Mobile Base-camp

AutoTrail 969G - aka the 'van

Having decided that we would pursue our year of adventure we then contemplated some of the basic questions such as “which mountain should we start with?”, “which one should be our last?”, “how do we get to some of the more remote ones?” and “what do we do about accommodation?”. This last point brought us to consider the virtues of a caravan or a motorhome. Both have pros and cons but we decided in the end that a motorhome was the better option for us.

Parking near to Buachaille Etive Mor

Now the question was “which one to go for?”. To get a better understanding of what makes and models were on the market we went to a few Caravan and Motorhome Shows and bought some Motorhome magazines. For someone, like us, new to this field it was totally mind-boggling. We had a list of “must haves”, “no-nos” and “compromise items”. Even so, the choice of motorhomes was quite overwhelming and at times confusing.

Anyway, we persevered and at the Caravan and Motorhome Show at the Birmingham NEC in February 2009, we visited the Tyne Valley Motorhomes stand where we met one of the most helpful salespeople at the show. We were given lots of good advice and were then left in peace to investigate the vast selection of vehicles on the stand. Two motorhomes appeared to tick many of our boxes so we went for a coffee to discuss our findings. We both wrote down our preferred choice on separate pieces of paper and thankfully we chose the same motorhome – the AutoTrail 696G. After further discussions with the salesperson and Jonathan (who runs the family business), we purchased the said motorhome!

Look out of every window - with a view of Buachaille Etive Mor

We have had the ‘van (as our motorhome is affectionately known, not very original I know!) for over 18 months now, which has enabled us to get used to its functions and modify and equip it to meet our needs for our year-out. The most significant changes are to the garage area where Cameron has made up various shelving, and rack and hook systems to accommodate our stuff. He has also installed an inverter and gas alarm in the cab area as described in his blog 18 October 2010. Cameron will explain later in more detail about some the modifications and additions that he has made.

At a campsite near Oban

We certainly have to be very conscientious about tidying up when living in the ‘van. Although this is a 4 berth it doesn’t take much for two people to make a mess! However, we quite quickly began to get into a routine (this sounds like having children 🙂 ) and the key is to clear things away as you go along. Cooking and baking with such small work surfaces is a challenge, however, using our fold-away table and a bit of creative organisation with the dishes and ingredients certainly helps!

There are obviously issues you need to consider with the ‘van such as the width and length of the vehicle. We have already had some “challenges” on a rather narrow roads and parking is always at the forefront of our minds when planning a journey. It is essential to give a wide turning berth to ensure clearance of the rear end of the ‘van (I nearly wiped out a petrol pump when exiting one particular petrol station!). I haven’t yet had the courage to reverse the ‘van but I am sure that will be one of my life changing experiences this year!

At a campsite in Glen Coe

For many years Cameron and I have spent several holidays camping in the UK. We have many memorable times using our tent, but when I now hear the rain lashing against the ‘van roof I snuggle up in bed thinking “thank goodness I’m not back in a tent!”. That said, we do intend to use our small two-man tent for some of the more remote Munros and some of our island hopping journeys: but would I like to go back to spending our holidays again in a tent….? Hmmmm!

3 Responses to Mobile Base-camp

  1. sandie dean and evie gibbard says:

    Hope you are well. Good luck with all your Munros. Good to hear about your progress. What an amazing opportunity to have lots of fun. I expect you will manage some Scottish skiing too.
    Merry christmas and a great Hogmany,
    Love Sandie, Dean and Evie

    • Elaine says:

      Hi Sandie, Dean and Evie,
      Thanks for stopping by the web site.
      Yes, we’re definitely having plenty of fun – and some challenges too. The main challenge at the moment is coping with the freezing temperatures. We’ve had to take some sanctuary at a couple of campsites because all of the ‘vans fresh water pipes have completely frozen. It is nice, though, to be able to have such long hot showers at the sites!
      We hope that you all have a fantastic Christmas and will see you when we are back for a short visit in the New Year. Lots of love to you all,
      Elaine and Cameron

  2. Carole and Ian Speirs says:

    Have just been catching up with your progress via the website. We are heading to the UK at the end of November- can’t believe how quickly this year has flown. Don’t think we’ll be following you up any Munros but will be doing as much travelling as weather( snow, blizzards and black ice) permit.
    Tai and Darren have planned their wedding for next May, at Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Very small do, 40 guests only, with the ceremony taking place on the water’s edge on a helipad. We are really looking forward to seeing all their plans coming to fruition- Tai assures us it will be a 3 day ‘event’.
    You have done an amazing job to have done so much in your gap year.
    Lots of love, looking forward to seeing you and the family in 4 months.
    Carole and Ian xx

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