Southeastern Turkey – 21January to 5 February 2023

As usual, I’m writing this post a few days after we were in this region and if some of the names seem familiar, it is because this is the region that was struck by the horrendous earthquake in the early hours of Monday 6 February.  As of now the recovery process is still ongoing but it is being hampered by the weather which turned cold and snowy just before the disaster struck.

The people of this region have been some of the most friendly and hospitable people we have ever met and our thoughts go out to them all.

A food market we wandered into in Tarsus

We left the cold of Cappadocia to head back to the coast at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. Our first stop was Tarsus, the birthplace of St Paul, although we have to confess that our primary reason for visiting was the free washing machines at the municipal motorhome aire! With the washing drying we wandered into town and followed a tourist walking route which took us past most of the main historic attractions – well worth a few hours of our day.

The municipal motorhome aire at Tarsus

After Tarsus we drove around lakes close to Yumurtalik but couldn’t find a park up there so we headed to a car park near Yumurtalik Beach. As we were sitting outside the van having a coffee, we were approached by a family who were having a picnic nearby and who asked if they could look inside. No problem, we said, and after all three generations had stuck their heads through the door, we suddenly had an invite back to the grandparent’s house for coffee, so we packed up the van and followed them the 30km or so to Ceyhan. Having settled down for a cup of tea, we were then offered dinner, a shower and a bed for the night! Not wanting to offend anyone, and knowing the Turks are incredibly hospitable, we ate the delicious soup and the kibbeh but very politely turned down the bath and bed.

The family would have been in the region impacted by the earthquake and we just hope Yusuf and the rest of the family are ok.

Fantastic kibbeh

From here we drove further south along the Mediterranean, spending a couple of nights beside the beach at Arsuz, catching up on admin and housework.

The Titus Tunnel

We visited the Titus Tunnel near Samandag, a flood prevention tunnel built by the Romans in the first century and whilst there had a great homemade flatbread stuffed with cheese and spinach – that was worth the entry fee alone!

You won’t get fresher flatbread.

We reached our southernmost point a few kilometres south of here, about 12km north of the Syrian border, when the track became impassable so we turned north again towards Antakya (also known as Hatay).

The most southerly point for us on this tour.

Sadly the city carpark was unable to accommodate us so after a few twists and turns through the busy narrow streets we found a campsite out of town. This meant we missed exploring the town and all that it had to offer.

Esenbahçe Kamp Alani, near Hatay

Our bellies were looking forward to our next stop at Gaziantep, known for its baklava and other foodie treats! The town is in the centre of the pistachio growing region and given our habit of stopping occasionally for coffee, we had to try the local pistachio coffee. Well, what a revelation – we really liked it!

Who knew pistachio coffee was a thing? We both loved it.

We wandered around the old bazaar area where we had all our kitchen knives sharpened in a small workshop and had our first kebab of the day.

The Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum is definitely worth a visit. The mosaics were unearthed at the Roman site of Belkis-Zeugma and moved when the Birecik Dam flooded the area. The size and detail of the mosaics is phenomenal.

The Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum

We had taken a taxi from the campsite with another English couple, Rich and Sarah, aka tracey_van_ness on Instagram, and met up with them again later in the day for an early dinner at Kebap ve Baklava (worth a visit and don’t be put off by the queue as it moves really quickly). We don’t eat out much as a rule as we’re on a budget but we knew we’d blow that in Gaziantep! We had different kebabs so we could share and of course had to finish with a couple of pieces of pistachio baklava.

We were now beginning our journey east and spent a couple of nights near Halfeti on the banks of the Euphrates. The old town of Halfeti (Eski Halfeti) was partially submerged following the construction of the Birecik Dam. It’s now a destination for boat tours to view the Rumkale fortress on the opposite bank and the flooded village of Savas, where the minaret of the submerged mosque stands above the water.

The flooded mosque.

We had hoped to visit the famous statues at Nemrut Dagi but knew there was a good chance we wouldn’t get there and indeed, at a height of 5,500ft we found the snowbound and very much closed approach road.

The end of the road for us.

We spent three nights in Mardin but had only one day when we left the van – can’t be helped travelling in this region during the winter! We did have one glorious day when the sun came out so we could explore the old town and look across the plains to Syria.

Looking out from Mardin towards Syria
Mardin old town

Our final stop of this leg was the Mor Gabriel Monastery where we spent a couple of nights in their very snowy car park! The monastery is the oldest surviving Syriac Orthodox monastery in the world having been founded in 397AD and is located near Midyat. Although still home to practising monks and nuns it is possible to take a guided tour of the monastery.

We are there somewhere
Mor Gabriel Monastery
Mor Gabriel Monastery

The snow of the last couple of days was a gentle introduction to what was to come next!

Campsites used:

Tarsus Municipal Campsite, Tarsus: Free, including EHU and limited use of a washing machine. Small individual pitches for 10 vans and any overflow was accommodated in the car park – it’s worth arriving early to secure a pitch. The maximum stay is initially 3 nights and return visits are limited. The washing machine is under lock and key and used under the supervision of the site manager but it’s free so can’t complain! Great restaurant next door and others within short walking distance. The city of Tarsus is about 2km away, a flat, easy walk.

Esenbahçe Kamp Alani, near Hatay: tl150 p/n (£6.50) including EHU. Small, rural, riverside campsite. All grass pitches. All the usual facilities but we only stayed overnight (only because we were on our way to somewhere else) so can’t comment on them.

Gaziantep Karavan Park, Gaziantep: tl150 p/n including EHU. Free use of washing machines and DRYERS – yes, tumble dryers, although it did feel like you had to fight with local caravan owners who had bought their week’s washing from home with them! A fairly new, 24hr guarded, large, tiered site with hard standing pitches next to a lake. Reception building with a communal seating area and terrace. Pitches available for long term rent and lots of caravans seem to be long term. Taxi point just outside the front gate and it cost us tl150 to get to the centre of Gaziantep.

Mardin Karavan Camping, Mardin: tl150 p/n including EHU. A small car park run by a really friendly and helpful family – we drank lots of tea with them! A great location for access to the old town of Mardin and it has all the facilities you need, albeit it’s not a pretty site. Some noise as you are right next to a mosque and the owner’s dog barks at anything and everything passing the front gate day and night.

Other overnight stops:

Buyuk Ataturk Park, Ceyhan: Free overnight spot in the car park. A few cars around in the evening but once they had gone, it was quiet enough.

Arsuz: Free parking on grass close to the beach (no swimming allowed though at this point). Some noise from the construction site behind the parking area but quiet at night. A great place to rest for a couple of days. Short walk into town.

Siverek Picnic Area, Siverek: Free parking overlooking a dammed lake on the Euphrates. Large parking area. Toilets at the entrance. Very quiet night.

Halfeti: Free parking on a track alongside the Euphrates river. They are working on the track so some lorry noise during the day. Short walk to a few shops.

Mor Gabriel Monastery: Free parking in the outer carpark. We arrived during a snow storm and staff from the monastery came out to see if we needed anything. Great views across the countryside.



Polar Steps:

Cappadocia – 11th to 21st January 2023

This small area needs its own post – we spent longer in the Cappadocia region than anywhere else so far on our travels!

The Balloons over Cappadocia

Moving towards the east, we first stopped in the Ihlara Valley and began at the north of the valley at Selime Castle, the largest cave complex in the region. The valley was a favourite retreat of Byzantine monks and many of the buildings carved into the rock are monasteries and churches.

June’s favourite cave at Selime Castle
Selime Castle

We spent a couple of hours here exploring the churches and other buildings before driving a little further south to a small hot spring we had read about. We have visited a few hot springs and this was definitely the hottest but also the smallest! Shame about all the rubbish lying around though.

Nice hot spring. Shame about the rubbish just out of shot.
One of the churches in the Ihlara Valley

We then parked at the visitor centre near the town of Ihlara and from where we took the 350+ steps down to the valley floor to walk along the valley and explore the churches here.  There are a dozen or so churches built into the valley walls and some still have amazing frescoes dating from as early as the 9th century.  The total walk was about 10km.

If timed correctly you can probably explore the whole valley in one day and pay only one fee of tl90 but we took our time so paid for two days.

Love Valley

Goreme is the main town of the Cappadocia’s tourist industry and much of the town is geared towards tourists (several Chinese, Korean and Indian restaurants are just one example of this!). Although we stayed on a campsite for a couple of nights, we much preferred being parked up overlooking the valleys from where we could watch the hot air balloons, one of Cappadocia’s biggest tourist draws, and view the strange rock formations. The balloons only fly when the weather allows and we saw them twice in six days.

Park up above Love Valley

Whilst here we visited the Goreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site of a Byzantine monastic settlement built into the rock. There seemed to be a few churches closed when we visited but it was still worth going and also buying the extra ticket to visit the Dark Church which has the most breathtaking frescoes. The church gets its name from the lack of windows which has gone a long way to preserve the frescoes and their strong colours.

One of the frescoes. Just stunning

There are some fantastic hikes in Rose Valley and we covered a lot of it, from the peak of Aktepe Hill and down a few hundred metres onto the valley floor.  

The Columned Church (Kolonlu Kilise) is well worth hunting out.

Between Ihlara and Goreme we visited Derinkuyu, one of several underground cities in the area.

One of the tunnels in the underground city.
The round stone to the left would be rolled to close off the tunnel.

If on a quick visit to the area it is possible to cover a lot with the Cappadocia Pass which gives access to seven locations for 400tl (just over £17) and is valid for 72 hours. We decided to take our time and paid for each place we visited (3 out of the 7 but we had to pay twice for Ilhara Valley) which cost us a total of tl480 (around £20.50).

We’re not usually ones for big tourist centres but Cappadocia was a must, although we were grateful that it wasn’t overly busy. Saying that on our last morning we think they hit the maximum permitted number of balloons flying, which is 100, and some of those baskets carry 28 passengers!

About the max of 100 balloons that are allowed to fly at any one time.

It has been quite cold here (we’ve been in thermals for the past two weeks!) so time to head south again for some warmth. 

Campsites used:

Panorama Camping: tl450 (£19.50) per night including EHU. Tiered, hard standing campsite, close to the town. Small pitches but plenty of room out of season – upper terrace has the views and lower terrace the best wifi signal! Swimming pool and washing machine were out of service when we visited. Friendly, helpful owner who is very responsive on WhatsApp.

Other overnight spots:

Ilhara Valley Tourist Facility car park: was free when we visited. There was building work going on close to the main car park so we used the overflow area. There are toilets but they were closed when we visited.

Love Valley viewpoint: no pay point on the track we used. Parking is a free for all along the western ridge overlooking Love Valley and which has great views of the balloons, some of which land in this area. Access is via bumpy tracks which could be muddy if there’s any prolonged period of rain. Restaurants and toilets nearby.

