In comparison to 2020, 2021 was a triumph! Okay, 2020 isn’t hard to beat but 2021 was certainly less of a disappointing camping year than 2020, mostly because we were only [although using the word only here isn’t right] in lockdown for 14 weeks from 1 January until 12 April. Those 14 weeks rolled slowly by in a blur of hot drinks, local walks and jigsaws. The day we could go camping again was momentous and on the first day of freedom we rolled into Burrs Country Park Caravan and Motorhome Club [CAMC] Site with plenty of other people who clearly were raring to get out and about.
In 2020, here in Lancashire we had less than 25 weeks when we were allowed to go camping. With the luxury of around 38 weeks to play with in 2021 we managed to fit in 118 marvellous nights away in the Blue Bus. Let’s hope in 2022 we have all 52 weeks to go out and play in!
Those 118 nights were in 59 different places and I didn’t need a calculator to figure that this is a very round average of two nights in each place. We always keep moving and the longest we stayed anywhere in 2021 were the five nights we spent at Buxton CAMC site. This was unusual and we mostly stayed two or three nights before moving on.
We travelled up and down the country for these 118 overnights but did have a tendency to travel up! Turning left onto the M6 and heading north is our default. We spent a month in Scotland in May and June and we took the ferry across to Ireland for three weeks in the summer, exploring Northern Ireland and County Donegal in Ireland. Our time in Donegal was our only trip abroad in 2021, so we had no chance to stock up on wine but we did spend some of our stash of Euros! Our trip around the peaceful lanes and stunning coastline of Donegal was a particularly memorable highlight of the year.
We did head south a few times, touring the Peak District for three weeks in the spring and spending a few nights in the handsome city of Cambridge. In the autumn we toured around Pembrokeshire and explored one of my favourite cities, Cardiff re-visiting old haunts and meeting up with old friends.
2021 had plenty of happy sociable times. We met up with friends with campervans on campsites, attended a Devon Owners meet in the autumn, met up with editors from MMM and Campervan Mag [one planned and one accidental] and we spent a lovely evening over a bottle of red with a fellow travel writer for those two magazines when we both found ourselves in Ullapool. In two of those instances it was the immediacy of Twitter that got us together, so social media isn’t all bad.
Those 118 overnights range from a lay-by in Scotland to a campsite with a heated indoor swimming pool, from simple Certified Locations and campsites where the facilities remained closed to sites that have sanitary blocks with underfloor heating. They also spanned the price ranges, from nothing to a staggering £40.50 a night [due to the pool and it was a birthday weekend]. I like the variety of places our campervans takes us to, from peaceful spots to being among rows of other ‘vans on a club site. We have had huge pitches, such as at The Paddock overlooking Rutland Water where our nearest neighours were not even in shouting distance and we could bird watch from our pitch and we have stayed on pub car parks hemmed in by cars and both sides. At Barrow upon Humber we had the idyllic small site to ourselves whereas at the popular Tollymore Forest Park near Newcastle in Northern Ireland we were almost bumper to bumper with vans packed with families enjoying the sunshine.
The graph below shows the ups and downs of our campervan years. Not surprisingly the most nights we spent in our campervan was 2009, when we were living in the ‘van full time from April and into 2010. Work got in the way of our camping trips until 2017 when the number of overnights took a leap following our retirement. 2017 was only disrupted by the Blue Bus being off the road for over two months after the Greek tragedy. Everything went fairly smoothly in 2018 [apart from the power steering giving up the ghost in northern Spain] and we made the most of our freedom to travel with 155 nights away in the ‘van. In 2019 moving house disrupted our flow and then Covid-19 messed up everyone’s lives. If in 2019 we had known what was on the horizon the following year we would probably have travelled more but we thought there were certainties and the trips we wanted to do could wait until the following year! If I have learnt one thing from Covid-19 it is to never put anything off again.
Happy travelling in 2022 everyone!
The number of overnights in our three campervans by year