If you arrive at your site too early, you may find that your allocated pitch hasn’t been vacated by the previous guest yet. Take note of the time that pitches become available when making the booking. u
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PRACTICAL | ARRIvIng
Take time to find the right pitch when you arrive, and don’t be afraid to ask for help – this can break the ice and may lead to an evening of entertainment. once settled in enjoy the surrounding areas on a bike – this is a great way to feel real freedom while on tour.
When you check in on arrival, you may be allocated a particular pitch or, if the site’s not full, you may be handed a site map and be given free rein to take any unoccupied pitch. Just a word from the wise regarding this: while you may at first think it’s great to have a pitch directly opposite the utility block, it may turn out to be the busiest and noisiest part of the site. When you’ve finished checking in, you mustn’t feel awkward about asking for help finding your pitch and/or positioning the caravan: we were all newcomers once! Indeed, you’ll very quickly find that most seasoned caravanners are happy to offer a helping hand or a few words of advice. I always think it’s polite to accept the offer, even if it’s just to have an extra hand on the grab handle as you and your other half position the caravan how you want it on the pitch. It’s also a chance to say hello and to break the ice.
With practice, sorting out the caravan once you’ve arrived at your pitch doesn’t take long, especially if you organise the family into a well-oiled machine, with everybody knowing what their allocated tasks are! Don’t be in too much of a hurry to uncouple the caravan from the car: it’s much easier for a powerful internal combustion engine to push the van on to the pitch than it is for you. So, take your time and reverse it nice and slowly on to your pitch. If you need to drive forward a bit, straighten up and have a couple of goes at it, that’s perfectly fine. Okay, now that the van is where you want it, you can uncouple. For safety’s sake, always engage the caravan’s handbrake first, then lower the jockey wheel to the ground – make doubly sure the clamp is on good and tight. Lower the caravan’s steadies and turn on the gas supply. I mention these in the same sentence for one good reason: if it’s tipping it down with rain, you can at least fill a pan
from the nearest fresh water point and shelter inside with a nice brew while you wait for it to stop! Connect the mains lead (caravan socket first, remember) and fresh water supply, fill the cassette loo’s flush tank and check that everything works okay. You’re pretty much done – make sure you put the beer in the fridge nice and early so that there’s at least a fighting chance of it being cold when you want it. Indeed, the beauty of the modern caravan fridge is that you can power it from the car’s battery when you’re travelling, so your beer can already be nice and cool if your journey has been more than a couple of hours or so.
Caravanning is one of the best moodenhancers there is – you’ll quickly find that out for yourself – so your neighbours on site will, almost by definition, be pretty chilledout. But we’re all different, of course, and u Discover Touring 105
PRACTICAL | ARRIvIng some people will just want to keep themselves to themselves, beyond sharing a ‘good morning’ while unzipping the awning: others will be far more chatty. Just as in any other social situation, you’ll soon figure out which camp your nearest neighbours fall into. Very occasionally – and it is rare – you may not be very happy with your pitch. The neighbours may actually fall into the grumpy, unpleasant camp or maybe the adjacent children’s play area is just too shouty for comfort. Whatever the reason, if you feel it’s going to spoil the enjoyment of your visit, go and have a chat at reception. No need to fly off the handle or be uppity; just explain politely what the problem is and ask if you can move to another pitch. Even if the site’s full, people come and go on a daily basis so you should get your move next day, if not immediately. But, 99 times out of 100, you’ll be happy and all set for a great stay – starting with a bit of dinner. What you want to avoid here is the classic: ‘But I’m sure you said you were
going to pack the olive oil…’ scenario. While loading the caravan at home, always have a checklist of essential items, and tick off each one on the list only when you’ve made visual contact with it in the car boot or in one of the caravan’s lockers! Although your research may have revealed the presence of a supermarket just a mile and a half down the road from the site, it’s still a good idea to make sure you’ve packed enough provisions to see you through until after next morning’s breakfast. You may be late in leaving home or suffer a delay en route, thus missing the shop’s opening hours – or maybe you’ll just feel so whacked after a long day on the road that the last thing you want is a trip to the supermarket. So, pack the tea bags, coffee, milk, cereal, some bread – and a couple of bottles of something nice, of course.
Nice one-pot curry
But what about that dinner? The day before you leave home, cook a nice one-pot curry or casserole and freeze it. Transfer it to the
caravan fridge when you set off and, as well as defrosting nicely while you travel, it’ll help the fridge reach its optimum working temperature more quickly. You then have that night’s dinner sorted – or the next night’s. When you go out for the day, you can relax in the knowledge that caravan sites are by and large very secure places in which to leave a caravan unattended for long hours. That’s not to say you should be complacent: a hitchlock (covered, so that only those with X-ray vision will know what type it is) is the least security measure you should take. And don’t leave things such as mobile phones, iPads, cameras or laptops lying in clear view when you go out: shut them out of sight, just as you would if you were leaving your car unattended. Finally, amidst all the fun and enjoyment, treat your first two or three trips away in the caravan as educational: you’re bound to find things you’d do differently next time. Mind you, that’s all part of the fun as well…
once everything is set up and running smoothly – the time to chill o out should be viewed as a serious part of your holiday. experiment with new cooking ideas and share intimacy with your family by actually conversing with each other!
106 Discover Touring
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PRACTICAL | OwneRshIP
Hassle-free ownership it takes a lot of care and effort when researching and buying the caravan that’s right for you, but make sure you spare some thought (not to mention cash!) for what happens after you’ve collected it. Author: Rob McCabe
Main Image: Think about the size of caravan you buy, as storage costs can be expensive.
caravan is a complex vehicle with lots of components, appliances and moving parts that need to be kept in top order if you want to stay safe and get maximum enjoyment from your new pride and joy. First, where are you going to store it? If you don’t have the wherewithal to keep it securely at home (or have a farmer friend with a nice, sturdy barn sitting there doing nothing), you’ll need to factor in storage site costs. These vary considerably depending on where you live and the nature of the storage site itself, but you should regard £300 a year as a 108 Discover Touring
minimum – it could easily be double that. Given that considerable ongoing expense – never mind the fact that the storage compound may be several inconvenient miles from home – might this be enough to make you think about the size of caravan you buy? Maybe a compact two-berth will fit nicely in the driveway down the side of your house, whereas that bigger model you have your eye on certainly won’t. A lighter caravan also means less stress on the towing vehicle, and you’ll probably benefit from better fuel consumption when towing, too. Because towing a caravan inevitably adds to
PRACTICAL | OwneRshIP Can be vulnerable
There’s no skirting around the fact that caravans are, sadly, vulnerable to theft – and so a good level of insurance is essential. Make sure you’re intimately familiar with the stipulations of the policy before you buy cover: the wishes of the insurer override yours, and if these wishes aren’t met, your cover will be void and you’ll get nothing in the event of a claim. Stipulations may involve what security devices you must fit or where the caravan is stored – so, if you do want to keep it by the side of the house, make sure your insurance cover allows that. Your insurance can also cover accident damage, whether caused while towing or when static. Costs vary massively, depending on a whole load of factors – including whether you want cover to be on a new-for-old basis. Do your homework – and please don’t automatically opt for the cheapest quote. Sure, it may turn out to be okay – but it may have so many exclusions that it’s a false economy.
Finding the finance
your fuel bill, do what you can to keep costs down: make sure your car and caravan tyres are always at the correct pressure, and take it easy on the ‘loud’ pedal! You don’t need to dawdle – just change up through the gears as soon as you can, and don’t labour the engine. That sometimes means you’ll be driving more economically by cruising in fourth gear rather than fifth. You’ll soon get a feel for it, and I think there’s a great deal of pleasure to be had from piloting an outfit smoothly by gentle use of the controls and reading the road ahead so you can react more quickly to situations as they develop.
Whichever caravan you choose, one fact remains the same: you’ll still have to pay for it! How best to do that? You may be lucky and find that the dealer you’d like to buy from is running a zero per cent finance promotion. You can’t do better than that: instead of emptying your savings of a big lump sum, you need only remove one payment every month. You’ll enjoy the same benefit from one of the many credit cards that offer a promotional interest-free period. At the time of writing, one provider is offering zero per cent repayments on cash purchases for a generous 16 months. Even if not at zero per cent, most dealers will be able to offer you a finance package of some description. Before you sign up for that option, ask for a written quotation that you can take away with you: the plethora of online comparison sites will make it easy for you to see how the package compares. You need to compare the APR (annual percentage rate) of each loan, which determines how much your monthly repayments will be over your chosen period. The shorter the loan period you choose, the less interest you’ll pay overall, even if the monthly repayments will be higher. With interest rates for savers hovering not far above rock-bottom at the moment, you should consider using some of your own cash to fund the purchase, either in full or in part: the interest you’ll pay on a typical loan will be higher than the interest you’ll lose by spending money in most savings accounts.
100 per cent sure?
Intending to buy new? Lucky you! It’s fantastic to be the owner of any brand-new vehicle. Do be aware, though, that buying new brings with it the spectre of depreciation, i.e. the amount by which the value of the
caravan drops, especially in the first year. It’s obviously less of an issue if you intend to hang on to it for a few years. Depreciation is one very good reason why you should be 100 per cent certain that you buy the right caravan for you. On three occasions over the years, I’ve encountered caravanners who realise only when it’s too late that they’ve chosen the wrong layout and can’t get along with it. In all three cases that meant a quick trade-in back at the dealer, and taking a hit of several thousand pounds. If you buy a brand-new caravan, you’ll need to have it serviced annually, otherwise the warranty will be invalid. Given that many warranties run for several years (Swift’s extended bodyshell warranty runs for 10 years, for example), this can mean a considerable financial commitment. Once again, costs vary – but £200 for an annual service is not untypical. You don’t have to take the caravan back to the supplying dealer to have it serviced, but you do need to make sure any service is carried out to the manufacturer’s exact requirements. One way of being certain of this is to take the caravan to a facility that’s a member of the Approved Workshop Scheme: this is a wellestablished industry-backed initiative that has the support of all the major UK caravan manufacturers. You may not even need to take the caravan anywhere – many mobile technicians have been granted Approved Workshop status.
Peace of mind
If you buy a secondhand caravan without any documented evidence of a recent service, it’s a very good idea to book it in for one – you’ll then have peace of mind that the gas, electrical and braking systems are all in safe working order. If the caravan is more than four years old, have the tyres replaced – unless the seller can prove they’ve been changed within that period. They may look perfect (indeed, they usually do) but caravan tyres do a lot of standing around in all weathers and can deteriorate (see information box on checking your tyres). When buying a used caravan, especially from a private seller, you’ll sometimes get a nice collection of extras thrown in as part of the deal, maybe even including an awning. Make sure you find out what’s included in the price before you make an unnecessary trip to the accessory shop. There’s no need to spend a fortune to get up and running. Assuming the caravan already has a functioning leisure battery, all you really need is a mains hook-up lead, a fresh water container/submersible pump (a spare pump is good to have), a waste water container, a step, a spare wheel/tyre, a wheelclamp and a hitchlock. Oh, and buy your cassette toilet chemicals in bulk. Believe me, you really don’t want to run out of that in the middle of nowhere!
Discover Touring 109
PRACTICAL | TyRes & TOwBARs
Tyres checked... Which towbar should you tick Author: Alan Baldwin
Keep an eye on your tyres for wear and tear – it could be the most important item on the checklist prior to your tour. Look for any signs of cracking or splitting on sidewalls and cuts or punctures in the tread area – carefully jacking the vehicle or caravan up and spinning the wheel slowly for inspection can often spot that nail or screw, which may not be leaking air yet, but undoubtedly will on the M6. The great advantage of checking your tyres rigorously is the opportunity to spot serious adverse wear on the inside edges, normally caused by alignment or geometry being out, and many thousands of tyres a year are scrapped prematurely by adverse inside wear. Most good tyre retailers will be more than happy to do a free tyre check for you, but correct tyre pressures and condition are safety critical, even more so with tow and towed vehicles.
Storage for winter Always get your van on axle stands during periods of storage, with wheels and tyres taken off and stored in a dark place, or bagged up in a bin liner if left fitted. uv light damages tyres.
Tyre ageing Most tyres carry at least a fiveyear manufacturer’s warranty against manufacturing defects, so when you buy new tyres always check their date of manufacture.
Fuel saving tyre tips • Correct inflation pressures at all times – under inflation hurts MPg. • Increased pressures for towing – always follow manufacturers recommendations. • From November 1st 2012, under the new eu tyre Labelling Laws, every tyre made after July 1st 2012 must have a fuel efficiency grade. • Fit the best quality tyres, avoid the cheapest as with most things in life, you get what you pay for, and with tyres you are paying for your family’s safety and that of other road users. • Get the towbar weight of your van or trailer spot on – towing vehicles pulling ‘wheelies’ with badly overloaded rear tyres will drink fuel. • Keep caravan and trailer brakes in tip top condition, any binding will drop that MPg. With thanks to www.4site4x4.co.uk
choose? First of all, decide what you’re going to use your towbar for; a cycle rack, caravan or trailer perhaps. The next step is the vehicle itself. Does it have reversing sensors, any upgraded bodywork or a sporting trim level.
There are three different types of towbar neck systems available. We have highlighted the pros and cons of each.
Fixed Flange Neck: Pros • Usually the cheapest option • Versatile allowing most accessories to be used – bumper protectors, cycle carriers, stabiliser plates • When certain cycle racks are fitted you can also tow your caravan or trailer Cons • Can look bulky in design • Extended neck towball required for Al-Ko type stabilisers • Certain applications can be detected by reversing sensors
Swan Neck: Pros • Can give a sleeker appearance to that of the fixed flange • The design of the neck is less likely to trigger the reversing sensors • The Al-Ko type stabiliser hitch is compatible with this option Cons • Cannot be used with a bumper protector as the neck is circular in design • Only certain cycle racks are compatible, when a cycle rack is fitted you are unable to tow at the same time
110 Discover Touring
Author: Joe Clements
Detachable systems: Pros • Removable when not in use, certain applications have fold away electrical sockets allowing an invisible fitment • Compatible with Al-Ko type stabiliser systems • Not detected by reversing aids when detached Cons • Higher prices to fit these systems due to the advanced locking technology • Cannot be used with a bumper protector as the neck is circular in design • Only certain cycle racks are compatible, when a cycle rack is fitted you are unable to tow at the same time Due to the advanced nature of new vehicle electronics we would recommend that a qualified towbar fitting company installs your towbar. certain companies operate a mobile service, which will come to your home or workplace. others operate from a business unit. With thanks to www.pctautomotive.com
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DeCIsIOn TIme | RevIews
On the road with
Marquis Author: John Piggott
t last, the day had come; it was time to pick up our Swift 686 motorhome from Marquis in Northampton, on loan for the Jubilee holiday. We were off to Croyde in north Devon, for sun, surf and sand. Well, two out of those three, anyway. We are a family of five and are experienced campers, but this would be our first time in a motorhome. The excitement had been building for weeks and our preparations were almost complete. The prospect of driving something so big through the Devon lanes was a bit daunting, but proved to be great fun, even with my eyes open. The cabin was incredibly comfortable and well laid out, the controls are all very responsive and the engine is smooth and willing. Rear visibility was remarkably good, thanks to two immense wing mirrors that would not look out of place in an M&S fitting room. Our young passengers also enjoyed a comfortable trip, with space to wriggle and a table to play the inevitable games of Uno (what else are holidays for?) The one down side to report was the poor behaviour of Jenny. Jenny is the voice of our Satnav; you know the one, silky smooth, slightly
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patronising and always right? (Except when she’s not. Which she would never admit.) So we entered Bristol city centre we started to wonder if she had it all under control, and as she took us into a housing estate with double parked cars, we decided that enough was enough. The old school map book came out and we gave Jenny the digital elbow, glad that the Swift handled so well in the narrow gaps. We arrived safe and sound at Bay View campsite, which has a great view of…you guessed it, Croyde Bay. It’s a friendly and very tidy site with good facilities and on the Jubilee weekend it was alive with red, white and blue and more wetsuits than a Jacques Cousteau convention. This was going to be good. Normally the next two hours would be spent pitching the tent and pumping up beds, but having reversed into our pitch (spot on first time, thanks for asking) the only thing to do was to brew up, put up the bunting, get changed and head for the beach. We made the most of the bright sunshine and cracking waves, spending the afternoon on the beach before heading back to Bay View for showers, food and bed. Assembling the beds after a Pimms or two was relatively
painless, but we soon had to set up a oneway system in the middle of the Swift, with pillows, parents and kids all wanting to get from one place to another at the same time. Even the driving rain on the roof could not keep us awake after our early start and we spent a blissful night stretched out in our luxury accommodation. The heavy rain had set in next morning, so we continued with the Great British theme and rustled up a big fried breakfast, before donning wetsuits and heading back to the beach. Now with wet kit and muddy shoes, you really need some sort of porch area to keep the gunge out of your camper and this is where we felt that the Swift was a bit under provisioned. The outside canopy was a lightweight ‘roof-only’ affair that was no match for the coastal breeze and so it rarely came out. This meant that the first step into the camper soon became a sandy puddle and we were constantly wiping feet, floor and shoes to keep the van from filling with sand. A full-sized awning would obviously have been a bulky thing to carry, but even a small one would have made a huge difference and given us somewhere dry to step out of shoes and beach gear. Once in the van, we had no problems keeping snug and dry though, with the heating system soon clearing out the damp smell of socks and warming up our 50 chilly toes. Preparing food for five takes a bit of organising, but having a proper fridge and a pretty powerful hob meant that we all got hot food at the same time; something we cannot always do in a tent. We did find that the water ran out quite quickly so washing up was interrupted a few times during the weekend and we took our showers at the Bay View shower block. Either that or the kids were deliberately draining it away to escape from their chores. Having tried the shower block once it was no contest anyway; these are the best campsite showers we had ever used – big, bright, clean and loads of hot water. A muchneeded facility. By the end of the weekend, our bunting had been well and truly shredded by the wind, the wetsuits were full of sand and more importantly, the Pimms had all gone. We packed up our gear and headed off home, chased up the M5 by the start of an evil storm and the wind rocking the van was just the wrong side of exciting. We gave Jenny the day off and made good time. The space in the Swift was good but in bad weather the lack of an awning was a problem. So for a family like us, hiring a camper van was loads of fun and we would certainly do so again, but I would certainly look for something with a dry awning/ porch area. So, maybe, you can take the family out of the tent, but you can’t take the tent out of the family? Over to you.