Rose Valley viewpoint: tl50 for a motorhome to access the valley (only pay to enter and not a daily fee). Bumpy mud tracks again off the main access road. Great views of the balloons taking off and plenty of local hiking. Restaurants and toilets nearby.



Polar Steps:

West and Central Anatolia, lakes and caravanserais – 4 to 10 January 2023

We left the coast and headed inland after a disappointing trip to Decathlon in Antalya with our shopping list barely touched – probably not a bad thing!

Sultanhani kervansaray. One of the many we’ve seen.

On the map, along the route we were following, were a number of caravanserais (also kervansaray, han or hanı), basically lodgings built for travellers on the Silk Road and where they could resupply themselves and their animals. The caravanserais were built 30-40km apart which would have equated to about a day’s travel

Obruk Hani with a huge sink hole behind.

The buildings are in various states of repair and some now house museums, shops and cafes. The largest caravanserai in Anatolia is Sultanhani which was built in 1229 and reconstructed after a fire in 1278. The covered lodging area is now a carpet museum (not as boring as it sounds!).

Of course we came we had to visit some ruins; the Roman city of Sagalassos which are found at an altitude of 1500m in the Taurus Mountains. The site is one of the Mediterranean’s largest archaeological projects with lots of ongoing excavations. Something we were not expecting was to be handed the keys to the Neon Library which houses a 4th century mosaic. We thought this was one of the most stunning sites we have visited so far.


The Turkish Lake District is found in the mountains of western Anatolia. We had already visited Lake Salda so this time we stayed on the edge of Lake Egirdir, admiring the sunsets.

A beautiful view from the free park up at Lake Egirdir
Lake Egirdir

We also spent a night close to Lake Tuz, one of the world’s largest salt lakes. It’s often pink but only when it is warm and dry, and is slowly drying up as the water feeding it is diverted for towns or agricultural use.

The Mevlevi worship ceremony of the whirling dervishes.

In between the two lakes we spent a night in Konya. As it was a Saturday this meant we were able to catch the weekly sema, the Mevlevi worship ceremony of the whirling dervishes. You can turn up at the Mevlana Culture Centre about 30 minutes before the show and entry was tl50 (£2.15) each and the ceremony lasts about an hour. If you can time a visit to catch the mesmerising ceremony than we’d highly recommend it.

Mevlana Museum.

The nearby Mevlana and Panoramic Museums are also worth visiting. The former houses the tomb of Celaleddin Rumi, later known as Mevlana and who bought the whirling dervishes to the world. It is an old lodge of the whirling dervishes and one of the biggest pilgrimage centres in Turkey, attracting over 1.5 million visitors a year.

The Panoramic Museum

Campsites used:

Kervansaray Camping, Sultanhani: tl250 p/n including EHU. Small grassy campsite just across the road from Sultanhani Caravanserai. Probably quite cramped in the summer and wifi only really worked in the central building. Washing machine but it was out of order when we visited but the owner took my washing and returned it the following morning (I suspect his wife or mum did it for us!). Very friendly and helpful staff.

Other overnight stops:

Susuz Kervansaray: free parking to the rear of the building. The site is covered in litter and the local children were running around the van but they soon got bored when we ignored them. Bumpy, rock strewn ground but fine for an overnight stay. There was an old toilet block there but there was no water connected.

Egirdir: free parking on the peninsula. We parked on an the site of an old cafe which was flat and quiet. One of the other car parks had a couple of hole in the ground style toilets so we were able to empty the toilet cassette. No other facilities but water is plentiful from roadside public water fountains (we have a filter system on the van so are not unduly worried about where we get water).

Konya: large free car park behind the Panorama Museum and next to the Hilton Hotel. No services and a little noisy – it was Saturday night and locals have a habit of parking next to the van and playing loud music.

Lake Tuz: a track off the main road took us down towards the lake but not too close as the ground became very soft and muddy. Parked next to a farmer’s field so no services but spectacular views!



Polar Steps:

The Mediterranean Coast, Fethiye to Antalya – 27 Dec 2022 to 3 January 2023

We spent Christmas with our children, who had flown out from the UK, in an amazing villa up in the mountains just south of Fethiye.

Christmas at the AirBnB

If you are looking for somewhere away from it all and with spectacular views and sunsets then Villa Blueview is the place to be. We found it on AirBnB.

One of the fresh market stalls in Fethiye

After Christmas we headed back to Fethiye to join John and Kellie again to continue travelling along the south coast, exploring various beaches and more ruins. We had the best of everything here – places were quiet because it was out of season and the weather was perfect and warm enough to swim and paddle board in the sea.

New Year’s Eve on the water

We celebrated New Year in Kas joining the locals to watch the fireworks over the harbour as a DJ played in the main square. Earlier we’d had dinner with another couple, Simon and Lorraine of Silo Adventures, who we know via social media. This has been a great trip so far for meeting up with fellow travellers!

New Year’s Eve in Kas

Having given ourselves a day to recover from New Year (anything after 10pm is a late night for us!) we said goodbye, at least for the moment, to John and Kellie and followed the coast a little further towards Antalya.  

The coast road, D400, is a stunning road to drive and the Turquoise Coast lives up to its name.

Just beautiful

As it was on our way we visited the rock tombs and ruins of Myra. The rock graves date back to the 4th century BC and the ancient village has origins in the 5th century BC. The theatre is Roman, built over a smaller Hellenistic one, and was the largest in the region, seating over 10,000 people.


Our final stop along the coast was the “burning rocks” of Chimaera. Whilst ancient peoples attributed the flames to the breath of a monster, in reality the source of the flames is natural gases seeping through the rocks.

Marshmallows at Chimaera

We came equipped with marshmallows and sticks to toast over the flames!

Campsites used:

Kas Camping: tl450 (£19.50) per night including EHU. Tiered gravel campsite next to the sea and close to the town. Small pitches but plenty of room out of season. Washing machine was included. Relatively expensive for Turkey but paying for the location.

Other overnight spots:

Fethiye public car park: town centre car park right on the harbour and close to the shops and the old town. The car park is open 24 hours, access is through a security barrier and payment is charged by the hour. We paid tl220 (£9.50) for two nights, arriving late afternoon and departing after breakfast. A small amount of noise but to be expected from the location. No services.

Kalkan: free parking in an old quarry just outside the town. Rough ground but no issue with finding a flat area. No services.

Tekirova: Free. Small beachside carpark next to an old bar. No facilities.



Polar Steps:

Turkey, south west coast region – 5 to 19 December 2022

Once we had driven past all the lorries queuing to get into Turkey, our border crossing was relatively easy.

We had to stop to buy van insurance at the border – EUR140 for three months, and the office is easy to find. One tip is don’t use the cash machine here as the bank loads a huge handling fee on to the withdrawal!

Once away from the border find a Ziraat Bankasi ATM as they don’t charge at all. Back at customs we were only asked if we were carrying electrical goods. Our cameras, iPads, phones etc were not an issue and we were waved through. The Turkish border makes quite an impression!

Boomerang Bar, Eceabat:

We had a vague route in mind for this first part of Turkey having watched several other travellers on YouTube and a couple of weeks to explore before spending Christmas in Fethiye with our children who were flying out to join us in a house we have rented for the week.

Just one of the Cemeteries at Gallipoli

Our first stop was the Gallipoli (Gelibolu in Turkish) peninsula, the site of several battles in 1915. It’s a site of particular importance to Australians and New Zealanders as well as Turks and the southern end of the peninsula is home to 40 Allied and at least 20 Turkish war cemeteries. The Allied cemeteries are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and their website ( can be checked if you are trying to locate a particular grave. The area is now pine covered rolling hills and is well sign posted for the individual cemeteries and memorials. A very thought provoking trip.

Leaving Europe

We left the peninsula and crossed the Dardanelles Straits to Canakkale via a small ferry.  This also took us to a new continent as we left Europe and arrived in Asia.  

As well as changing continents we moved from recent history to ancient and a region, to quote our Lonely Planet guidebook, with an “embarrassment of ruins”!

Our campsite near Troy

We didn’t stop in Canakkale and instead drove to the town of Troy (Troia), a short distance to the south. We parked at the Troia Pension and were able to walk to the museum and the ruins from there. If not using a guide (we didn’t) then buy a joint ticket (tl150 each) and visit the museum before the ruins to get some sense of the history. Compared to other sites the ruins here are exactly that but there are a couple of spots where they have excavated enough that you can see multiple layers of Troy’s history.

The Layers of Troy

The Pension offered food albeit not from a menu so we ate there one night. Meatballs, rice and salad which although basic was tasty. Watch out for the wine though – it was good but expensive at over £4 a glass!

Bademli Beach near Dikili:

We had a couple of days at the beach before heading to Bergama and the ruins of the ancient city of Pergamum where we drove up the hill to the Acropolis rather than take the cable car. These ruins were UNESCO listed in 2014 and date from at least the 5th century BC. The site is scattered over the hill top and includes a steep 10,000 seat theatre. Well worth the tl100 entry fee (tl50 for an audio guide).


Next was the site at Ephesus, once the 4th largest city of the Roman Empire with over 250,000 inhabitants and was previously located by the sea although over time the harbour silted up and the water is now some distance away. This site is huge and yet they think about only 20% has been excavated. The theatre here seated an impressive 25,000 people although the three Singaporean lads singing a Christmas carol from the stage were playing to no more than 50 people (but I imagine many more on Tik Tok or Instagram!).

Ephesus. This would have lead to the coastal harbour. The inlet has since silted up

We bought the ticket which covered the main site and the terrace houses (tl250 per person). The latter is a live excavation site which is within the main Ephesus city but fenced off and under cover and the buildings are very well preserved.

The Library, Ephesus

Ephesus is Turkey’s most visited ruins and in the summer we can imagine that it is overrun with tour buses so probably best to visit as soon as it opens. One of the positives for travelling out of season is visiting these sites when they are relatively empty.

The terraced houses, Ephesus

Our whistle stop tour continued on to Pamukkale where you can visit the travertine terraces and the ancient spa city of Hierapolis (same ticket – tl200 per person). The white water filled pools of the terraces can be reached by several gates but we used the north one which is located at the top. You can park and walk up from the bottom or from the town but as shoes are not allowed on the terraces themselves it would be quite tough on the feet! We would also suggest following the path away from the main pools area through the ruined fort and on to some more pools there. You can’t access these pools but the area is quieter making photos easier.


One extra you can do once on the site is swim amongst the ruins in Cleopatra’s Pool, a small geothermal heated pool close to the restaurant and coffee bar. It costs an extra tl130 and the ticket has a 2 hour time limit (probably summer only as nobody was checking during our visit).

