Scotland attracts increasing numbers of tourists every year and more British people than ever choose to holiday in the north of the UK.
If you are planning a holiday in Scotland, you may be wondering the benefits of travelling by campervan?
Scotland attracts increasing numbers of tourists every year and more British people than ever choose to holiday in the north of the UK.
If you are planning a holiday in Scotland, you may be wondering the benefits of travelling by campervan?
Readers of top travel books “Rough Guide” voted Scotland “The Most Beautiful Country in the World” in 2017. So this could be the year you should visit Scotland before the rest of the world gets here.
If you live in the UK, with exchange rates being as they are, it’s a great year to get to know Scotland better.
If you’re travelling from outside Great Britain, there’s a good chance you’ll get more pounds for your local currency in 2018 than previously.
The sun came out to play last weekend, so once we’d finished working at a local wedding on Saturday afternoon, we headed to East Lothian in Lola. We had been lucky enough to get a last minute booking on our favourite pitch at Thorntonloch and unbelievably despite the weather, Lola had a weekend off, so we seized the opportunity.
Pitch C9A is the perfect size for a campervan and looks directly onto the beach. Thortonloch is a very handy site to get away for a night, without travelling far at all. The beautiful beach is often empty and it’s hard to believe, you’re just south of Dunbar.
We BBQ’d chicken satay, enjoyed the beach and sunshine and then retreated into Lola when the midges came out at dusk.
I love chilling out in any of our campervans, they’re always fun and cosy to shelter in, when you don’t want to be outside any longer.
After a great night’s sleep and BBQ’d bacon butties for breakfast, we drove south on an adventure over the border.
We had a rare Sunday off and our friends at Lothians Volkswagen Club had told us about a VW Festival they were going to for the whole weekend at Alnwick Castle, The Mighty Dub Fest.
To be honest we never dreamt we’d be able to make any of the numerous English VW Festivals, as they’re usually quite a drive and at our busiest time of year. So who were we to not let fate and Lola guide us to our closest one.
Once again the weather was glorious and as we’d hoped the selection of VWs on show was different from the ones we see at Volksfling, Route 90 and other Scottish car shows.
The setting in the fields below Alnwick Castle (of Harry Potter fame) was beautiful and the show was in two areas, making good use of the space. The Show and Shine display area could have been bigger but this is only an observation from someone who didn’t see what the festival looked like at its busiest, as some campers had left on the Saturday or Sunday morning before we arrived.
We enjoyed seeing some beautiful and rare models of air-cooled VWs, bumped into some friends, caught a little of the entertainment, browsed the stalls and ate at the catering campers before heading home.
Camping in Lola, for a sunny, summer weekend in the country, meant no sunburn or midge bites and huge grins all round.
Are you looking forward to a summer in Scotland? Even if you live here or have visited before, there may be some hidden gems to discover.
Visit Scotland have given us the staycation term and 2017 as The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, so get behind the wheel of a 1960s or 1970s VW Campervan and go exploring on a nostalgic roadtrip.
If your bucket-list dream is to relax by a moonlit lochside or stunning beach, in one of our genuine Vintage VW Campers, then grab the opportunity to book while we still have 2017 campervan hire availability.
Near Vintage VW Campers HQ visit Kinneil House in Bo’ness, which has Open Days on 25th June, 27th August, 16th September & 29th October. The grounds are good to visit on any day of the year and their museum is open year- round but getting to step foot inside the former home of the Dukes of Hamilton and see the renaissance wall paintings is a rare and amazingly free opportunity.
For classic car lovers there’s a real treat on 2nd and 3rd September, when the Bo’ness Revival takes place at Kinneil Estate. The highlight of the weekend festival is the Bo’ness Hill Climb and 2017 marks the 70th anniversary of when the speed hill climb first took place, at Scotland’s first ever motor racing venue.
You can rev up for Bo’ness Revival by visiting the Doune Hill Climb first on 17th & 18th June. While you’re in Doune, if you haven’t been to the castle a lot of the world have already seen on Monty Python & The Holy Grail and Outlander, as Castle Leoch, you may want to stop off there.
Go to nearby Cardross Estate on 18th to 20th August for Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival, besides music there’s various arts and craft entertainment options for adults and kids. Camping with electric hook-up is available.
VW fans shouldn’t miss Route 90 at Lathalmond Vintage Bus Museum on 21st to 23rd July. Close to Dunfermline and now in its third year, this VW Show keeps getting bigger and better. Camping is available and the vehicles and people you meet are guaranteed eclectic but all connected by VWs.