DeCIsIOn TImes | RevIews
On the up at
Auto-Trail Author: David Hooper
he 2013 Auto-Trail range looks different thanks to a new exterior body shape for its hi-line and lo-line models, while a Skyline panoramic rooflight becomes a standard feature in all three of its overcab profiles, including the super lo-line. There’s a new fixed bed layout in the Tracker range in the RB model, which features a transversely mounted island double bed at the rear of the motorhome, while the twin rear single beds in the Savannah can now be converted into a transverse double bed. Power is supplied by Fiat Euro 5 engines that are available with three power outputs, 130, 150 and 180bhp. These can be combined with either six-speed manual or Comfortmatic auto gearboxes. A new entrance door, which usefully features central locking and a full door fly-screen, is a useful addition for summer living and sun. Inside, all models have larger shower cubicles, additional storage areas and larger hand basins. Those who like to cook while on their travels will appreciate a fully integrated stainless steel microwave oven. Swivelling captain-style cab seats are new and the flooring has been upgraded, while the soft furnishings feature revised co-ordinated colour schemes. To complete the interior ambience, there is more LED lighting in the lounge areas and all models feature the latest Truma dual-fuel heaters. Motorhomers who like to customise their motorhomes can choose from three option packs. The Sport Line, at £599 adds Carbon Black metallic paintwork and graphics and low level LED daytime running lights. The £999 Media Pack includes satellite navigation, a 15in drop-down TV monitor, Bluetooth telephone connectivity, a colour and interestingly, infra-red reversing camera, while the Media Pack Plus adds a remotely controlled Satellite TV for £1,799.
On a roll with
Roller Team Author: David Hooper
oller Team has introduced two new models for the 2013 season, the Auto-Roller 694 with a French bed, and the 746, with a rear U-shape seating area and double dinette to the front. Part of the Trigano Group, the 2013 Roller Team range offers customers a choice of bodystyles including low profile or high-line, while the T-line range offers the practicality of a low profile coachbuilt motorhome with the versatility of a horizontally-lifting bed, which can be stored away overhead, or lowered in two stages. There is a good choice of interior layouts, with the 707 model capable of sleeping up to seven people. Foldaway beds, French beds, or central island beds are other choices. For this year, the company is focusing on improving its customer service and is introducing specially trained handover experts at each of its dealers. The 2013 Ford and Fiat-based Auto-Roller cabs are finished in white, while the T-line models feature a classy dark metallic grey colour. All models feature revised colour-coded side-skirts and bumpers with cleaner lines. The more streamlined look is finished off with fresh exterior graphics. The Roller Team range is powered by Ford or Fiat engines with a choice of power outputs, and on the Fiat-based models, customers have the option of a 6-speed Comfortmatic auto. An optional Family Pack sees a side-mounted sofa replaced with a half-dinette with two forward-facing seats complete with individual, three-point seatbelts. The dark wood interiors are complemented by the new Aida upholstery and smart glasseffect worktops. High-line models feature a larger panoramic Open Sky roof light, while some versions come with remotely controlled mood lighting. A Lux Pack includes a colour reversing camera, a 100W solar panel, a bike carrier for two bikes and a 95 amp leisure battery. Roller Team is launching a new website with useful features such as a dealer locator, the ability to download brochures and an interactive Ask The Expert section. The company is also introducing its own TV channel, “ROLLERTEAMTV” which will soon be featuring how to videos, vehicle reviews and much more.
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decision time | choosing the right caravan
Your caravan questions
answered ? Author: Douglas King
There are few pleasures in life equal to that of buying a caravan. The eager expectation of being able to hitch up and take to the road for a weekend break or holiday is something that is hard to put into words.
t doesn’t matter whether you are buying new or second-hand – dealers like to use the term pre-owned because they think it sounds better than second-hand – the excitement of towing your home from home is the same. But before you part with your hard-earned cash there are a number of things that you need to consider. First, how many berths do you need? If there are just two of you, then a two berth will be all you need. Caravans come with anything from two to six berths although having said that some of the berths may only be suitable for young children – not teenagers or adults. If that’s the case, you may have to think about buying an awning to use as an extra bedroom. Caravan awnings are basically three sided tents that fit onto the side of the caravan and double the living space. A further consideration is whether to opt for a fixed bed layout rather than having to make the seats into beds each night. In recent years fixed beds have become increasingly popular but there is a downside to them: they restrict the amount of daytime living space, so if there are several of you sharing the caravan, or you want to entertain your friends and family, we suggest that you think seriously before opting for a fixed bed layout.
The next thing you will need to think about is the towcar. The Caravan Club, Camping and Caravanning Club, and the National Caravan Council all recommend that the 114 Discover Touring
Maximum Technically Permitted Laden Mass (MTPLM) of the caravan – that’s EU speak for its all-up weight – should not exceed 85 per cent of the towcar’s kerbweight. It is not a legal requirement but is intended to ensure that the towcar is powerful enough to pull away in the event of a hill or to be able to accelerate to overtake slower traffic, or to avoid an accident. Once you become experienced at towing – say after a year or 2,000 miles – the clubs and the NCC say that you can tow to 100 per cent of the towcar’s kerbweight. However, despite the fact that many vehicle manufacturers state higher towing limits than this, the consensus amongst the experts is that you should never tow a caravan with an MTPLM higher than the towcar’s kerbweight. One other factor that needs to be considered is the caravan’s noseweight – that is the maximum down-force the caravan exerts on the rear of the towcar. The towcar manufacturer will state his maximum figure in the owner’s manual as will the caravan chassis and hitch manufacturer – usually one and the same – and you should work to the lowest figure. Generally speaking, noseweights are around 70-80kg but ones as low as 50kg are not unknown. Be aware that if you are stopped at a roadside check by the police and the noseweight exceeds the lowest figure, you could be in trouble. Now let’s turn our attention to the caravan. Are you thinking about buying new or secondhand? Most newcomers to the pastime will often buy second-hand, as they’ll lose less
money if they don’t take to caravanning and decide to sell. But if they do take to it, they can trade-up as and when circumstances allow. So what’s available? The answer is around 230 models from both UK and foreign manufacturers and over 50 layouts so you’ll be spoilt for choice – especially when you add the thousands of secondhand models available from dealers and previous owners.
New or second-hand?
Buying new or second-hand from a dealer should present no problems as he will have done a pre-delivery inspection and will demonstrate how all the appliances work. Buying second-hand privately is more hazardous as it can be difficult to confirm that the caravan hasn’t been stolen. Additionally, when buying privately, it is important to make sure that all the appliances work correctly and that there is no damp in the walls, floor or roof. Here, the best damp meter is your nose: if the caravan smells damp when you walk into it – walk away because curing damp can be a very costly – if not impossible – business! In the case of a second-hand caravan, when you go to inspect it, remember the old adage: never judge a book by its cover. Just because it may be several years old doesn’t mean that it won’t be worth the money. We caravanners are a funny lot; some of us change our caravans more often than we change our socks whilst others keep u
decision time | choosing the right caravan
Main picture: Larger caravan dealers have huge selections of new and used caravans for buyers to choose from.
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decision time | choosing the right caravan Top left: Many caravan layouts feature parallel seats at the front end. However, they are rarely long enough to make single beds at night. In such cases, bed slats are pulled from below the drawers to enable a double bed to be made up using the seats cushions as the mattress. Middle left: An unusual rear end layout featuring wrap-round seating which converts into a double bed. Bottom: Centre kitchens and centre washrooms/ toilet compartments invariably mean restricted space in the centre of the caravan. Below: One of the most popular layouts currently available is the fixed bed. Here it is situated on the nearside of the caravan with the toilet/shower compartment on the left.
them for years. A caravan that is looked after and used regularly is more likely to last than one which is only used on high days and holidays. So although it may look old, doesn’t mean other caravanners will look down on you.
By now you should have a pretty good idea of the layout that is likely to meet your needs. In the majority of cases, the front of the caravan is the daytime living accommodation while the rear end contains the night time plus washroom/toilet facilities. However, in some layouts the washroom/toilet is in the centre of the caravan. Yet another alternative is a centre dinette that often becomes a bunk bed at night. The kitchen can be sited either at the rear – in the case of a small two berth – or centrally either on the near or offside. The variation in choices of layout really is as long as a piece of string. Again, if buying second-hand, as well as inspecting the caravan’s interior, you’ll need to 116 Discover Touring
do the same to the exterior because there is a good chance that there will be one or more ‘dings’ somewhere on it and the chances are that they will be virtually impossible to repair. This is because the aluminium on the walls is only around 0.5mm thick. The front and back panels are likely to be either GRP or ABS. If there is damage – cracks/ splits – to the latter, walk away as ABS can’t be repaired whereas GRP can be.
Is there a price to pay?
There is still one vexed question that we haven’t touched on: how much you are willing or able to pay? Perhaps in the first instance, if you are still unsure whether caravanning is for you or not, you might decide to hire a caravan for a few days. There are several companies who hire caravans but generally speaking the charges can be quite steep – although nowhere
nearly as steep as buying and then finding you don’t take to the pastime. Google touring caravan hire for more details. Prices for caravans can range from well under £1,000 for a second-hand model to over £50,000 so there’s plenty of choice. When deciding to buy there are a number of options available. You may have the wherewithal to buy outright, or you may seek a loan from your bank. Another alternative, and one that many caravans go for, is hire purchase. The majority of caravan dealers have arrangements with one or more of the main hire purchase companies. u
decision time | choosing the right caravan
Above: All good dealers have extensive ranges of optional equipment. Top right: Checking the noseweight using a pair of bathroom scales, a short length of broom handle, and a piece of wood to spread the load over the scales. Bottom right: The hitch will also have the maximum noseweight stamped on it. In this case the S figure is 120kg. Coupled to the tow car with the 75kg noseweight limit, the lower figure would be the one the police recognised in the event of a roadside check.
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decision time | choosing the right caravan
Main picture: Checking the noseweight with a proprietary noseweight gauge. right: Al-Ko and BPW have jockey wheels that incorporate noseweight gauges.
One of the advantages of going through a dealer is that he can often get approval of your application for credit by return of email. However, one caveat worth mentioning is that if you are buying at an exhibition and are playing one dealer off against another, don’t make the mistake of saving a few hundred pounds by buying from a dealer a long way from your home as you could easily spend several times as much on fuel taking the caravan back to the dealer for its annual service during its warranty period, which can be as much as 10 years. Remember too, many dealers will not service or carry out warranty work on caravans they have not supplied.
Don’t run the risk
We’ve already said that buying privately can be more risky – although usually cheaper – than buying from a dealer so it pays to take a few simple precautions. First, never agree to meet in a pub car park or any other place other than the seller’s home. Secondly, check the caravan windows for the CRiS number. CRiS stands for Caravan Registration & 118 Discover Touring
Identification Scheme and every new caravan from the early 1990s has been given its own 17 digit alpha numeric VIN – Vehicle Identification Number. It should be etched on all the main windows, and also on the chassis. Armed with the number, you can then phone the CRiS Check Information Centre on 01722 411 430 to find out if the caravan has been reported stolen, has been written off, or has any finance outstanding on it. The main downside to the scheme is that, as it isn’t compulsory, an owner doesn’t have to notify CRiS when he sells the caravan so you may still not be certain that the person you are buying from is the rightful owner. CRiS does make a small charge for the check but if it saves you from being defrauded, it will be worth it. A second problem that can arise in the case of foreign caravans imported into the UK is that they may not fully comply with NCC regulations and also may not be CRiS registered. So again, you could be buying a ‘pig in a poke’. Additionally, while British caravan manufacturers are not
known for being the quickest to send out replacement parts for their caravans, replacements from the Continent can take even longer.
And there’s more
1st January 1997 saw changes in respect of driving licences for those towing caravans. People who already held a B+E driving licence prior to the 1st January 1997 are entitled to tow vehicles of 3.5 tonnes maximum authorised mass – MAM – and trailers or caravans in excess of 750kgs MAM. Anyone who took their test on or after the 1st January 1997 has a category B licence only and so can tow a trailer or caravan up to 750kg provided its MAM does not exceed the unladen weight of the towing vehicle and the whole combination does not exceed 3.5 tonnes MAM. For further information logon onto: www.direct.gov.uk/en/motoring/ driverLicensing/caravanTrailers CommercialVehicles u
decision time | choosing the right caravan
Left: Caption to come. right: Caption to come.
Above: Most insurance companies insist on the caravan having a hitch lock such as the one fitted to this BPW hitch. Left: Undoubtedly the best anti-theft device on the market â€“ the Al-Ko Wheel Secure. Introduced in 2006 it is supplied as standard with many top of the range caravans but can also be retro-fitted to any caravan with an Al-Ko chassis manufactured from 2006 onwards. The rim insert is wheel specific to ensure that the thieves cannot remove it.
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decision time | choosing the right caravan
Take time to build up the optional equipment you may require, as the initial expense will be fairly high and you may find some of the items become superfluous in time.
Once you’ve bought your caravan there are a number of extras that you will need. Sometimes they’ll be included in the sale but if not you’ll have to buy them. Included are fresh and waste water containers – (do not buy a translucent jerry can for the fresh water; sunlight on water results in algae, which in turn means a tainted taste); a 12V leisure battery; a cylinder of LPG – preferably propane rather than butane; a pair of towing mirrors – even if you have the largest 4x4 you need two towing mirrors because without them you run the risk of an on the spot fine of £30 per mirror and three points on your licence; a hitch lock and second security device; a 25m mains lead; toilet chemicals. All will be available at any reputable caravan shop. Although it isn’t compulsory, we strongly recommend that you insure your caravan with an insurance company specialising 120 Discover Touring
in caravan insurance. Also, join either of the two main clubs – The Caravan Club, or the Camping and Caravanning Club – both of which run their own campsites and caravan sites as well as insurance schemes and other dedicated schemes including caravan recovery. Be aware that some car insurances state that they will recover caravans – but when you check you may find that they will only do so as part of a broken down car. If the caravan loses a wheel you could be on your own. Yet another worthwhile service both clubs offer members are towing courses where members can learn to manoeuvre and reverse their caravans.