Cleopatra’s Pool

The city was a destroyed by a series of earthquakes and the fault line is marked by a couple of signs. We had a wander through some of the ruins and climbed the hill which took us to the top of the Roman theatre which was worth the effort.


As well as seeing the area on foot, several companies offer sunrise  balloon flights over the terraces but we think the weather had grounded them the morning we were there.

After all the tearing around over the past two weeks and before the children coming out to visit, we decided we needed a few days to relax and catch up with ourselves. We spent a couple of days parked up next to Lake Salda, a beautiful lake but cold at an altitude of over 3,700feet.

Lake Salda

From here, after a visit to Carrefour, we headed out to the coast near Marmaris to a campsite on a cove surrounded by wooded hills.  

Campsites used:

Troia Pension, Troy: tl300 p/n (approx £13.50) including EHU. Small parking area next to the restaurant with toilets, a shower and access to a washing machine.Site is across the road from the Troy Museum and a short walk to the ancient ruins of Troy.

Antique Lodge Campsite, near Kusadasi: tl330 p/n (£14.60). EHU available based on usage – tl6 per unit. Great campsite with all you need including a swimming pool and lots of communal space around the bar/restaurant area.

Catlak Beach & Camping: tl300 p/n including EHU. Small beachside campsite accessed via the small beach road. Bar and restaurant on site. Great place to sit and chill for a few nights.

Other overnight stops:

Boomerang Bar, Eceabat: Free but buy a drink at the bar. Small hard standing, seaside parking area on the edge of the town. Good site from which to explore Gallipoli.

Bademli Beach near Dikili: Free beach side parking – grass and mud and flooded in places. Toilets and restaurants nearby (closed when we visited).

Aliaga: free beach side carpark located between a police and an army base. Lots of locals coming and going (we were there on a Saturday night), a few stray cats and rubbish lying around (lots of bins though). Toilets but they were locked. Fine for an overnight stay.

Atca: Free overnight park up in the Aqualand car park just off the main road. Quiet as the park is closed and fine for an overnight stay.

Pamukkale: Free park up just outside the town on the balloon take off/landing site (sadly no balloon flights during our night there).

Salda Lake: Free parking on the west side of the lake close to a restaurant (currently closed but toilets open). Flat grass parking away from the water’s edge although the ground was a little soft (very soft close to the water). Several local dogs who stayed with us the whole time we were there – very friendly and harmless and just wanted food, although they were fed by a local each day.

Northern Greece – 27 November to 5 December 2022

Greece was never really in our detailed plan as we were just passing through on our way to Turkey. With this in mind, we only had a couple of places marked on the map but they certainly didn’t disappoint.

Vía Natura Voidomatis Rafting Centre:

Like a lot of Brits, our vision of Greece is beaches, blue and white houses and Mamma Mia, not the snow capped mountains that greeted us!

We explored some of the Vikos-Aoos Geopark in the Northern Pindos mountains, walking a small part of the “Hunters of the Ice Age” path through the Voidomatis Valley and then a drive up to view the Vikos Gorge from the viewpoint at Beloi.

Nice walk along the Voidomatis Valley
The stunning Vikos Gorge.

After a laundry day in Ioannina we moved on to Meteora, a spectacular landscape where Byzantine monasteries sit on top of large pillar like rock structures. There are three main roads which take you past all the monasteries (you need to check opening days as they all differ) and we drove them all in both directions and in very different weather conditions.


Our plan had been to then head straight to Alexandroupli, close to the Turkish border but after a couple of hours of motorway driving we noticed a large mountain ahead which turned out to be Mount Olympus, in Greek mythology, the home of the gods. A quick search on Park4night gave us an overnight parking spot next to an old monastery, so up the mountain we headed!

Avios Dionysius Church

Greece does have a network of toll roads linking the main cities and for travelling across country they were worth using.  No vignette was needed and we spent a total of £41 on tolls at manned booths using a no fee credit card.

No issues with the border crossings in and out of the country.

In our short time here, we had no issues getting around in the van although a lot of supermarket carparks are covered so we had to look for the larger shops, and overnight spots were easy to find (albeit we’re pout of season).  We’re looking forward to returning one day and exploring more of the country!

Campsites used:

Vía Natura Voidomatis Rafting Centre: Currently free but donation requested. The campsite here is under construction but there is access to the showers and toilets in the rafting centre, clean water and WC emptying. Grass pitches. Easy access to hiking in the Vikos-Aoos Geopark.

Camping Vrachos Kastraki, near Meteora: EUR25 p/n (cheaper for cash). EHU available. Tightly packed, mixed pitches. Typical holiday park with swimming pool (not open when we visited).

Other overnight spots:

Beloi viewpoint car park, Vikos Gorge: No facilities. Small uneven parking area – mud and grass. Short walk to the viewpoint.

Pamvotida Lake, Ioannina: Free lakeside parking on grass. No services. Opposite side of lake to the town which has a good choice of launderettes.

Meteora: Free parking spot just off of the main road close to the monasteries. Small grassy area with a view over the valley. Quiet despite being next to the road.

Old Dionysos Monastery car park, Mount Olympus national park: Free, flat and quiet! The old monastery is currently under renovation but there are walking routes from the car park.

Alexandroupoli: free beach side parking, handy for the Turkish border and the last Lidl shop. As usual, lots of rubbish around.



Polar Steps:

Albania – 4 to 27 November 2022

If you have already seen our Facebook posts you will know how much we loved Albania, even to the extent that we had to extend our Albanian motor insurance!

We really enjoyed the challenge of, for the first time in a long time, travelling through somewhere new and very different to what we are used to. The language was completely beyond us; we do usually try to have a few words for wherever we go, and we didn’t really get beyond hello – përshëndetje for those interested, but English was widely spoken and the people we met were generous, welcoming and friendly.

Such stunning scenery. This was on the way to Thethe in the north of Albania

Albania is a country of so many contrasts; on the road there is every type of vehicle from horse drawn carts to high end Mercedes and Porsches, houses range from small shacks to modern square concrete blocks, and you can buy from roadside family run stalls selling their own produce, or in large supermarkets. The mountain scenery is beautiful, if you can ignore the rubbish and stray animals, and there is history everywhere dating from the Illyrians to the Ancient Greeks to the recent Communist era.

The Blue Eye near Thethe

Driving needs to be experienced to be believed and the rule of the road seems to be just find a gap and go for it! Our advice for driving through Tirana, especially on a Sunday, is avoid it if you can . Our UK insurance didn’t cover Albania so we had to buy a third party policy at the border which cost €49 for 15 days (the only period seemingly available) and we were able to buy another at a Western Union office once it became apparent we’d be staying longer than 15 days.


We didn’t struggle to find campsites and whilst they were often basic, they were clean and had everything we needed. Wifi is usually available but flakey at times. We bought a local Vodafone SIM which could be topped up as needed – 100GB of data in total (yes we use a lot!) cost about £40. We were also able to use some of our Montenegro bundle under a West Balkans arrangement.

Fresh fruit and vegetables were plentiful
There are over 170000 of these bunkers in Albania. Various sizes and you’re never far from one
In Tirana there are two underground bunkers, BunkArt 1 and 2, that are now used to show the history of Albania.
Border control during the Communist era
Thermal pools at Bënje

In a lot of places both Euro and LEK are accepted and with the exceptions of petrol stations and large supermarkets, payments are in cash. It’s still worth asking, especially before they start pumping fuel, as we did pull into a couple of petrol stations where they didn’t take a card. We found that Credins Bank didn’t charge for cash withdrawals at their ATMs and as we have Monzo Bank accounts plus Revolut cards, our transactions were fee free and good rates were used.

An aircraft at Gjirokastra castle
The story behind the aircraft.
The Blue Eye at Syri i kaltë
The Church of the Monastery of St Nicholas at Mesopotam
Butrint Archeological site

Travelling out of season often means we don’t see places at their best due to ongoing renovations and repairs. There was lots of work going on and maybe this was an indication of an increasing tourist trade – places that were hard to get to a couple of years ago are now accessible via newly tarmacked roads or walkways.

The chain ferry at Butrint. At €10 not cheap but had to be done.

We loved our time here and if a visit is on your radar, we’d certainly recommend it.  

Campsites used:

Windmill Campsite Shkodra: LEK1,200 p/n (approx £9) inc EHU. Usual site amenities available including washing machines, wifi plus a restaurant and bar. Mostly grass and muddy after rain. It’s a small campsite which also has small lodges available. Access to the site is through small residential streets and past a few scrap car yards. There is a tight turn off the small street on to the site which also has overhead signage. Like many sites, the dogs wander around and there are chickens in a cage. Within walking distance of the city centre.

Camping Kruje: €13p/n including EHU. Usual facilities available including wifi and washing machine at €3.50 a wash. All grass amongst fruit and olive trees. Family run and very friendly staff owners. A 20 minute or so uphill walk to Kruje centre.

Camping Dajti, Tirana: €14p/n plus €2 for EHU. Usual facilities available including wifi. Another grass site, family run and surrounded by olive and fruit trees. Chickens and ducks run free and occasionally the owner walked a couple of cows through! The access road is steep with a couple of short hairpin bends but we made it in our 6.7m van without a problem. They can arrange a taxi into Tirana for €15 return. A very relaxed few days.

Riverside Camping, Berat: €15 p/n including EHU and 1 use of the washing machine (extra washes are charged). Great campsite within walking distance of the centre. Hard standing pitches which are probably quite tight in the summer but there is still a shaded garden area with tables and chairs. Usual facilities including wifi plus access to a small kitchen if needed. Really friendly owners who can’t do enough for you and who bought us mandarins every day straight from their trees. The site is on a main road but noise wasn’t an issue.

Family Camping, Gjirokastra: €20 p/n including EHU. Clean modern toilet/shower block, washing machine available and wifi included. Site has a nice looking restaurant and bar which is probably quite busy in summer. Parking area is almost aire like with not a lot of space between vans but not an issue in November. The owner will arrange a car to the castle and old town for €5 each way – worth it at least to go into town as the castle is at the top of a steep hill!

Other overnight spots:

Buni i Bajraktarit Restaurant: €5 p/n. Restaurant car park on the SH21 road to Theth with stunning views over the Accursed Mountains. In addition to the restaurant they are building lodges and you can use the toilet block.

Bënje Thermal Pools, near Përmet: Free overnight parking in car park near the pools. Last couple of hundred metres is off-road and very bumpy.

Syri i kaltë (Blue Eye Spring) car park: Free overnight parking when we visited in November but possibly not in the summer. Large flat open car park which is quiet at night. Resident stray dogs but they are not a problem and twice a day a farmer walks by with his cows, sheep, goats and even a couple of boars!

