Introduction to touring in a motorhome / campervan.

Back in 2013, Duncan and Liz Brown had a 7-meter long Mercedes Sprinter LWB panel van converted into a motorhome / campervan by Kombi-Kamp of Accrington Lancashire to their own design. Key criterion for the design was to be dog friendly, that is:

  • – leatherette upholstery so it could easily be wiped down,
  • – extremely large indoor storage capacity to carry bikes, canoe and a 3-month supply of allergenic dog,
  • – an integrated toilet and shower,
  • – it carried underslung onboard drinking water and waste-water that is, fitted on the underside of the vehicle,
  • – the vehicle was narrow enough to negotiate very narrow, winding UK country roads.

Back in 2013, there were few motorhomes that met this criterion. Hence the decision for a panel van conversion; since panel van are used extensively by UK couriers are were proven on the road infrastructure.

Since 2013, the design of motorhomes has improved significantly and most of these requirements can now be fulfilled by commercially available vehicles, albeit some are still a little wide for some of the smaller UK country roads!

Since 2013, Duncan and Liz have travelled significantly in Scotland and the North of England enjoying the freedom, scenery and wildlife taking photographs along the way.

Most of Duncan and Liz’s overnight stays involve ‘wild-camping’ i.e. parking in the middle of nowhere with no services, electricity or anything else (also known as off-grid parking). This is because they like to enjoy the solitude and embrace nature.

Both Duncan and Liz are very environmentally aware, and are firm believers that you should leave, where you have stayed in the same or better condition than when you arrived and should follow these simple rules:

  • – Leave no trace of your stay. Don’t leave any rubbish behind, always clear up any mess and ensure that you don’t disturb wildlife.
  • – Don’t light any open fires, even if there are signs that fires have previously been lit in the same area. Lighting fires spoil the landscape and leave a trace of your visit. If Barbequing ensure that it sits on legs well above the grass, in order that it does not get scorched. 
  • – Be respectful with your ‘personal’ waste. If you need to use the toilet outside of the van, ensure that it is well away from any streams or rivers; and if you do need to leave anything make sure it is buried with a shovel at a depth that no animal can dig up.
  • – Don’t be an eyesore. Do not park in view of other people’s houses or where you can be clearly seen by walkers and hikers, that is blend in with your surroundings as much as possible.
  • – Use bio-degradable soaps, detergents and camper portable toilet chemical flush. When you do get the opportunity to discharge your waste. Some of the locations where you are authorised to discharge your waste, may not be on mains sewerage.
  • – Be respectful for the environment. Keep all noise to an absolute minimum.

Duncan and Liz have extensively travelled Scotland and the North of England in their campervan and in 2020 during the Covid-19 Pandemic undertook a 75 day, 9218mile (14835km) into the Artic Circle visiting 8 countries – these are covered under separate blogs. In all this time they have never felt intimidated or unsafe; however, they have always had between 2 and 3 large dogs with them.

Some useful advice when ‘wild-camping’ is:

  • – Always carry plenty of drinking water with you. Duncan and Liz not only have the underslung onboard water, but carry circa 50 litres of water in containers,
  • – When the opportunity arises, always top up your drinking water. You do not know when the next opportunity will be. Duncan and Liz have found taps to be turned off, or indeed published locations where taps are can be incorrect or not legally accessible.
  • – Wherever possible, you should always seek permission before taking water /emptying your waste.
  • – Public conveniences (WC) are not always readily available, so consider if you need to use them. This can reduce the time period between when you need to empty your motorhome toilet,
  • – Whenever you get a facility that permits you to empty your motorhome waste tank / empty the toilet cassette, use it. You do not know when the next opportunity will be. Sometime published facilities can be closed!
  • – If you are struggling to find drinking water, often cemeteries and graveyards will have taps. However, you will not usually be able to get your motorhome near enough to directly fill the onboard water tank.
  • – Carry suitable fittings to get water. Taps may not have the handle / leaver to operate it, or if you fill-up a water carrier from a handbasin you will need either a rubber hose connector that slides onto a tap or a suitable jug.
  • – Don’t leave it late to find an overnight parking place. A wild-camping parking place can be taken by others with motorhomes, thus meaning it may take quite a while to find another. If you haven’t booked, official sites that take motorhome’s may be full.
  • – Think about where you are parking. If you are taking the vehicle off a tarmacked surface, then make sure that the ground is firm and you will not either get stuck or spoil the ground by leaving skid marks.

The advice is to think ahead. Duncan and Liz found in Norway that it could take up to four hours to find a suitable location, whereas on the Isle of Jura in Scotland, there is only one campsite on the island and that is on the front lawn of the Jura Hotel and it does not accommodate motorhomes. This leaves only a limited number of places where there is suitable parking. There is one public convenience (WC) on Jura and water is only available from a handbasin tap.

Duncan and Liz, hope you find this information useful. As a final note, please respect the environment, don’t leave any mess and be respectful to others. One reason Duncan and Liz like to ‘wild-camp’ is to keep away from other people, to get some peace and quiet and blend in as much as possible with the environment.

Further information about planning a 2.5 month trip to the Scandinavian arctic circle is here.

A blog on a 2.5 month trip to the arctic circle in Scandinavia is here. More information about places visited can be found at the Visit Norway, Life in Norway, Visit Sweden, Schleswig-Holstein State Government and the Schleswig-Holstein tourism websites. Photographs from the trip can be found on this website under the IMAGE CATALOGUE and also the PHOTO GALLERY.