BEST BRANDS & DEALERS VOTED FOR BY YOU! UK’S BEST SELLING CARAVAN MAGAZINE
BRITAIN ON YOUR DOORSTEP INSPIRATIONAL ADVENTURES TO ENJOY J UST A SHORT TOW AWAY • Cornwall • Cambridgeshire • Ribble Valley and many more!
10 MUSTSPOTS & VISIT FO R F I S H S I T E S I N G!
18 PAGES OF EXPERT TIPS!
Save £££s on bargain used buys!
TOP TOW CAR TESTS
Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90 reviewed
Beat the cold with this brilliant outdoor kit
EVERYTHING THAT YOU CAN EXPECT IN ISSUE 423
The choice is yours! Recently, I was idly browsing a 1980 issue of Practical Caravan for one of our features (p122). What struck me wasn’t the dated upholstery schemes, or the extraordinary vintage adverts; no, what caught my attention was how many different types of caravan were available to buyers – the choice was vast. It’s a phenomenon that still exists today, which is why I believe our annual Owner Satisfaction Awards – run in conjunction with the Camping & Caravanning Club – are so crucial. This year almost 3000 of you told us about your experiences of buying a van and you can find the full results on p49. It makes for fascinating reading – hopefully, it will make that choice of caravans feel a little less daunting if you’re planning to buy in 2020.
Chat 6 The big picture Eye Kettleby Lakes, Lincolnshire 8 Connect Readers discuss warranty work and wider windows 13 New gear Our round-up of the latest essential touring kit includes your chance to win free tickets to February’s Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show at the NEC! 14 Expert Q&A Our panel advises on insurance and trackers
Travel 17 Travel Featuring key events for your diary 20 Getaway: Cambridge Exploring the great university city, and the region’s historic racing connections 24 Small distance, big adventures You don’t need to go far from home to enjoy the outdoors, says Marcus Leach 30 10 top sites Great places to stay for keen anglers 32 Local Authority Insider’s guide to Anglesey 34 Retro Caravan Club’s European tour We journey with a newly restored Car Cruiser to the annual international rally 40 Road sense Towing on the A9, the ‘spine of Scotland’ 42 Full-time family: Dutch treat Our happy travellers have been volunteering at a vineyard in the Netherlands
New vans 46 Tested Peter Baber has the latest from the showrooms 49 Owner Satisfaction Survey 2020 We asked you for your feedback on buying and owning new and used tourers – now we can reveal the top manufacturers and dealers for 2020! 58 First look Kimberley Icon Trend 2 60 The great outdoors You’ll enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities to the full if you make sure you’re suitably dressed 66 Our vans, our month Latest updates on our loan fleet 67 Awning review Trigano Goa
Used vans email@example.com Editor-in-chief SARAH is a keen caravanner who loves seeing the best of Europe on her travels
ON THE COVER… 1 Find out the results of our Owner
Satisfaction Survey (p49) 2 Get educated on the touring highlights of Cambridge (p20)
3 Fancy a spot of DIY? Our experts
show you how to do it (p98)
4 Grab a bargain with our pick of the best used van deals (p71)
71 Used vans Andy Jenkinson reports from the forecourts 72 Used van buyer Elddis Affinity 574 (2014) 74 Subscribe and save Take out a subscription today and receive a free Anker wireless charging pad worth £31.99!
Tow cars 76 Tow cars BMW X5 xDrive 45e 77 How we test cars Our rigorous testing explained 78 Tow car test Volvo XC90 B5 AWD R-Design 82 Quick test Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 AWD SE 84 Used tow car test Mercedes-Benz GLC (2015-)
Skills school 89 Skills school Upgrading cupboard door hinges 90 Fitting guide John Sootheran has the lowdown on air-con 94 Caravan genius Sammy Faircloth discusses the benefits of switching to LED lighting in your caravan 98 DIY Special Keen caravan DIYers John Sootheran and Rod Farrendon have a range of projects to suit all abilities 106 Industry insight A visit to Truma UK Limited 108 Buyer’s guide Comprehensive listings 122 Look-back page The world of touring in November 1980 www.practicalcaravan.com | MARCH 2020 | 5
This month we love... Issue 416
GADGETS // CLOTHES // DESIGN // GAMES // SHOW TICKETS
Insulated Aquaroll cover
Microfibre travel towels
Lunii My Fabulous Storyteller
Stave off wintry conditions with this insulated
These super-absorbent travel towels come in
Keep the kids entertained on the road – they
Aquaroll cover, which can help to reduce
two sizes. They are antibacterial, and the larger
can personalise a story, and listen through
the risk of your water supply freezing.
one also has a wet and dry bag.
headphones or the integrated speaker.
