The first thing I noticed as I slid open the door of the Volkswagen California was how luxurious it was. I loved my experience in a vintage camper but this was like entering a 5 star hotel in comparison!
A lovely member of staff from Benfield gave James (my boyfriend) and I a guided tour of the vehicle and I was staggered at how spacious and modern it was. There were so many innovative features, like the picnic table and chairs that could be stored away neatly into perfectly designed nooks and crannies and a moveable worktop to make mealtimes easy! I was hugely impressed by the electric roof which opened smoothly at the touch of a button.
Benfield had stocked the van with everything we needed for a weekend away, we just had to bring bedding and food. So once we were acquainted with the high tech features of our holiday home it was time to hit the road.
I let James take the wheel to begin with as I couldn’t wait to get on Twitter and declare my excitement about our Vancation. I was extremely comfortable as we drove from Newcastle to the Northumberland coast. Heated seats and an amazing sound system made me feel like I was really travelling in style.
Our first stop was the pretty coastal village of Craster where we had a delicious lunch overlooking the sea at The Jolly Fisherman followed by ice cream from the van in the harbour. We also couldn’t resist buying kippers from the famous smoke house after seeing Robson Green enjoy them on his TV show ‘Tales from Northumberland’. Smoked kippers probably weren’t the best thing to cook in a campervan (whiffy to say the least!) but they sure were delicious.
Our base for the first two nights was Springhill Farm, a secluded retreat near Seahouses and Bamburgh. We’d booked a special offer, two nights for £20, a bargain considering we got a hard standing pitch with electric hook up and the showers were lovely and hot. The views were pretty spectacular too.
We loved driving around the Northumberland coast in the Volkswagen California. I had thought that it might be a challenge to drive something so big but the easy handling, six speed gear box and surprisingly quiet diesel engine made driving a joy.
We took the opportunity to experience some of Northumberland’s best loved local attractions including Alnwick Garden and Cragside, both of which are a great day out. I’d also recommend Bamburgh Castle, Holy Island and the Farne Islands, all wonderful places to visit while on a Vancation.
In the evenings the campervan became a home from home, albeit without a telly. That was fine by us though and we embraced the back to basics lifestyle, passing the time by cooking our own meals from scratch and challenging each other to Scrabble.
There were two options for sleeping arrangements, we could either roll forward the passenger seats in the main part of the van or sleep in the spacious upper berth. We tried both and found them to be much comfier than expected. Although due to an overnight rain shower I’d say we slept better downstairs, the rain on the roof could be quite noisy.
For the third and final night of our adventure we made our way to Kielder Water and Forest Park. This is another beautiful part of the North East with loads to experience, bike roads, boat trips, fishing, wildlife spotting and the award winning Kielder Observatory to name but a few.
The caravan park at Leaplish boasts excellent facilities (including proper hairdryers in the bathrooms) and is staggering distance to a waterside pub and restaurant called The Boathouse. Sadly it had closed early on the Sunday we were there but I’d heard great things about the food at the nearby Pheasant Inn so I offered to be the designated driver and we enjoyed a delicious three course meal in the cosy pub before turning in for the night under the International Dark Sky Park.
We slept incredibly well that night, it was very peaceful. I had to pinch myself when I awoke the next morning, the water was so still it made the view look like a beautiful painting. We were kicking ourselves that we’d not brought our bikes along, especially as Benfield offer bike racks for hire. We’ll have to remember that for next time.
We absolutely loved our long weekend in a Volkswagen California, it had everything we could wish for and more and there are so many wonderful places to explore within a short drive of Benfield’s pick up points in Newcastle, Teesside and Carlisle.
About our guest blogger: In 2012 Rachel Kershaw was chosen to be Visit England’s blogger during the Olympic Torch Relay. She spent three months travelling the length and breadth of the country in a vintage VW campervan called Rosie and wrote about her travels to show everyone just how much fun you could have holidaying in England. Unfortunately Rachel had to hand back the campervan at the end of her epic adventure so we thought it was about time she got back out there! We handed Rachel the keys to one of our brand new Volkswagen California’s and gave her the chance to take a Vancation to Northumberland.