Safety first, fun later
Now that you have your caravan you’ll need to store it. The best place of course is at your home but if that isn’t possible you’ll need to find a suitable storage facility. The best of these are operated by CASSOA – Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association. They have graded secure storage sites all
over the country. Several of the two clubs campsites also have storage facilities that the insurance companies are happy for clients to use. Importantly however, you should ask your insurance company to confirm that it is happy with the facility you are considering. Many will not accept farmers’ fields, especially where there is easy access to nearby roads. Nor will they accept remote storage areas mainly because they negate the two things that are likely to cause the maximum problems for would-be thieves – time and noise. We hope that we’ve given you food for thought and that you’ll decide to give caravanning a try. Caravanners are amongst the friendliest people you’ll come across and the pastime one of the most worthwhile you’ll find anywhere. Some people say it’s expensive but it doesn’t have to be and it is certainly nowhere near as expensive as staying in a B&B for the same length of time. But in the final analysis, where it scores over other forms of leisure time is that it gives you the freedom to do your own thing in your own time. So give it a try!
decision time | choosing the right caravan
Top left: A ‘weekend’ type awning is ideal for short breaks but has the disadvantage that it is impossible to get a 100 per cent seal between the awning and the caravan wall. Top right: A full awning doubles the living space of the caravan. Bottom right: The recently introduced Bradcot Modus awning. Unlike other awnings it can be extended by the addition of different-sized sections. So changing to a different size caravan doesn’t mean also having to buy a new awning.
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decision time | motorhomes
Picking Your Perfect
motorhome Author: John Wickersham
Main picture: Owning a motorhome opens a door on the world of travel.
There’s no doubt about it. A motorcaravan allows you to get up and go. Just climb aboard and head where you want. Discover Touring takes you through a detailed checklist so you can make the right choice, first time.
ur lifestyles are all very different and motorhome designs are dissimilar, too. For instance, some people enjoy passive leisure pursuits: others seek active adventures. So the designers respond to these matters. Motorcaravans – just like their owners – are built in all shapes and sizes. Whether you take children on holidays, own a pet or travel alone; there are models to suit your requirements. There are also many more products than you might have imagined and a recent review of new
motorhomes on sale in the UK included: ■ Around 260 British-built types on sale and; ■ some 430 European and 80 American imported models sold by specialist dealers. There is a lot of choice and this can be scary to the newcomer. And that’s only part of the story. The above calculations don’t include the hundreds of pre-owned models that are also offered for sale. The choice is utterly stunning. Indeed it’s
no secret that a surprising number of new owners purchase an unsuitable product and later change their motorhome after its very first season. Some, for example, find that their grandiose, large vehicle is clumsy to park – and country lanes are a complete nightmare. Others buy a campervan that’s delightful to drive but is tighter inside than expected. So how can you ensure that you buy the right model? u
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decision time | motorhomes
Hire first to get some ideas
Given the extremes of models on sale, one of the best strategies is to hire a motorhome first. Some specialists deal solely with campervans whereas others hire coach-builts in various sizes. Incidentally, if you hire outside of the summer season, the charges are notably lower. And hiring a ‘van in the winter let’s you test if its space heater is up for the job.
Buying new or pre-owned?
When looking at quality products, it is hardly surprising that motorcaravans aren’t cheap things to buy. Needless to say, when you’ve had experience of different conversions and know precisely what you require, it’s great if you’re in a position to purchase brand new. As a rule, new models are launched every autumn and a product promptly ordered from the latest displays is likely to arrive by the following spring. However, dealers need space for these forthcoming models so existing stock is often included in pricecutting sales held at the close of each season. Around late September and October, motorhomes have discounted prices and you can sometimes buy ex-demonstration models for good prices. Forecourt bargains normally extend to a dealer’s pre-owned stock as well. However, when comparing second-hand motorcaravans, be aware that some have travelled far and wide whereas others have seldom been used. For instance, some elderly owners show great devotion to their vehicle – as the spotless interiors reveal. Annual mileages of around 5,000 are not unusual either. And whilst mechanical things don’t like standing still, look out for pre-owned models in pristine condition. And don’t just rely on stock at a dealer. Trawl through the classified ads and get a feel for the market using internet sites.
If making a purchase from a dealer specialising in both touring caravans and motorhomes, part-exchange deals are not necessarily limited to like-for-like products. Some caravanners decide to try a 124 Discover Touring
Top left: Hire specialists offer campervans and coach-built models. Above: End-ofseason sales offer good deals on outgoing models .
motorhome next: others make moves in the other direction. Either way, when trading in a caravan or motorhome, a dealer is far more willing to enter into negotiations when an incoming product is supported with a full service history. That includes both vehicle and habitation service documentation. A recent damp test report is another confirmation of integrity, too. These features are also important quality indicators if the boot is on the other foot and you’re purchasing a vehicle that is being sold privately.
Now let’s focus on the huge range of products available. Unlike touring caravans, motorhomes are built in myriad shapes and sizes. For instance, in the Motorcaravanning Handbook, a staggering 11 specific types of vehicle are classified. However, let’s start off with one basic fact. In essence, there are two types of motorcaravan and this simple classification is based on the way they are built. So when looking at different models, you should be u
Above: Ex-demonstrators have reduced prices and quick delivery. Below: Look for servicing documentation when buying a pre-owned model.
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decision time | motorhomes PLUS POINTS
The use of prefabricated, insulated panels for a floor, roof, and flat sides permits production line assembly strategies using a team of constructors working simultaneously inside and outside the structure. Complete, benchassembled units like a pre-built kitchen can be offered-up for on-line installation. Constructional efficiency is then reflected in the final price of a coach-built product.
Most external sections are assembled using sealant to weather-proof all the panel junction points. However, when different materials are used in close juxtaposition, contrasting rates of thermal expansion/contraction can challenge weather-proofing sealant along the junctions. Weather damage is far more likely during the life of a coach-built model unless a monocoque (one piece) moulding is used instead. GRP (fibre glass) monocoque shells are far more leak-resistant but are considerably heavier structures. Given the broad distinction between conversions and coach-built models, now check the variations on these themes.
Van conversions: Top: Campervans are often constructed using a panel van. Above: Chassis cabs are the most common base for a coach-built.
Van conversions can be subdivided into the following categories: Micro motorcaravans
These campers are tiny but often fit in a garage at home.
Left: One-piece GRP body shells are remarkably weather-proof.
aware of the following classifications:
The base vehicle for a campervan is typically a light commercial panel van, a multipurpose recreational vehicle, or a van supplied with single-glazed side windows as original equipment. In other words, the motorhome started life as a vehicle already built for road use. Then a converter fitted-out the interior with sleeping accommodation, cooking facilities, domestic appliances, storage cupboards, and so on.
Campervans are more like a car to drive, and in view of their size, they’re also easier to manoeuvre, park, and store. Since there are many small-scale converters running low output operations, a lot are able to modify designs to suit their customers’ personal requirements. Some even build a vehicle to your design.
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Even small models are surprisingly costly and that’s because it is very time consuming to insulate and install habitation equipment in an existing enclosed space. A conversion operation doesn’t lend itself to productionline assembly methods; neither does it permit fast-build strategies using a team of constructors. In consequence, the finished price can be high.
Here, the base vehicle typically starts with a chassis (or a reinforced steel platform instead), running gear and an original vehicle cab. Alternatively, a pre-formed cab is omitted from the package although the vehicle still provides full driving facilities. Using this as the base, a motorcaravan manufacturer then creates a living enclosure, and in the case of a cab-less structure (called a chassis cowl) an integrated enclosure has to be constructed as well.
Low fixed-roof conversions
These types of conversion only offer seated provision.
decision time | motorhomes
Fixed-roof high top conversions
These vehicles provide a fair amount of standing room.
Elevating (rising) roof conversions
The advantage here is added headroom but they are cold in winter.
High-tops add headroom and a bed or two for children.
COACH-BUILTS CAN BE SUBDIVIDED INTO THE FOLLOWING FOUR CATEGORIES:
AND FINALLY TWO FURTHER STYLES TO CONSIDER:
Dismountables that use a pick-up truck
American recreational vehicles (RVs)
These models provide plenty of space and can sleep up to six people.
Built using a chassis cowl base, an A-class is notably smart.
These models are good on fuel; and this one has a drop-down bed.
American RVs are remarkable value, but need major roads.
These have a habit of rolling on bends but the idea has its merits.
These â€˜vans require a robust pick-up truck to tow the structure as an articulated two-some.
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decision time | motorhomes The inside story
Living layouts inside vehicles are designed to meet the different needs of owners. In fact some purchasers are singularly steered into making a purchase on the basis of internal facilities and fail to pay attention to important external elements. Without doubt, you need the right number of beds and if you enjoy your home cooking, there is no argument that some kitchens are far better than others. Similarly if you seldom use fully equipped camping sites and prefer to wild camp or stop at remote country retreats, having a good washroom and shower is also important. Internal layouts are a key element affecting a particular choice of vehicle, especially if you take young children or grandchildren on your travels. Since their bedtimes normally differ from those of adults, a layout that allows children to be bedded-down early in a separate section then enables adults to occupy a zone of their own. Upholstery styling is a related issue. Some of the beautifully appointed interiors are unlikely to cope well if you take bounding dogs on your travels. Also recognise that some motorhomes have permanent beds offering a haven of rest. Others involve a jigsaw exercise at the end of each day to create beds using cushions of various shapes. On another note, some interior styles make use of swivelling driver/co-driver seats so that a cab area can be used to augment the on-site living space. These, and many other variations, need to be compared with great care and considered against your needs.
Other ownership issues include the matter of storage. Some vehicles cannot be fitted with a rear bike rack and others don’t have a strong enough roof to allow a user to reach highlevel storage pods. These shortcomings are less acute on models that have a rear storage compartment. In truth, these rear-end compartments have strict weight limits even if they yield plenty of space. For instance, the carriage of a motorscooter or a couple of heavy electric bicycles using a rack or rear enclosures often exceeds the rear axle’s load limit. Towing is another issue and some models cannot be fitted with a towbar. This limitation is often apparent on coach-built models that have a long rear overhang and insufficient structural mounting points for towbar brackets. Since a spare wheel takes up a lot of your loading capacity, recent models have also been sold with no more than a Fix ‘n’ Go puncture sealing kit. However, these cannot remedy all tyre failures so many manufacturers who promoted this provision, have now gone back to supplying spare wheels. So that’s another point you need 128 Discover Touring
to check, especially when some types of motorcaravan tyre take a month or more to obtain from suppliers.
Base vehicles and test drives
Bearing in mind that many hours can be spent at the wheel, you need a vehicle that’s a pleasure to drive. In the past there have been some conversions and coach-built models that are woefully underpowered. Fortunately, the development of more sophisticated power units equipped with electronic performance systems are a welcome feature on more recent base vehicles. Similarly, the old commercial vehicles built with prominent floor mounted gear levers have largely disappeared. These present a mini assault course if you want to move from the living space into the cab. Thank goodness that the fascia-mounted selectors introduced by Fiat in the 1990s are now adopted by most light commercial vehicle manufacturers. What’s more, automatic or semi-automatic transmission systems are becoming more commonplace, too. Another issue concerns imported vehicles that are only available in left-hand drive form. Left hookers, as they’re affectionately called, sometimes appeal to owners who spend long spells in mainland Europe. That might make sense, but trying to sell a lefthand drive model in the UK at a later date is often a nightmare. Understandably the matter of base vehicle considerations could fill a book and the main point to emphasise here is that a prospective purchaser should always insist on a test drive. Quite apart from engine performance and road handling, there are also less obvious issues. For instance, models equipped retrospectively with seat swivels on cab seats sometimes pose problems. The inevitable increase in seat height can upset a tall driver whose eye-line then conflicts with the top of the screen. Alternatively, shorter passengers using some types of swivel seat similarly find that their legs don’t comfortably reach the floor. Irritating matters like these only become clear when test drives are taken.
Driving licences and other legal matters
Chapter Six Legal Issues in the Motorcaravanning Handbook (Haynes Publishing) covers subjects such as motorcaravan weight limits, driving licence requirements, UK speed limits, MoT Testing, vehicle excise duty, type approval, low emission zones, loading terminology and seat belts. There are far too many topics to consider here and prospective purchasers must confirm fundamental issues such as the weight of a motorcaravan that a driving licence holder is permitted to drive. In the European context, the total weight (which includes passengers and possessions) of many coach-built motorhomes is u
Above: Worktop space is often small so chefs check this with care. Below from top to bottom: Fixed beds waste daytime space but many are notably good. Not all self-assemble beds are as easy to set-up as this one. Swivelling seats add space, but some are high from the floor. Rear enclosures offer space but don’t add too much weight. If you plan to tow a trailer check that a towbar can be fitted.
decision time | the Bailey approach
it’s coming Your waY!
TESTED: BAILEy APPROACH 760 SE Author: Ben Lane
Bailey does many things famously well – but one thing in particular stand outs. They test everything (literally to destruction) before unleashing onto the general public.
ailey ‘vans are made to exacting standards. The revolutionary Alu-Tech method means that no wood is used in the bodywork above the floor. The panels are thick and coated with GRP. There’s wood in the floor, but this is protected with GRP underneath. We tested the Approach 760 SE – a roomy six-berth motorhome with an overcab design, holding a sizeable double bed. The layout inside is sensible, but not earth shattering, with a front Pullman dinette with four seat belts. This can be turned into a double bed – ideally for one adult or, more ideally, two smaller children. In the middle there is a roomy washroom leading to a U-shaped
lounge (to seat eight with ease) in the rear. This turns into a comfortable, spacious double bed (or two adequate singles) at night. Opposite the lounge is a perfectly decked out kitchen – although necessarily compact as it sits in a fairly small space between the entrance door and passenger seat. Overall, this is a very versatile six-seat belt, six-sleeping set up and will be popular for those with big families, or who require extra space for drop-in friends, take-away grandchildren and even stray dogs! Using Peugeot’s Boxer and the reassurance of an AL-KO rear chassis provide a good ride and solid handling. The 130bhp motor gives a six-speed gearbox.
Internally, there is good sense of space and light and the furniturestyle is well thought out using a lightish wood tone. Huge windows in the living area shed the sun’s rays throughout creating a feeling of well-being and the Midi Heki roof light gives excellent ventilation and yet more light. The washroom is functional and unfussy, although the shower area space is a little awkward on the eye – but it works well enough. Plenty of storage space throughout means clutter can be hidden away at a moment’s notice. This is a great motorhome; solid and all backed up by a quality company with a firm eye on the customer.
Discover Touring 129
Innovation & Quality New VW T5 prices starting from £35,250 OTR*
Concept Multi-Car Ltd Reimo Conversions
ADDRESS: Unit 1, Pennypot Ind Est, Hythe, Kent, CT21 6PE Tel: 01303 261062 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Sport Camper based on 84ps window van. ‘On The Road‘ price includes registration and delivery charges but excludes road fund license.
130 Discover Touring
decision time | motorhomes
Ü Discover More:
Top left: This model’s MTPLM is 3500kg; towing data is quoted next. Top right: Check a laden model on a weighbridge to ensure it’s legal. Left: Many small-scale converters sell direct to customers. Below: NCC Approved models have passed tough scrutineering.
restricted to 3.5 tonnes (3,500kg). This limit is variously described as the MTPLM (maximum technically permissible laden mass) or the MAM (maximum authorised mass) or the GVW (gross vehicle weight.) However, some medium and larger motorcaravans are upgraded to offer a total MTPLM limit of 3850kg – or even more. That’s fine but owners with certain medical conditions are not permitted to drive vehicles in excess of 3500kg. Similarly, speed limits and lane restrictions on motorways are also weight-related so it is necessary to establish the implications of a vehicle’s plate data. Furthermore, as soon as the limits are noted and understood, a laden motorcaravan should be taken to a weighbridge periodically to ensure that it is being kept within the law. That’s also very important before accessories are added – particularly heavy products such as a refrigerative air conditioner.
Model awards and accreditations
Within the motorcaravan industry, several award schemes are conducted. Both the major Clubs and consumer magazines organise competitions that look at design elements and driving characteristics. These events can provide useful information to potential purchasers. Similarly, the National Caravan Council (NCC) operates a stringent accreditation scheme for its manufacturing members. When a new prototype model is scrutinised, more than 400 items are checked to confirm compliance with European and UK requirements, national regulations and Industry Codes of Practice. This typically takes seven hours and successful replica models can then display the NCC approval badge. Several UK importers also submit models that have been manufactured abroad to the NCC scrutineers for checking.
Of course, there are many small-scale motorcaravan constructors whose output doesn’t justify the cost of NCC membership. And whilst an NCC badge is a useful quality indicator, some non-accredited products are also finished to a high standard and comply with Codes of Practice.