Price £32.50 Web www.bags4everything.co.uk
Price £10.55-£19.95 Web www.snugpak.com
Price £64.95 Web www.cuckooland.com
Livall smart helmet
Outwell Windscreen Deluxe
This pedestal-mounted camera has a
The BH60SE Bluetooth smart helmet can help
Protect your privacy with this durable 5m-long
170-degree view and a 4.3” screen to help you
you ride safely; features include LED indicators.
windbreak – just check campsite restrictions.
spot obstacles as you manoeuvre your car.
Price £99 Web www.halfords.com
Price £119.99 Web www.worldofcamping.co.uk
Price £89 Web www.halfords.com
Mophie car charger
Lumitube LED dog safety collar
Great British Adventure Map
Keep devices topped up while you drive with
This illuminated, waterproof tube
Stuck for ideas on where to pitch up? This map lists islands, beaches, waterways, mountains
EchoMaster monitor/reversing camera
an in-car charger from Mophie. The USB-C
slips over your dog’s neck to make
connector offers fast and efficient charging.
it more visible on night-time walks.
and hills, in an easily accessed format.
Price £19.99 Web www.zagg.com
Price £22.70 Web dfordog.co.uk
Price £14.99 Web marvellousmaps.com
*All prices correct at time of printing
Win tickets to the Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show! The Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show returns to Birmingham’s NEC from 18-23
February, and we’ve got 10 pairs of show tickets to give away. Enter our competition and you could win free entry to this huge extravaganza of leisure vehicles. Fun-packed
activities include a new ‘Electric in Motion’
While away an evening indoors or a rainy day
area and the ever-popular Top Dog Arena.
playing this fun, child-friendly card game!
Special guests at the event include Matt
If you like Uno, you’ll enjoy this one.
Allwright, Shane Richie and Nadiya Hussain.
Price £19.99 Web amazon.co.uk
Enter here www.practicalcaravan.com/win
www.practicalcaravan.com | MARCH 2020 | 13
RELAXING Janette Sykes explores equine and educational highlights in East Anglia
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Long-time caravanner Janette Sykes is a regular contributor
GETTING A FIT of the giggles is a tricky business when you’re perched precariously on a racehorse simulator, riding flat out towards tßhe winning post at 40mph. The main problem is that when you laugh, you can forget to breathe – and when you do breathe, you don’t do it regularly or often enough. The upshot is, not enough oxygen gets through to your leg muscles and they rapidly turn to jelly. I know, because it happened to me when we visited Newmarket’s National Horse Racing Museum during a long weekend in East Anglia. As a keen rider, I had an irresistible urge to experience what it feels like to be a jockey. We were staying at The Camping and Caravanning Club’s site at Great Shelford, conveniently located for visiting nearby towns and cities, including the headquarters of British flat racing (19 miles), Ely (24 miles) and Cambridge (3.5 miles), just minutes away thanks to the park and ride network. The museum – part of the five-acre National Heritage Centre for Horseracing
& Sporting Art – had been high on my wish list of things to do ever since it first opened back in 2016. Newmarket’s long association with horse racing – which is Britain’s second biggest spectator sport after football – dates back to the 1660s, when Charles II founded the Round Course, part of which is still used today, as the July Course. He also had a new palace built on land off the town’s High Street, part of which survives as the beautifully restored Palace House, now the Fred Packard Museum and Galleries of British Sporting Art. It offers works by prominent artists such as George Stubbs, Sir Alfred Munnings and John Singer Sargent.
Horses and heroes Compelling though the works of art, silver, bronzes and artifacts charting centuries of racing are, the story really comes to life in the various interactive displays, focusing on the fascinating physiology of the thoroughbred horse and the equine and human heroes associated with the sport. You can also book a guided tour of the sympathetically renovated Rothschild Yard and neighbouring Peter O’Sullevan Arena. Here you can meet former racehorses and discover how the Retraining of Racehorses charity works to prepare thoroughbreds for a successful life beyond racing.
Janette discovers what it might feel like to be a jockey, riding on the racehorse simulator
‘Horse racing is Britain’s second biggest spectator sport, coming after football’ www.practicalcaravan.com | MARCH 2020 | 21
BIG small distance...