Have a fun day out at Jupiter Artland. The sculpture park has incredible Charles Jencks landforms, like those you may have seen at The Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. Or if you were lucky enough to have gone to the one day a year opening of The Garden of Cosmic Speculation at Portrack House near Dumfries, you will know his work. (Keep an eye on ‘Scotland’s Gardens’ for the 2018 Open Day date for the Garden of Cosmic Speculation.)
Meanwhile, back at Jupiter Artland, children and adults alike will be entertained by the interactive nature of the many other installations. This beautiful parkland is open to the public from May to October every year.
Travelling east to Tantallon Castle, built in the mid- 14th century but still impressive even as ruins today. Here you can climb to the towers and battlements and enjoy the views to Bass Rock. Take in the abundance of seabirds and the massive drop of the biggest remaining wall of this medieval castle, straight into the crashing waves below.
Ok, it is listed in our itineraries but we should mention the next few months are the best time of year to visit nearby St Abb’s Head Nature Reserve, the noise from the seabirds nesting on the cliffs is phenomenal.
Head south to Scott’s View near St Boswells in The Borders. This magnificent viewpoint inspired some of Sir Walter Scott’s literature and he spent so much time here the horses pulling his hearse to Dryburgh Abbey are said to have paused here from habit or to allow their master one last look at the stunning landscape.
Spare the horses, as the campervan’s air-cooled engine takes you west to The Grey Mare’s Tail, one of Scotland’s highest waterfalls at 60m. Our recent rainfall has the advantage of making this more spectacular than ever! Around here you can spot birds of prey and enjoy some fine wild-camping spots.
Not far from here at Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries, you can enjoy bands like Peter Hook & The Light, Frightened Rabbit, Dizzee Rascal and The Jesus & Marychain at Electric Fields Music Festival on 1st and 2nd September. If you’re quick they still have limited campervan passes available.
Head north-west to Kelburn Castle and Estate near Largs. Gaze in wonder at the modern graffiti on the ancient 13th century castle, camp in the grounds and enjoy some unique festivals. Looking for somewhere to take Dad on Fathers’ Day? It’s only a week away on 18th June and you can still treat him to our Fathers’ Day Campervan Gift Experience Offer. Or take him to Ginger Day at Kelburn Castle where you can enter suitable heads of hair into ‘The Ginger Prince’ and similar competitions.
From the 30th June to 3rd July the Kelburn Garden Party is a boutique music and arts festival worth a visit in the Castle grounds.
If you are interested in Scottish Wildcats, of which fewer than one hundred remain, then you should head for Newtonmore’s Wildcat Centre. You aren’t likely to spot one of Britain’s most endangered mammals in the wild but The Wildcat Experience is highly entertaining for children and adults too. This is possibly the best treasure hunt ever, as you have up to 131 model wildcats to spot hiding around the village.
There’s a serious side to the information available at the Wildcat Centre, as they need donations to the conservation project aiming to prevent the extinction of Britain’s last large mammal predator.
So, we hope it won’t be a busman’s holiday as you venture forth into a country you already love but wish to take a different perspective on. What better way than in a slow- moving campervan that allows you to marvel more at the place you are lucky enough to call home, even if it is just home while you park your vintage VW camper.
Edinburgh and Glasgow are both amazing cities with great architecture, galleries, history, people to meet and places to go. But what if you have time to spend elsewhere in this beautiful country and you’d like to know where the locals would go?
Most of Scotland’s population live in ‘the central belt’ and since 2013 many of them have been flocking to marvel at the world’s largest equine sculpture: The Kelpies. Designed by sculptor, Andy Scott, the two horses’ heads are built over 30ft high in steel. Situated in Helix Park in Falkirk, a five minute drive from Vintage VW Campers HQ. The nearby Falkirk Wheel is the world’s only rotating boat-lift, which links the Forth & Clyde with the Union Canal and is also a must-see when in the area.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is on our doorstep, just under an hour’s drive brings you to the bustling town of Callandar. Several lochs are in this area providing fishing by permit or other water sports activities. The walking and wildlife watching opportunities here are also fantastic. The Park has become so popular with locals that a byelaw has been passed preventing wild camping in the area; fortunately, there are plenty great campsites to choose from.
