Caravan Challenge Over – So how was it?

July 24, 2017

So did we complete our challenge? Well, in one-word, no!

The challenge set by the Camping and Caravanning Club and Elddis was to visit the ten treasure houses in England and ten English gardens staying at Camping and Caravanning Club sites in a caravan kindly supplied by Elddis.

So here are the statistics:

Treasure houses 9 of 10

Gardens Visited 7

National parks visited 3

Miles travelled 4400

Campsites stayed at 12

Other Activities:
One mountain climbed (Snowdon), one safari park visited (Woburn), one Theme Park (Gullivers) cycled bikes and gone on many hikes.

The Result?

We failed. I’m disappointed we failed and felt we let the Camping and Caravanning Club and Elddis down by not succeeding on our challenge. It sounds easy visiting ten treasure houses and ten gardens in a year, but in reality, fitting it into everyday life has proved to be very difficult.

The Difficulties

So we came across a few hurdles that made the challenge hard and, in some cases, impossible. Treasure houses and campsites closing for extended periods of time over winter had a big effect on our plans.

The logistics of trying to visit a treasure house at the weekend was challenging. With most of the Treasure Houses, over a three-hour journey away from us, with school and work hours thrown into the mix, making travelling at weekends impossible on some occasions.

The Positives

We have stayed at some beautiful Camping and Caravanning Sites and really can’t fault any of them. Helpful staff, beautiful locations, and clean facilities have made for an enjoyable caravanning experience.

We have stayed at some places that, without the challenge, we would have never visited. It’s been great discovering new places to explore.

The Treasures houses have all been an individual, and we have enjoyed visiting them all.

Every Treasure House has made us feel very welcome, so a big thank to them.

Before the challenge, we had never been to a Treasure House!

One thing we have learnt is that there’s more to a Treasure House than just a house! Playgrounds, Gardens, lakes, boats, farms, trails are to name a few of the things we have discovered at Treasure Houses. Can’t help not to mention the great food too! Cups of Tea and slices of homemade cakes to keep us going on our challenge. 🙂

We had to adapt the challenge slightly and include National Parks to the Garden List. As a result of this, we stayed at a couple of our favourite sites: Beddgelert campsite in Snowdonia and Bellingham campsite in Northumberland.

Climbing Snowdon, cycling, touching Hadrian’s Wall and getting chased by cattle in a field made for some unforgettable experiences. I don’t think we will ever forget reaching the summit of Snowdon on a clear day with views you can only dream of.

The Caravan

We have discovered a new way to adventure and love Casper the caravan. He’s become part of the family and we even found ourselves talking to him (mad I know!) When we return him to storage at the end of a trip we always say “back home safely Casper.”

The caravan has provided us with a home on wheels, light, comfort and warmth especially appreciated during the cooler months.

Arriving at a site and being set up quickly has opened our eyes to one of the advantages of caravanning over tenting. Having a few comforts like a TV and electricity made life simpler and less stressful. Being able to just switch on the kettle anytime made me very happy (never turn down a cuppa!)

Casper the Caravan at Sunset

When the Olympics were on last year we were able to set up the TV in the awning and cheer on GB, which the kids loved. It’s little things that make all the difference!

The layout of the caravan suited us perfectly, and we can’t find fault with the workmanship of the caravan.

It’s not all been plain sailing with the caravan.

We have had a few narrow misses mostly down narrow streets in the dark resulting in Casper taking on a small injury. ( nothing drastic!)

We have learnt so much about caravanning in ten months – most importantly: don’t arrive at a campsite in the dark and attempt to hook up especially if you are novices like us! Having faith in the towing system is something I’ve personally had to overcome, and now I’m a lot more confident with our hitching up and towing ability.

The awning has not been without its moments! When it’s up, we love it, giving us a lot more space and storage.

Getting it up has caused a few problems and arguments! I put it down to us being inexperienced caravanners, and after seeking tips from fellow caravanners, we have got better at it.

We have become very fond of Casper; he’s like a member of the family. We will be very sad to say goodbye to him (going to be emotional) We hope he has enjoyed his adventures with us and has many more happy adventures to come.

We would like to thank the Camping and Caravanning Club and Elddis for asking us to take on this challenge and having faith in us to do it. We might have failed the challenge but gained so much more. We are actually quite proud of our achievement nine houses and nine gardens/National Parks in ten months is pretty acceptable. We couldn’t have done it without the support of the Camping and Caravanning club, and Elddis, so thank you guys we are taking away great memories and experiences.

A big thank you also to Peugeot for lending us a towing car and Vango for the Awning.

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Shell Grayston
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Shell Grayston

Mum to three kids and loves getting out and about with them. Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy getting out and about with their kids. You can often find Shell on Twitter @GetOutKids.

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  1. Hi,

    I have been reading a lot of articles in your website, but I’m looking now you have downsized from Citroen C4 (which has proper 5 or 7 seats) to Peugeot family hatchback. Do you have enough space for 5 people and what’s the reason for changing to smaller car?

    • Hiya,
      Unfortunately, our Citroen wasn’t powerful enough to tow the caravan for the challenge. We were so lucky to be leant the car from Peugeot 😀
      We were also finding that the back seats in the boot of the Citroen weren’t that big as the kids started to grow.
      But yes, the Peugeot estate was more cramped.
      We upgraded our Citroen to a second-hand Hyundai Santa Fe that was able to tow. We have been very pleased with the Hyundai Santa Fe. It towed our caravan down to southern Europe over the Alps and didn’t struggle at all. It is also a seven seater and has much larger seats in the back. The turning circle and reversing is also better than the Citroen, plus it is a 4×4, which has been useful a few times on muddy wet campsites!

  2. It’s a shame that you’ve failed the challenge but what a set of trips you’ve had, every cloud eh?!? When you were in Norfolk you should have ventured to the north Norfolk coast there are loads of awesome places to stay and lots to see as well. I live in north Norfolk so I am biased but I’d say is my favourite camp site in the country. I love to sit up at night and just observe the day change to night, the wildlife to be seen is incredible and the night sky is a well-kept natural secret. It’s also really close to the beach which is awesome on the lovely days for bit of paddling and sand castle building.

    • Hi Dan,

      Thanks for the tip. It looks a great site.

      We really liked visiting Norfolk, but it’s a long drive from where we live.  Mind you – we’ve only just got back from southern Europe with the caravan. Now that is a long trip!

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