Home Is Where You Park It

My van rental was in collaboration with Caledonian Campers ahead of the Scottish Caravan, Motorhome and Holiday Home Show – my experience was gifted. The show opens 7th-10th of February at the SEC Glasgow – come check it out! 

You could go as far to say I am obsessed with camper vans. So much so, my boyfriend and I have a group chat (with only us in it) called ‘advantures.’ We created it when we first met with the dream of one day owning a van in mind. Preferably a VW, but let’s not be picky!

When Caledonian Campers gave me a shout last week offering me a weekend in one of their VW vans I was ecstatic; but with Callum being away at sea – my mum took the hot seat in his place. Sorry Callum!

What’s so special about a van? I think the appeal can be summed up in one word: freedom. No other form of transport allows for such spontaneity, and in Scotland – the freedom to roam is endless. A van allows you to spice up your adventure as much as you like; bike racks, surf boards on the roof, skis? But it can also be stripped back to the point where your adventure is simply the drive, the scenery and the experience.

We chose the latter this weekend. I was choked with the cold, so took a wee rest from big adventures. It was really nice driving around without anywhere in particular to be; I even read a book from cover to cover!

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If you are thinking about hiring a van (I’d totally recommend it) here are some advanture tips:

Pack light. A small space quickly becomes cramped with people in it, limit your luggage so you’re not constantly shifting bags around.

Plan a suitable route (it can be a rough plan) – having a route in mind helps manage fuel costs. And on that note – mark fuel stations on your map. Running empty is never cool… yep, been there before!

Have an idea of where you can park for the night, campsites are a good option if you like to have a shower (clearly not on my priority list); Scotland has a good bunch to pick from. Finding a remote spot is my preference, for peace and privacy. Just remember to park responsibly i.e., not in lay-bys.

Check out local pubs, cafes and shops. Stop and spend a few pennies in the places you visit.

Buy suitable food for inside the van – things that aren’t going to leak everywhere and cause you to loose your van deposit! Food that can be cooked/heated on a hob is best, soup, pasta, cous cous!

Keep an eye on water and gas if you are going further off grid.

Take the slow lane and enjoy the journey – but pull over to let cars past if your causing a pile up.

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Caledonian Campers

How easy are the vans to drive? 

Very easy! I was really nervous about driving the van before I picked it up. But driving a new VW is as easy as driving a small car, power assisted steering, parking sensors, really good turing circle. I found it a doddle (and I usually hate driving). Stay wide, slow down and you’ll be grand!

What are the costs?

Low season (Nov-Feb) £71-£85 per day

Mid season (March, April, Sept, Oct) £85-£99 per day

High season (May-Aug) £110-£122 per day

What happens if something goes wrong? 

You are fully insured and have full AA breakdown cover if you have any hiccups.

How many people can sleep in one van?

They can sleep 4. I would say it would be perfect for 2 adults, and 2 kids. 4 adults would be pretty cosy!

Any hidden costs? 

£20 hire fee for a gas bottle

You are also required to take the van for a mini valet before return – depending where you go this could be between £20-£30.

Heres what I got upto...

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I collected the van in Glasgow and drove 2 hours to Glen Coe

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Parked at An Torr (walking distance to the Clachaig Inn)

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Went for a wander in the snow – took lots of snowscapes

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Drank tea and read books all afternoon

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Slept here on night one

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Woke up with a beautiful view of the Aonach Eagach ridge

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Crossed Loch Linnhe on the Corran Ferry

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En route to Glenuig we stopped at Loch Sunart for a walk

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Looked but failed to find the local Elephants…

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Parked here for night 2

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With beautiful views of Eigg, Rum and a wee bit of Skye in the distance

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Then lazed in the sun reading books for the rest of the day!

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Heading home we stopped at the Glenfinnan Viaduct for another snowy walk!

Huge thanks to Caledonian Campers for lending me their van for the weekend.

Anatom Q2 Ultralight Hiking Boots

Forecast said blue sky, light cloud cover. What did I get? Zero visibility and unforgiving rain. Standard. But, on the bright side I took my new boots for a spin and tested their maximum waterproof-ness and durability in dreich conditions.

I haven’t had a new set of boots for 7 years – my old kicks were completely knackered, no longer watertight and so worn through it was becoming impossible to walk a mile without getting blisters.

So here they are - the shiny new boots

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After a summer of running around hills in trail shoes, I was dreading the return of clumpy heavy boots. So my main concern for new boots was to find something as lightweight as a trail shoe but waterproof and robust (hopefully to last another 7 years).

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Why did I choose the Anatom Q2 Ultralight?
  • They really are ULTRAlight
  • They feel soft and flexible – I didn’t need to break them in at all
  • The insole and midsole is shock absorbent and comfortable
  • They contain a waterproof and breathable membrane to keep the foot dry
  • They have well positioned eyelets and laces with good grip
  • They have a narrow heel area to avoid feet slipping around (common blister area for me)
  • They have a reliable tred – ideal for wet conditions

16km of rugged inclines and one boggy decent later – how are the boots doing? Overall – really good. My feet are wet, but that is no fault of the boot. Water got in over the top – so gaiters are a must next time. I have NO blisters, which is a first for me – I didn’t have to re-tie my laces at all and my feet are actually feeling really fresh and unharmed.

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If you are in the market for a new walking boot or shoe I would recommend looking at the Anatom footwear website. All footwear is designed, made, tested in Scotland and built to last. www.anatomfootwear.co.uk

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Theme of the day – map out, map away, map out, map away. Bad vis all morning, but made the 16km stretch feel a bit more adventurous. 3500 calories down, very soggy and no views to vouch for… but happy with my new boots and feeling pretty satisfied with my two dinners tonight – so that 5am alarm was 100% worth it this morning.

Thanks for reading – keep up with recent adventures @ronamcmillan