Nick’s News – Nick Harding is an expert in all things motorhomes, caravans and camping. Each week, Nick explores products, locations, holiday ideas and essential community information on our behalf – It’s a Hard-ing Life for Nick, but here is what he found this week.
A visit to one of the UK’s larger caravan and motorhome dealerships at the start of this week confirmed all you need to know about to current state of the market for new leisure vehicles.
“We’ve got lots of stock, but they’re all demonstrators of individual models and we still don’t know for sure when we can guarantee delivery to anyone who places an order,” I was told.
With no new sales going out, it means part-exchanges aren’t coming in… so we’re in something of a situation of paralysis, with a background of rising prices all round and demand completely outstripping supply.
February for the CCR200?
I’ve now reached month two on my 2022 Year of Touring and there’s a biggie coming up fast. It’s the Cumbrian Coastal Route 200, which I’m aiming to do in two weeks’ time. It coincides with what, for many, is the onset of the touring season. At least a couple of the sites we wanted to stay at won’t have opened. Never mind, there’s still a good selection to choose from.
So, what is the CCR200? It’s a chance to see some 100 miles of relatively unexplored Lake District coastline, from Morecambe Bay in the south all the way up to the Solway Firth. Take the route back again if you want to make it the full 200 miles.
In a nutshell: Go west
Handy campsite? There are loads on the route itself but, if you’re coming up from the south, why not kick off with a stay at the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s open-all-year Meathop Fell Site, near Grange-over-Sands?
In the news
Trailer tents and folding campers – on the rebound?
Are there signs of a bit of a comeback for trailer tents and folding campers? They’ve long seen dwindling sales but there’s more than a suggestion that their time is coming back around.
Traditionally beloved of teachers who could trek down into France and beyond for extended summer breaks at low costs, plenty of enthusiasts over the years have relied on these uncomplicated units for their touring holidays.
There’s a subtle difference – a trailer tent is literally a tent in its own trailer, unpacking for pegging direct to the ground; folding campers also live up to their name, unfolding and generally offering accommodation that sits off the ground. That’s until you add an awning.
There’s good news too, in that Venture Caravans and Motorhomes has just been appointed UK distributor for Cabanon trailer tents. Northamptonshire-based Venture can trace its history back some 40 years to when – as Go Camping – it was a Cabanon retailer, along with trailer tents from Combi Camp and Conway (the latter using Cabanon canvas and frames). Small world, eh?
Cabanon is certainly one of the more highly regarded manufacturers in this sector, thanks particularly to the renowned quality of the canvas it uses in its products. Other names to look out for include Camplair, Camp-Let (now owned by Isabella), Jamet, Opus, Pennine, Trigano, SunnCamp.
As we seek out units that are lightweight, easy and highly economical to tow (especially if you’re switching to an electrical vehicle), offer optimum living space when pitched and can be stowed relatively easily, perhaps it’s time for a closer look?
Prices look good too when compared to caravans. New Cabanons start at £6,975.
Motorhome for me?
Auto-Trail F68 – two packs shy of a bargain?
Fair play to Auto-Trail. Best known as a purveyor of upmarket motorhomes with generous specifications, it also has little difficulty dipping into the budget end of the market.
That’s certainly the case with its F-Line models – a line-up of six coachbuilts introduced for the 2022 season. Because they’re based on Ford’s Transit chassis-cab, you might just have a bit more luck with delivery than if you opt for anything using Fiat’s Ducato.
The F68 is a pretty classic end lounge layout, a 6.8m long two-berth with extensive U-shaped seating at the back. Prices start at £54,965, which counts as highly competitive these days, although two option packs – Drivers and Lux – cost £1,495 each and will probably prove too tempting to resist.
Three good: Huge rear lounge, Ford base and bargain potential
Two bad: Option packs bump up the price and only the 130bhp engine comes as standard
Perfect for… Anyone who loves a rear lounge
Also consider: Auto-Sleeper Broadway EL, Bailey Autograph 69-2, Pilote P696U and Roller Team Auto-Roller 747
Take three – another mixed bag
A random selection of three products this week, all with a common aim, of course – to help you get out there and make the most of the outdoors.
Firstly, no camping trip is complete without a good walk… and that’s why a decent pair of walking boots is, for most of us, an absolute essential. There are plenty of brands out there and the trick is getting to know at least one that perfectly suits your needs, comfort and support expectations.
You won’t go far wrong with something like the Expeditor Trek from Berghaus, for example. At around £100 they’re bang-on for price, with a great spec for the money – suede uppers, waterproof lining, mesh ventilation and well-padded.
Pop an extra blanket in your van and, again, I’m sure you’ll find it will become an essential. Something like the Hoodligan from Kelty, at around £45, can be used as a blanket or a poncho. It’s double-sided, with soft-brush fabric and insulation layers, and stuffs into a little sack when not in use.
Don’t forget your base layers, either. Your first line of personal insulation? Again, these make all the difference in cooler weather. Something like the EDZ Women’s Merino Wool Base Layer Zip Neck Top Graphite with Contrast Stitching – that really is its official name – is 100 per cent fine wool that will wick away any perspiration and dry quickly.
Expect to pay around £50 and you get a garment like this that’s a better performer than anything cotton or synthetic.