Making a purchase
Unlike the purchase of a car from a franchised dealer, motorcaravans are less straightforward. If, for example, part of the conversion or an appliance develops a fault, any warranty repairs normally have to be carried out by the motorcaravan dealer that conducted the sale. In other words, if you enjoyed a large discount deal from a dealer some 200 miles from your home, you’ll have a significant journey to get conversion issues sorted out. Base vehicle automotive problems are different, of course. This situation often arises when a purchase is made at a major exhibition. A selection of nationwide dealers attend these events and conduct sales on behalf of exhibiting manufacturers. Naturally, an attractive deal often wins an order, but this can involve after-sales difficulties if the supplier’s premises are a long way from your home. As regards large-scale manufacturers such as Auto-Sleepers, Auto-Trail, Bailey, Elddis, the Swift Group and others, their products are only available via approved dealers. In contrast, many small-scale manufacturers don’t have dealer networks and conduct all sales directly with customers. Issues like this are something to check. But just before you get to that stage, do establish where you can safely store your dream motorhome. Do confirm that your insurer approves the storage location. Do consider the security issues. The very last ‘do’ should be easiest. Now you have a clearer picture, do have great fun on tour.
A detailed and up-to-date overview of motorhome types is given in the Motorcaravan Manual (3rd ed) by John Wickersham published in February, 2012. ownership and purchasing information is also given in the 2nd edition of the Motorcaravanning Handbook by John Wickersham published in July 2012. g guidance on technical issues when purchasing a motorcaravan is also available on the website www.wickyworld.co.uk
Get The Caravan Club behind you If you're just starting touring or even if you're an old hand, The Caravan Club has experts that can answer virtually any question you're ever likely to ask about touring. The club gives all its members this tremendous technical support absolutely free. When you join The club you're sent a sites Directory & Handbook, which has handy checklists, information on hooking up to the mains, how to connect up to the gas, tips on loading up safely for the journey and much more. There is a lively online community called 'club Together' which is an invaluable resource for information, tips and friendly advice. Members also have access to online help from experts in The club and there are answers to 'Frequently Asked Questions' to be found there too. The club offers a range of courses and training aids for all tourers, whether new or experienced. They're a fun way to gain experience or learn more about something that is new to you. Their courses will help you enjoy your touring more confidently, whether it's towing and reversing a caravan, or manoeuvring a motorhome. Joining The caravan club is a reassuring way to get touring, knowing that all their expertise is there for you, just a click or a phone call away. For more information visit: http://www.caravanclub.co.uk/site-help/ technical-help. Discover Touring 131
decision time | the marquis wiltshire
Head over Heels in love Author: Ben Lane
We at Discover Touring place a great deal of emphasis on first impressions. How often do we find a product that at the very outset ticks every box – but we still feel the urge to continue our search for perfection; very often coming back to where we started?
he Marquis Wiltshire made by AutoSleepers is a real eye-opener. Sitting on a Mercedes chassis and powered by a mighty 2.2-litre engine, the Wiltshire is easy on the eye. With sleek, long lines (7.9m from front to back), the vehicle rises gracefully from the bonnet to the top of the low-line cab and its forward opening skylight – all in perfect harmony and colour co-ordinated. This attention to style is taken through the vehicle to its stunning back end. Stepping inside there is an instant feeling of space. The kitchen area is directly opposite the entrance, and to your right there is a huge fridge (this is a grand tourer, so adequate fridge space is provided) with a Daewoo microwave above. The width (2.35m) when inside takes you by surprise – you could swing a few cats in here. The living area seats four with sociable ease around two four foot parallel settees and a table (which is kept under the bed) and two further guests could nestle into the partially swivelling cab seats. At the back – separated by a solid door – is the en-suite bedroom. There is light galore throughout thanks to three skylights and plenty of storage space. The overhead dome spots and cat-eye style lighting on the base of the bed add to the ambience. A Dometic airconditioning unit comes as standard. The bedroom is well proportioned, luxurious to a fault, and comes as either a double (‘French’) bed or two singles, as in the Wiltshire Duo (with ‘floating cupboard’). There is even a bedside mirror set back in the 132 Discover Touring
offside wardrobe for the lady of the house to ‘prepare’ before her guests arrival. A hotel-style en-suite washroom leads from the bedroom. There is plenty of space to have a proper shower, turn and twist as required in toweldrying mode, and to have a proper soak in the classy bowl-shaped, see-through basin – the washroom is a real treat.
A short test drive around rain-swept Cotswold roads lifted the spirits even further. This is a solid vehicle – responsive, powerful – and pulled away seamlessly with the lightest touch on the pedal. Elsewhere in this issue we extol the greatness of German engineering, so no need to wax lyrical here – but this is a great ride, devoid of any wallowing and so surefooted that the word ‘gazelle’ kept badgering this reviewer’s mind. This reviewer also wanted to carry on driving – much further than the allotted time (and weather) allowed – to find a place to rest for the night. No such luck. Back to the kitchen – just can’t resist. There is ample preparation space and a neat pull out surface between the sink and cooker. I can see many a masterpiece knocked up here for hungry guests. This addition to the Auto-Sleepers impressive range is ideally suited to a couple (at present there are two seat belts) with ambitions to tour far and wide across Europe; a fabulous flagship brand for a company that is the UK’s oldest manufacturer and is showing its class here in spades.
TESTED: THE MARQUIS WILTSHIRE ON THE MERCEDES SPRINTER • The Mercedes is rear wheel drive • Fully automatic gearbox, seven speed transmission (163bhp) • Full Mercedes package: ESP with active skid control & ABs with eBD • 30w solar panel that can be upgraded to 80w as required. • Full GRP body with scratch and impact resistant platinum sides • Opening sky-view window and panoramic Heki wind-up roof-lights • 5m Thule (Omnistor) Canopy Awning • Full spectrum reversing camera that remains operational in transit for rear vision • Alloy wheels • Colour co-ordinated external BBQ, Mains socket and shower points • Skirt storage locker (space saving underfloor mounted) with option for additional one to be fitted • Safe, fire extinguisher, melamine crockery set, cooler bag & crystal wine glasses
hull zeebrugge / rotterdam
YOUR FIRST STOP
ON THE ROAD TO A
GREAT BREAK Sail from Hull right into the heart of Europe to begin your perfect caravan or motorhome holiday. With overnight sailings to Zeebrugge and Rotterdam every day, it’s simple and convenient for you to plan an amazing trip. There’s lots to do on board with a great choice of restaurants and bars. And because holidays are all about fun, we’ve got live entertainment in the Sunset Show Bar, cinema, casino and even the chance for a bit of retail therapy in our shops. With your own ensuite cabin to sleep in you’ll be revitalised and ready to drive on to your destination in the morning. Whichever direction you choose to go in Europe, you’ll have already got your holiday off to a brilliant start. So call us or visit POferries.com to book your crossings today.
POferries.com 08716 64 64 64
Calls cost 10p per minute plus network extras. Calls from mobiles will be higher.
hull zeebrugge / rotterdam • dover calais • cairnryan / troon larne • liverpool dublin
Practical | overseas travel
Don’t get caught out by local driving laws Author: Hettie Zammit
Planning your next trip to the continent? now’s the time to make sure you’ve got the right kit to make your trip safe and legal. Driving holidays abroad can be a great adventure but there’s a whole raft of laws that all drivers must be aware of before embarking on a trip. The experts at Halfords have put together this quick guide outlining the must-knows about travelling across the continent.
ost people know that you need a GB sticker and headlight converters when travelling anywhere in Europe but new mandatory laws stipulate other important motoring regulations, which some motorists may not be aware of. On the spot fines can be issued for failing to carry the right kit in the correct location of you car. Motoring laws vary depending on the country, so it’s always necessary to check which rules apply in advance of your trip. Many British tourists will pass through France while travelling on the Continent but regardless of whether France is your final destination; ensure that you don’t break any of the local laws during the journey. One new French law caught many motorists out this summer, compelling drivers to carry ‘NF’ standard breathalysers in their vehicles at all times. The breathalysers must be certified to the French
134 Discover Touring
‘NF’ standard – if they don’t have the ‘NF’ on, then you’re not covered! These breathalysers cost around £6 for a pack of two. Don’t forget that the drink-driving limit in Britain is 80 mg per 100ml blood, which is higher than the legal limit on the Continent. Remember if you’re caught driving over the limit on the Continent you can lose your UK licence even though you’re abroad. Other essential kit you will require includes a warning triangle and a high visibility waistcoat, in case you break down. Importantly, the waistcoats must be kept in the front of the car, not the boot, so that in an emergency they can be put on before you leave the vehicle. Also, the French police will expect you to put these on if you are pulled over and asked to leave your vehicle. Travellers on the Continent should also be aware of the Good Samaritan Law. This
requires every driver to stop and provide assistance at the accident site. Mindful of this, it is also strongly recommended to carry a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit (although this is not legally required).
Stowing your luggage
Space in your vehicle can be very restricted when trying to pack all of your holiday essentials. So what solutions are there? Roof boxes are an increasingly popular way of stowing extra luggage in the family car and are available in a variety of sizes ranging from 250L up to 600L+. Prices for these generally start from £99.99. A cycle rack is a must if you’re thinking of taking your bike with you. A ball-mounted carrier provides a really neat solution, assuming you aren’t taking a caravan! But if you don’t have a tow ball, rear mounted carriers can be used instead, and can be easily fitted. If you want to reserve boot space, roof mounted carriers are a handy alternative. Don’t forget, you’ll need a lighting board if the cycle carrier obscures your lights or number plate.
Navigating your way around the Continent
Most modern satnavs now have European mapping which is a must for most Continental drivers to ensure you don’t get lost during long distances on unfamiliar roads. If you are not buying a new satnav, ensure that your existing one has updated road software.
Practical | overseas travel WARNING: all speed camera detectors on your satnav must be disabled, particularly when driving through France or this could land you a €1,500 fine. Remember, speed limits on the Continent are usually displayed in KPH, not MPH. Some higher-end satnavs can show you special routes if you’re towing a caravan or carrying a tall load, which avoid narrow roads or low bridges.
Finally, don’t forget to take the weather conditions into account particularly when driving in the winter and especially when driving in areas where you will be gaining altitude. Snow chains are mandatory in some countries when it is snowing, and it may be worth carrying a snow shovel in case you run into deep snow. Even if it’s not snowing, carry some de-icer as temperatures can plummet overnight. If you’re heading to hotter climes, recharge your air conditioning system before you leave home, so that your fellow passengers don’t get hot and bothered. Lastly, remember to pack plenty of games and activities to keep the kids entertained to avoid the dreaded question “are we there yet?!” For further information and products mentioned in this article please see www.halfords.co.uk
The table (right) summarises all the items you need to stay safe and legal whilst travelling abroad.
Nextbase DVD player Keep the kid’s entertained on your next tour with a nextbase sDv48. This is a tablet style portable DvD player, with the disc slotting neatly under the screen. This allows the player to be very slim
Minimum driving age for uK licence holder
• Towns/cities 50kph • open road 90kph • Motorway 110130kph
• Towns/cities 50kph • open road 100kph • Motorway 130kph
• Towns/cities 50kph • open road 90110kph • Motorway 130kph
• Towns/cities 50kph • open road 90100kph • Motorway 120kph
• Level of alcohol in bloodstream should be less than 0.05 per cent
• Level of alcohol in bloodstream should be less than 0.05 per cent • Drivers aged under 21 or with less than two years experience, 0%
• Level of alcohol in bloodstream should be less than 0.051 per cent • Drivers with less than three years experience , 0%
• Level of alcohol in bloodstream should be less than 0.05 per cent • Drivers with less than two years experience, 0.03%
Third part compulsory
Third part compulsory
Third part compulsory
Third part compulsory
Minimum age for 10 years child to travel in (except babies up to 9 months sitting front seat
12 years (unless using a child restraint)
12 years (unless using a child restraint)
compulsory in all seats
compulsory in all seats
compulsory in all seats
Preparing for a tour
It’s a good idea to pack a dossier with all the important documentation you need for your holiday. If you’ve booked your hotel or campsite online, take a print out of your booking confirmation to avoid confusion when you arrive. Importantly, the police will expect you to carry your insurance, driving licence (photo card and paper counterpart) and V5C with you whilst driving. Another handy tip is to check the level of cover your car insurance provides when abroad – some insurers only provide third party by default, and you may have to pay extra for fully comprehensive cover. Also, it’s a good idea to buy European breakdown cover, and keep the emergency numbers to hand, in case you breakdown abroad. Remember, the Europeanwide emergency number is 112 (not 999!).
in child seat)
compulsory in all seats
• gB Plate or gB euroflag number plate • Headlamp converters • Warning triangle • High visibility waistcoat ^ • spare bulbs • Michelin easy grip or snow chains^^ • Breathalyser^^^
• gB Plate or gB euroflag number plate • Headlamp converters • Michelin easy grip or snow chains^^
• gB Plate or gB euroflag number plate • Headlamp converters • Warning triangle • High visibility waistcoat • Michelin easy grip or snow chains^^
• gB Plate or gB euroflag number plate • Headlamp converters • Warning triangle • High visibility waistcoat*** • spare bulbs
• First aid kit • Fire extinguisher
• Warning triangle • High visibility waistcoat • spare bulbs • First aid kit * • Fire extinguisher • Breathalyser
• spare bulbs • First aid kit • Fire extinguisher • Breathalyser
• First aid kit • Fire extinguisher • Michelin easy grip or snow chains ^^ • Breathalyser
*Should conform to DIN13 164 standard **Two warning triangles are required. One for infront of the car and one behind ***One for each person in the car ^ French Road Safety Department strongly advise carrying two vests (one must be in body of car, not boot) ^^ When using snow-covered road in compliance with relevant road sign ^^^ Breathalyser must be NF approved, two strongly recommended
and makes it ideal for use in the home as well as in the car on long journeys (car mounting kit included). The 7” screen on the nextbase is a LeD backlight high-resolution screen with 480 x 234 rgB true colour pixels, which ensures that you always get a perfect
picture. unlike nlike many other portable DvD players the nextbase units are designed to be fully portable, it has a very wide viewing angle and an inbuilt anti-skip mechanism. it will keep the little ‘uns quiet for a while! Available from www.halfords.co.uk. Discover Touring 135
Practical | overseas travel
As I drove out one midsummer morning A recent winner of a Discover Touring’s Touring Tales writing competition reveals his true touring inner self in spain. Author: Colin Rowbury
y interest in motorhomes was initiated in December 2011 by my brother’s caravanning experiences. To understand the issues further I happened upon a copy of Discover Touring in my local WHSmith. Within a week or two I needed to gain further experience of the options available. To this end I visited a major dealership and within hours I had made my first purchase. I opted for a £30,000 vehicle that met my first desires, my objective being to use this experience with a view to purchasing the ideal vehicle within a short time. Within three months I had agreed to my brother taking the first vehicle and I detailed my ideal preference at the ExCel exhibition in London, placing an order for delivery six months later.
I wanted leather seating
My current vehicle is four years old, but shares most of the features of my ideal vehicle. The principal difference is that the new one will be have an island bed instead of the current corner bed. Both are six speed automatic, as that was my previous driving experience. Both are around seven metres in length with a 2.5 litre engine. The actual matters of upgrading are not substantial but are cosmetic. I wanted
leather seating, a sophisticated sound system, and a rear view camera. The ideal vehicle costs £55,000; whilst this represents a substantial difference in cost the differences represent personal choice. My first journey out of the country was to Cantabria, Spain. A late ferry crossing made a journey to the Basque country impossible in one day. So I decided while on the motorway to terminate my journey in Castro Urbanales, just short of Bilboa. The site I stay on is not impressive. Being up a hillside the amenities are not easily accessible, but the people are pleasant and helpful. You will need to learn the concept of manyana. My electrical power failed, being only three amps, but in order to have it fixed I had the pleasure of meeting the engineers’ 84-year-old Grandmother, mother, wife, one-year-old daughter and brother. It is a culture shock for a poor Brit. Motorhomes are great fun, but in Spain particularly, your mind is on the road. You are in competition with lorries that have their own schedule. It is preferable to park up your home and try public transport, as it allows you to view the country without constantly fighting the traffic. Caravans give you the freedom of having a car, but the motorhome is not a welcome
visitor in most urban areas. A motorhome is essentially the equivalent of a hotel, a place from which to venture, not a coach.
