This has been a tough year. Mum’s illness and death has really taken its toll, but we have to move on. Just after mum died, I took delivery of a camper van. This is a totally new experience for me as I’ve never owned one before. Mark of Mark’s walking blog owns a Wellhouse Leisure Toyota Alphard and recommended it.
After doing a bit of research, the Alphard looked extremely good value. It’s about half the price of similarly specced vehicles like VW T5/6’s. Although it’s a very high quality conversion, the reason it’s such good value is that Wellhouse use imported second-hand Toyota Alphard’s from Japan that are over ten years old.
Despite the age, they are in very good condition and have a high spec, although without many of the many modern fripperies like a trip computer. The actual basis of the vehicle is similar to a Lexus RX300. They are either 2WD or 4WD and have either a 2.4L or a 3.0L V6 engine. I was really lucky to pick up a 4WD 3.0L V6 with low mileage (57,000, 2002 registration).
Wellhouse Leisure were great to deal with, especially for a neophyte like me. Once I’d selected my base model, I added some extras: leather seats, Cat1 alarm & immobilser, double din stereo, lagged/heated water tanks, bike rack, cruise control and solar panel. Total cost was £24,050.
I’ve never driven a vehicle larger than a car, so driving back from Wellhouse’s premises near Huddersfield was a little nerve-wracking. However, I soon got used to the high driving position and different controls. The V6 engine is a real boon as it has plenty of power and decent acceleration for a large vehicle.
My only criticism is that it only has a four-speed automatic gearbox (Toyota didn’t fit five-speed until 2005). For motorway cruising, it revs higher than I’m used to. However, it’s nice and relaxing to drive , even at higher speeds.
So far I’ve taken it on one trip. My mum’s funeral coincided with our daughter’s reading week break from university. Instead of taking the train back to Manchester, I drove her up and then spent a couple of days in the Lake District, staying at Braithwaite camp site.
Compared with staying in a tent, it’s luxurious, especially in cold weather (it’s got a heater than runs off the petrol tank). On the middle night I camped out on the fells, but the next morning the weather turned unsettled with sleety showers so I went back to the van and spent a lazy day. The next day, I decided to go home. It was wonderful not to have a wet tent to pack.
I’m still on a learning curve and have needed to buy a few bits and pieces. For the colder months, it’s fabulous. It opens up new opportunities. I’ll be off again mid-December for a couple of days before collecting our daughter again from university. I’ll probably just do a couple of day walks this time.
Some more pictures of the Alphard from the Wellhouse website
Mark is selling his Alphard because he wants a larger vehicle. If you’re interested he’s advertised it on preloved here
Disclaimer: I have no relationship with Wellhouse Leisure and paid for my Alphard with my own money.