Eight weeks on from when we did this epic 1800 km weekend rally and I think the hang over has just worn off…
What was this weekend all about? well let our good friend Bobby Willis explain,
“My good friend and business partner Shaun Bowden died last March while we were walking in Scotland, leaving behind a young family. The Glencoe Mountain Rescue team was fundamental in his search and recovery and they risk their lives in awful conditions for 100′s of people each year.
I went back up to Glencoe a few months ago to revisit the area where the accident occurred and as we were driving along a very beautiful Glen, we saw a battered old Land Rover that was Glencoe Mountain Rescue’s vehicle. That’s when I first thought how nice it would be if there was a Bowden Land Rover roaming around the area saving lives. Since then my friends and I have made it our mission to raise money for GMR to have a bespoke 4×4 rescue vehicle.”
We didn’t personally know Shaun but we did know some of his friends so friends and friends of Shaun’s friends all became friends together on the Bowden Big Weekender 8 weeks ago. We had the amazing voice and guitar playing of Tom Dibb join us in Jed’s van then we all met up at The Heritage Motor Centre then on to The Lake District and after a few hours at a place via Muddy Porn at Drumclog it was then onto Glencoe. Over £18,000 was raised and Bobby has donated his own grey Discovery that you see in this video to Glencoe Mountain Rescue to be converted into a rescue vehicle with the money raised. Chris at Quickfist UK has since donated a quick fist pack to Glencoe Mountain Rescue through us as we are one of his main stockists and as soon as the new rescue vehicle is built CVC will be sending up one of our Trasharoos to store wet ropes and other kit.
Here is the Bowden Big Weekender web site for you all to have a look at http://bowdenbigweekender.co.uk/about/ Although this was supposed to be a one off event it was so good that it made us think if it could maybe be an annual event with more activities included over a few more days. I would think a lot of our CampervanCulture.com brethren would be very interested next year especially those from Europe to get the genuine UK experience!
It was great for the CVC team to get out and let our hair down and have a random encounter with a fellow Syncro owner who joined in for a while.
After a good few weeks driving across mountains, deserts and gorges we finally hit the coast. It was the first time since we left Spain that we saw huge numbers of Europeans. lots were in huge motorhomes and camper vans and has a less well traveled look about them. We soon left them behind when we drove along the coast off road across the Sous-Massa National Park and we were alone again. It was Jed’s 40th when we were caught up in a flash flood at the surf town of Taghazout and spent time recovering the crazy Swiss. The recovery kit we stock was put to good use once again and we helped recover stuck vehicles that were directly in the path of the flash flood. With a second wave expected due to the weather forecast it got us thinking how many people do go away without even a simple tow strap or recovery kit like the ones we sell on our web shop. We seriously recommend carrying one now, even just for weekend camping as you simply never know.
All along the coast was a pretty relaxing time with lots of wild camping cooking on the Bushpig, sand driving and good times. Get comfortable and check out part 7. The Atlantic,
First stop was the amazing town of Chefchaouen. We were blown away with just how amazing this place was and how cool the people the people were that we met there. It was our first stay at a campsite so far and we stayed at the only campsite just up the hill from Chefchaouen town. It’s a pretty basic campsite by European standards with cracked sinks and dodgy looking plumbing but they do have hot showers and that makes it a good campsite by Moroccan standards. There is free camping to be had across the road at the football field next to the hotel, it looked like a popular spot for fellow overlanders.
Having acclimatised in Chefchaouen we ventured south and onto Fez. The drive was a learning experience and we soon realised that the donkey was still a main means of travel for lots of Moroccans and road miles took double the time by European standards. You have to adapt your driving style a fair bit because if you drive correctly you would probably cause an accident.
We opted to stay at www.diamantvert.ma while in Fez, it was a really nice campsite that has just had a whole load of money spent on it and has good wifi. We opted to take a guide from Diamante Vert and we had a great day wandering around the city. This is the first time any of us had ever employed someone to show us around a place and it has to be said it was really worth while. We got taken through tiny doorways and into court yards that we would have definitely missed had we ventured out solo.