ADVENTURES You don’t need to travel that far from home to enjoy the outdoors, says Marcus Leach Marcus Leach is a writer and speaker with a passion for adventure and the outdoors THERE’S SOMETHING QUITE magical about planning a caravan trip: sitting late into the night with an assortment of maps and books, reading other travellers’ blogs, piecing together itineraries that will take us far away from home. From the moment the process begins, the excitement gradually builds. The allure of discovering foreign lands, the prospect of tasting exotic foods, the distant thought of stolen moments of escapism. They all add to the thrill of the experience, long before we set off. However, contrary to popular belief, we don’t have to travel thousands of miles over several weeks to have an adventure. After all, adventure is little more than an attitude, a state of mind. And for those willing to embrace such a mindset and explore a little closer to home, there are endless opportunities to encounter the immense joy of being on the road. These micro-adventures are all around us and can range from an impromptu night away to a long weekend planned in a little more detail. The key is that whatever guise such trips come in, they still enable us to appreciate the beauty of the world near where we live, as well as the multitude of activities available. Most of the trips I’ve taken since we discovered the joys of touring have been
very much in the ‘bigger is better’ category, so I decided it was time for a new experience, on an altogether smaller scale. The premise for the trip was simple: four days and three nights away, a series of daily activities that would appeal to a range of people and said activities to be within 90 minutes of my travelling companion’s home. That companion was Nick Lomas, the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Director General, whose knowledge of the UK, and the club’s extensive network of sites, would prove to be invaluable.
Baking and breadmaking We departed from Nick’s house under a grey sky and a blanket of drizzle that would follow us for much of our trip. Thankfully our first activity, an enriched dough bakery course with Monique at Green Cottage Kitchens, would take place indoors. Which was just as well, as by the time we had made the short trip to Kent, the drizzle had become a downpour. Driving past Monique’s house, you could be forgiven for thinking it was like all of the others along the quiet country lane that leads to the village of Rodmersham Green. However, what you can’t see from the outside is the purpose-built kitchen at the back of the house. It’s here that, having given up a successful career in banking, Monique now runs a variety of bakery courses to suit all levels and interests. At some stage, most, if not all, of us have tried our hand at baking. Perhaps this was as small children, under the watchful eyes of our mother or grandmother, or as adults, inspired by The Great British Bake-Off.
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TRAVEL TINY TOURS
â€˜Whatever guise such trips come in, they still enable us to appreciate the beauty of the world near where we live, and a multitude of activitiesâ€™
A Marcus puts his newly acquired bushcraft skills to the test B Marcus, Monique and Nick with some of their baked goods
www.practicalcaravan.com | MARCH 2020 | 25
The UK’s top brands, as voted for by you We asked readers and C&CC members for feedback on buying and owning new and used tourers for our annual Owner Satisfaction Survey. Here are all the results you need to know
elcome to the Practical Caravan Owner Satisfaction Awards for 2020. Over the next few pages, you’ll discover Britain’s most satisfying new and pre-owned caravans – as well as the best dealers to buy them from. The response to our survey from readers of Practical Caravan and members of The Camping and Caravanning Club – all of whom bought a new or used caravan in the past three years – has been great. Almost 3000 caravanners provided full responses to a detailed questionnaire; we’d like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the survey. Questions cover the design and features of the van, reliability, build quality, dealer service – even the clarity of the handbook. We’ve made some changes this year, with tougher minimum sample sizes, so you can have even more confidence in the results.
Magazine readers and Club members can be sure our findings are based on the collective wisdom of many owners, and give a firm indication of the typical experience of owning a particular brand of caravan. New and pre-owned Some things haven’t changed. As ever, our survey is divided into new and pre-owned. New vans offering the latest features and tech are great, but we want to be sure that anyone shopping for a pre-owned model can have the same enjoyment, along with an equally high level of customer service. For the second year, we’re giving an overall award to the manufacturer with the highest scores across both new and preowned vans. Only a manufacturer that has been building high-quality reliable tourers, year after year, can aspire to this prize. Across all categories, as well as naming winners, we have Gold and Silver Awards for high achievers. To earn Gold requires an average score of 80% or more.