A three hour drive from Falkirk will bring you to another favourite town, Oban. Oban is a fun port town with opportunities to buy seafood from the pier, take a hike up to McCaigs Tower to see the amazing view. Visit the Oban distillery and take a boat trip to watch seals or take a ferry to Mull, which is a great island to camp on. A boat trip from Mull or Oban brings you to the famous sea cave, Fingal’s Cave on Staffa.
Also a three hour drive from Falkirk will take you north to Lochaber and Scotland’s most famous glen, Glencoe. The drive through Rannoch Moor, just before the glen is similarly spectacular. Glaciers and volcanoes formed the breath-taking scenery around here. Glencoe mountain resort is great for thrill-seekers; hiking, climbing, mountain biking and skiing are all popular pastimes here. There is a National Trust for Scotland Visitor Centre to help you discover the history of the Glencoe massacre.
A further two hour drive brings you from Glencoe to Arisaig. Arisaig is a small village at the start of sandy coastline which runs up to the Sands of Morar. Not only are the white sand beaches stunning but the views to the Isles of Eigg and Rum are similarly so. A perfect spot to catch an amazing sunset from the many great campsites along the shoreline.
If you have time to drive the North Coast 500, then do not miss Sango Sands, a mere 259 miles from Vintage VW Campers HQ is this other-worldly beach at Durness. As you are now at the end of the Scottish mainland, you could say you are at the end of the earth in some respects. The beach is surrounded by cliffs and conveniently at the top of those cliffs is a great campsite. Durness is the village where John Lennon spent his childhood holidays and understandably had to bring Yoko for a visit in later life. Also check out nearby Balnakeil Beach and Craft Village. Be sure to have a hot chocolate at Cocoa Mountain.
So now only the sea separates you from the Orkney Islands, the nearest port from Durness is Scrabster, but you can also take ferries here from Aberdeen or Gills Bay. The west Orkney mainland is a magical pre-historic landscape protected by its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The Ring of Brodgar standing stone circle was built between 2500 and 2000 BC and its unconfirmed purpose adds to the mystery. The nearby Skara Brae was built in 3200 BC and is an amazing Stone Age village.
From Ullapool or Skye you can catch a ferry to the adjoining islands of Lewis & Harris, once again history and beaches are two of the main attractions here for many. The Callanish Standing Stones are as unexplained and magical as the Ring of Brodgar is. The west coast Harris beach of Luskentyre regularly appears in lists of top beaches of the world and it is indeed stunning but do not miss Ardroil Beach in Uig Bay on Lewis. Like Sango Sands it has an ends of the earth feeling and given there’s not much between here and America except ocean, you can understand why.
Back down the country, this time on the east coast is the charming East Neuk of Fife. Just over an hour’s drive from Falkirk brings you to this stretch of coastline, peppered with quaint fishing villages and beaches. Neuk is the Scots word for corner and this is indeed a very special corner of the world.
So most people have now heard of the North Coast 500 but did you know that the West Coast 400 is now a packaged adventure roadtrip you can dip in and out of covering Oban to Campbelltown? We also have a South West 300 roadtrip and this takes in stunning drives like The Devil’s Beeftub and favourite spots like Moffat & Kirkcudbright.
I have a deep, life-long love of Skye, having holidayed here in the 70s and every decade since. It is the most popular location for Vintage VW Campers guests to go but it can get crowded in summer months and I’d recommend going here in Spring or Autumn if you can.
(Our featured images above are kindly supplied by Nathan Green from SoonlyWeds.)
As lots of you were wondering what the VW Campervan experience is actually like. We thought we’d delve into the travel journals, which are kept in our campers’ gloveboxes and spill the beans. These have previously only been shared with people hiring our kombis, so for the first time ever we open up to the public excerpts from the secret diaries of Lola, Blondie, Ziggy & Oor Wullie.
After all, our previous customers are best placed to inform you what to expect when touring Scotland in a Vintage VW Camper.
At the same time we’ve identified ten points that many of our customers ask before they come or comment on after their trip.
We recommend minimum 1 week to enjoy this in a T2 Volkswagen.
We’ll kick off with Lola’s most recent NC500 tour, earlier this month. And a summary of how our customers found the experience.
“Lola was cosy, comfortable, lovely to drive and extremely popular with fellow travellers. We couldn’t ask for a better holiday companion.”
Because by getting behind the wheel, you have just joined an international VW club. You will be like a magnet wherever you go in your T2 and it’s Volkswagen law that you wave at any other VW Campervan you pass on the road.
“A lovely lady talked to us in the ferry queue- she has her own Lola on Colonsay!”