With Chefchaouen and Fez done and dusted it was time to head out into the wilds and off road but you will have to wait for part three so stay tuned and keep following.
This is the first video in a series of videos we will be making of our recent trip from the UK to The Sahara Desert. We set off Friday 13th of December 2013 (Yeah I know but we are not superstitious! (yet)) after a busy year at CampervanCulture.com looking for adventure. We were invited by CampervanCulture.com subscriber Dave (AKA Orcecaveman or Dave L Orcecaveman) to call in on him in the south of Spain on the way down to North Africa. Dave told us he lived in a cave house in a place called Orce and he owned a VW Syncro like us and was keen to meet us. Orce was a couple of hours off route and after Alan and Jed spoke for a while about who would actually choose to live in a cave it has to be said we did have our reservations. I can’t remember who said it but one of us said, “When will we actually get an offer like this again?” so we agreed to go, after all we were looking for adventure right!
So we set off to Poole and got the LD Lines ferry to Santander on what turned out to be a vomit comet. It was 28 hours of the roughest seas any of the crew had ever sailed in with plates being smashed and what ever wasn’t screwed or stuck down developing a mind of its own and moving around the ship like it was possessed. To be fair to the LD lines staff and the actual ship they were both very nice with really clean cabins and at £267 each way it is a total bargain, its just the ship is too small for the rough as hell Bay Of Biscay in January. Saying that a few weeks later we met an English couple who were on the Brittany Ferries super dooper cruise liner style ferry with stabilizers that left 4 days after us and they got dropped off in Brest, France and left to make their own way down to Spain as the big ferry thought it was too dangerous after hitting “The Horn Of France”. Anyway… with that little mission out of the way we hit sunny Spain and after an amazing over night wild camp near Madrid we found the crazy guy who lives in a cave.
We would like to dedicate this first video to Dave and Carole, two of the most genuinely nice people you could ever meet. It’s refreshing to meet people this cool and after spending some time with them you know they deserve the amazing life style they chose because they are just so bloody nice… We left Orce with three new good friends, Dave Carol & Chuck (the dog). We are now the sort of people who would want to live in a cave house, they are amazing.
Having had a really busy few months at CampervanCulture.com setting up the web shop selling our cool clothing range and all the other stuff that followed, and trading at The Adventure Overland Show the time has now come to get the vehicles ready for our planned North Africa trip starting in December.
We met up with some fellow Syncro owners from Club 80-90 at a camp site on Salisbury Plain to put the vehicles through their paces to flag up any problems as well as try out some new camping gear we bought for the trip.
As usual feel free to leave any comments and we will do our best to answer any questions you guys have.
Dungeness is one of the largest expanses of shingle in the world and is classified as Britain’s only desert by the met office. There have been five lighthouses at Dungeness, at first only a beacon was used to warn sailors, but this was replaced by a proper lighthouse in 1615. As the sea retreated, this had to be replaced in 1635 by a new lighthouse nearer to the water’s edge known as Lamplough’s Tower. There are two nuclear power stations at Dungeness, the first built in 1965 and the second in 1983. They are within a wildlife sanctuary deemed a Site of Special Scientific Interest and birds flourish in the warmer water created by the station’s outflow.
It seems an unlikely area to head off to for a weekend in any camper van but the area is in fact really interesting and feels like your in Arizona in one of those places that mad people go and live when they want to be alone.
After slaving away in a field for 3 weeks working for Glastonbury Festival a well needed break was in order. So Alan and Harriet headed off for a bit of wild camping and wholesome camp fire cooking by the coast as a mini get away from it all. In true CampervanCulture style they just headed off in the general direction of Exmoor and after talking to the locals in a random pub they got the heads up on some great wild camping spots. Our usual rule of thumb of supporting the local economy in the places we wild camp was applied and all in all another great get away was had.
Ah well back to more summer festival work for Alan and Harriet now for the rest of the season to save for the CampervanCulture.com Africa trip later in the year.