Derbyshire by the sea
From my site I had a pleasant stroll down the hill to the bus park. It costs only 2.91 euros to travel the 35 kilometres into Bilboa. In Cantabria the countryside is exceptional and best glimpsed from a bus, having parked your motorhome it is nice to pass the driving to the professionals. Cantabria is like Derbyshire by the sea, extremely hilly but with a wealth of beautiful river crossings, bridges and waterways. When the bus enters Bilboa, the bus station is quite perplexing. The Basques speak little English and buses arrive and depart from different places. It was a small relief to spend a night in a central hotel, as it is occasionally nice to trade the few square metres of the motorhome for the greater refinement of a hotel. The hotel also offers the comfort of people who speak English. Directions to the Guggenheim Museum are no problem from the hotel, as it is just a 10-minute walk. You see the museum looming in the distance, its titanium form drawing you close. Its form is an inspiration. I am initially unsure whether to go around or go inside. I go inside, what an unbelievable experience – the spaces are unreal, the sights are quite unique. This is a truly magical place and made for a perfect end to a great trip on the road.
All abroad with The Caravan Club
for and days out planned. There are superb tours designed specifically for motorhome owners with a tour director, maps and a comprehensive route guide all supplied.
Taking your caravan or motorhome abroad may seem a big step but there’s no need for trepidation. The club has been organising overseas holidays for their members for more than 40 years and have learnt a thing or two about making your adventure relaxed and enjoyable.
Open all hours
he Caravan Club makes it so easy for you, from booking your ferry and site in advance to giving you all the free help and advice you need. They can even arrange tailored travel insurance for you. The Club have associations with more than 200 campsites throughout Europe and their Overseas Site Inspectors regularly inspect each one to make sure they come up to The Club’s high standards. You can choose from large commercial enterprises with shops, bars and restaurants to small family-run sites, so you’re spoilt for choice. The Club’s expertise also extends to publishing the overseas tourers’ essential guide, Caravan Europe. This three-volume guide lists more than 8,000 campsites with opening dates, facilities and directions as well as reviews from experienced campers. 136 Discover Touring
Deals on ferry crossings
The Club is an agent for all the major ferry companies to the Continent and Ireland, negotiating the best possible money saving deals on ferry crossings exclusively for Club members, in fact they guarantee to give members the same or an even better price than by going direct. What’s more you can see for yourself with the comparison tool in their online booking system. You talk directly to The Club’s friendly and professional reservations team, who understand perfectly any concerns you may have about your first trip abroad. The Club also run tours and excursions, ideal for those who are less experienced at travelling abroad. If you enjoy the company of others on holiday or simply like to have all the planning done for you, this may be your perfect choice, with all site fees paid
The Club’s travel insurance is designed for tourers abroad and includes everything that you and your family need for peace of mind when travelling abroad. Comprehensive breakdown insurance, medical cover and vehicle and passenger repatriation are just a few of the benefits you enjoy. The most reassuring aspect is the 24-hour free phone helpline with multi-lingual staff, so just one call to The Club is all it takes to get your problem sorted. Touring abroad in the autumn and winter is particularly rewarding. Not only are you likely to experience warmer and sunnier weather than in the UK, you’ll enjoy travelling on quieter roads too. There’s a wealth of attractions such as skiing, glorious autumn colouring, world-famous Christmas markets, wonderful shopping and varied cuisine to be enjoyed too. The Caravan Club arrange tours and excursions throughout the year, such as December trips to the German and Belgian Christmas Markets, a Winter Ski Tour in January and a Spanish Coast Tour in March.
Tales from the road by Club Member Mr Yates On 29 August last year we
travelled to Derby for a relaxing summer break. It was one of the first trips we made in our beautiful new motorhome. We had invested in a satnav in the hope that the journey would be totally stress-free – little did we know it was going to result in our downfall. All was going swimmingly until I dutifully followed the satnav down a street that not only proved to be narrow but also had cars
double parked. Realising that this was not the place to be in a motorhome, I began to slowly reverse. Unfortunately I grazed a lady’s car and, although we initially thought we could resolve the damage without involving our insurers, the damage was evaluated at £600-£700.
I quickly got in contact with The Caravan Club insurance team and thanked my lucky stars I had taken my policy out with them the previous January. I couldn’t believe how quickly
it was sorted out. I really didn’t have to do a thing. It was all resolved via text so I didn’t have to wade through paperwork or deal with constant calls.
I have since followed the advice I was given and bought a satnav designed for trucks and motorhomes and I would recommend any fellow tourers do the same. I did not hesitate to renew my insurance with The Club this year.
Top 5 tips when choosing insurance The Club knows that your motorhome is one of the most precious and valuable things you own. So it makes sense to ensure the insurance policy you choose does offer the protection
you want. Whoever you choose to insure with, the helpful hints below will ensure you’re on the right track to finding a policy that’s perfect for you.
All insurance policies vary – make sure the one you choose meets all your requirements
Get several quotes and compare the cover on a like-for-like basis e.g. sum insured for the motorhome, the equipment, contents and excess – then compare the price
Make sure that you can meet any policy terms and conditions. For example, are there storage or security requirements? Check exclusions or limitations
Ask trusted friends about their insurance experiences and arrangements
If you tour abroad, check how much continental cover you get with your policy
5 good reasons to insure your motorhome with your Club 1
We can insure most vehicles from camper vans to the larger RVs†
New for old cover up to 24 months from new – No mileage limit
Guarantee to beat your renewal premium offered by your current insurer by at least £25*
You’ll receive up to £3,500 personal effects cover, up to 270 days full policy cover for travel in the EU and much more
Developed by your Club to meet members needs
Did you know?
Any surplus income generated from the scheme goes into enhancing Club Sites and services.
Find out more or get a quote online at:
www.caravanclub.co.uk/DT4insure1 or call Freephone on 0808 156 7735
Lines are open Mon-Fri 8.30am-6.00pm & Sat 9.00am-1.00pm. Calls may be recorded. Freephone number free to landlines only. *Premium Saving Guarantee Subject to proof of an existing renewal, including cover and price (eg a copy of your renewal notice) and when cover is on a like-for-like basis. Subject to terms and conditions and the underwriter’s acceptance of the risk. Please note, terms, conditions and excess(es) may vary from your current insurer. †New business excludes motorhomes over £75,000 value and is only available to Club members up to 80 years of age. The Club’s Motorhome Insurance is arranged for The Club by Devitt Insurance Services Limited, Insurance Brokers. The Caravan Club Limited and Devitt Insurance Services Limited are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
TOURING | GeRmaNy
Destination Germany Discovering a different way of life Author: Ann Somerset Miles, Photography Ray Quinton
have visited Germany but twice, many years ago, flying into Dusseldorf and Stuttgart to visit Trade Fairs, and back the same day. I could hardly say that I had really visited this vast country, nor knew much about it. So when we, my photographer husband and I (as members of the Caravan Writers’ Guild), were offered the opportunity to join a ‘press familiarisation tour’ to discover some of what the country has to offer the caravan or motorhome traveller, we knew we had to go on what eventually became a whistle-stop 3-week trip.
Main image: The fairytale Schloss Neuschwanstein of Bavarian King Ludwig II. Top right: Open-air cafés in Augsburg. Middle right: Barbecue at Campingplatz Echternacherbrück. Bottom right: Sleek, silent tram in Augsburg. Top left: Wendelstein cablecar, Bavaria. Bottom left: Typical village in foothills of the Bavarian Alps. 138 Discover Touring
We arrived at Frieibad Echternacherbrück, our first campsite, right on the borders of Germany and Luxemburg, alongside the River Sauer and were immediately plunged into activity – a barbecue with our fellow campers. Our itinerary was packed solid with places to visit and people to meet: cameras and my sketchbook-journal were ready to record our discoveries.
Day One (9th June): Spent in RhinelandPalatinate wine-country – dominated by the gentle River Mosel (Moselle), fast-flowing north-east from its source in the Vosges mountains in France through Germany to its confluence with the Rhein (Rhine). The water glittered in the welcome sun as we approached Bernkastel-Kues, a fairy-tale town surrounded by vineyards on steep hillsides. Much walking and a fascinating multimedia wine museum. We discover that there are numerous campingplatz (campsites) all along the Mosel, ideal for the well-marked long-distance hiking trails in the hills and cycleways along the river. Day Two (10th June) & Day Three (11th June): South-east to the Mosel city of Trier and UNESCO World Heritage treasures which date from Roman times. I was captivated by the Landesmuseum, one of the foremost archeological museums in Germany and the first to install a multimedia system featuring the spectacular ‘In the Kingdom of Shadows’.
TOURING | GeRmaNy are being introduced for caravan and motorhome customers. On to the town of Gunzburg: “Tiled terracotta roofs, flowers, skylines and narrow alleyways. An elegant Bavarian town where you could happily lose yourself, wandering into tiny courtyards. Shapes, and pastel colours, red buildings with so many windows; cobblestones and roses … amazing quiet.” is recorded in my diary. Day Six (14th June) was a day of wonders, for we travelled by coach north from Lech Camping, along the Romantic Road, over the Donau (River Danube) to Nördlingen. Through little villages, woodland and fields of maize, walnuts and cherry trees; up onto a plateau and into a geological phenomenon – for Nördlingen is built within the huge Ries crater that was formed 15 million years ago when a meteorite crashed to earth. The town walls are still intact, completely encircling the little town, punctuated by five watchtowers. “Overhead, a hot-air balloon drifts lazily in the gentle breeze of a perfect summer’s evening.”
Through clever technology, it portrays the underworld and stories of the afterlife; very Wagnerian. You walk through the story and I spent the 45-minutes sketching the mystical moving images as they floated over the tombs of fallen warriors. In a daze, I continued sketching architectural features around other ancient buildings in Trier, before embarking on the river and a lazy afternoon cruise. Grey-green; slick today, the Mosel slides past vineyards, sandstone terracotta bluffs, tree-lined. Heron flaps lazily, slow; swans glide in regal white; sand-martins skim the surface, swoop and kiss the water – joy in their wings, in the calm afternoon. By evening, we are outside Trier at the winery of Georg Fritz von Nell who tells us all that “Reisling has become ‘sexy’ again!” He follows this with an entertaining and educational wine-tasting lesson. We were back in Trier next day for more city discoveries.
Day Four (12th June) was spent transferring from the Echternacherbrück campsite to Lech Camping in Affing, just outside Augsburg, Bavaria – a distance of 300 odd miles which took us around 6 hours. Augsburg is situated about half way along ‘The Romantic Road’ – a 440km route designed to introduce travellers to a wealth of European history, art and culture. The landscape changes from river valleys and fertile agricultural land in the north (at Würzburg), to forests, meadows and the dramatic scenery of the Bavarian Alps in the south, with a string of medieval towns along the way. Lech Camping is an ideal starting point for discovering the trail. Day Five (13th June) offered us the unique opportunity (as travel journalists) to visit the very modern AL-KO factory – fascinating because we saw exactly how chassis are manufactured (our Bailey is based upon one). We were also introduced to the new AL-KO Service Centre promoting the services that
Day Seven (15th June): We eschewed a planned factory visit and took a bus into the centre of beautiful Augsburg. The sun is shining; hot. We walk, talk, saunter in the pedestrianized zone, and discover the wedgeshaped Rathauz-platz, cafés positioned in a semi-circle ‘en-plein-air’. I elect for Caféhaus Eber; pink oleanders in gigantic pots are in bloom. We eat: “a truly delicious salad with vegetables, lightly pickled. I watch the sleek trams, silent on their trackways, passing gentle as a whisper.” Raymond contemplates dessert; I relax … sit … eat … sketch. Refreshed, we discover cobbled streets, wander gently between tall patrician houses, past tree-lined courtyards, miniscule gardens. Contentment. Day Eight (16th June): long coach journey of two hours into South Bavaria – a land of roses planted in bands along the roadsides; fields flat as a wheaten pancake, haymaking in progress in the hot sunshine. We perfect our technique of taking landscape shots on-the-move through the coach windscreen. Into the foothills of the Bavarian Alps; a botanist’s dream of meadow grasses and wild flowers, birch, hazel and willow. We were on our way to the southernmost point of the Romantic Road: Füssen and the Schloss Neuschwanstein, which would be the quintessential fairytale castle with a story to match; if only you could avoid the crowds! I still call it ‘chitty-chitty-bang-bang’ from our children’s childhood days, but was completely overwhelmed by the press of people, fearing it had been turned into a theme-park. In fact it was a not-to-be-missed experience – u Discover Touring 139
TOURING | GeRmaNy very theatrical. Building was commenced by Bavarian King Ludwig II in 1869 as a “monument to medieval culture and kingship” which he revered and wanted to imitate; it is in fact the embodiment of German idealism and thus well worthy of a visit. Day Nine (17th June): ‘To the Mountains!’ heads my journal page for an idyllic Sunday when we again headed south into the Alps; jagged limestone peaks at first a faint blur on the skyline, coming ever closer until at 10.30am we reach The Wendelstein, snatch a coffee and take the cog railway. Staggering the power, the speed with which we climb, the views, the alpine flowers, the tamed wildness of it all. We are 60km south-east of Munich, and almost at the summit (1,838m / 6,030ft) where we were treated in the restaurant to the most magnificent brunch buffet; such huge platters of every conceivable hot and cold dish, elegant china and cutlery, and coffee with cream. Outside, on a substantial viewing area, there was time to stand and stare, to sketch and write, in the pure, dry air, with cloud drifting below us over small farmsteads in a landscape of alpine meadows and pines. There was yet more to discover; we descend in the cablecar and drive a few miles to a fertile alpine valley and the Slyrs Whisky Distillery – the only one in Germany. Very modern; we watch a beautifully-crafted introductory film which demonstrates the importance to these friendly people of land management. Day Ten (18th June): Munich (Munchen) and a fascinating technical tour of the Truma factory – useful for establishing why our motorhome combi-heater has such appalling operating instructions! Into the splendid city for a spot of sight-seeing and window-gazing, though we gravitate towards the food market, snap-happy with camera: “salads, cheeses, flowers, craft baskets made from meadow flowers and lavender. And then, much needed on a hot day, a cool Bavarian beer – ‘Meine Blonde Weisse’ – refreshing like a dance in a summer breeze.” Day Eleven (19th June): We chicken out of the planned activities (visit to a motorhome factory) and spend the day back at Lech Camping working whilst we have good WiFi access. Day Twelve (20th June): We leave Bavaria, which is a wrench, to drive the 260 miles – 5 hours – to Rüdesheim on the River Rhein (Rhine) and the riverside Campingplatz am Rhein. The river is an immense commercial watery ‘motorway’, transporting goods in gigantic container barges as far upstream as Basle in Switzerland. Day Thirteen (21st June): Walking through hillside woods with the Rhine in silent majesty rolling beneath us, ever onwards towards the North Sea, we are reminded that this is 140 Discover Touring
Top left: Cruising on the Rhine. Top right: Munich market. Middle: Splendid brunch-buffet on Wendelstein mountain. Bottom left: Typical Rhineland architecture. Bottom right: Strolling alongside the Rhine.
another exceptional area of wine production. We are above a vineyard, the slopes so steep you wonder how they can cultivate the vines. We have a bird’s eye view as we descend in an open chairlift to street level, lunch and a ferry across the wide river to explore the amazing Rheinstein Castle, one of the first to be rebuilt during the Prussian times of Rhine Romanticism. The ferry returns us to Rüdesheim and Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Museum (circuses and charades, merry-go-rounds and bagatelles), then dinner and a stroll along the Rhine back to the campingplatz just in time to avoid a spectacular thunderstorm. Day Fourteen (22nd June): The Rhine on this, our last full day, and a classic 3hr river cruise on the ‘Köln-Dusseldorf ’ to Braubach – 55kms north of the docks in Rüdesheim. Such a pretty town, of flowers and a herbal physic garden – epitome of civilisation –
where I longed to linger; but as ever, we have a punishing schedule to maintain. Though I discover more herbs in beds around the keep of the dramatic Marksburg Castle – enough to satisfy my passion for medieval history. We return by train to Rudesheim and a convivial farewell dinner in the atmospheric Rüdesheimer Schloss. Day Fifteen (23rd June): Departure. I wished there had been more time to discover what until now had been little more than the geography lessons I learned whilst at school in the 40s and 50s. Time to explore and analyse, to soak in the atmosphere of all the places we visited. To discover more of German culture, architecture, music, literature, scenery, and landscape. But this after all, was but an introductory journey; I will return.
