As you may know, in 2012 I was chosen to be Visit England’s blogger during the Olympic Torch Relay which involved spending three months travelling the length and breadth of the country in a vintage VW campervan called Rosie. I loved the experience but unfortunately had to hand back the campervan at the end of my epic adventure.
So when the lovely people at Benfield Motor Group asked if I’d like to be a guest blogger and head out on a ‘Vancation’ in one of their swanky new Volkswagen California’s, I jumped at the chance!
The first thing I noticed as I slid open the door was how luxurious it was. In comparison to Rosie the vintage VW, it was like entering a 5 star hotel!
I was staggered at how spacious and modern it was. There were so many innovative features, like a picnic table and chairs that could be stored away neatly into perfectly designed nooks and crannies and a moveable worktop to make mealtimes easy! I was hugely impressed by the electric roof which opened smoothly at the touch of a button.
We could have headed to the Lake District or Yorkshire but Newcastle really is the gateway to Northumberland, one of my favourite parts of the world, so we decided to make the most of our weekend by staying fairly close to home and cramming in as much as possible.
Our first stop was the pretty coastal village of Craster where we had a delicious lunch overlooking the sea at The Jolly Fisherman followed by ice cream from the van in the harbour.
We also couldn’t resist buying kippers from the famous smoke house after seeing Robson Green enjoy them on his TV show ‘Tales from Northumberland’. Smoked kippers probably weren’t the best thing to cook in a campervan (whiffy to say the least!) but they sure were delicious.
Our base for the first two nights was Springhill Farm, a secluded retreat near Seahouses and Bamburgh. We’d booked a special offer, two nights for £20, a bargain considering we got a hard standing pitch with electric hook up and the showers were lovely and hot. The views were pretty spectacular too.
We also took the opportunity to experience some of Northumberland’s best loved local attractions including Alnwick Garden and Cragside, both of which are a great day out. I’d also recommend Bamburgh Castle, Holy Island and the Farne Islands, all wonderful places to visit and really easy to get to from Geordieland.
In the evenings the campervan became a home from home, albeit without a telly. That was fine by us though and we embraced the back to basics lifestyle, passing the time by cooking our own meals from scratch and challenging each other to Scrabble.
There were two options for sleeping arrangements, we could either roll forward the passenger seats in the main part of the van or sleep in the spacious upper berth. We tried both and found them to be much comfier than expected.
For the third and final night of our adventure we made our way to Kielder Water and Forest Park. This is another beautiful part of the North East with loads to experience, bike roads, boat trips, fishing, wildlife spotting and the award winning Kielder Observatory to name but a few. I’ll be writing in more detail about Kielder soon but the fantastic indoor pool and sauna was definitely a highlight of our stay!
The caravan park at Leaplish boasts excellent facilities (including proper hairdryers in the bathrooms) and is staggering distance to a waterside pub and restaurant called The Boathouse. Sadly it had closed early on the Sunday we were there but I’d heard great things about the food at the nearby Pheasant Inn so I offered to be the designated driver and we enjoyed a delicious three course meal in the cosy pub before turning in for the night under the International Dark Sky Park.
We slept incredibly well that night, it was very peaceful. I had to pinch myself when I awoke the next morning, the water was so still it made the view look like a beautiful painting. We were kicking ourselves that we’d not brought our bikes along, we’ll have to remember that for next time.
If you have any questions or comments about this post I’d love to hear from you, please leave a comment below.