Moving on


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).

image1Wellhouse 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.


12 thoughts on “Moving on”

  1. Traitor!

    The packing of a wet tent is an essential part of the joy of camping / backpacking.

    Seriously, I hope you enjoy it. The wife’s been on at me to buy one but I simply wouldn’t get enough use out of it to justify the cost – you can get a lot of hotel nights for £25k.

    Also, with a tent, you can just hop in your car and go out for the day. In a camper van, don’t you have to pack away the beds, wash everything up, stow all loose kit etc before driving off? Don’t you also have the smell of last night’s dinner / this morning’s breakfast riding along with you?

    1. It’s actually quicker to get up and go in the morning in a camper van. Two seconds to convert bed into rear seat. Chuck everything in the rear luggage space and away you go. No mud to contend with either. Don’t have to stay on camp sites either. Just find a quiet spot. I’d like to do a tour up the west coast of Scotland.

  2. Hi Robin. It’s a good looking machine you have there sir. I bought my VW in April and apart from a couple of nights in Norfolk, took it for a West coast island hop in early September. 1600 miles to Sandwood bay then turned south. It was marvellous. You would really enjoy it I’m sure. Best wishes.

  3. Hi Robin. So glad to hear you have now got a campervan. We love ours. It’s very handy for a night’s rest in the car park of the Park Hotel, Montrose, when you were too late to book a room for after the Challenge!! We belong to both the Caravan Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club, solely to gain access to their main campsites and even more so to gain access to their CL and CS sites which are each restricted to a maximum of five pitches: most have electric hook-ups and all have chemical toilet emptying facilities, many of these are situated in lovely remote and peaceful parts of the country: well worth joining both Clubs in our opinion. Good luck, Robin, enjoy your campervan.
    Ian and Jennifer Adamson

    1. Thanks. I’m already a member and will be exploring some of their sites over the next few years. I’m on the standby list for the Challenge next year but hopeful that I’ll get on and hopefully see you both.

  4. Looks super Robin. I empathise with the feelings you had on your first drive. A year last August I was terrified as I pulled mine out of the dealers and straight into the traffic in Preston. Within a few miles I loved driving it – actually prefer it to driving a car, apart from when on narrowish A and B roads with stone walls and no verges either side!
    Hope you have loads of fun with it.

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