Mum and dad, two kids and a daft Labrador puppy for four nights in a Volkswagen campervan. What could possibly go wrong?
I’ll admit to a bit of apprehension as we embarked on our first campervan trip. Anyone who knows me knows I prefer a hotel to any type of camping.
But our van “Carrie” came with all mod cons including wi-fi and plug points so I took the plunge.
Purists would argue that it’s not camping if you can use your hairdryer, but with two girls of nine and seven who have a healthy YouTube addiction, the onboard wi-fi was arguably a must.
We collected Carrie from Staycation Scotland which is conveniently situated in Dalmuir, north Glasgow. It’s a short hop from there to Loch Lomond and onwards to the Highlands.
Owner Jules gave us a demonstration of how everything worked. From simple electric hook-up to how to pop the roof up and turn the seats into a comfortable bed in seconds. The whole run-through took about 30 minutes and we felt more confident we could handle this trip.
I’m sure the lovely Jules chuckled inwardly at the amount I had packed as we transferred it from our car to the van but it’s surprising what you can fit in a campervan. In no time we were on the open road heading towards Fort William and our first pre-booked campsite.
Carrie is a joy to drive. It’s no more difficult than driving a car, with excellent power steering and a nice high-up position. The kids were strapped in the back with the daft dog and actually put their tablets down to enjoy the breathtaking views as we wound our way up the A82 towards Ben Nevis.
With the music on the sound system, which hooks to your phone, and the sun shining I could feel any worries disappear.
We arrived at the award-winning Glen Nevis campsite around late afternoon and found our electric hook-up pitch. Carrie and all of Staycation Scotland’s vans are equipped for wild camping with electric even when not hooked up. But I am a fan of a shower and a toilet so we opted for the easier option.
Once hooked up, basically plugging in to the site’s power supply, we could fully enjoy the van. The front seats swivel around to face the back ones and there’s a table you can put up inside too. With a deceptively large fridge our wine was chilled and ready to pour.
Carrie has a two-ring gas stove and is stocked with all the crockery, pans and utensils you’ll need to whip up a meal. Once the roof is up, there’s plenty of room to stand as you cook.There’s a sink for washing up and water on board too. And the van heater is mighty and much needed to camp in Scotland in March. The heater runs off the diesel but the amount it uses is minimal so you can stay toasty without worrying about draining your tank.
It was simple to set Carrie up for the night. In the roof is a double bed with a mattress and the kids slept there and loved the neon lights. We pulled our bed out by flattening the back seats and it was super-comfy. Scout the Labrador thought so too.
Because of the time of year, we left the heater on timed for a couple of hours as we drifted off and woke the next day after a great sleep. We made breakfast, showered and were off bright and early to get the miles in. We even remembered to bring the roof down before setting off. We were winning at this campervanning lark.
It was a glorious spring day so we headed to see the beaches of Arisaig where we spent an idyllic few hours and Scout had the best day of his eight-month life.
We parked the van at Camusdarach beach for lunch before heading towards Skye.
The beauty of the campervan is the freedom. Stop and make a cuppa whenever you like, pull out the camping chairs, which are supplied, and soak up the view.
After a night on Skye at a site near Portree and a tour round this majestic island, we were back to the mainland to drive the Bealach na Bà, aka the Applecross Pass.
I was nervous about doing it in a brand new, pricey campervan but a text to Jules and she reassured us we definitely should. We saw four seasons navigating the single-track road but the scenery was no less stunning for it.
We didn’t have a site booked so after leaving beautiful Applecross we opted to take the coastal road and keep an eye out for somewhere to stop for the night. As luck would have it, we happened upon Shieldaig Camping and Cabins, Strathcarron.
This amazing spot, with views overlooking Shieldaig island, is picture perfect.
We pulled up and on a noticeboard there was a list of the free pitches where you’re welcome to just drive in and to hook up.
The toilet and shower block is newly renovated and spotless and it’s a short walk to the Shieldaig Bar & Coastal Kitchen where the langoustines are a real treat.
While we longed to stay, it was time to head back south. Carrie was to be enjoyed by other holidaymakers and we were sad to say goodbye.
An overnight stay in Newtonmore to break the journey back to Glasgow and our van adventures were over.
We had clocked 700 miles and made precious memories.
And, in the end, nothing went wrong.
Sally’s campervan was courtesy of Staycation Scotland staycationscotlandcampers.com
Prices range from £110-£135 per night, this includes the insurance unlimited mileage. You can go anywhere in UK and abroad.
Sleeps four and there are friendly vans available.
For more information and to book staycationscotlandcampers.com Shieldaig Camping and Cabins shieldaigcampingandcabins.co.uk Glen Nevis Campsite glen-nevis.co.uk/campsite.