A “bucket list” is a list of things that one person or a family wish to achieve, conquer or experience before they die, aka “kick the bucket”. This may feel like a morbid way of opening this article but one must live life to the full and if you haven’t got such a list then create one and start working your way through it as none of us know what is around the corner.
Being a big petrol head and a bit of an adventurer along with my wife who has such shared interests, we most certainly have a bucket list and one of the big things on it was to experience a weekend away in a traditional VW Camper . We are both fans of the old air-cooled campers and beetles and after a quick google and phone call to Causeway Campers in Portrush we effortlessly booked a autumn weekend away in their Type 2 camper, the hardest part was deciding all where to go!
Now by tradition this T2 isn’t as old as the silhouette may let on, in fact the camper is only three years old and an imported van from Brazil (where they are still made, or where produced until very recently) which then was converted in the UK mainland to a four berth camper van.
Also by tradition, the purists and camper lovers will notice that instead of having a spare wheel bolted to the front between the headlamps there is in fact a large grill. This is due to the fact that this 2012 Brazilian van is in fact fitted with a water-cooled, modern VW Polo 1.4 Petrol engine and thus the grill is to allow air to get to the radiators behind it, thus a lot more reliable and no need to have the AA on speed-dial.
This engine is mated to a very dated four speed gearbox which I was worried about before driving however it provided loads of usable torque and pretty much everything else about the vans driving characteristics is very much “authentic”, it was interesting for want of a word and reminded me just how far vehicles have progressed over the decades since the T2 was first born offering a raw driving experience.
With a pop up roof accommodating needed head room when stationary and also easily converted into a bed suitable for small children (a great novelty sleeping in the roof for our two little campers) it allows this cosy van to accommodate two adults and two children safely and comfortably on any adventure.
On first impressions the camper seems quite sparse but as with any mobile home everything is compact, appearances are deceptive. A full kitchen with sink and running water sits beside a 2 ring gas hob under which is a fridge and storage cupboards for pots, pans and such essentials. At the rear there is more storage for clothes and bedding and the rear bench seat turns into a small double bed for adults to sleep on.
The van also thankfully comes with a built in heater which keeps you at a nice comfortable temperature. This was a welcome feature due to only being away in the camper a few weeks ago as it was starting to get a little cold during the night.
Doing sometimes close to 20,000 miles a year I thought I had seen a lot of the stunning landscapes the Emerald Isle has to offer and driven many of the beautiful meandering roads that such landscapes provide, but this experience has let me realise there is so much more out there and when “freed from the rat race” with such a vehicle it created memories that will last a lifetime, both for my wife and I but also our 2 young nephews who joined us for the trip.
The versatility of this camper means you can stop and start along the way. Stop off and cook lunch, go for a walk, visit sites of interest stepping back from busy everyday life.
We took the route of Portrush (stayed a night) – Belfast – Delamont Country park (stayed a night) – Strangford – Spelga Dam – Meelmore Lodge within the Mourne Mountains (stayed a night) – Newcastle – Portrush and enjoyed every mile of the adventure. All the campsites we visited offered great facilities.
I can’t recommend Causeway Campers highly enough. From start to finish Garry Huston was a pleasure to deal with, you can tell he has a passion for these vehicles. If the T2 doesn’t tickle your fancy they also have a plethora of more modern, larger T4 & T5 campers available in two or four berth to hire as well as a pair of six berth brand new motor homes.
Should you get the camping bug or fancy your own camper Garry can also assist, as for the last 2 years he has provided a one stop shop by converting T4 or T5 vans into a camper. From as little as £5k for a 2 berth conversion to just over £10k for a 4 berth conversion owning your own freedom on wheels is within reach.
Words & Photos: Graham Curry