The Silver Award needs a score between 70% and 80%. To achieve either standard requires quality and consistency. Those who don’t meet the minimum sample size aren’t ignored. If their average score is high enough for a Gold or Silver, but the number of respondents is low, they still receive a ‘mention in dispatches’. The best caravans are only as good as the dealer network behind them, of course. So as well as awards for manufacturers, we also reward the best dealerships. It’s easy to be ready with a smile and a cuppa when someone’s wallet is twitching. What’s more important is to be as helpful and willing when something goes wrong. The best dealers are there for customers in bad times as well as good, and attentive customer service and a willingness to listen go a very long way. So, drum roll please... It’s now time to announce Britain’s most satisfying caravans and highest-rated dealers. David Motton, Awards co-ordinator
www.practicalcaravan.com | MARCH 2020 | 49
OUTDOORS Top tips for the outdoor enthusiast to keep warm and dry this winter Dress for your activity Your choice of clothing depends massively on the activity you’re planning. If you’re climbing Mount Snowdon, even in freezing temperatures, you’re unlikely to feel cold while you’re on the move. But if you’re sitting in a birdwatching hide or standing around a telescope at night, the cold will seep in, starting with your extremities. Pick your clothing accordingly, and consider taking some extra layers along with you, which can be both thin and lightweight, but will still be effective.
Static activities can also be made much more comfortable by including some hand-warmers in your kit.
Waterproof There’s a small but important difference between ‘waterproof’ and ‘water-resistant’ outdoor clothing. For the serious outdoor enthusiast who heads into the hills in the winter months, fully waterproof is absolutely essential. The other option might better be defined as ‘showerproof’.
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Cheaper jackets will often claim to be waterproof, and the material might well keep the water out, but they’ll often leak at the seams in a proper downpour. Taped seams, which offer 100% waterproofing, are recommended. The old adage, ‘you get what you pay for’, is never more true than in the outdoor clothing sector.
Heat loss Everyone knows that outdoor types lose most of their heat through their head. This makes hats an essential part of winter
TESTED OUTDOOR CLOTHING
‘The best way to stay warm in sub-zero conditions is to layer your clothing’
Tilley Merino and Cotton Beanies Price £35 Web tilley.com Hat-making specialist Tilley is introducing beanies into its famous collection. As you’d expect from this firm, they’re made from the finest sustainable and cruelty-free OEKO-TEX® approved merino wool. Merino is a versatile fibre, naturally breathable, antimicrobial and very comfortable to wear next to the skin. The beanies have a rolled brim and a hidden stash pocket, and come in a range of colours.
Bridgedale Hike Midweight Boot Socks Price £18 Web bridgedale.com Bridgedale’s Hike Midweight merino performance socks ensure your feet stay dry and comfortable all day, whatever the adventure. They feature advanced zonal padding, which delivers comfort and support in equal measure. They also wick moisture away from the feet and have flat seams to eliminate rubbing.
Eagle Creek Wayfinder Waistpack Price Small £25 or Medium £35 Web eaglecreek.eu A waist pack is a brilliant way for action and outdoor-activity lovers to transport essential items. This one comes in lots of colours and is fleece-lined to protect contents.
V2 Suilven Hiking Boots Price £120 Web anatomfootwear.co.uk The new V2 Suilven men’s and women’s light hiking boots are lighter than ever, with more cushioning, and they deliver the same excellent ankle support as before. The Vibram outsole combines with the PU midsole to create excellent grip and shock absorption, even on the toughest of walks.
www.practicalcaravan.com | MARCH 2020 | 61
DIY PROJECTS FOR ALL ABILITIES Keen DIYer Rod Farrendon has made a host of key improvements to his caravan. To help you do the same, John Sootheran here reveals the secrets to seven of Rod’s most successful projects
Toilet light // Sofa armrest // Steady pads // Straight filter pipe Wheel arch insulation // Gas locker vent // Worktop extensions
JOHN SOOTHERAN is PC’s expert Consulting Editor and a long-time caravanner
Practical Caravan always recommends double checking that DIY work won’t affect any warranty before proceeding
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Behind the scenes at Truma UK Nigel Hutson visits the Truma UK headquarters to find out more about the company, which produces a large number of caravan products WITHOUT DOUBT, TRUMA is one of the big players in the caravan industry, and in 2019, it celebrated its 70th birthday. Most caravans include at least one of its products, whether it’s just a water pump or solar panel, or a full heating and water system that’s fitted by the van manufacturer. Add to that the numerous Truma accessories – motor movers, air conditioning units and the iNet system, which provides remote control of the heating in your van, and LevelControl to monitor the amount of gas left in a bottle. In 1961, company founder Philipp Kreis invented the first officially approved caravan heater, the Truma-matic, opening up the possibility of winter caravanning. In those days, UK caravans had little in the way of insulation and had single-paned glass windows.