“We had admiring waves everywhere we went and Oor Wullie made lots of friends”
There’s a good chance you may experience 4 seasons in one day. We live in a country where it’s possible to get hurt by hailstones and sunburn in one day.
“Barra here we come! Bumpy ferry ride with no visibility but stunning sunshine when we arrived at Castlebay and found the beachfront campsite at Borve- highly recommended.”
Skye is by far the most popular destination for our guests but Scotland has plenty other exciting places to go as well. We offer as much or as little help as our guests want in planning itineraries and routes. To make up your bespoke itinerary we need some pointers on your interests, or where you’ve been before. We love beach and lochsides and will always try to direct you to locations that are amongst the most stunning in the world.
“We spent the day on the west of Harris, enjoying fabulous beaches”
“We could see the sea while sitting inside Ziggy enjoying a warm soup and good book.”
“At Arisaig we found white beaches and turquoise water.”
Scotland has a vast selection of varied campsites and our list of recommended campsites grows daily. You can camp anywhere in Scotland (except the east side of Loch Lomond between March and October) but you must follow the Outdoor Access Code and be responsible.
“We travelled up north to Durness, where we spent the night wild camping on the shores of Balnakeil Beach”
“…before taking Lola east to the haven of Lickisto Blackhouse Campsite- an idyllic spot”
The driving experience is more challenging, modern cars drive you, you drive a T2. There usually isn’t as much storage space as in a larger motorhome, so everything packs away very neatly. Such as our hidden tabletops, tripods for al fresco dining table and the well for your indoor table.
“We’ve really enjoyed the fun of camping with Lola, meeting lots of other campers, testing our tidying skills, working out how to organise ourselves, taking our time on single track roads and learning to drive properly again!”
All of our campers have gas cookers, sinks and fridges or coolboxes.
“We used the BBQ you supplied most nights and cooked meatballs & spaghetti inside one night. The campervan cookbook you gave us was inspiring.”
Our stereos all have ipod/phone connections (cable supplied) and all gloveboxes have at least one CD in them.
“Driving along the country roads in Blondie, listening to Blondie was perfect, we wish she was ours.”
“I dreamt a long time about driving up the steepest road in GB. Driving Ziggy up the pass to Applecross while listening to David Bowie was a dream come true”
We include optional extras but beware of the awning, unless you are staying in the same campsite for at least 2 nights.
“The Awning! It took us 3 hours to put up!!! Lots of “debating” went on 1st about how to do it. LOL. We got there! 1 hour to get down and packed away. Worth doing if you’re not moving around for all the extra space, it’s massive!”
Although Meg, our splitscreen microbus is chauffeur driven for weddings, our bay window campervans are perfect for self drive weddings & honeymoon. It’s also worth noting that if you use Meg for your Wedding, you can have 20% of a self-drive bay holiday anytime up to your first Wedding Anniversary, as a wee gift from us. As we offer campervan gift vouchers you can even put them on your Wedding Gift List.
“We whizzed Ziggy off to Dunoon to hand in our marriage certificate and then went round Loch Fyne”
If you have ever wondered anything we haven’t covered in this post, about the Vintage VW Campers experience, then please email your questions to [email protected]
If you’ve heard enough and you’re ready to choose your campervan then start your journey here.
Buckle up and get ready for the ride, speed is not of the essence: making memories, adventure, chilling out and freedom, that’s what it’s all about.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s these ready-made holiday homes on wheels met the leisure needs of three generations. Family holidays could consist of granny, parents and children all bunked up together inside a campervan.
Those who were the youngest generation in the 60s and 70s campervanning heydays are now the grandparents or at least the parents choosing their family holiday destinations. There’s no doubt these people look back fondly on their long and sunny family holidays and want to recreate them.
There are also those who always envied their pals in campervans, while they roughed it under canvass in a tent and have nursed a desire to go on a campervan holiday ever since.
These VW Type 2’s, both the older T1 Split Screen, available from 1950 and the T2 Bay Window, which took over in 1967 are incredibly cute and stylish to many people.
“They are just so well designed and I think they have such friendly ‘faces’.” One member of the Lothians’ Volkswagen Club confided.
So the interpretation of the front of campervans appearing to have eyes and a nose (represented by the headlights and spare wheel) is what strikes a chord with some people. Undoubtedly the essential practice of giving a name to your campervan helps make them one of the family too.
It could be this which causes people as young as five years old to fall in love with VW Campers as well. A few Vintage VW Campers guests booked because of a child’s obsession with the vehicles. Their parents often didn’t know where the love had come from.