ÜDiscover More: Please turn to page 142
HIKING@ MY GERMANY
“Talking trees, enchanted forests, bewitched mountains. Once upon a time, people told fairy stories. Today, I went on a fairytale walk.” Lian, 26, from Guangzhou
TOURING | GeRmaNy
This image: The gentle Mosel
ouring on the Continent:
Maybe you long to tour abroad and are not sure where to begin. We have travelled extensively in France ever since an initial visit (car and tent) in 1960, but this was our first foray into Germany. It’s a long way, and, as I do not speak a word of German, I was a little daunted at the prospect. But for me, the journey is as important as the destination. So we extended our German visit there and back. We opted to travel from Dover (3hrs from home) as a convenient CC campsite meant we could
Ü Discover More: Campingplatz Echternacherbrüch
Tel +49 (0)6525 93155; email info@ echternacherbrueck.de (convenient campsite for Mosel area)
catch an early sailing. Lazing in the onboard caféteria drinking coffee, I suddenly experience a tearful ‘senior moment’ when I recall that exactly a year ago, our 12-year old grand-daughter swam the equivalent of our 21-mile crossing, but in her school pool, for charity. We disembark and ignore a headsdown, non-stop direct drive of 275 miles, preferring to take a couple of days en-route; time to sketch, and buy local produce. We could have booked a convenient campsite, but actually love the freedom of using ‘aires’ – dedicated overnight stop-off points all over France and Scandinavia and the Benelux
countries, often free-of-charge, but only available to motorhome users. These are not the same as ‘aires’ on motorways which equate more to UK service stations and are not recommended. So with ‘All the Aires France’ in the cab, we combined our love of beautiful countryside, my passion for cross-country map-reading through France, Belgium and Luxembourg (satnav perfect however for locating aires), and tranquil overnight stopovers eating really fresh local food, and time to write up my travel journal. Ditto on our return journey.
Campingplatz am Rhein:
En-route: Black Horse Farm Caravan Club Site/Dover:
Tel +49 (0)6722 2528; http://www.campingplatz-ruedesheim.de (on borders of the rhine at rudesheim and convenient for river cruises etc).
Tel 01303 892665 (pitches available for ferry/eurotunnel travellers)
All the Aires’ published by Vicarious Books: www.vicariousBooks.co.uk
Lech Camping: Tel +49 (0)8207 2200; www.lech-camping.de (a beautiful Bavarian campsite with excellent facilities where the owners speak perfect english).
Campsites in Germany Guide: www.germany-tourism.co.uk/camping
Surf the Net: Tourism in Germany: www.germany.travel
142 Discover Touring
Aire at Catillon Su r Sambre (59360)
CARAVANING IS OUR PASSION How to develop into one of the leading manufacturers of motorhomes in Europe? The answer is quite simple: by passion, the will to evolve continuously and unique customer service.
Bürstner UK • PO Box 164 • Bishop Auckland • DL13 1WZ Phone: 0 13 88 /53 79 60 • email@example.com • www.buerstner.com
Modern design, innovative technology and an interior that invites you to relax. For more than 50 years we have looked for and found successful ways for you to enjoy your valuable free time. Bürstner - an unlimited sense of comfort and well-being. www.buerstner.com
TOURING | GeRmaNy
German engineering at its very best in June 2012 the caravan Writers’ guild embarked on a twoweek press familiarisation tour of germany. The tour had the support of P&o, the german national Tourist Board and of some of the key manufacturers who are based there, including AL-Ko Kober, Truma and Hymer. Author: Terry Owen Author: Terry Owen
Main image: The stunning Hymer Museum. right: The AL-KO apprentice workshop is bright, airy and spotless. Far right: Hymer engineering: pure class. Top far right: Three Truma employees show off their version of the traditional dirndl dress. 144 Discover Touring
L-KO manufactures more than 85% of all the chassis and running gear used on UK-built caravans. Its history dates back to 1931 when a young locksmith called Alois Kober set up a metal working shop in Koetz, Bavaria. After the war Alois’ three sons joined him in the business but not before he had instructed them to learn the locksmith’s trade that had served him so well. Over the following years AL-KO grew beyond recognition, becoming involved in the manufacture of caravan chassis in 1968 and taking over B&B trailers in Leamington Spa, UK, in 1982. Today AL-KO employs 4,200 people in 50 locations around the world. As well as vehicle components it also manufactures garden products, and heating and ventilation systems.
The company’s headquarters remain in Koetz where there are impressive manufacturing and testing facilities. AL-KO is still a family business and is run by four of Alois’ grandsons – Stefan, Harald, Raymond and Roland. There is a strong emphasis on employee training and on trade apprenticeships. Indeed AL-KO is one of the few companies still to have an apprentice training school. Roland Kober was proud to show us round the workshop facility where so many of AL-KO’s craftsmen have been trained. On visiting the production buildings we were struck by the sheer scale and efficiency of the operation, not to mention the high quality of the components being produced. Over the years AL-KO has brought many innovations to the caravan industry. In 1985
TOURING | GeRmaNy They include heating appliances, water pumps, air conditioners, gas regulators, caravan movers and more besides. Truma started as an English language school in Munich in 1949. Frequent power cuts robbed the school of electric lighting
AL-KO launched its AMC chassis conversions. These can be bolted to a variety of motorhome cabs in place of the original chassis. They offer the converter important advantages including a lower centre of gravity, a higher payload and more layout options. AL-KO carries out these conversions at a dedicated facility at Ettenbeuren, a few miles from Koetz. AL-KO’s innovations have also helped to improve the safety and security of caravanning. Firstly there was the AKS hitch head stabiliser that helps to prevent dangerous snaking when towing. Next the wheel secure locking system that provides a high degree of protection against theft and, more recently, the ATC trailer control system that gently applies the caravan’s brakes if instability sets in. AL-KO’s latest venture is an eight bay service centre and shop, open to the public. It too is located in Koetz and was just being readied for opening during our visit.
and so founder Philipp Kreis made himself some gas lights. Word soon got round and the gas lights became in great demand. Later that year Truma was founded, taking its name from the then US president, Harry S. Truman. He was a man Kreis greatly admired due to the instrumental role he played in restoring Germany’s industry after the war. Today Truma operates from a modern complex at Putzbrunn in Bavaria and employs some 600 people. It too is a family concern with the founder’s daughter chairing the company’s advisory board. At the time of our visit she was away in the Baltic States with her motorhome. Where else? The penchant for invention that started with Philipp Kreis has remained with Truma ever since. In 1961 it produced the first completely enclosed gas heater suitable for caravans. Truma subsequently adapted the design to provide piped warm air for an even distribution of heat throughout the caravan. Down the years other inventions followed. These included an automatic change over valve that could switch over to a second gas cylinder when the first ran out, a water heater capable of supplying an on board shower and combined water and space heater, now known as the Truma Combi. In the autumn of 2012 Truma produced another showstopper in the form of a fuel cell that runs on LPG. Put simply this device uses butane or propane gas and quietly turns it into 250 watts of electricity. It’s perhaps best described as a powerful battery charger giving independence from an electric hook up. Truma products first started to appear in UK made vans from the 2001 model year after Truma had acquired the heating, hot water and mover products from UK rival Carver. Now many UK made vans have one or more Truma products as standard. To help support these products Truma has a UK service centre at Dove Valley Park, near Derby.
Hot off the press at Truma
German perfection at Hymer
Truma is another name having a long association with the caravan industry. It manufactures a wide of range of products aimed at improving the comfort and convenience of our caravans and motorhomes.
much he ordered more and began to market them under the ‘ERIBA’ brand name, reflecting the letters in his name. The first motorhome, the Hymer Caravano, followed in 1961. It was based on a Borgward ‘van and had a pop up roof similar to those fitted to the Eriba caravans. Only three of these ‘vans were made before Borgward went out of business. For the next 10 years Hymer concentrated on the rapidly expanding market for caravans and it was not until 1971 that they returned to the motorhome market with the Hymermobil 550. It was basically a caravan body mounted on a Mercedes truck body but it paved the way for Hymer to become one of the most successful motorhome producers in Europe with 100,000 to its name by 2004. In 1978 Hymer pioneered a new method of construction, calling it ‘PUAL’ and standing for PolyUrethane ALuminium. It is still used today and, as well as providing excellent insulation; it has proved to be impervious to water and resistant to rot. For this reason Hymer has been able to offer a six-year water ingress guarantee since 1985. The Hymer and Eriba companies traded as separate entities until 1980 when they merged. Today the Hymer Group also encompasses other well know names including Burstner, Carado, Dethleffs, Laika, Niesmann + Bischof and TEC. Some 2,600 people are employed in factories across Germany, France and Italy. Hymer’s factory is still located at Bad Waldsee, producing both caravans and motorhomes. It’s a huge place, teeming with life and modern machinery. Sadly we weren’t allowed to take any photos but that soon changed when we crossed the road to the Erwin Hymer museum. The museum opened to the public in October 2011, at a cost of €17 million. It’s housed in an ultra modern building but transports you back in time to see pristine examples of caravans, motorhomes and towcars from yesteryear. Many makes are represented, not just Hymer. We could have happily spent all afternoon there but the coach beckoned and we had to be on our way. We spent two weeks in Germany and enjoyed every minute of it. Each of the companies we visited stood out for one reason or another. There is no doubt that German engineering is second to none but it was the people we met that really made it for us. Work or play, everyone had a positive, go get, attitude. It’s easy to see why Germany is leading Europe out of recession.
Hymer first started making caravans en masse in 1958 - two years after Erwin Hymer joined his father’s farm wagon business. A friend and neighbour, Erich Bachem, had persuaded them to make him a caravan. He liked it so Discover Touring 145
TOURING | GeRmaNy
Romance in a Bürstner
A family of four, a route of occasional mind-blowing beauty, a big motorhome, men in lederhosen, mythical efficiency and a mad King; was this a recipe for success or an unmitigated disaster? Discover Touring was keen to find out. Author: Terry Owen Author: Roger Moorhouse
Main image: The Bürstner Ixeo 660 is packed and ready for the Romantic Road. Top left: Cycling in the Allgäu region, time for a quick bout of ‘the hills are alive...’. Top right: The rich colours of Dinkelsbühl, seemingly frozen in time. 146 Discover Touring
he nice lady from Bürstner was unfazed. She made no obvious reaction to my admission that I had not been in a motorhome for a good few years, and carried on with her introductory tour around the shiny new vehicle. “You’ll be fine”, she said presently, “It’s easy”. I hoped she was right. First impressions were certainly positive. The Bürstner was beautifully turned out in champagne and white, cutting an elegant dash with smooth exterior lines and a spacious interior. Duly encouraged, we packed the thing to the gunnels with our luggage and assorted gubbins and, with the children bouncing with enthusiasm, we set off for our adventure. Our plan was to drive the Romantic Road in southern Germany. You might not
have heard of it, as it is essentially a post-war concoction intended to boost tourist traffic, but the Road runs from Würzburg in central Germany 350km more or less due south to the Austrian border at Füssen. As the tourist brochure will tell you, it takes in some of the most beautiful scenery and townscapes that Europe has to offer. Whatever the truth of that grand claim, with its campsites and its mixture of roads – from lanes to main arteries – the Road seemed to offer the perfect opportunity to put the Bürstner through its paces, while simultaneously indulging my own passion for German history.
An easy jaunt
Picking up the ‘van from the Bürstner factory in Kehl (the unfashionable, German side of Strasbourg), we headed north-east to Würzburg; an easy jaunt along the autobahn, made only slightly perilous by a series of pesky contraflows, which obliged this novice motorhomista to keep a beady eye on his wing-mirrors. Würzburg itself has much to recommend it: the Marienburg Fortress, a stunning cathedral and a few beautiful baroque palaces, but the open road was calling – and
TOURING | GeRmaNy
we were all ears – so our sojourn there was necessarily short. From there, the Romantic Road winds southwards through the shiny green vineyards, passing Bad Mergentheim and a few rather forgettable towns before reaching its first highlight – the impossibly picturesque, preserved medieval town of Rothenburg-obder-Tauber, a riot of spires, towers and cobbled streets. Rothenburg is deservedly famous – not least due to its appearances in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Harry Potter – and despite the throngs of tourists, is a must, if only to walk the walls or sample the local delicacy; doughy ‘snowballs’ drenched in sugar or cinnamon. South from Rothenburg, the Romantic Road is a bit of a mixed bag: sometimes excellent, sometimes indifferent. Its gems are stunning. After Rothenburg, the towns of Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen follow suit, each one seemingly frozen in time in the mid-17th century, each one with perfect town walls and pastel gables. Neither should be missed. For all those highlights, however, too often the countryside connecting them is lacklustre; the towns en route drab, even occasionally – heaven forfend – downright unromantic.
Travelling ravelling in a motorhome in Germany gives numerous opportunities to explore that country’s legendary (or mythical) efficiency. The Road itself is certainly not taxing. German roads are excellent; I don’t think I drove over a single pothole in the entire 10-day journey. They are not too busy either – even in high-summer – and the route is usually well marked, though a back-up satnav or tame map-reader would not go amiss as, frustratingly, the signs for the Romantic Road do not tell you whether you are heading north or south, and occasionally it can be difficult to tell the difference. Camping grounds are fairly numerous – especially in the prettier Alpine areas – and are well organised (sometimes to a fault). The larger amongst them have areas set aside for overnight stops, at a cost of around €20, and many boast excellent facilities that will encourage a longer stay, with restaurants, wellstocked shops, and even lakes for swimming or boating. For the most popular sites it is advisable to book ahead, especially in high season, but it’s not essential and it rather detracts from the romance of just seeing where the journey takes you. As a back-up option for the incurable romantics (or the terminally disorganised), some towns en route offer unmanned municipal sites, where overnight stays, waste disposal, power and fresh water can all be had for a few euros. Farm camping is also an appealing idea, especially if you want fresh, warm milk on your cereal and you don’t mind the children being splattered with a bit of cow dung. South of Augsburg – which marks about half-way on the Road – the terrain and ambience improves, becoming more recognisably Bavarian, with the strains of oom-pah and a glimpse of lederhosen an increasingly present threat. Landsberg-amLech was a very pleasant surprise. A pretty walled and gated old town perching above the river Lech, it holds the dubious distinction of being the town where Hitler was briefly imprisoned after his putsch attempt of 1923, but don’t let that put you off.
The hills are alive
Farther south, the rather flat landscape gradually gives way to rolling hills and – finally – the dramatic Alpine vistas of the eastern Allgäu. If you are not already singing “The Hills are Alive!” by this point, it is only a matter of time before your inner ‘von Trapp’ reveals itself. For those perhaps unmoved by the impressive German medieval architecture on show, this southern end of the road – around Füssen – will be the real highlight. It is indeed a stunningly beautiful part of the world; the lake-dotted plain and lush meadows with tinkling herds of cows, suddenly backed by soaring Alpine peaks. Aside from the pleasures of Füssen itself – which has an attractive town centre with a late-medieval castle and monastery – the area also boasts the famed fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein; the pet project of the late 19th century ‘mad’ King Ludwig of Bavaria. A visit here is a must, and though the castle’s interior is somewhat forgettable, its exterior views are simply astonishing, expressing both the King’s ambition and his psychological failings in full measure. Neuschwanstein is so unfeasibly picturesque that I suspect it is physically impossible to take a bad picture of it. It is Walt Disney made stone.
The nearby Tegelberg cable car is also worth a look. After ascending some 900 metres between sheer cliffs, the visitor to the top station is afforded a spectacular view across the Schwangau valley and the benefits of walking at least a few paces before rewarding himself with coffee and cake in the Bavarian style. The more adventurous can jump off the cliff in a tandem paraglide. After a couple of days camping on the lakeside near Füssen, swimming in the crystalclear waters or cycling to the nearby sights, we moved on again and – for us – the Romantic Road had run its course. It had been a most enjoyable trip; the Road is an excellent way to spend a week or so, with lots of history, u Discover Touring 147
TOURING | GeRmaNy culture and outdoor activities to satisfy even the most demanding family members. What is more, it very much lends itself to exploration in a motorhome, with some well-equipped and comfortable touring sites en route. Of course, there are a couple of slightly less positive aspects. As with any motorhome, we had the feeling of being rather stranded at times, as once we had set up camp we were somewhat loath to pack up again to visit local sights. For this reason, bikes were certainly a must, but they were at least easily accommodated on the rear rack.