Given the weather has been so good, we decided to take the opportunity to meet up and discuss our new range of clothing that should be with us on Thursday this week as well as sorting some new designs to follow right after. Amongst many others the new reversing light option we are due to take delivery of next week was also discussed, the new cool sticker range available next week, totally amazing Westfalia Joker roof bed pillow/kiddy guards in grey and brown, all the cargo docking systems that Al has been working on so hard plus lots more. I think we might have a summer trip planned to visit Jake@ CampervanCulture.com in Cornwall so that will be an epic video to share.
Oh and we spoke a bit about the North Africa trip later this year….
In CampervanCulture.com style we whipped out the cameras around the board room table and had serious talks about spread sheets and sales margins while filming it all…
This time we stayed quite near London and hooked up with good friends H, Ringo, Rob and youngsters Fern and Jules. Jed Louise and Isaac were in their Westfalia Syncro and Ringo and H were in their usual ride, the mighty VW LT Westfalia Florida. Rob left his Westfalia Syncro behind on this trip and turned up in the new high roof rental campervan that his company www.HeathrowCampervanHire.com have just got ready for you to hire and have an amazing time in. I have to say being a Westfalia nerd I was a bit taken back and slightly envious of the massive fridge, grill and this van even has an oven as well as Propex heating, extractor fan and get this…
It’s only done 60,000 miles!
As you can guess by the name Heathrow Campervan Hire is based right next to the UK’s main international airport and when you rent from them you have the option of picking up your fully kitted out campervan from the airport arrivals lounge. This is a great chance for all you guys in the USA, Canada, Australia, and the rest of the world to visit the places we like to go in the UK without the hassles and expense of importing your own vehicle. It’s also handy for all you guys in the UK and Ireland to just grab a cheap flight, pick the camper up and be off on your adventure.
Our first night was spent in a very nice country pub then a short but very steep drive up a gravel track in the VW LT to one of our favorite wild camping spots. After a really nice nights sleep it was off for a quick walk then off to find a random campsite we booked into from the internet. Osney Lodge Farm Campsite was only £45 per night for the eight of us in three campervans and it is a great place to camp with kids. Off the ground open fires are allowed and they have a basic toilet block and a place you can empty your chemical toilet if required. They have a farm shop that does loads of local produce and BBQ items as well as beers and veg. We all had a great time and celebrated H’s birthday in style.
After a very cold start to this year we were finally blessed with some sun shine, although it is still quite windy and cold at night. It was time to hook up with some good friends we had not seen for a while for our second Gower camp out in South Wales.
The first night was a wild camp and after an early morning walk we were in for quite a treat due to the unusual cold weather for this time of year. What am I on about? Check out the video to find out….
I dont even remember how it came about or even who mentioned it first or why but somehow during last year we all agreed the three of us with our families are going to explore North Africa in our Syncros from December 2013 onward. We had lots of planing to do but one thing was hanging over us and that us and all the people coming on the trip had never been all together at the same time in one place before and Harriet (Al’s partner) and Louise (Jed’s partner) had never even met before.
We decided to meet up and do a spot of camping for the weekend at www.wowo.co.uk and as luck would have it we picked the only time this year so far that had a generous amount of snow fall. We all got on great and had a great time but it was also time to test out some new equipment and even at this early stage we found a few faults with the things we need to trust. The cold weather killed Jake’s leisure batteries so they had no heating in the sub zero temperatures the first night (not so good when you have a baby only a few months old) and we tried to video the weekend and found cheap none brand memory cards hate the cold and stop working. Jake popped out on the Saturday morning and fitted new batteries that saw them through the rest of the weekend in comfort and I put the camera away due to the cheap memory cards and carried on enjoying the weekend planning and talking about what was going to follow over the next few months.
When we got home and back to work and school the following week Isaac (Jeds son aged 7) pulled his own small camera out of his pocket and after sitting down with him and popping a couple of photos in from the adults we made his first video together of the weekend we didn’t video.
So here goes, Isaac’s first Campervanculture video.
This time in part three we head up and up. The first stop over was on a free Aire in a place called Vars in the French Alps, a great base for some decent walks and hiking trails and a very nice two night stop over was had. Then after a quick uninspired night in Italy it was into Switzerland where the air is sweet, the people friendly and scenery to die for.
As always feel free to comment if you have any questions and part 4 to follow shortly…