Martin Dorey is the writer of best-selling book The Camper Van Cookbook and the TV show One Man & His Campervan on BBC2. He was also a judge on BBC2’s Caravan Club ‘Caravanner of the Year’ and wrote Take the Slow Road, which sees him drive around the UK. Here he tells us about his favourite UK routes and why he loves them so much.
Ok. So now that you are living the dream and driving a motorhome or camper, the next big question is ‘where are you going to go?’ While there are some fabulous routes around the world, like The Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland, you don’t have to drive hundreds of miles and take ferries to have a great adventure. All you need is a good map and a free weekend… easy!
1. St Ives to Sennen, Cornwall
Let’s start with a proper holiday! St Ives is a great place to go if you like art, food, beaches and Cornish culture. There is a brilliant campsite in town with amazing views (www.ayrholidaypark.co.uk) that makes a perfect base too. And it’s on the right side of town to head out onto the B3306, one of the UK’s best and most exciting coastal routes. Once you hit the road you’ll wind and wend your way through wild and beautiful countryside. You’ll pass disused mine buildings, tiny villages, jaw dropping viewpoints and a whole series of great places to stop, like Cape Cornwall, St Just and Geevor Tin Mine. Finally, as you roll into Sennen cove you’ll catch sight of the beautiful beach at Gwenvor (you might have to stop). Is this really England? You bet it is.
2. Aberdovey to Porthmadog, Snowdonia
This journey, around the western edges of the national park in West Wales, is nothing short of spectacular and offer all kinds of goodies, like crabbing for the kids (Aberdovey), a ride on a miniature railway (Fairbourne), a wild swim (the Blue Lake) and a visit to the brilliantly preserved Italianate village at Portmeirion. All along the way you’ll get to enjoy fabulous sea views on a road that’s nice to drive, except you’ll be stopping every 5 minute to take photographs. So allow plenty of time! Oh, and there’s a fabulous ‘au naturel’ camp site at Cae Du where you might well spot a dolphin or two…
3. Glasgow to Oban, Scotland
If you are heading for the Scottish Islands via Oban then this is the route to take if you are not in a rush. Start at the Erskine Bridge in Glasgow and wind your way past Loch Lomond (great views!) until you get to Tarbet and the junction with the A83. This spectacular road follows Loch Fyne (stop off and try some seafood at Loch Fyne Oysters) before heading north towards Oban along the Mull-facing mainland. It’s a great drive that you can break up by staying at the brilliant Ardfern Motorhome Park, a small, 10 vehicle site at Ardfern on the shores of Loch Craignish. The village and harbour are very pretty too!
4. Saltburn to Scarborough, Yorkshire
This route is another classic that’s easy to reach for a lot of people, yet still manages to feel wild and woolly and out there. Start at Saltburn in the north and work your way down the coast towards Cayton Bay, a gorgeous sweep of sand just south of Scarborough. Along the way, as you pootle through lovely countryside, you’ll have the chance to stop off at Whitby to see its Abbey and all its ghoulish Dracula-related paraphernalia, Robin Hood’s Bay to walk the beach (and go fossil hunting), Staithes to see where Captain Cook began his sailing career and finally, Scarborough, to see one of the UK’s finest seaside towns. It’s all here. Just don’t forget to dawdle.
5. Hastings to Worthing, South Coast
If you like cruising the prom then this is one journey I would heartily recommend. Parking might not be so easy along the seafront in Brighton but you don’t have to stop if you don’t want to… just wind down the windows, enjoy the view and take your time. There’s no rush. From Hastings follow the coast road (A259) west and you’ll pass some amazing stop offs: The De La Warr Pavillion in Bexhill, Birling Gap outside Eastbourne and Brighton Marina. It might be sleepy but it’s beautiful. And the views, as you’d expect, are lovely. Plus you get all the brilliant trappings of being at the English seaside every step of the way. Make mine a 99 with a flake please!
Martin Dorey’s new book, Take The Slow Road, was published in 2018.