Cheerfully bucking trends
Also, there are some subtle differences between touring in Germany and the experience of, say, France. German campsites vary enormously, of course, but some seemed a little too burdened with rules and regulations (we cheerfully bucked the trend of all motorhomes facing the same way) and the situation was not helped by the occasionally charmless manner of the staff themselves. The German touring fraternity also seems to consist predominantly of retired couples, so sites themselves can sometimes appear a bit staid and unwelcoming, especially to those accompanied by lively children – a few too many twitching net curtains for my taste. Nonetheless, despite such quibbles, it was an excellent and memorable journey. The Bürstner was simply terrific, eating up the miles with ease and improbable fuel efficiency, and being a genuine pleasure to live in – even for an (occasionally cantankerous) family of four. The nice lady from Bürstner was right – it had all been very easy. The Romantic Road also did not disappoint, delivering – as promised – some of the most stunning architecture and beautiful scenery that Germany has to offer. I have often wondered why Germany does not attract more British tourists – and despite the above complaints – that bemusement has only been confirmed by this most recent visit. Germany has a great deal to recommend it: excellent food, good beer, stunning scenery, great roads and leather trousers. What’s not to like?
Ü Main Features: • Fiat Ducato low-level chassis with wider rear axle and front-wheel drive • 4-cylinder, 2.3 litre diesel engine with 130HP • six-speed manual gearbox, cruise control, stability control and traction control • Wing mirrors with twin mirror surfaces, reversing camera • Fiamma carry-Bike Pro twin cycle rack • gas 3-ring hotplate, refrigerator with freezer (12v/ 230v/gas), sink • shower tray & cassette toilet • combi 4 heater with electric element • Fiamma manual-windawning
148 Discover Touring
Top: The fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein built by ‘mad’ King Ludwig of Bavaria. Above and right: A perfect blend of space, family life and long roads to nowhere.
Ü Discover More: www.germany.travel www.bayern.travel www.romantischestrasse.de/?lang=uk
The Vehicle: Bürstner Ixeo The Bürstner ixeo it 660 is a handsome beast, with elegant and surprisingly unobtrusive exterior lines complemented by a pleasing, airy interior. it boasts four berths, two single bunks in the rear and a generous double folding down over the living area; as well as a very compact bathroom/ shower and a small galley kitchen. For the novice, the practicalities of running the thing – the chemical toilet, the gas, the waste water and so on – were all reassuringly straight-forward, and mostly monitored via a single, easily-operated control panel just inside the door. it is also very easy to drive. it’s a fairly big vehicle, of course – 2.3 metres wide and 6.7 metres long – and you have to get used to filling the carriageway and having much less leeway on either side. But once you have got accustomed to its size, it’s a real pussy-cat. The trusty Fiat Ducato diesel is powerful enough to cope with all situations and the six-speed ‘box ensures an easy and drama-free pick up. The chassis, too, feels surprisingly taut and predictable, with little of the wallowing that might be expected in corners. even parking and manoeuvring present no real challenge, with generous wing-mirrors and a reversing camera providing excellent rear vision. in all, the Bürstner feels so manageable and planted on the road that it really is no harder to
drive than the average family car. Living in the Bürstner is also surprisingly easy. With a couple of exceptions, it is spacious – even for this six-foot plus author – and banged heads were rare. As with all such modern motorhomes, the space-saving genie has woven his magic, and you will be astonished how much can be made of a limited space. communal areas are generously laid out and the rotating driver and passenger seats can give an extra dimension if required. stowage areas are also well thought-out. Also impressive is its build-quality. it is expected, of course, that such vehicles should display considerable ingenuity in their use of space and the ways in which they can transform, for instance, from a living area to a bedroom. Yet, what is pleasing about the Bürstner is the quality and durability of all the associated catches, hinges and fittings. Despite the best efforts of our own semi-domesticated, hyperactive 12-year-old, nothing was broken by the end of 10 days. We rarely manage that, even at home. The only minus, perhaps, is that the bathroom/ shower, though a masterpiece of space saving, is rather too cramped to really be used in anything other than an emergency capacity. But, beyond that, the Bürstner really can home and sleep a family of four with ease.
SEE CANADA THE WAY IT IS MEANT TO BE SEEN Good quality does not have to cost more, so if you are looking for an affordable motorhome to see Canada in your own way, Four Seasons is your best choice. With over 250 vehicles at 5 locations, you will surely ﬁnd what you need when you need it and receive friendly, personal service on top! Motorhome Bookers is your reservations specialist who will provide excellent pre- and post-travel service and great value for money. Book your Motorhome Holiday today and take advantage of great Early Booker specials for 2013!
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Discover Touring 149
DISCOVER TOURING EUROpE
We’ve pulled out all the stops Boasting open roads and beautiful countryside, Europe is made for touring. So, why not use your caravan or motorhome to its full potential? Catch the rays on a sun-drenched beach or wander around the markets and soak up the sights and smells of local produce. Discover amazing cultural dishes, delicious wines and sit back and listen to incredible traditional music.
service team can help you find the perfect, value-for-money site – whether you’re looking for a child-friendly location that accepts pets and offers access to plenty of local attractions or a quiet, adults-only spot in the countryside.
European roads are far quieter than those in the UK, so relax and enjoy the ride – if you’re heading to France you could be unwinding in the sunshine in a matter of hours! Our specialist travel
They’re also on hand with the latest overseas travel advice and can help make your ferry bookings plus we guarantee the same or better fares than going direct to the ferry operators.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Download your copy of the new Discover Touring Europe Magazine today. Featuring: Inspirational destinations, practical tips & advice and much much more.
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TOURING | GRaNd TOUR
Port Out Starboard Home Author: David Asquith
Discover Touring scratches the surface of the grand Tour and asks, has the spirit of adventure been lost in modern touring?
he original Grand Tour was a rite of passage for 17th century European aristocrats, mostly young men, to exercise their curiosity. In search of intellectual self-improvement, these pioneers would employ guides, and use their considerable wealth to bring back specimens and artefacts. With the arrival of steam-powered transportation around 1825, the Grand Tour was made accessible to a wider group from the upper classes. The Tour flourished to take in the spas of Germany and the mountains of Switzerland, and later, Italy. Starting out usually from Dover and crossing the Channel to Ostend, Le Havre or Calais, the intrepid traveller would have been chaperoned by a tutor or a small army of servants. A coach would be bought or rented at a major city, and resold upon arrival at the next, and some even travelled up the Seine on boats to complete the first leg to Paris. It was often tough going, on the road, especially at the St Bernard pass in Italy. Here, it is reported, wealthy travellers were lifted over rough terrain by their servants to save their posteriors (and embarrassment). But it was worth it, as Italy’s principal cities 152 Discover Touring
such as Rome, Florence and Turin, offered the greatest prize – to experience first hand the sheer opulence of the buildings, monuments and museums – a heady mix of early Christian, Renaissance and Baroque. Usually terminating in Naples, the traveller would rest awhile, head north across the Alps and take in the delights of Innsbruck, Vienna and Berlin, before finishing the Grand Tour in the low countries and embarking for Dover. Early in the 20th century overseas travel became a mass industry through the likes of tour operators Thomas Cook offering trips to a broader (but still, by any measure, wealthy) set. By the outbreak of WW2 the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company had been operating for almost 100 years. The company had commercial interests, including many ports around the globe and enjoyed a reputation in both cargo and passenger travel. That company is now better known as P&O.
Touring in 2013
Nowadays you don’t need to be upper class or wealthy to travel in style and comfort and take in new experiences. Like the original Grand Tourers you can set off on a route, full of
expectation, and find new adventures. Modern Grand Tourers swap the coach and the army of servants for a motorhome or caravan and enjoy all the comforts of home while enjoying flexible, inspirational travel. The start of the tour would have been not much different from today – that wonderful anticipation you feel when your caravan or motorhome is packed up and you are setting off for the Continent. P&O have gone some way to recreate the luxury and exclusivity of those early cross-Channel voyages with the arrival of the new Club Lounge on board two brand new ships. You will find a warm, welcoming and personal service, including complimentary drinks and food served at your table, masseuses, private bathroom, private Club deck graced by solid wood recliners. I have travelled on P&O ferries probably 200 times in 30 years, and for me the crossing was always a useful way to get some sea air, take in the views and recharge for the onward journey. Even with the arrival of Eurotunnel it was always the more relaxed, sedate option. The new Club Lounge takes the cross-Channelexperience to a whole new level, and certainly P&O are up to speed with the high demands of today’s modern tourers. After all, if you want the very best in your ‘van, why settle for anything less on your cross channel trip? Discover more: www.POHeritage.com www.poferries.com
Book your next camping and caravanning break with the friendly club. Choose from 110 Club Sites the length and breadth of the UK and start enjoying the freedom of the great outdoors. For more information, to find your perfect club site or book a pitch
visit campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk or call 024 7647 5426 Bala Camping and Caravanning Club Site
acTIvITy | campING
Finding freedom under canvas
Author: Mark Round
if there’s one phrase you continually hear from those camping in tents across the uK, it’s the freedom to explore. The experts from the camping and caravanning club magazine look at ways to get the most out of a camping trip under canvas and how to get started.
or many there’s no better way to get close to nature than by heading out for a trip under canvas. Whether it’s the droplets of rain tapping on the roof of the tent late at night or that opportunity to relax and unwind from the hustle and bustle of every day life, for some tent campers there’s no better way to get close to nature. And wherever you go on a campsite, there’s a distinct probability that many of those enjoying the solitude of time away in a caravan or motorhome, will have started their great exploring adventures in a tent. Arguably one of the most popular uses for 154 Discover Touring
tents has to be for those looking to explore the great British countryside. From the rugged peaks of the Lake District through to the awe-inspiring landscape of Skye, the Camping and Caravanning Club has 109 Sites and 20 Camping in the Forest sites located close to breathtaking scenery and walking routes that offer campers unrivalled choice for getting the most of their holiday. One of most popular venues is the Hayfield Club Site, set in the heart of the Peak District in Derbyshire. This is one of three sites that boasts specially designed facilities for those on backpacking adventures and joins the existing
facilities already in place for tent campers at Windermere and Milarrochy Bay sites. The award-winning site has recently opened a backpacking facility that is fully heated and provides campers with a food preparation area, indoor and outdoor seating and vented lockers to aid the drying of wet clothes after a day out tackling the local terrain. The facility also features boot cleaning facilities, bicycle stands and an electric point. It is dedicated to the memory of former Director General David Welsford and the facility forms part of the ongoing £29 million network development programme. It is also one of several new backpacking facilities planned across the site network.
Where do I start?: Purchasing a new tent can be a little bit like buying a new car. There’s so much choice and knowing where to start can be a daunting challenge. Sure, there’s data that can be analysed for nearly every tent on the market but it all comes down to
acTIvITy | campING
yourself paying for a larger pitch or even being turned away.
what the individual is looking to use the tent for. The Camping and Caravanning Club has compiled a list of useful datasheets covering everything from choosing the correct tent or trailer tent through to making sure you know how to hitch a caravan to a towcar. The website campingandcaravanningclub. co.uk/helpandadvice has more information. But, a few questions you should consider before buying a tent, include: How many people will be sleeping inside it? How long do you plan to stay at one site? What’s the weather likely to be? How much do you want to spend? Is there enough space for everybody to sleep comfortably, with space for airbeds if required? • How easy is it to pitch? Am I tall and strong enough to fit the poles? • Is there space to stand up inside and get changed? • How easy is it to move when packed away? • • • • •
If you’re looking for a lightweight tent that you can use on a backpacking adventure then it’s not really a good idea to purchase a large family tent that will require a car to carry it. You also need to be mindful of storing it afterwards. Likewise, if you would like to purchase a tent for more than two people, you need to think about how much storage will be required for those staying inside it. Many tents nowadays come with built-in or sewn-in groundsheets with the seam between the flysheet and groundsheet often welded to help aid water resistance. Sewn-in groundsheets are great for keeping out draughts, but it’s worth checking the ventilation, especially for those camping trips on hot summer nights. Most tents also feature a fabric outer – known as the flysheet – and inner sleeping compartments. You’ll find at the bottom of the tent is a groundsheet, usually made of a thick, waterproof fabric designed to protect those camping in the tent from the damp ground beneath. It’s worth remembering as well that the bigger the tent, the more difficult it may be to pitch and take down. Many campsites also have restrictions on the size of the tent that can fit on a standard pitch so you may find
Types of tent: There’s plenty of choice on the market today to cater for whatever you’re looking for. Dome tents – A dome tent is a popular choice for many campers who are dabbling in the idea of spending time under canvas. A standard design will have two or more flexible poles arranged in sleeves to form semi-circles, meeting at the central top point of the tent. Geodesic tents – This type of tent has poles that can criss-cross its surface, often forming triangles. This type of tent is a great for extreme conditions though it’s often pricey. Semi-geodesic tents use fewer poles and generally cost a bit less, but are still good lightweight backpacking tents for poor weather camping. Pod tents – If you’re camping with a large contingent, chances are you’ll be tempted by one of these tents. With a central living area and sleeping compartments attached to it, each camper can be afforded his or her own space when it’s time to sleep. However, the circular shape means it’s often too large for a standard pitch on a campsite, so you may incur an extra charge for a pitch and the tent is likely to be heavy and unwieldy to pitch. Tunnel tents – Possibly the most common sight on a family campsite, tunnel tents have two or more hoops arranged one behind the other, with the flysheet between helping to form the tunnel. Often easy to pitch, they are generally stable once pegged out, though they can be partial to catching the wind before they are secured to the ground. Vis-à-vis tents – Transcribed as ‘faceto-face’ in French, this construction has its sleeping compartments located at opposite ends of the tent with a living area in between. Frame tents – Often made of cotton or polycotton canvas, this type of tent proved u Discover Touring 155
acTIvITy | campING
Pictures on these pages: There is a bewildering array of tents to chose from; do your research, ask your questions and you will be well rewarded.
popular in the 1960s and 1970s. They feature a rigid pole framework inside. One of the main benefits of a frame tent is that they have plenty of space and head height inside, making them ideal for a gathering if the rain is pouring. The fabric of a tent is another important factor to consider before splashing the cash. Polyester, nylon, polycotton or coated-cotton and cotton are all used on tents and each has its advantages or disadvantages, depending on the type of camping you are planning. Generally, however, you’ll find that the fabric of a tent is matched to its purpose so if you choose the right layout and size of tent for your camping trip you may not need to choose between fabrics.
pitching the tent: Like any new product, it’s always a good idea to start by reading the instructions for tips on how to pitch the tent. You may also find a pitching video online. However many newer tents on the market are designed to make pitching even easier. Some feature inflatable tubes in place of poles. Tent manufacturer Vango, among others, has seen notable interest across the market place with its new trend of AirBeam designs. 156 Discover Touring
But as always, it’s a good idea to check before purchasing that you know how it works. Also, make sure that you have a test run in the garden or nearby to home so that if you do run into any problems, your weekend away will not be ruined if you cannot put the tent up as quickly as you would like.
purchasing the tent: Like most things in life nowadays, you can find a wide array of products online or in catalogues. Probably the best way to judge any tent is to see it pitched. You can do this at a specialist camping retailer or an exhibition. Many camping retailers also hold outdoor shows during the spring and early summer where you can see a selection of tents pitched. You can buy tents at high street shops and supermarkets, many of which, offer low-priced deals at the beginning of the camping season but be aware that – in most cases – in camping you will get what you pay for. You will also normally get help and advice at an outdoor retailer, which probably won’t be available if you shop online on in a supermarket. If you’re looking for second-hand tents, they will usually be featured in the classified adverts in
camping magazines or online auction sites. It’s always advisable to check a tent carefully before relying on it for a holiday. Apart from the obvious inspections for broken poles and tent fabric, it’s a good idea to check the colour of the fabric inside a seam to see whether the flysheet has faded, indicating it has been pitched outside for a long time.
Essential kit: This will largely depend on where you’re planning on going and what you’re doing with the tent. Nevertheless, many will choose to take the following items along with them for a ‘standard’ camping adventure: • Something to sleep on, such as a mat or airbed. • Sleeping bag or similar. This is crucial to helping you get a goodnight’s sleep as there’s nothing worse than waking up grumpy the following morning. Again, it’s worth checking the ‘comfort’ rating of the sleeping bag. This is the lowest temperature when you should feel warm inside. • It’s also a good idea to make sure that you
acTIvITy | campING
Ü Discover More: Don’t mention the weather unless you’ve been living on the moon, there’s a strong likelihood that you’ve probably noticed the weather during 2012 hasn’t been the greatest. But despite all the doom and gloom, for many tent campers, the bad weather helps make a memorable camping adventure. Whether it is little ones (or adults) splashing in puddles or listening to the sound of rain tapping gently on the roof at night, sometimes the wet weather can make a holiday memorable. To encourage people to enjoy the great outdoors, the camping and caravanning club teamed up with former television weatherman John Kettley to help mark the start of a launch designed to get people camping whatever the weather. The aptly named “Don’t mention the weather” campaign offered campers discounts on campsite pitches to help them make the most of the outdoors whatever the weather.