Butrint Car Park: Free overnight car park at the entrance to Butrint Archeological site and a small chain ferry across a small stretch of water. The ferry operates day and night as needed (cars just turn up and beep their horn if the ferry is on the other bank) so is noisy but other than that the car park is flat and has great views out to Corfu.



Polar Steps:

Montenegro – 19 October to 4 November 2022

We entered Montenegro with no expectations and very little knowledge of the country other than we’d been told that it was quite beautiful in places. Well, we can definitely confirm this!

Igalo, quick stop for a SIM card.

The border crossing at Karacsovići was smooth and we were duly stamped out of the EU again.  We were directed to the insurance office where we paid €28 for one month for the van.  

Montenegro is not covered under any of our SIM packages but data is readily available and we paid €15 for a tourist SIM which gives us 500gb of data for 30 days.  The coverage is excellent and we were only without signal for one night but considering we were over 6,000ft up in the mountains, that’s not surprising. The UK could learn a lesson or two here!

Much of Montenegro can be seen via the Panoramic Road network:

Download Guide

We drove a lot of Road 1, bits of 2 and 3, and the complete circuit of 4. We have had no issues with getting places in the van including winding mountain roads where opinions on whether motorhomes were capable of being driven along them, were split. The main problem with driving is the locals who are “adventurous” with their manoeuvres to say the least!

Kotor Bay

The northern coast area is very much like typical European resorts with lots of hotels, beach bars and long esplanades. The small town of Kotor is on the cruise ship route and we can imagine that the tiny streets of the Old Town would be a tad busy when a ship was in port. We picked the right day to visit as when we woke up the following morning there were three ships anchored in the bay!

The narrow streets of Kotor old town

To see the real beauty of Montenegro head away from the coast and up into the Durmitor National Park and Tara Canyon areas. The scenery is simply stunning but there is a lot of construction of hotels and holiday villages going on – the tourist trade is really opening up. Much of it, at least on the surface, appears to be in keeping with the surroundings but only time will tell if there’s too much development.

Stunning park ups.
Great roads with hairpins in tunnels.
Another beautiful overnight park up in Durmitor
The Black Lake
Tara Gorge
So many Gorges
Yes you can fly a drone through there

We finished our time in Montenegro at the largest vineyard in Europe, the Sipcanik Wine Cellar where we booked a tour with wine tasting. Nothing unusual in that we hear you say but what makes it different is that the cellar is in the hangars built into the hillside on an old Yugoslav airbase.

Sipcanik Wine Cellar
Sipcanik Wine Cellar

We absolutely loved our time in Montenegro and if you’re looking for somewhere a little different, still developing but not completely untouched then we’d highly recommend a visit. If we could, we would have just parked up out of the way and stayed longer but we knew we had to move on. Albania next which is going to be something very different.

Montenegro we loved you.

Campsites used:

Autocamp Mlinski Potok, Žabljak: €19 p/n including EHU. All grass pitches. Toilet and shower block plus communal kitchen and inside space. An easy walk into town, to the Black Lake and other hikes. Don’t be put off by the reviews saying the site is inaccessible due the steep approach road – it’s not difficult at all.

The site is undergoing renovation at the moment before the winter sets in so wasn’t at its best, however we received the warmest of welcomes from the owner, Jelena, who kept apologising for all the mess.

Camp Eko Oaza, Tear of Europe: €14 p/n without EHU (is available). Spotless shower and toilet block (brilliant showers!) and the owner’s washing machine is available on request for €2.50 a wash. The site is all grass and situated on the hillside above the Tara River. You can walk down to a small beach area by the river – it’s about 500m each way and the path is steep in places.

Again, a bit of building work going on but the family were friendly and welcoming and spoke good English. As we left the mother gave us some cake for the trip.

Campsite Medjurecje Rajo Radovic, Medjurecje: €15 p/n without EHU. Showers and toilets available and we were offered electric but didn’t see any plug in points. Grass pitches on a small farm.

We didn’t originally plan to stay in but when we couldn’t get onto the site we were originally heading for and after a hairy drive along a very single track road we came here and had a wonderful couple of days. Very hospitable owners and we were invited over for rakija and coffee once we had parked – a few shots later and we headed back to the van, both with a headache! We politely declined the rakija the following day but were still given coffee, biscuits and half a large freshly baked loaf of bread. The owners spoke no English, just the odd word of German but we managed to all make ourselves understood. From the site we walked down to the Mrtvica River and followed the footpath to Kapija Želja, a beautiful little place alongside the river.

Other overnight parking:

Bex d.o.o. Campground, Kotor: €20 p/n. This is a former campground which is now nothing more than a car park and you are paying for the location – it’s a 400m walk to Kotor Old Town and you parked beachside.

Ostrog Monastery: Free. We parked in the large gravel car park just below the entrance monastery for two nights. It was very quiet, the toilets were open and there was a water tap we could use to top up the tank. Probably not possible in the summer. We were joined for one night by a Swiss/American couple and spent a couple of hours talking travel and drinking schnapps with an amazing view.

Mratinje, Lake Piva: Free. We parked on the flattened ruins of something (maybe an old power plant or harbour area for moving stuff along the lake?) at the northern end of Lake Piva. No facilities but surrounded by mountains and overlooking the blue/green waters of the lake.

Durmitor National Park: We paid the €3 each park entry fee the following morning but were not asked for a camping fee which we believe is another $3. Parked just off Road 1 on a gravelled area from where a few hikes were available. Just about flat enough to sleep! There was a group of wild horses nearby who came down to a small pond to drink and splash around.

Kapayna Army Base, Korita: Free. A ruined army base just off Road 4 giving views of Korita and the Albanian Alps. We were that close to the border our phones switched between Albanian and Montenegrin providers.

Sipcanik Wine Cellar, near Tuzi: having paid for the wine tour and tasting, they kindly allowed us to stay near the gatehouse. They are toying with offering accommodation in the future and we did ask if they wanted to add them to any motorhome parking apps but again, they are just looking into it at the moment.



Polar Steps:

Bosnia Herzegovina – 7 to 17 October 2022

Following our visit last year we were really looking forward to returning to Bosnia and spending more time visiting the countryside, away from the major cities of Sarajevo and Mostar.

Camp Buk, Una National Park

We crossed from Croatia near Granični without any problem and our first stop was to buy van insurance. It’s a pain that UK insurance companies are inconsistent with their country coverage so this year we only had third party local insurance. The insurance building is on the right just after the border crossing and we paid KM79 (approx £35) for a month. We had a data SIM left from our last visit but also bought two more 10GB cards at a cost of KM10 (about £4.50) each.

The weather was glorious for the whole time we were in Bosnia and the autumn colours were stunning.

Una National Park runs close to the Croatian border and along the River Una there are fortresses and waterfalls.

Who needs a 4×4 if you have good ground clearance and rear wheel drive.

From there we headed towards Sarajevo to take the track out to Lukomir, the most remote village in the country. It’s a long 16km gravel road to get to the village but it’s a beautiful drive and the views over the Rakitnica Canyon at the end are breathtaking. The village itself is a small collection of ramshackle buildings, some of which are being refurbished to accommodate the growing tourist trade.

We took an interesting route back which in some places was no more than a quad bike track – thankfully the crockery survived in tact!

The route we took from Lukomir. Not much of a track but suffice.

By accident we also found the ski jump centre from the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics.

We spent three nights back at Autocamp Blagaj near Mostar, one of the friendliest and most hospitable sites we have ever visited. It was great to actually use the site this time (it rained incessantly last year) so had coffee by the river watching the kingfishers and eat in the very reasonably priced restaurant. Allen and his family are incredibly generous with homemade cake, fresh fruit and drinks.

After a few days of being spoiled, we moved towards the Montenegro border and the Dinaric Alps. Another adventurous drive along a gravel road, brought us to the base of Mt Maglić, the highest peak in Bosnia Herzegovina at 2,388m (we camped at about 1,700m) and where we spent a couple of nights in the car park.

Not a bad park up for a couple of nights.

It was great to also be able to do our first decent hike of the trip to Lake Trnovačko, a stunning heart shaped lake which is actually in Montenegro – passports were needed!

After another straightforward border crossing we spent a couple of days in Croatia to have a bit of a sort out before continuing south and into new countries.

One of the joys of travel is embracing local cultures and we hate to impose our standards on foreign countries but there were two things that drove us mad in Bosnia:

Litter – rubbish and fly tipping everywhere but lots of bins too.

Smoking – we were chatting to a young couple and she said that Bosnians consider smoking is just a part of life and everyone smokes, everywhere. As we were filling with petrol and LPG a couple of days ago, a woman walked right past the van with a lit cigarette 若. I guess we’ve just got used to no smoking in the UK.

Mt Maglić

These aside, we love the country and tomorrow, after a couple of nights back in Croatia, we move on to Montenegro.

Campsites used:

Camp Buk, Una National Park: €18 p/n including EHU. Grass pitches, some riverside, toilet and shower block (a little “rustic”). Restaurant open during high season.

Autocamp Blagaj, Blagaj: Prices vary – we paid €12.50, possibly a special rate as returning visitors! Gravel/grass pitches with EHU. Plenty of water points, two toilet/shower blocks and washing machine. Bar and restaurant on site.

Camping Kate, Mlini, Croatia: kn139 p/n including EHU. Shower and toilet blocks, multiple water points, washing machines. Pitches are numbered but not marked and parking is a little haphazard!

Other overnight stops:

Grabovača Cave Park: free overnight parking in the visitor centre car park having paid the park/cave tour fee. Toilets and fresh water available.

Visoko: car park on the edge of the town. No facilities and lots of rubbish but quiet enough for a night.

Lukomir: free parking behind the “On Top of the World” (“Na krovu svijeta”) restaurant having had a meal there. Grass/mud parking after 16km of gravel road to get to the village.

Lake Bileća: overnight parking in a closed roadside bar overlooking the lake. Quiet and fine for one night.

Prijevor: free camping in the car park at the base of Mt Maglic. Uneven area at the end of a long gravel road. No facilities.

Croatia – 23 September to 6 October 2022

The journey from the UK to Croatia was uneventful taking us through France, Switzerland, Italy and Slovenia. The most exciting part was spending a night at the top of the Stelvio Pass with stunning views down the pass into northern Italy.

At the top of the Stelvio Pass

Our original plan was to spend a couple of days just over the Croatian border, south of Trieste before moving straight on to Bosnia but having seen that the CRO Race (a pro-cycling event formerly known as The Tour of Croatia) would be in the region in a few days, we decided to hang around and explore a little more.

The Slovenia/Croatia border crossing was quick and easy (no questions, no searches) and we got the necessary stamp showing we’d exited the Schengen zone – oh, the continued joy of Brexit!


