Visiting the UK as part of your travels? or, are you a local looking to explore? Go all out and choose a Classic Camper Holiday.
A classic camper holiday was a normal weekend activity when we lived in Australia. It wasn’t until we left Sydney and started to long for home that we realised how little of our own country we have seen. Our year living down under really taught us to appreciate what’s on our own doorstep. We’d thinking nothing of hiring a car or camper, booking a camping patch and heading off for the weekend in search for a new beach.
Well, fast forward two months and we’re chuffed to say, that we’ve just finished up our first British staycation adventure. Lucky us got to team up with the guys at Camptoo who allowed us to go camping in style. In a classic VW camper, no less. Classic camper holiday, here we come!
What is Camptoo?
Camptoo is an online service that allows you to hire a camper van from a private owner. Whether it’s for a festival or a classic camper holiday, Camptoo will put you in touch with reputable owners around the UK. They offer a huge variety of homes on wheels which is especially awesome if you’re after something unique.
How does camptoo work?
You begin by searching the website to look for the perfect camper van near your location. Once your request has been accepted by the owner, you’ll be asked to upload your licence. Following that, you’ll go onto make your payment safely online. You’ll be asked for 50% of the total as well as a deposit. You can read more about the payment process here.
If you’re initially browsing it’s best to ask your questions through the specific camper advert you’re interested in. Here, you’ll be able to find out the finer details ahead of finalising your purchase.
You’ll be in constant conversation with the owner who can answer any of your queries ahead of the trip. Camptoo are also available to help throughout and after your booking.
Our camper van choice with Camptoo
Our first choice was of course a classic 1976 Volkswagen Camper. It’s always been a dream to own one of these retro beauties so we jumped at the chance to be able to experience it for the weekend.
This particular camper is based in Surrey and is called Blu. We dealt with the owner, Mark, who was incredibly informative and helpful. He also kindly let us leave our car in his driveway for the weekend, whilst we escaped to the British countryside.
Saturday, The road trip: Barton-On-Sea, Corfe Castle and Old Harry Rocks
We collected the camper at 7.45am on a Saturday. The owner, Mark, gave us a quick tour and we checked it over for scratches before setting off. Matt had driven campers (and VW’s) before so felt confident behind the wheel. Just take it steady in a camper as old as Blu, the style of driving and the old gear stick will take a little getting used to.
Our first stop was to visit family in the pretty clifftop village in Barton-on-sea, Hampshire. The village is bordered by the New Forest and is home to a stunning stretch of beach. We enjoyed a cream tea at the Beachcomber cafe and a sunny beach walk – you couldn’t get more British!
After catching up with family, we hopped in the camper and headed further into Dorset. Our next stop was to find our campsite and visit the famous Old Harry Rocks. On the way to the campsite in Swanage we became a little sidetracked by the very historic Corfe Castle. But, thanks to the freedom of our camper, we turned off from our route and decided to explore.
There are a few ways to see this magnificent ruin, and the signs we spotted took us into the main car-park for Corfe Castle. It costs around £10 to get into the castle, but as it was an impromptu stop, we admired the views from afar before getting back on track hotfooting it to the campsite.
Where we stayed in Swanage
We had already enquired ahead and were due to stay at Herston Campsite. This amazing find was only a 10 minute drive from the famous Old Harry Rocks and had plenty of availability.
It was quite tricky searching for a place to stay overnight, word of warning… Dorset gets very busy in the summer months! We arrived to the campsite around 5pm where we checked it and paid the £25 pitch hire fee. It’s worth noting that as we didn’t require electricity, we were OK to just turn up and park.
Herston Campsite has an on-site bar and restaurant as well as a take-away food truck. They stop serving food around 8.30pm so it’s wise to take some snacks along with you. Their toilet and shower facilities are second to none. Clean, tidy and hot – they were some of the best we’ve experienced when camping.
Our Saturday evening was spent enjoying a drink at the Bankes Arms before watching the sunset at Old Harry Rocks. These are very famous chalk formations located on the Isle of Purbeck. They are the most easterly point of the Jurassic Coastline and are a UNESCO World heritage Site.
Sunday, the road trip continued: Durdle Door and Portland Bill Lighthouse
We woke up early on the Sunday to the freshest and most wonderful breeze. Our VW top popped up to make a very comfortable bed. It was a little cloudier than the previous day but that wasn’t going to stop us, so after a shower and a little van tidy up we hit the road again.
The next part of the plan was to head up to Durdle Door and Portland Bill lighthouse. Durdle Door was around a 1 hour 20 minute drive from our campsite.
On arrival we parked our camper up in the main carpark and paid £4 for two hours. Considering the natural attraction is free to view and is one of Dorset’s most photographed landmarks, we didn’t think this was too bad.
The famous limestone arch and its beautiful beach did not disappoint. It was phenomenal. Hoards of tourists from around the world had descended on the popular site but somehow, it didn’t feel too crowded. It was a fairly steep walk down but all safe and incredibly enjoyable thanks to the views.
The Portland Bill lighthouse was a further 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Durdle Door. We knew it was probably inevitable that we’d hit traffic on the way back so decided to not care too much about time. After all, we had our comfy VW camper, Blu, to enjoy the trip home in.
You’ll find Portland Bill Lighthouse located on the Isle of Portland. It is still fully functioning and stands at 135ft tall. Its red and white stripes coupled with the sheer size of it, make for a very impressive monument. You can park right next to the lighthouse and walk all around the coastline. You’ll also find plenty of places to enjoy a picnic as well as a cafe.
If you chose to travel the UK in a classic camper, then get ready for all the love. It turns out, everyone LOVES a Volkswagen camper van. Fellow VW owners will beep at you and passers by will smile.
The flexibility and freedom of a camper van holiday makes for a truly amazing way to travel the UK. We couldn’t recommend hiring a camper with Camptoo and spending the weekend sightseeing in Dorset enough.
*camper van hire kindly gifted by camptoo but all words and photos are our own
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