National Camping and Caravanning Week
have plenty of adequate clothing and food available, even in the height of summer it can get chilly at night. Something to cook on and with, such as a stove and saucepan set, along with crockery and cutlery that won’t mind being outdoors. Never use a stove or barbecue as a means to keep warm because of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. See later in this article for more information about avoiding the dangers of poisoning and symptoms to look out for. Toilet tent and camping toilet. Many campsites have facilities and showers available for those staying on site however it’s worth checking when booking. If not, you might want to think about purchasing a suitable set of equipment, depending on where you’re planning on going. Something to allow you to see in the evening or at night, such as a decent torch and camping lantern.
Now you’ve read how easy it is to get going what’s stopping you?
The national camping and caravanning Week, known as nccW, is the ideal place for those new to camping to get to grips with the basics of camping and caravanning. The culmination of this year’s event saw an audacious guinness Worlds record attempt to get the most people wearing paper crowns in multiple venues at the same time. The challenge was well and truly embraced by some 14,621 campers and caravanners across the uK all joining together to help mark the occasion. Aside from the challenge, those travelling to the sandringham club site site in the heart of rural norfolk, were also offered the opportunity to learn more about tent camping from leading industry experts and manufacturers.
Duke of Edinburgh Award But it isn’t just families that enjoy camping under canvas. For many, there first experience of camping will form part of the prestigious Duke of edinburgh Award (Dofe). To help celebrate The Duke of edinburgh’s 60th anniversary as club Patron, it joined together with outdoor manufacturer vango to donate camping equipment and ‘starter packs’ to Dofe programmes across the uK. each starter pack consists of tents, cookers, sleeping bags, rucksacks, trek mats, compasses and cutlery sets. A special presentation of camping equipment recently took place with trustee of the Dofe Award The earl of Wessex, to Wexham school in slough. The event at Windsor great Park was also attended by members of the club’s national council and Director general robert Louden.
Choosing a trailer tent A familiar site on most campsites across the uK,
trailer tents and folding campers sit somewhere in between the world of tent camping and that of caravanning. easy and economical to tow, stow and own, they offer the facilities for full self-sufficiency and they are acceptable on many campsites. They also often offer a large living area if an awning is fitted and ready-made beds with onepiece mattresses off the ground. There is a good network of specialist retailers around the country, selling new and secondhand. it’s also worth checking weight of the trailer is compatible with that of your car by contacting the Technical Team via email techtalk@ thefriendlyclub.co.uk for more information.
Eat Local The camping and caravanning club is a staunch supporter of helping to support local food producers close to its campsites and that’s why it has devised the eat Local initiative. supported by calor, the uK’s leading provider of Liquefied Petroleum gas (LPg), a downloadable booklet is available from campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/eatlocal offering great ways to make the most of cooking in the great outdoors.
The Active Guide The Active guide is the uK’s only online ‘one stop’ shop for information, activities and services in the outdoors. A popular resource for many tent campers is the website theactiveguide. com. it hosts a wealth of information about more than 3,500 outdoor businesses, locations and services around the country. An interactive mapping tool, known as the Activity generator, offers the opportunity to pre-select a preferred destination and the kind of activity that matches your experience and ambition using a range of options such as ‘burning calories; through to ‘scare myself stupid’ and ‘getting away from it all’ among others.
Real Richness – The Awards As part of the continued support to help provide people with a truer kind of wealth whilst championing the great outdoors, the camping and caravanning club unveiled its real richness campaign. Launched last April after more than 60 research studies reviewed by leading academics at Liverpool John Moores university and an online survey proved conclusively that those people who camp are happier, have closer family relationships, are healthier, less stressed and more socially connected. The four award categories were each backed by leading industry names elddis, Hi-Tec, outwell and vango.
National Feast of Lanterns The annual national camping rally, the national Feast of Lanterns is a popular event for those looking to camp in a tent or other type u
Discover Touring 157
acTIvITy | campING of unit. The event takes place each year in a different location and draws thousands of visitors from across the uK. next year’s event is set to take place in Hampshire and the website campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/ newsandevents has more information about the event. The camping and caravanning club also has 93 District Associations spread across 13 regions each offering low-cost camping in stunning locations. The Temporary Holiday sites and special interest sections also offer affordable breaks with the opportunity to combine member interests alongside quality time out in the field. Head online to campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/aboutus/ district-associations/ for more information.
camping Pods, camping Dens and safari Tents located at some of its most popular sites in england and scotland. The website campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/ alternativecamping has more information.
Glamping in the great outdoors
camping and caravanning magazine recently reported that research from the gas safe register earlier this summer reported that 36 per cent of people did not recognise that a charcoal barbecue was as dangerous as a gas
And for those looking to make the most of an adventure outdoors, there’s a wealth of options to enjoy each offering great family fun. The camping and caravanning club has
Make the most of Europe And for those looking to enjoy a camping trip abroad, then look no further than the carefree Travel service. There’s a wide range of destinations to choose from with great value prices for members including ferry crossings, campsite pitches and insurance packages available. so whether it’s spain, France or somewhere a little further afield, visit campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/travelabroad for more information.
CO Safety for campers
Camping gear that caught our eye this year… Discover Touring tests some camping gear in preparation for a new season of long evenings under canvas.
barbecue inside a tent from a carbon monoxide perspective. experience suggests that a significant number of people are not aware that even a warm barbecue can be lethal inside, including in a tent or awning. A number of major retailers including Tesco, Morrison’s, Homebase, B&Q and Asda are supporting the awareness initiative by displaying warning signs near barbecue equipment. The camping and caravanning club has also been raising awareness of the issue at music and other festivals, with many festivals choosing to display warning posters in camping areas.
Contact information To find out more about the The camping and caravanning club, head online to campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk or call 0845 130 7631 / 024 7647 5448. For more information on camping in the Forest visit campingintheforest.co.uk or call 0845 130 8224 or 024 7647 3008.
• Integrated groundsheet and large rain skirts to keep out wet weather • Protective peaks over the doors for protection on entry and exit • Taped seams and zip cuffs for increased weather resistance • Large adjustable ventilation panels can be opened and closed from inside and outside the tent The 6XL RRP £649.99, extension RRP £199.99
Coleman Mackenzie Cabin 6XL:
Coleman Event shelter, sunwall and door: Already an iconic feature on
many lawns and campsites across the nation, the Event Shelter is the brainchild of those clever people at Coleman. This domed genius has a million potential uses. It can host a tea party in the garden, a kid’s cake party or (our favourite) as an extension to your tent when camping. Come rain or shine – the event shelter provides protection and a place to convene and relax. We combined our shelter with the Mackenzie 6XL tent and we found a marriage made in heaven – think Fred and Ginger, Tom and Jerry – Laurel and Hardy, maybe? Great optional additions for extra privacy (and warmth in winter or shade in summer) are the doors and sunwalls. Shelter RRP £209.99, Sunwall RRP £19.99, Door RRP, £39.99 158 Discover Touring
This extra-sized tent from Coleman worked well for us. Our family of six took it for a few days to a sun-drenched coastline in Dorset – coinciding with the first week of the Olympic sailing at nearby Weymouth. The tent, as most modern tents these days, was pretty easy to erect – colour coding poles make life that much easier. When up, we found the space really excellent – and the windows provided oodles of natural sunlight. There is a large central living area and ample-sized ‘dark’ bedrooms (all doubles). We would recommend the front porch extension as an extra option – we used this handy space for the kitchen and drying wetsuits. As we are a such large family with a huge amount of gear life can get chaotic, however with all this space we never felt cluttered. Strangely, we managed to stay tidier here than at home. There are plenty of storage pockets throughout for toys, keys and ‘phones. And that fact there is ample headroom throughout added to our unusual well being that weekend.
Campingaz Camping Chef Vario:
The Vario is a convenient double burnerstove with an additional grill that is perfect for cooking toast or bacon (we tried both!). Ideal for cooking meals with family or friends, the Vario folds compactly into its own carry case (like Houdini, in fact) for easy transportation. Other features include Piezo ignition, large windshields and easy-clean components. RRP: £79.99
Coleman Comfort Bed Double:
The perfect way to finish a perfect day, and comes with an Airtight system that guarantees it is leak-free. RRP: £34.99
See www.coleman.eu and www.campingaz.com
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history | last words
Caravan Club ColleCtab The tradition for collecting caravan club memorabilia is nearly as old as the organisation itself. The club’s historic collection at the national Motor Museum, Beaulieu, is brimming with thousands of items produced for and collected by members since 1907. We uncover the history behind many of these iconic pieces. Author: Angela Cox
160 Discover Touring
nly a short time after the formation of The Caravan Club in 1907 a design competition was launched. The challenge was to design a logo for a flag, known as a pennon, which would be proudly flown from the horse-drawn caravans of pioneering members. A Miss Whistler of Bridgwater in Somerset was the worthy winner of ten shillings and six pence with a design featuring the initials ‘C.C.’ for Caravan Club entwined back to back on a horse-shoe. Yet this triumphant entry created some debate among the Club Committee with one member exclaiming “Horse-shoe!
Why vans may all become motor vans some day and the horse-shoe will then be merely an historic relic”. This led to the decision, “Well, make it a V and it will do for either horse or motor van, for a van it will always be.” And so, the design featured on the pennon of this fledgling Club was settled as two C’s in white entwined with a V on a red background. The committee member who rejected the horseshoe design was proved forward thinking when the horse-drawn ‘van eventually made way for touring caravans towed by the motor car. Yet ironically, in 1935 when The Club was re-formed under new ownership the 1907
history | last words
les design was replaced by a new logo featuring a horse-shoe containing the ‘C.C.’ The Caravan magazine in December 1935 reported ‘Why the horse-shoe? Surely because it spells good luck and makes a happy link with the early days of The Club’ and the horse-shoe remains on the Club’s logo to this day. The Club pennon quickly became recognised on members’ caravans across Britain. By 1918 J Harris Stone, the founder and Honorary Secretary of The Caravan Club, reported that “the country authorities and the police are getting to know it and to recognise that a van beneath it is tenanted by responsible persons”. During the first half of the twentieth century prospective Club members were required to supply a reference and were elected to join. Therefore, ladies and gentleman flying the flag from their ‘van were seen as ambassadors for the organisation and agreed that ‘Should I at any time cease to be a member, I promise and agree neither to wear a
Main image: Members of The Caravan Club London Centre drive through Brighton in 1954 displaying their pennants and car badges. Credit: London Centre Top: The first Caravan Club pennant design from 1907. Credit: CC Pennant Bottom: Decorative Caravan Club brooch.
badge of the Club nor to fly the pennon’. However, those that did not behave responsibly while representing The Caravan Club faced the displeasure of the Committee. An incident in 1912 saw one gentleman stripped of his membership and Club pennon after a fellow member reported the offender’s antics to the Committee with outrage. The rogue had ‘spent some six weeks... visiting race meetings and regattas along the river... giving sing-songs outside hotels and collecting coppers in the bars – with his Club pennon flying prominently all the time.’ Since its introduction 105 years ago the pennon, today more commonly known as a pennant, has continued to be an iconic symbol of Caravan Club membership. So synonymous with the organisation is it that the red pennant motif has featured on The Caravan Club’s logo since the 1960s. The pennant has taken on hundreds of forms and designs over the years. The
traditional red pennant has been altered at times to celebrate milestones in Club history such as the 50th, 60th and 75th anniversaries and more recently the centenary. Collectable pennants commemorating social gatherings or ‘rallies’ of members and their caravans, such as The Caravan Club National, were introduced in the 1950s. Every year the National pennant is produced in a different colour and soon regular attendees strung their spectrum of flags like bunting from the caravan and awning. Pennants representing the growing number of Centres, local groups of Club members who organise their own rallies and events, were also introduced. These colourful pennants which are still produced today feature the unique logos of each Centre across the UK. From the 1930s to the late 1960s masts were supplied to enable the pennant to be flown from the front of the caravan. Modern caravan design and greater speeds has put an end to this tradition, yet now and again you might just spot a pennant in a caravan window. Aside from the pennant, much of the memorabilia associated with The Caravan Club began life in the 1930s. By 1935 the ageing Club founder J Harris Stone was struggling to keep the organisation alive, membership numbers dwindled as the horse drawn caravan became a relic of the past. The running of the Club was taken on by the enthusiastic owners of The Caravan and Trailer magazine (later known as The Caravan), who used the publication to attract a new generation of motorist caravanners. Membership numbers quickly grew following the Club’s re-launch and a community spirit was revived. Editor of The Caravan and Trailer Bill Whiteman observed in 1939 that “There are two main types of caravanner. One likes to disappear into the blue…the other likes to spend cheerful holidays and weekends in the company of others”. For the former, lists of caravan sites were provided for relaxing escapes and for the latter, rallies and social events were encouraged as members were invited to form local Centres. The Caravan Club’s plastic rally plaque was born from the group of members with a passion for socialising. The introduction of these small triangular plastic plaques in ‘imitation ivory’ was reported in the November 1936 edition of the magazine. u Discover Touring 161
history | how it all began
Above: A variety of Caravan Club spoons dating from 1950s –1970s.
Above: Founder of The Caravan Club J Harris Stone pictured with his pennant proudly flying from his caravan. Credit: J Harris Stone
One plaque would be presented to attendees of a rally bearing the date and location of each event. The plaques were designed with holes in each corner enabling them to be pinned to the wooden caravan walls to ‘form happy mementoes of the various Club parties’. Since this time the rally plaque has remained a popular collectable for many Club members, each plaque acting as a reminder of the distances travelled and events attended. But like the pennant, the form and design of the plaque has changed greatly over the years and by the 1970s and 1980s plaques were introduced in an array of colours and shapes. Today the plaques often feature colourful printed images as printing technologies have advanced. To reward some most frequent attendees of rallies, the members were presented not with a plaque, but a spoon. A competition was created in 1936 where the six members who attended the largest number of rallies annually were given a silver tea spoon with the Club logo in a red enamel roundel. 162 Discover Touring
Spoons continued to be awarded at rallies but over the years the use of silver has been replaced by less expensive materials. Around the same time that these plaques and spoons were first used, The Caravan Club also came up with a way of highlighting the towcar of a member. A car badge depicting the Club logo in metal with red and cream enamel, become another enduring symbol of Club membership. The badge continues to be a much prized collectable among members today, despite having been phased out in the early 1970s. Oddly, it was first designed to be fixed to the towing bracket at the rear of the car instead of the front of the vehicle where car badges are normally displayed. The Club clearly met some puzzled members as The Caravan and Trailer was compelled to explain this feature soon after the launch of the badge in 1935. The location was chosen ‘because a towing bracket is an ugly thing that needs an excuse made for its presence’! Yet members don’t seem to have been too concerned about
creating an excuse for their ugly tow bracket, with the badges soon migrating to the front grille to join other motoring badges. The years of the Second World War presented a challenge for the production of these car badges. A national shortage of manufacturing materials was created by the need to use metals for war work and reduced if not halted the production of such Club collectables. Once the war had ended the materials shortage continued and although the metal car badge was available an alternative was also offered. Thanks to the growing availability of low-cost plastics, a perspex version of the Club badge imitating the metal type was designed. Although the plastic badges were produced into the 1950s, there are only rare survivors of these today. The plastic proved far from durable when exposed to the open road, chipping and breaking easily. With cars and caravans adorned with The Caravan Club logo, badges were also created for the members to wear on their clothing. Produced in limited designs from the 30s, the use of these badges met great enthusiasm through the 50s, 60s and 70s while some are still worn today. Lapel badges, tie pins, button badges and even cufflinks bearing the Club logo on red enamel all became accessories to display membership. For the ladies, the most prized of all Club collectables, are the bespoke brooches specially produced by a member in the 1970s. All feature the Club logo surrounded by sparkling jewels or floral motifs, there are even pendants with glittering silver metal in filigree patterns. 105 years ago The Caravan Club introduced the pennon for members to proudly display their association with the organisation. Little could they have known that this would lead to the craze for Club memorabilia. Today, many of these keepsakes of membership are preserved for the future in The Caravan Club Collection. Together these items represent the story of the people that have shaped the history of the organisation.
Find out more about club memorabilia and how to visit The caravan club’s new story of caravanning Display at the national Motor Museum, Beaulieu at http://www.nationalmotormuseum.org.uk/ Caravan_club_exhibition_intro
Discover Touring 163
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