We had stayed close to Savidrija previously, albeit a different campsite, and didn’t really do much although we swam and the paddle board did come out briefly before the wind got up.


When we visited Croatia last year we bypassed Rovinj, so this time we made the effort to find a nearby campsite and spent a day wandering around the old town. You can really see the Italian influence here and could quite easily be exploring the backstreets of Venice.

St Euphemia Church Rovinj

We left Rovinj and moved inland. Istria is a region of vineyards, olive groves and hilltop villages reached by steep winding roads. Our first stop was Grožnjan, also known as the “Town of Artists” as a number of the old buildings have been turned into studios and galleries.


From Grožnjan we moved to Hum, which by the 2011 census was the smallest city in the world! The “city” is really just two main streets surrounded by walls built on top of a hill and the first mention of it in any documents was in 1102.

Of course we had to buy a bottle of local Gin

The few shops very much cater for tourists selling local products including olive oil, wine, brandy and gin, a bottle of which may just have found its way into the van – we do like to do our bit for the local economy!

Possert Fort was a little hidden gem and very much off the regular tourist trail. We were able to park right by the ruins and with no distractions (we saw no-one else all day) we were able to catch up on admin in beautiful surroundings.

Possert Fort

Our last stop in Istria was just outside the old town Labin which was hosting the finish to a stage of the CRO Race. We walked from the campsite to find ourselves a good spot from which to watch the cyclists as they completed a couple of circuits and then crossed the hilltop finish line.

Great position to watch the finish.

We decided to break up the drive to Bosnia Herzegovina with a night on the coast at the harbour town of Senj but we ended up staying 3 nights for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Gregg and Dawn who we had been talking to via Instagram (@gregg.butler.121) and who had visited the countries we are heading for, mentioned they were on their way to Senj so we decided to wait for them and ended up having a great couple of days relaxing and talking all things travel related. Whilst parked up, Bob had noticed a chip and small crack in the windscreen so after a couple of calls to our insurance company, arrangements were in place for the Croatian equivalent of Autoglass to come to us to replace the glass.

Great couple of days with these folk.
Great service from Autoglass.

As often happens when we meet other travellers, plans change so we stopped again on our way to Bosnia – this time at the recommendation of Gregg and Dawn. Grabovača Cave Park is near the town of Perušić and is a small area of protected limestone landscape. We don’t know if it’s a year round arrangement but when paying for our park entrance we were advised that we’d be welcome to stay two or three nights in the car park with water and electric available if we wanted! With a cave to visit, some walks in the park and a total cost of less than £13, it would be rude not to!

Well worth visiting the cave on an escorted tour.
The viewpoint, er view, 😉

If you can drag yourself away from the stunning coastline, there is plenty to see inland and these sites are often quieter.  But now we really are moving on to Bosnia. 

Campsites used:

Autocamp Tramontana, Savudrija: €20 p/n. Small campsite on the edge of the sea. Lots of seasonal pitches but we parked on the lower grass tier giving easy access to the sea. Didn’t use EHU but it’s available. Easy walk into town where there are a couple of bars.

Camping Porton Biondi, Rovinj: kn257.29 (approx £30.50) p/n including EHU. Tiered gravel pitches stretching up the hillside. Large car campsite with all facilities including onsite bakery open in the mornings.

Camping Romantik, Labin: kn165 p/n (approx £20) without EHU. A really well kept little campsite with grass pitches surrounded by fruit trees and vines. Immaculately clean showers and toilets. Washing machine available on request (kn 37.50, £4.40) and site has a small swimming pool. The old town is within walking distance although mostly uphill from the campsite!

Other overnight parking:

Hum car park: kn25 (£3) to visit the village and we were allowed to stay overnight. Large tarmac car park.

Possert Castle: free. Grass area in front of ruined castle. Approach is via a steep, narrow road.

Senj harbour: kn70 (£8) for a day ticket which enables an overnight stay. Large car park with some longer spaces out by the harbour wall where there is a water tap but we’re not sure if it’s always available. Easy walk into town for restaurants and shops.

Grabovača Cave Park: we paid kn55 (£6.50) each for a guided tour of one of the caves and for that they allowed us to park for a couple of nights (could have stayed another night if we’d wanted). The car park had toilets and access to water and electric, although we used neither.

UK visit – 27 July to 19 September 2022

We had a great couple of months in the UK catching up with family and friends taking us from Hertfordshire to Oxfordshire and then down to the West Country to Wiltshire, Devon and Somerset.

Tom teaching June how to Paddle Board

In addition we the van had new tyres at Costco Watford, was MOTd at Intercounty Mercedes Milton Keynes and warranty work done at Southdown Motorhomes in Portsmouth. Throw in medical and dental appointments, it was a pretty busy time!

Catching up with Vicky, Adam and the beautiful little Evie-Rose

With the sudden death of the Queen at the beginning of September we delayed our departure for a few days and like a lot of people, were glued to the TV watching all the events as they happened. We decided we would book our Channel crossing for the day after the funeral so we could watch that day’s services with uninterrupted wifi.

Just a few of the flowers in Green Park following the death of The Queen
The Drove next to Stonehenge

When home we have a couple of go to CLs we use with our favourites being Balmers near Tring and Home Farm, Iver.  Both are basic grass fields with no EHU but have clean water and dump facilities, and work out real value for money at £8 and £13 per night respectively (Home Farm also offers a weekly rate of £85).

Other sites used during this visit:

Friars Court Island CL, Radcot: £12.50 p/n, grass field, no EHU but clean water and dump facilities. Great riverside location and pub nearby.

Newbridge Campsite, near Witney: £6 p/n, grass field, no EHU but clean water and dump facilities. Close to the river and a couple of puts

Stroud Farm, Maidenhead: £6 p/n, grass field, no EHU but clean water and dump facilities. Close to Heathrow so expect aircraft noise!

Kingstones Farm, near Marlborough, Wiltshire: £12 p/n (£15 with EHU). Two hard standing pitches and large grass area. Clean water and dump facilities. Easy bus access to Marlborough and plenty of walking from the site to the Savernake Forest and the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Pitt’s Farm, near Wells, Somerset: £12 p/n. Grass pitches with EHU. Clean water and dump facilities. Wells and Glastonbury easily accessible with a vehicle.

We also overnighted at The Drove to visit Stonehenge and Port Solent car park, close to Southdown Motorhomes where the van was having some work done. Both of these are free and at Port Solent you are asked to call the port office to let them know you’re staying the night.

Scandinavia Tour General Info. May to July 2022

We’ve had quite a few questions from people planning to do a similar trip so we thought we’d put together a post on what worked for us and some things we wish we’d known before we went.  The points might be a bit random but we’re writing them down as we think of them and please note that this is what worked for us – it may not suit others.

Getting there

We took the tunnel from Dover to Calais and drove from there through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and finally into Denmark where we took the ferry from Hirtshals to Kristiansand.  This was roughly 911 miles plus a ferry costing £255.

In hindsight we would have looked more into the ferry from the Netherlands to Norway which we initially dismissed due to cost but we may have saved money and time once we took into account the extra driving through Germany and Denmark.

Ferries and tolls

We had a BroBizz tag which enabled us to use ferries and pay tolls automatically with a discount and we linked our Halifax Clarity credit card to the account so there were no additional charges in the UK. However, if we’d done more research, it would have been beneficial to also have had the AutoPASS tag which would have halved the price of our Lofoten ferry, for which we paid £180. One thing to note is that both tags are delivered to your home address so need to be ordered ahead of travel and there is a cost to them – BroBizz was about £25 for a vehicle over 3.5t.

Coming home, after driving across the Oresund Bridge, we decided to take the ferry from Rodby in Denmark to Puttgarden in Germany. Although the BroBizz box gave us discount on the Oresund Bridge (still paid £108.41) we did notice a combined ticket available through the ferry company for the bridge and the ferry which may have worked out cheaper.

For most ferries you simply arrive at the terminal and drive straight on.  All charging is by number plate recognition and if you don’t have a tag then you are invoiced via mail. 

In total we paid £545.76 for ferry crossings (excluding Eurotunnel) and £248.96 for tolls and small local ferries.

Driving in Norway

Firstly don’t underestimate the size of the country and be prepared to be flexible on planning a route.  The most direct route from Kristiansand in the south to Nordkapp is almost 1,500 miles and actually takes you through Sweden – we drove approximately 5,000 miles in Norway and Sweden, plus a quick dip into Finland over 10 weeks.  Weather is also a factor to take into account as we were still finding snow restrictions in June.  We had wanted to drive Trollstigen but the road was still closed for repairs (there are lots of roadworks once the snow has melted).  

Roads are mostly single carriageway, including the main north-south E6, but we encountered few hold-ups other than for roadworks and were even able to overnight in roadside rest areas as at night traffic is minimal.  Off the main routes, the roads did feel narrow but people seem to drive slower and be patient so we had no issues. 

As a side point, alcohol limits for driving are lower in Scandinavia than in the UK and we were stopped and breathalysed one morning having been pulled over as part of a routine road check.  The police were friendly and we were waved straight on after a negative result. 


One of the best regions we’ve visited for motorhomes. Norway has lots of free parking in beautiful places and easy to find sanitation points for emptying tanks and cassettes and taking on clean water. We only paid once to take on water and that was about £1.70.

We had to look a bit harder in Sweden for service points but found water in petrol stations and chemical toilet disposal places in a lot of motorway rest areas.  Again lots of free parking and often with BBQ pits with wood provided and dry toilets.

Throw the spectacular scenery in with the above and you can see why these countries are popular motorhome destinations. There are LOTS of vans on the road and the numbers were increasing daily as we headed into summer.

We used the app Park4Nights throughout the trip.


Definitely most expensive in Norway and the price fluctuated regularly.  The most we paid in Norway was £2.31 a litre but we also paid under £2.  


Easily available in Norway, less so in Sweden and not at all in Finland. We only needed the dish adapter for our Gaslow system

Food and drink

Lots of supermarkets and prices on the whole are more expensive than the UK but not massively so.  In Norway and Sweden, most alcohol is sold though government stores – Vinmonopolet in Norway and and Systembolaget in Sweden, although you can buy some beers in the supermarkets. 

Eating out is very expensive so we didn’t do it!


Denmark, Norway and Sweden still retain their own currencies but cash is rarely needed.  Cards are taken pretty much everywhere and in a couple of places we saw signs specifically saying that cash wasn’t accepted.  

We use the Halifax Clarity Card and have Monzo Bank accounts so pay no conversion charges on the UK side of any transaction and whenever offered the choice of paying in GBP or local currency on a card managing ALWAYS take the currency option.


