Motorhome holiday adventure
A motorhome can be a great way to have an adventure with your young ones – and visit lots of Woodland Trust woods.
Andy Bond sampled life in a motorhome for a long weekend with his toddler, courtesy of the Trust’s partnership with the National Caravan Council. The NCC runs the website Freedom To Go, which inspires people to get out and about.
“Freddddiiiiieeee”, I pleaded as my excited two-year-old packed yet more stuff into the motorhome oven. Wipes, nappies, crackers – and even a banana skin. “Freddie, I’m not sure they should go in there.” He looked at me, sighed and said, “Oh dad.”
I wasn’t angry though, just pleased about his willingness to help. My toddler was helping me pack for a three night weekend away touring North Yorkshire and the Dales in a motorhome. I was a motorhome “newbie” and didn’t know a thing about such a holiday. The perfect ingredients for quite an adventure!
After a load of packing and a whistle stop tour around the Fiat Autoroller motorhome (which included getting to grips with all the important things like connecting the gas and electric, and how to turn the heating on), we were almost ready for the off. Energetic spaniel Alfie was safely stowed in a crate in the back, and an excited Freddie was strapped securely into his car seat. I gave him the Nature Detectives tree-mendous colouring page to keep him busy while I put pedal to the metal.
Our first stop, at Thirsk, was just a stone's throw away from the racecourse. But sightseeing could wait; first things first – I needed to get everything connected up at our pitch. All seemed very simple so far. Then it was a little trot off with Freddie and canine to the nearby supermarket to stock up on supplies and cook our first pasta meal in the motorhome.
I quickly learnt that organisation is key on this sort of holiday. Every little thing, from toothbrushes to matches, needs a place – if not, it’s enough to send you slightly mad! And, if you have kids, it’s vital you use the higher cupboards as turfing out storage is an exciting pastime for a toddler!
Day two: Skipton-bound
The next day my partner and our nine-month-old baby Jonny joined us for a day out in Skipton Castle Woods. These ancient woods have a fascinating history and lie alongside Skipton Castle in the heart of the town – and there is a big car park nearby, which is perfect for motorhomes! The kids loved getting wet, jumping on rocks and trying out a few of our Nature Detectives activities – including the cute little critters spotter sheet and minibeast hunt – or, in Jonny’s case, smiling at most things!
Then it was on to Bolton Abbey Estate Club Site – a wonderful location just a little way from the 12th century abbey itself. It’s a site full of trees and greenery and lots of paths – it would be a great place to stay for a few days!
Hill summit over the Yorkshire Dales
The next day I set myself the challenge of climbing Pen-y-ghent in the Dales. After a tricky manoeuvre in the small market town of Settle (which had locals amused), the motorhome came into its own when I could pull up in a layby to start the trek instead of going all the way into Horton-in–Ribblesdale, the usual starting point for hordes of other trekkers. With a toddler on board the trek took most of the day, but it’s worth it – the scramble to the summit is rewarded by spectacular views over the Dales.
Following the descent it was time to get to the final campsite, which included a tricky single track road over the mountains. Wharfedale Club Site is a peaceful place – and it was great for Freddie to stretch his legs on his scooter.
After a quick clean up the next morning, we took a trip to Lower Grass Woods near Grassington. There’s a layby next to the entrance and from here you can follow a trail that leads down through the woods to the river. It’s a really lovely wood - a mixed broadleaf site which is part of one of Yorkshire's largest ancient woodland areas.
Heading home, we managed a short stop off at Nidd Gorge near Harrogate for lunch – another Woodland Trust site. The woodland clings to a dramatic steep-sided valley. Its patchwork of habitats supports a wealth of wildlife and flora, and there are relics of an intriguing history dating back to the Iron Age. There’s a great bridge with a dramatic view over the gorge. It was the perfect end to a wonderful woodland/motorhome weekend adventure!
Fancy your own woodland family adventure? There are loads of exciting activities to get stuck into on our Nature Detectives site – just what you need to keep little (and big!) kids entertained.
My top tips for a first motorhome trip
1) Preparation – it’s a bit of a cliché but the saying “success is where opportunity and preparation meet” is very true. Pack well – everything should have a place.
2) Be flexible – you may plan what you want to achieve each day but be open to things changing. If you’re enjoying somewhere, go with the flow and stay for a bit longer.
3) Bring either a second car or a bike – many motorhome-users seem to bring a spare bike. This is for a reason – they’re handy for popping to the shop to get groceries. And motorhomes can be tough to park in busy little market towns!
4) Be realistic – little things will go wrong. Like any adventure, motorhoming is no different. Not everything will always go to plan but if you ride through a few mishaps you will remember the adventure you had for a lifetime.
5) Look at what other seasoned motor-homers are doing – it’s amazing what you can learn from others around the caravan site. And if in doubt, ask people – fellow campers are generally very friendly.
Ready, set... go!
- Freedom To Go has plenty of hints and tips to help you get started on your trip – especially if you are new to caravanning and motorhome holidays.
- Auto-Trail (01472 571 000) is the UK’s premier luxury motorhome manufacturer, dedicated to creating motorhomes and campervans as individual as you.
- The Caravan and Motorhome Club (01342 326944) has more than 200 club sites and 2,500 privately owned places to stay in the UK, and more than 230 sites across Europe.