The flexibility and practicality of, like a tortoise, having your home with you as you travel is also part of the appeal. Like the view? Park up and stick the kettle on for a brew, no reason not to linger. Wherever you park up can be your home for the night and that is one reason why this mode of transport is so good for travelling in Scotland.
Wild camping is allowed in most of Scotland, provided that campers follow the ‘Outdoor Access Code.’ Besides that Scotland has hundreds of really good campsites so there’s no reason not to experience the best of both worlds: in a camper with both electric hook-up (for campsites) and leisure battery (for wild camping.)
The idea of chasing the sun in a campervan is also of particular resonance in Scotland, a country famous for sometimes giving us ‘four seasons in one day’. Don’t like the weather in one spot? No hassle of packing up a tent wet and pitching again at another location, just follow the weather forecast to a sunnier area, park up, pop the roof up and stick that kettle on again.
As most of Scotland’s relatively small population lives in the central belt, that leaves a lot of wild land to be explored. It also means a big responsibility to all who enjoy Scotland’s wild places; we are all responsible for the future of plants, animals and biodiversity. Enjoying the countryside with the ‘leave no trace’ challenge at the forefront of our activities is imperative for sustainable tourism. Thus allowing generations to come, the same pleasure we can have now.
Whether you get your outdoor kicks from surfing, hillwalking, climbing, golfing, beach-combing, star-gazing, aurora chasing or even just from chilling next to nature you could do far worse than enjoy it from the retro charm of a Vintage VW Camper.
Why do it Now?
Car manufacture was very different in the 60’s and ‘70’s unlike today’s built- in- obsolescence vehicles, cars back then were built to last. VW T2 production halted in Germany in 1979 but VW Brazil ended their production of the T2c in 2013. Therefore you can now only ever buy a T2 second hand and this is a minefield for the uninitiated. Vintage VW Campers tried (by hiring in Cornwall) before they bought and still made plenty school boy errors. So learn as much as possible about them first and hire one to check you actually like driving them. It is a work-out for your shoulders, with no power steering and a braking system very different from those in modern cars. You also need to take an expert with you, if you are in the market for a second hand vehicle, to minimise those errors.
So the enduring appeal just seems to grow and grow and the VW hire companies in Scotland and elsewhere allow everyone to experience the joy of campervan living.
The Tourism Thought Leaders Say:
VisitScotland have identified that our domestic tourists continue to embrace ‘staycations’ and both domestic and international travellers are lapping up ‘glamping’ a more comfortable version of camping which can relate to campervans, tipis, pods, gypsy caravans and more.
‘Modstalgia’ is another trend which is here to stay, whereby people choose to have a nostalgic holiday with more modern comfort than they did in the past. So it could be going to the seaside they went to when younger and staying in a plush hotel instead of a B+B, or it could be choosing to upgrade from a tent to a campervan. Vintage VW Campers offer vintage style with modern comfort, allowing a great modstalgic holiday in Scotland throughout the year.
Chris Greenwood, Senior Tourism Insight Manager for VisitScotland leads the team who came up with the portmanteau and he says: “…nostalgia is an emotional association to the past, so almost recreating or remembering past times and the emotional feelings those generate. Whereas modern nostalgia is more connected to these emotions, having a more modern experience but based around those feelings you had in the past or maybe even passing them onto the next generation.”
So What are you Waiting for?
Travelling in a Vintage VW Camper is unlike no other experience; in that everywhere you go people smile and wave at you. By getting behind the wheel of a T2, either hired or your own, you become part of a club. A very happy smiley club that likes to wave at each other. So why don’t you buckle up and start making memories you will want to hold onto forever?
As we reflect on what feels like a very quick year at Vintage VW Campers HQ, we are delighted by looking back over our guests’ photos and sharing them with you. Hope they delight you too!
We actually could do with your help please in choosing an overall winner from the top twenty featured here. Not only will you be in with a chance of winning a £50 voucher to put towards your own Vintage VW Campers adventure, simply by voting for the winner; you will also be helping our winning guest get a fabulous goodie bag.
Lola at possibly the best picnic bench in the world by Andrew Webster
Lola in Glencoe3 by Jonny Danks
Oor Wullie with Ava by Alison Peden
Ziggy in sunshine by Gareth Walker
Thanks for looking, now please cast your vote on Facebook or email the title of your favourite to [email protected] If you vote for the winning photo, you will be put in a draw to win £50 voucher towards a trip with us, what a great way to start 2016!