Plenty of opportunities for bird watching and whale/dolphin spotting without doing an organised trip and once north of Trondheim we regularly found reindeer munching the vegetation on the side of the road but the real point of listing wildlife is the bloody mosquitoes! If travelling in late spring and summer, invest in a mosquito head net if you want to be able to sit outside of an evening and consider buying a Thermocell anti-mosquito device as they are cheaper in the UK.

Mosquito head net, not the best look but better than being eaten.

If anyone has any further questions then please ask!

Sweden and home 3rd to 27th July

Suitably refreshed after our week in the AirBnB, we left the spectacular Norwegian scenery and headed into northern Sweden passing through the mining town of Kiruna before meeting up with friends at the coast.

The church at Kiruna

We tend to visit places based on personal recommendations or look for the less touristy places. We had been told about Storforsen where the rapids are one of the most voluminous in Europe and then visited nearby Laver, a deserted mining town which we found on Atlas Obscura, a great source of weird and wonderful places!

Laver, a deserted mining town

Like Norway, Sweden provides great free camping spots often with BBQ pits and firewood provided but be warned of the mosquitoes! We have never seen so many nor been bitten so much despite having visited the Amazon and Africa!

Typical Swedish park up for the night.
Meeting friends is always good..especially when they have a drone. Thanks Forevercopilots

We used two campsites whilst in Sweden mainly because we needed to do laundry with the free WiFi being a bonus!  Överhörnäs Camping is a lakeside campsite just off the E4 close to the west coast.  It’s a mixture of cabins and touring pitches with a small RV car park which has three pitches.  We used the latter and it was SEK240 (just under £20) a night without EHU.  The site has a free washing machine but no drier, and is very clean and well organised by friendly, helpful staff.

Much of the region is long straight roads through forests and lakes but the High Coast area is well worth a visit and we stopped in Skuleskogen National Park for a couple of nights so we could get out for a decent hike.

Not a bad view from the top

Our route was taking us southwards along the coast with our original plan to spend a couple of nights in Stockholm. But, as we often do, we changed our mind and decided we’d save Stockholm for a future long weekend, taking a more inland route towards the south coast, via more forests and lakes.

Park up near Galtstroms Kyrka
Disused Smelting works at Galtstroms Kyrka

We spent two nights on the island of Öland, a fascinating place to visit and just across the bridge at Kalmar. We managed to find a reasonably priced campsite, Ventlinge Ställplats, in the south of the island within the UNESCO World Heritage area which is full of hiking and cycling trails, Iron Age forts and ancient farms. The campsite is a large grass field which accommodates about 20 vans plus a small tent area. We paid SEK160 (around £13) a night without EHU and there is a washing machine for SEK40 a wash, but no drier. The owner was very helpful and provided lots of tourist information on the local area.

Lots of windmills on Öland
One of the reconstructed Iron Age Forts.

After a couple of nights on the very busy south coast, including a visit to the most southerly point at Smygehamn and an obligatory visit to Ikea in Malmo, we crossed via the Oresund Bridge into Denmark to truly start our journey home although we still had over 1,000km to go!

We spent one night near Gedser, at the southernmost point of Denmark (spot the theme here!) where we encountered a bit of a storm. For about half an hour the van was being shaken by the wind but the heavy rain did go some way to washing off a lot of the dust and dirt we’d acquired “off-roading” in Sweden.

Bit of a storm blowing.
Most southern point in Denmark.

In another route change we decided to take the 45 minute ferry from Rodby in Denmark to Puttgarden in Germany, rather than drive through Denmark and save a few miles on the van. The two nights in Germany were uneventful and the driving pretty boring as it was all motorway. Hamburg was a nightmare to drive round and through, as it was on the way up, so we shall do our best to avoid there in the future!

Nice little campsite at Ben Trovato

We had factored in a couple of nights in the Netherlands to break the drive but free parking was difficult to find along the coast so we ended up on a mini-campsite on a farm near Veere which was definitely more our thing than the big all-singing all-dancing sites aimed at families (and significantly cheaper). Ben Trovato camping was €27.50 per night including EHU and tourist tax and parking is on a grass field. It was a bit tight getting in and we were squeezed between two long term residents of the site but it didn’t feel overcrowded, unlike some of the Southern European sites. We were able to walk from the site into the town and it really was worth the visit.

Veere. Beautiful town.

Having a late crossing through the tunnel meant that we could get all the washing done at a couple of Revolution laundry places, using the big machines to get the winter quilt washed. It proved quite expensive in the end but worth not having the hassle when we got home. We cheekily turned up at Eurotunnel 4.5 hours early and managed to get a train almost 2 hours earlier than our booking which meant we at least got to drive the short distance to Canterbury P & R car park in the daylight.

Moving south again – 18 June to 2 July

Having been as far north and as Far East as we could go in Norway the only direction we could go in now was south and begin our long journey home.

Camping Uruniemi

From Grense Jakobselv we headed into Finland as we had a few days to spare before meeting friends in Norway for a week’s holiday (yes, we still need a holiday from time to time!). With the need to do laundry in mind we picked Camping Uruniemi on Lake Inari and selected a lakeside pitch, €22 p/n without EHU. The contrast with Norway could not have been more apparent as we drove long straight roads surrounded by lakes and forests – beautiful in its own way but not the mountains we’d left behind. And with all the water comes the mosquitoes!

A humpback whale

After just two nights at the lake we decided to move on back towards Norway and with our first choice of park-up not the best, we continued on to the coast and back to one of our favourite places near Talvik. It was here that we saw orcas a couple of weeks ago and this time we were treated to a humpback whale, caught completely by chance on camera as we tried to photograph the dolphins playing in the fjord!

Bob doesn’t always drive.

We continued south along the coast finding yet more stunning places to stay. We always knew Norway would be beautiful but it has surpassed all our expectations.

The AirBnB looked out over the fjord.

Before we moved into the van we always had a week away with friends and wanted to continue this. COVID ruined our plans for a couple of years but we finally managed to arrange it so Sarah and Colin could meet us in northern Norway. Our last trip together had been to this area but in February so very different conditions. We had booked a house via Airbnb on a fjord for a week of relaxation and exploration of the Lyngen area – well worth a visit and away from the main tourist route.

We did one walk to the Blue Lake a few kilometres from the house. It wasn’t a long walk but not the easiest as most of it was over a boulder field. The lake at the end certainly lived up to its name.

The Blue Lake
A beautiful little Arctic Fox

This was a great week spent with our closest friends and we can highly recommend the place we stayed in. We also picked one of the hottest weeks to be there but swimming in the fjord was a great way to cool off and in the evenings we sat on the deck with a glass of wine/beer watching the dolphins and again, the midnight sun.

After a week there it was back on the road and next stop, Sweden.

Northern Norway – 1 to 17 June 2022

We left the campsite near Trondheim and hit the E6 north towards the Arctic Circle. We’d bought forward all our plans by a couple of days and changed our mind on using the coastal road, as a bridge further north on the E6 had been damaged essentially cutting off the north unless you took a 600km+ diversion via Sweden and Finland. We’d been told it would be a quick fix given the importance of the road (it runs all the way through the country from the Swedish border in the south to the Russian border in the far north east) but we had still had lots to do and see before meeting friends at the end of the month so didn’t want to risk any delay.

Most of this part of the trip was staying on free spots found on Park4night but we did use a couple of paid parking areas on the Lofotens (more on those later!). As we mentioned before motorhoming here is so easy with plenty of places to stop overnight and accessible, free service points.

The Arctic Circle

We slowly moved from the rivers and mountains of central Norway to the flat snow covered plateau at the Arctic Circle, encountering our first roadside reindeer of the trip!

The Arctic Circle visitors centre is mostly a souvenir shop and cafe but there are a couple of war memorials on the edge of the car park. You can stay there overnight and we were close enough to be able to use the Wi-Fi so took the opportunity to update apps and back up the phones 狼.


Our next stop was Bodo to take the ferry to the Lofotens. On the way we visited the Saltstraumen, one of the world’s strongest tidal-current maelstroms. The area has huge tidal variations and four times a day large amounts of water are pushed through a narrow gap to produce the eddy. This was not something to go out of your way too see but we were in the area and had timed it right for a high tide so thought why not.

A free riverside park up for the night near Namsen

We took the 3 hour 15 min ferry from Bodo to Moskenes. We were slightly delayed in leaving due to weather but as there had been a gale warning earlier in the day, we were thankful for a calmer crossing. If you have a ferry pass you can get the crossing for almost half price (full price was approx £175) but the toll/ferry tag we had didn’t cover this ferry and you can’t get the pass once in country as it’s sent to your home address.

Gammelgarden Bakery

The Lofoten Islands are quite simply stunning! Sharp, high peaks against fjords and the sea, hidden beaches and an abundance of the typical Norwegian fishing villages as seen in guidebooks.

Beautiful Å

On arrival we drove the short distance to the village of A, the starting point of the E10 which runs the length of the islands back to the mainland just north of Narvik. The Gammelgarden Bakery is well worth a visit for its cinnamon buns which are baked in a vintage oven.

We followed the E10 through the two islands of Moskenesoya and Flakstadoya, spending two nights near Fredang, from where we hiked up the headland to see the beach at Ryten. The “campsite” is nothing more than a grass field but has toilets and a shower, is close to the beach and the hiking path. The cost was NOK100 per night (about £8) which was the same price for day parking.

If a hike has a chain you know it will be a good one.
The view from Ryten was well worth the hike.

We took a detour off the E10 to the village of Laukvik where we stayed in the village aire. It’s a large quayside concrete car park but EHU is available and it has a building with showers, toilets and free, yes free, laundry facilities. It was NOK200 per night or NOK250 with EHU and one of the locals comes round to collect the money (cash or card). There’s a great little cafe in the village and a coffee roasting business, although the latter was closed when we visited and it was here that we got our first glimpse of the midnight sun. The lack of darkness is playing a little havoc with our internal clocks and we find ourselves going to bed later than usual but the blinds do a pretty good job at keeping the van dark.

Kafe Naust in Laukvik

Our last night on the Lofotens was in a remote park up near Fauskevag, south of Harstad, where we really got to see the midnight sun.

From here it was back on to the E6 on our way to Nordkapp. We found another amazing park up near Talvik where June got to dip in the sea, and yes we are still above the Arctic Circle.

A great park up near Talvik
June swimming at Talvik
Orcas at Talvik

The next stop was the most northerly point of Norway that you can drive to at Nordkapp. The E69 is a long windy road that takes from Olderfjord to Nordkapp, via coastal cliffs, open plateaus, deep tunnels (the Nordkapptunnel reaches a depth of 212m below sea level) and sees a never ending flow of motorhomes, motorcycles and a surprising number of people on good old fashioned pushbikes!