Nigel Hutson is a lifelong caravanner who toured as a child before buying his first caravan at the age of 22. He also served in the police for 30 years
I remember as a boy scraping ice off the inside of the window on our 1968 Sprite Major, and the caravan being heated by the gas lights and cooker hob. It’s amazing that we weren’t poisoned by carbon monoxide! In the 1980s, Carver water and space heating was a popular fitting in caravans; this UK firm also produced the first motor mover I had ever seen. In 1997, Truma expanded its operation to the UK, and acquired Alde, manufacturers of the hydronic (wet) central heating system that’s common these days. Truma established its headquarters near Derby, where it remains today. There are subsidiaries in Italy, Sweden, the US, China and Australia. In 1999, following the acquisition of Carver, Truma launched its own brand of motor mover and its first air conditioning unit, the Saphir, B
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a storage-box solution. Shortly afterwards, separate water and space heaters were being more commonly seen in UK caravans, and the Carver Cascade became obsolete. In 2007, Truma introduced the aptly named Combi, a water and space heater combined in one unit, which has become the most widely used system in caravans and motorhomes.
Behind the scenes After Germany, the UK is now the largest market for air-con units in Europe. The UK is also the largest market overall for motor movers. In 2015, the Truma iNet system and app was launched, and has since proved very popular in the UK. Truma is a family business, with the current Technical CEO, Alexander Wottrich, being the third generation. Truma (UK) Limited is headed by joint MDs Martin Fitzpatrick and Phil Clark, and the firm employs 60 staff. I recently went along to see what the company offers the industry and the end-user. Marketing Coordinator Holly Hawley told me: “As far as manufacturers are concerned, part of the team negotiates on bulk orders of heating systems; we give them training and support production-line staff, and often visit their factories to help iron out any installation or technical problems they might have. “On occasion, it might be appropriate for us to make a video for the manufacturer to reference during their own
SKILLS SCHOOL HEATING SYSTEMS
‘The Truma Combi water and space heater has become the most widely used system in caravans’
D A Caravans go through rigorous testing procedures B Truma’s Cold Climate Chamber is basically a huge fridge, cooling the van to -15°C for at least 10 hours before the heating is turned on C Thermal readings indicate how the test is going; to achieve Grade 3 insulation accreditation, the van’s interior must reach +20°C within four hours D Fitting a motor mover in the Truma workshop
training and production. Basically, we give as much support as possible.” One of Truma’s facilities is the Cold Climate Chamber. This is essentially a huge fridge, large enough to accommodate caravans and motorhomes. A couple of years ago, I saw a Swift caravan being put through its testing procedure. Basically, the vehicle is cold-soaked for at least 10 hours at -15˚C before the heating is turned on. To be accredited with Grade 3 insulation, it must reach an internal temperature of +20˚C within four hours (still with the external temperature at -15˚C). Other caravan manufacturers using the facility include Bailey and Coachman. There’s a new training room at the Truma headquarters, where its experts can instruct manufacturers and dealers. “With regard to dealers, our Mobile Support Engineers (MSEs) fit air-con units as an additional service. We offer to help if they are short-staffed
or their workshops are booked up. We can relieve the pressure, but also keep their customers happy. We are on hand to offer any other help should there be an issue. There are four of them covering the whole UK,” Holly explained. “We also have a sales team, who work with the MSEs offering advice on products as optional extras for their customers, such as the iNet units, air conditioning units and movers, including Powrtouch, which we acquired a couple of years ago.”
Work with dealers If a dealership needs assistance marketing a product, Truma will do that, for example, by producing personalised leaflets. There is also a dealer portal on the Truma website, where they can obtain back-up from the company, look up part numbers and technical schematics, or see what’s new from Truma. “Additionally, we help dealers and their customers with things
Thanks to Martin Fitzpatrick, Paula Gibson and Holly Hawley for their assistance during my visit to the Truma (UK) Limited facility. Contact Truma (UK) Limited, Park Lane, Dove Valley Park, South Derbyshire DE65 5BG › 01283 587 900 › www.truma.com
like fitting a mover or air-con unit in our workshop, if the dealer hasn’t got the facility or the time to do so,” Holly told me. “We have a two-bay workshop for that.” As far as the end-user is concerned, the customer services team answers calls and tries to resolve any questions that a dealer can’t answer, and Truma always maintains a presence at the main shows to offer advice and help. There’s a huge warehouse at Truma (UK) Limited. All of the parts (except solar panels, which are now UK-sourced) are ordered from Germany and in the case of the boilers and solar panels, assembled in the UK, where they’re stored before dispatch to manufacturers and wholesalers. “We try to ensure we have a good supply so that customers aren’t kept waiting. People pay a lot for their van; we don’t want to be responsible for them not being able to use it because of a delay in getting a spare part,” concluded Holly. PC
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