At the end of the road is the visitor centre where parking is free but you are supposed to pay NOK310 (£25) each to enter, even just to go to the cafe and souvenir shop. We had the misfortune to arrive at the same time as coach loads of visitors from a cruise ship that we had passed moored in the nearby town of Honningsvag. On the upside this meant we could sneak into the centre with the masses unnoticed, grab our sticker and use the Wi-Fi unnoticed! The coaches just kept coming with the last one leaving around midnight but the place was empty in the morning meaning we could take our photos uninterrupted.

Just a few Motorhomes at Nordkapp

We took a slight detour on the way back via Hammerfest just because June liked the name! We found it difficult to park in the centre due to roadworks and the fact that the cruise ship was now here, so no visit to the Isbjornklubben, aka the Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society where you can become a lifetime member for a small fee. For an additional fee you can enjoy the dubious experience of being “knighted” with the penis bone of a walrus! Apparently it’s all very tongue in cheek. We did manage to park briefly by the Struve Geodetic Arc, one of a series of points stretching from here to the Black Sea in Hungary built as part of an experiment in the early 19th century to measure the shape and size of the Earth and determine the flattening of the planet at the poles.

Very well behaved Reindeer at Hammerfest waiting for the bus

These few days were mostly driving and from Hammerfest we headed across the north eastern region of Norway, as far as we could go to the Russian border. We spent a couple of nights at Grense Jakobselv on the Barents Sea, well worth the 50km of bumping down a road which in some places was tarmac but other places gravel and potholes. This was just another site we found on Park4night and there were a few other vans there, plus on both nights two different cyclists with tents. The site has toilets, a hut and fire pit with a ready supply of chopped wood and we spent the evenings chatting and drinking round the fire. We didn’t always understand each other – we were a mix of German, French and us Brits, but we understood enough. The Norwegian army patrol the area regularly but despite the guns, were very friendly and chatty. Sadly we didn’t get to see whales which are often seen in the area but we had seen some dolphins on our way here.

Park up at Grense Jakobselv
Coming together of nations. Two Brits, a Frenchman who had cycled over 6000 kms, 6 Germans and a dog
There were free logs for the fire provided in the shelter.
The Church at Grense Jakobselv

That’s the end of this part of the trip as we are now in Finland for a few days. We are making our way back to Norway to meet friends for a week’s holiday in a house on a fjord near Tromso and from there we start making our way back to the UK via a few weeks in Sweden.

West Norway, Lysefjord to Trondheim – 15 May to 1 June 2022

After leaving southern Norway, we headed north and west into the western fjords surrounding Bergen. We followed Route 13 for most of the way with a couple of side trips.

This has to be one of the most picturesque roads we have ever driven (well until we got to routes 7 and 55…!) taken us alongside fjords, over fjords on ferries, through tunnels under and roads over mountains. To top the physical scenery, the area around Sorfjorden is known for apple production and the trees were in full spring bloom.

Always good to be first on the grid.

May 17th is a national holiday celebrating Constitution Day with most houses flying the Norwegian and we passed through several towns/villages having parades with people in national dress. We were able to stop for one parade and it was great to see what seemed like the whole village taking part.

Celebrating Constitution Day

One of the diversions we took off 13 was to the Folgefonna glacier. After a walk through the forest and a scramble over rocks (using ropes in places) we made it to the viewpoint at the base of the glacier. For the more adventurous it is possible to hire a guide and continue to the glacier but getting to the viewpoint was enough for us!

When it got tough there were ropes and chains to help you to the viewing point for the Folgefonna glacier.
The Folgefonna glacier.

Waterfalls are everywhere and not just little pretty streams – with spring arriving the snow is melting and the force of the water in the falls and rivers is phenomenal.


Another road worth a mention is the 7 which we followed on to the Hardangervidda Plateau, Europe’s largest mountain plateau and snow covered when we were there, where we visited Voringsfossen and stayed at the Sysenvatn Dam.

The sunsets are stunning. This was at the park up by the Sysenvatn Dam

We paid a brief visit to Bergen, Norway’s second largest city, taking the tram from our glamorous car park next to an ice hockey rink – NOK300 for 24 hours parking but services and EHU available. The tram was NOK40 per person each way direct into the centre. The city centre was fairly quiet despite several cruise ships being in port but after a walk around the old town and harbour we headed out to the next equally glamorous overnight spot in an IKEA car park!

Bergenhus Fortress, Bergen
Park up next to the hockey stadium Bergen
Well we had to really.

We continued north on the 13 and took another detour to the town of Fjaerland (or Mundal) which is known as Norway’s book town. We parked up on the old fjord side quay surrounded by places selling books; old cow sheds, a telephone box, a former toll booth and some conventional shops! Fjaerland is a small one street town but we found a quirky coffee shop (of course!),there are walks from the town, an outdoor activities centre and you can even rent the town sauna which floats on the fjord.

Fjaerland (or Mundal) which is known as Norway’s book town.
Cafe in Fjaerland (or Mundal)
Sauna on the end of a pontoon in Fjaerland

Our next overnight stay was just outside Lom which we reached after driving another stunning road, the 55. On our way to Lom we had lunch at the highest point, 4,700ft above sea level, surrounded by banks of snow which were higher than the van in places!

The 55 Road.

Lom has a beautiful stave church, built from wood and originally dating back to 1200.

Lom has a beautiful stave church
Lom has a beautiful stave church

We were then hoping to visit Geirangerfjord and drive along the hairpin bends of Trollstigen but the roads hadn’t yet reopened after the winter so we headed towards the coast to see a couple of places in the hope that the situation would change.

Melkevoll Campsite

We headed to the inner Nordfjord and Melkevoll Campsite in Jostedalsbreen National Park at the foot of the Briksdalsbreen Glacier. After a couple of rainy days we took the footpath up to the glacier which is a walking geology lesson, so right up our street! We were also lucky to pick one of the bright, sunny days to walk and spent a while sitting by the lake at the base of the glacier.

The waterfall behind Melkevoll Campsite.
Briksdalsbreen Glacier

Melkevoll Campsite is a mixture of open pitches and lodges surrounded by mountains and waterfalls. The cost was NOK280 p/n with no EHU and laundry an additional NOK20 per wash/dry. Machines are coin operated and reception will give you the change. The site also has a sauna and a small plunge pool in the river, if you’re brave enough!

Norway certainly has some amazing waterfalls

A chance conversation in a car park a few days ago, took us to the island of Maloy to see Norway’s “most photographed stone”! Definitely an interesting piece of geology but we have to confess to being slightly underwhelmed…….

The rock was slightly smaller than we expect

That same conversation also led us to the island of Runde, known as a good bird watching location. We hiked up to the island’s north shore and across the plateau to find the puffins which nest on the cliff side at this time of year. We sat for a while watching the puffins coming and going but also spottted gannets, razorbills, skuas and white tailed eagles.

Puffins, once we had found the correct cliff.
White tailed eagle.

We stopped briefly in Alesund for a wander around the town. It was a Sunday so most places were closed but we did find a fish and chip kiosk open and the familiar smell drew us in!


One of the most well known roads in Norway is the Atlantic Highway, a stretch of road linking several small islands north of Alesund. We did miss part of it but drove the 8km section from Vevang which you see in the photographs. There are several pull offs along the road big enough for motorhomes where you can stop to take photographs and one of them has an information centre, a cafe, toilets and a small walk way around one side of the island.

Our final stop in this region was another campsite just south of Trondheim as again it was raining. We stayed a couple of nights at Hogkjolen Fjellcamp (NOK155 p/n no EHU) which has a lot of fixed pitches and some areas for tourers. First impressions were of a site that needed some tidying up but they were deceptive! We camped down by the trees and the services were clean and tidy. Great hosts too, which is how we’ve found all the campsites so far.

From here we head a north, a long way north!

Southern Norway, Kristiansand to Lysefjord – 8 to 15 May 2022

After a mad rush through five countries we made it to Norway, the main destination for this trip. We took the ferry from Hirtshals in northern Denmark to Kristiansand on a bright day and parked up for the night just to the west of the city.

Coming into Kristiansand

Day one’s task was to find a replacement tyre as Bob had noticed a noise coming from one of the front tyres as we were speeding through Germany. After trying several places we were pointed in the direction of a tyre specialist near Stavanger where we ended up having to buy two to keep a pair on the front. Not cheap but we decided to bite the bullet and get them done so the issue of not having a spare wouldn’t be a constant niggle at the back of our minds.

One of the many tunnels in Norway

The dash from Kristiansand to Stavanger meant we didn’t see much of the south coast but as we’re discovering there is SO much to see in Norway, if we’d spent more time here then we would have had to cut back somewhere else.

Motorhome facilities are fantastic here in Norway. These are in a lot of lay-bys.

Before leaving the UK we had ordered a BroBizz tag which would allow tolls and ferry costs to be charged direct to our UK credit card (have Halifax Clarity Card so no conversion fees). In hindsight we should perhaps have also ordered a Norway ferry pass/tag which would have cut the cost of the ferries in the north of the country and to the Lofoten Islands. Unfortunately this couldn’t be done on the road as the tag is delivered to your home address. Without a tag, tolls and ferry charges are invoiced to your home address – everything is done via ANPR.

One of the many free park overs we have used.

As a general comment, motorhoming in Norway is a breeze! There are lots of free parking spaces in amazing locations (where you can’t park is clearly marked) and there are roadside standalone service points everywhere – we are using Park4Night as our source for both. Park ups have been clean and no-one seems to abuse the facilities or overstay. All probably why we are seeing hundreds of vans on the road!

The view from Randerburg “Mountain”

After a night on top of Randerburg “Mountain” (we were about 100ft above sea level!), we left Stavanger via the 14.4km long Ryfylketunnelen under the sea/fjord to spend a couple of free nights in a car park on the edge of Lysefjord near Oanes. The weather is very unpredictable and when the weather forecast has been for a few days of rain we have headed for campsites to catch up on laundry and use their wifi.

A bit too damp to use outside seating at the Oanes aire.

Since the UK phone companies are all reverting to capping EU roaming allowances or charging for usage we are trying to be mindful of our data usage as we typically use huge amounts of data. We have looked into getting a local SIM but they have proved to be expensive and topping up would be difficult outside Norway (thinking ahead to Finland and Sweden). So we’re hoping that we can eke out our UK allowances until friends come out at the end of June and bring us a few new SIM cards!

Wathne Camping

Wathne Camping is a mix of lodges and camping with a couple of pitches on a small beach next to a fjord but after parking there for the afternoon watching the water rise, we retreated to a grass pitch in the centre of the site. As luck would have it, a raised waterside pitch with a deck became available the following morning so we snuck back down there again! The cost here was NOK300 (approx £25) per night including EHU with laundry facilities at NOK35 (£3) per wash/dry and operated on an honesty system – you tell reception how many times you used each machine.

June on the edge of Pulpit Walk

Having caught up with ourselves, and with the rain stopping briefly, we managed one of the walks on the list of must things to do in Norway – the hike up to Preikestolen or Pulpit Walk. This also coincided with our wedding anniversary and we couldn’t have had a better day!

Mad cross country dashes – 22 April to 4 May 2022

After leaving Scotland the next two weeks were filled with seeing friends and van work.

Our first stop was a weekend with the Hymer Owners Club at a campsite near Clitheroe, Lancashire. We’ve been to a couple of these previously and they generally involve sitting around with like minded folk over a glass or two of beer/wine or anything else that takes your fancy, talking all things motorhome and travel related. On this weekend we were also able to meet a couple we’d been chatting to via social media (hello Tom and Nicky!). Luckily the campsite had indoor space for the use of people in tents but as the evenings were cold and there were few tents out, a few of us gathered there out of the wind!

The Hymer Owners Group group meeting. A really great Facebook group. Very supportive. Thanks for the photo Jacky Bindeman 😁

The town of Clitheroe is about a mile away and easily walkable.  There were also walks along the river but we used this weekend to sort the van out and catch up with admin after a couple of months on the road.

From there it was only a short drive to Liverpool to catch up with Helen, Myles and the family who kindly all moved their cars off the front garden to allow us off-street parking. It was good to finally be able to put faces to all the names after so many years of hearing all about the children. Looking forward to a weekend together when they finally get their van!

Formby Beach

Next was a stop for extra locks to be fitted to the cab doors. Some might question the extra security we have on the van but our opinion is that we want a thief to walk on and look for an easier target. After doing some research we used Midlands Van Security, a mobile lock service who came out to Criss Farm campsite near Burton-on-Trent to do the work. Arron did a good, clean job and we’d definitely recommend him.

Cross Farm Campsite, Burton-on-Trent

The campsite had a large camping field next to a CL and we were on one of the hard standing pitches in the large field.  

After a brief overnight stop at Oaklands Farm CL near Peterborough (a really well kept campsite but we seem to use it only when passing through or the van is in for work at a nearby Mercedes garage) we made it to Norwich to see youngest daughter Amy for dinner. We stayed at the Bell Pub in Marlingford again as they allow overnight stays and the car park is fairly quiet.

Elveden Forest

Our next night was also another pub stop, this time the Miller and Carter steakhouse close to home for a boozy night out with friends (nothing new when out with the Woods and the Smyths!).   It was home to collect all the stuff we’d ordered knowing we’d be passing through and drop off more unwanted/unused items we had with us – even after a year on the road we’re still fine tuning what we carry.

When close to home we tend to use the C&MC site, Wyatts Covert in Denham.  It’s handy for popping to the house but with the recent increase in prices in clubsites we will be limiting our nights there.  It’s a typical club site with good facilities but at over £33 a night for this stay, it’s becoming expensive.

Last proper stop on this leg was at Cornish Farm Campsite after a dash down the M4 and M5 motorways and courtesy of VanBitz for the biggest upgrade we’ll do to the van. After much discussion we decided to replace our AGM leisure batteries with lithium ones sooner rather than later which will allow us to be completely off grid power wise. It wasn’t a cheap option but with different and often unstable voltages in the Americas, we no longer have to worry about hooking up and potentially destroying the van’s electrics! We’ve used VanBitz several times previously and continue to recommend their great service.

2 x 150 Ah Lithium Batteries should now see us OK

For the technically minded we now have 2 x 150Ah of lithium batteries (previously 3 x 95Ah AGMs), 240W of solar and a Battery Master allowing charging from the alternator once the engine battery is full. 

With a Eurotunnel crossing booked for early the next morning we hightailed it back up the motorways and the round the M25 and Down the M20 for an over stop at a Canterbury Park and Ride, about 25 mins from the tunnel entrance and with motorhome emptying/filling services.

Campsites used:

Edisford Bridge Farm, Clitheroe: £23 p/n (special meet rate). Hard standing pitches with EHU. Mixed campsite with full facilities.

Cross Farm Campsite, Burton-on-Trent: £15 p/n on main campsite. Large sloping field with a couple of hard standing pitches. Toilet, shower and laundry building.

Oaklands Farm CL, near Peterborough: £17 p/n. Immaculate pitches on a tiered site.

The Bell, Marlingford: Free (£10 if not eating). Pub car park, no facilities

Miller & Carter, Rickmansworth: Free if eating in restaurant. Quiet car park and can back on to a stream.

Wyatts Covert, Denham: £33.65 p/n. Standard C&MC site with all facilities.

Cornish Farm, Taunton: Free as a customer of VanBitz. Small site with hard standing pitches with EHU. Toilet, shower and laundry block.

Canterbury, Old Dover Road P & R: £8 p/n. Large carpark with area sectioned off for motorhomes. Clean water and dumping facilities but no EHU. Overnight cost includes bus fare to Canterbury centre for up to 7 people.

Fort William to Edinburgh

Steall Waterfall

From Skye it was back to the mainland and first stop Fort William where we did our bit for the local economy with a couple of trips to outdoor shops! We had thought about going up Ben Nevis but with the forecast saying that winter equipment, ie crampons and ice axes, should be carried we decided against that and instead walked from the campsite along Glen Nevis.

This was another stunning walk to the Steall Waterfall and included on the return, a rather nervous crossing of the river via a cable bridge! Anything to not go back up the valley side again 

We’re being spoilt for choice on places to visit and after a couple of nights on a campsite, it was back to wild camping, well as wild as you can get in a fully kitted out motorhome!

Today’s drive was along Glencoe and Glen Etive, both of which featured heavily in the film Skyfall although the house used as James Bond’s childhood home was actually purpose built in Surrey! After several miles along a single track road you come to the end next to the northern edge of Loch Etive where there’s a small spot where you can park overnight.

View from the park up at the end of Loch Etive

Forestry and Land Scotland has reopened its scheme for self-contained motorhomes and camper vans allowing overnight parking as part of its Stay the Night initiative. Vans are allowed to stay one night in certain locations – some charge, others not (we used Littlemill near Inverness) Hopefully the scheme won’t be abused and more places will open up.


And then came the Cairngorms, a simply stunning area to visit for walking and just submersing yourself in nature. We had a couple of snowy nights in the ski centre car park where we hit the cafe a couple of times and went for a short walk but were defeated by the weather when a snowstorm blew through. We had originally planned to take the funicular railway up Cairn Gorm mountain but it’s currently undergoing refurbishment. We made the suggested parking donation (which they say is optional if you use the cafe or buy something in the shop) but it looks like barriers are going across the car park for proper paid parking.

Sunset over the Cairngorms
Park Up at the Ski Centre in the Cairngorms
The Cairngorms
A cracking walk near Loch Muick

A lot of the southern area of the Cairngorms makes much of its historical royal connections beginning with Queen Victoria. We visited Ballater, Balmoral and Braemar and found some great walks around the River Dee and up into the mountains where there was still plenty of snow on the ground.

Our last two stays in the mountains were at the Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve from where we followed the well marked path to Corrie Ardair, and then in a small car park at Kinloch Rannoch parked right alongside the loch. There are just so many beautiful free sites in Scotland and hopefully campers in every form will respect and preserve them. We made use of the service point in Kingussie – £5 to empty black and grey tanks and top up with fresh water.

Corrie Ardair
Kinloch Rannoch

The time then came for us to start heading south. We stopped overnight at the Kelpies near Falkirk as for some reason we had missed them on our previous trip. The car park was busy (school holidays and bank holiday weekend) when we arrived so we diverted to the Falkirk Wheel where it is also possible to stay overnight for £15 (or £3.50 for day parking). After a while of watching the wheel, a fascinating piece of engineering, the car parks began to clear so we headed back to the Kelpies.

The Kelpies

Our final destination on this trip was Edinburgh for a little sight-seeing and catching up with friends. The campsite is a little out of town but the buses are reliable despite the sheer amount of roadworks currently underway in the city! The city centre was quite busy so we decided to wander up Arthur’s Seat to view it from a distance – we have definitely come to prefer being away from crowds! Lovely though to catch up with old friends over coffee and dinner and meet Felicity and Ben’s gorgeous baby, Milo.

Arthur’s Seat

Sites used:

Glen Nevis Caravan & Camping Park, Fort William: £31 p/n – hard standing pitch with EHU. Large, modern campsite with all expected amenities a short drive out of Fort William close to the Ben Nevis path.

Glen Etive: Free. Small car park next to Loch Etive at the end of a long single track road. No facilities.

Littlemill Forest, near Inverness: Free. Forestry and Land Scotland car park allowing overnight parking for self-contained motorhomes. A couple of short walks from the carpark.

Culloden Moor Caravan and Motorhome Club Campsite: £28.20 p/n – hard standing pitch with EHU. Typical C&MC site with full amenities. Near to historical sites.

Cairngorm Ski Centre car park: Suggested £2 donation for parking but looks like pay barriers are going in. Bumpy uneven car park but spectacular views and walking including the Cairn Gorm mountain. Funicular railway being refurbished at the time of writing (April 2022). Visitor facilities include cafe and 24 hour toilets.

Ballater Caravan Park: £25 p/n – hard standing pitch with EHU. Independent campsite with all facilities. Free wifi! Easy walk into the town centre and several well signposted walks along the River Dee and around the local area.

Loch Muick visitor centre car park: £10 for 24 hours. No facilities (toilets were closed when we visited). Motorhomes is are asked to use the upper car park which is uneven. Great base for walking around the loch or up to Lochnagar.

Balmoral Castle coach park: £10 for 24 hours. No facilities but local visitor centre has toilets and a water tap (albeit not for parking and filling by hoses given its location). Quieter than expected despite being next to the main road. Easy walk to the castle and the wider Balmoral estate.

Braemar Caravan Park: £30.50 p/n – hard standing pitch with EHU. Independent site with great facilities and really friendly staff – the drying room was a great addition. Easy walk into town for cafes and shops.

Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve: Free but donation requested. Short walk to toilets in an information building but no other facilities. Great walking.

Kinloch Rannoch: small loch side car park just out of the village – free. No facilities other than rubbish bins. Wardens came visiting to remind us to be considerate and preserve the beauty of the location. Stunning views along Loch Rannoch.

Helix Park (the Kelpies), Falkirk: £7.50 overnight parking at in the car park near the play area. Toilets available by the Kelpies.

Edinburgh Caravan and Motorhome Club site: £38.80 p/n – hard standing pitch with EHU. Typical C&MC club site with full facilities and located on the River Forth. Easy bus ride into the city centre