Off to the Ferry

I’ve put up photo’s of some more of my wild camping locations. I’d picked a spot in one town but after parking up and sticking the roof up I decided that it might not be a good idea to stay for the night. It was a very high rent area of trendy flats, each of which had a balcony, and even at 9.30 in the evening many people were still sat out on them and had a grandstand view of me as I parked up. I had parked in a communal car park so I hadn’t “stolen” anyone’s place but I still seemed to be attracting a lot of attention.

I’d  decided to move somewhere a bit more discrete so I drove nearer the town centre and very soon discovered this place.

Bed-for-the-night-5

There were still people out on the balconies on the building in the background so I simply stopped and asked them if anyone would mind if I parked up there for the night. They didn’t mind in the least and even told me that as traffic wardens never checked I wouldn’t need to buy a ticket even if I stayed there after 8 next morning when the official charging period started. The very last “wild camp-site” I had before I returned to the UK was on the beach next to the ferry port at the Hook of Holland.

IMG_3167

It’s been really easy to “wild” camp in the van, I haven’t been moved on or approached by anyone, official or otherwise, telling me “You can’t park there”. The one time I decided to move camp-site,  I’d probably misinterpreted the attention I was getting. I realised this when a child and his Mum, who I’d thought were taking undue interest in me from their balcony, smiled, waved and gave me a thumbs up about the van as I drove away.

Showering was also easier than I thought it would be, almost all the towns I visited had a swimming pool where I could have a shower and a swim for a couple of euro’s.

Without the daily mileage deadlines of my original trip I now had more free time which allowed me to exploit my van and bicycle to avoid the tourist hordes and inflated parking charges. A case in point is my visit to a place in Holland called Kinderdijk. It’s a huge tourist draw because of the sheer number of windmills in a very small area. It even gets two big cruise ship visits each day from the adjacent river Maas. The car park, which was absolutely stuffed with cars and coaches when I arrived, cost €15 for my little camper.  I drove just half a mile down the road and parked for free in a layby and simply cycled back. The advertised entrance fee was €6 but I discovered that a cycle path ran through the site and, like a footpath in England, was absolutely free. I had a ride around when I’d first arrived but the whole place was wall to wall tourists and the light was horrible at midday.

Kinderjik-1

I rode back to the van and made some lunch, had a relaxing afternoon reading a book and chatting to people who’d come up to ask about the van and then, at about 6.30 I rode back to Kinderdjik where I had the place to myself and the lighting was much better.

Kinderjik-2

And one picture to show that some of the windmills still actually work although I doubt they are still used for pumping water.

Moving-Windmill

It’s been a funny old trip. It sounded OK when I planned it. All I had to do was average 150 miles a day and I’d get right around the Baltic Sea and see some of the sights of Europe. In practice it didn’t quite work out like that. My first stop after getting off the ferry was Rotterdam and I stayed there for two days as there was so much to see. It was well worth the extra day, but it meant I now had to drive 300 miles the next day just to keep on schedule. Achievable, but a bit of a slog in an old campervan and not really what I’d signed up for. This meant that every time I stopped, in the back of my mind was the fact that, somehow, I had to make that time up. With the benefit of hindsight I think I’d been too ambitious about the distance I could comfortably cover, especially as I wanted to spend time on photography. I also discovered that I missed having a travelling companion, F*** Off Fly doesn’t count as company as he couldn’t speak English, and neither does “Bruce”, the voice of the Satnav, even though we had many conversations about which lane we thought was best.

Skippy the campervan covered over 1200 miles in 10 days, worked perfectly the whole time’ didn’t use any oil, and was the centre of attention wherever we went. It’s a brilliant way to travel and I can’t wait to take a trip in him again. I was keeping track of how much fuel I put in and I’ve just worked out the average mpg .It came out at 56 miles per gallon, I’m either blessed with a very fuel efficient engine or I forgot to record a fuel stop or two.

Now I’m back home I’ll see if I can use photoshop to improve some of my pictures and if I can I’ll show then in a subsequent post.

Thanks everyone who followed my journey, sorry I didn’t get all the way around but there’s always next year, (in a convoy)!

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12 thoughts on “Off to the Ferry

  1. Just caught up on this Bob as I was away when you left. Loved the photos and loved following your stories; sorry it didn’t work out for the whole trip, but travelling on your own is a big undertaking, and as you say – a convoy would be so much more fun. I can’t imagine you would have much trouble getting a companion or two if you were to try again next year 🙂
    Catch you at Techenders in September.

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  2. I’ve loved following the blog posts and would love to see another soon with all your photography from the trip. Sorry you didn’t make it right round the Baltic, but chuffed to have you back home again 🙂

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  3. Hi Mark,
    Nice post, but please allow me to make some remarks. The entrance fee to Kinderdijk is 7,50 euro, (you get a discount on buying them in advance at www. kinderdijk.com), for which you get to see and experience the ins and outs of two different windmills and a film on the backgrounds of Kinderdijk. The entrance fee is used for the maintenance and upkeep of the area. Nineteen windmills take some finance to look after. After paying for a ticket and visiting the site as you should have you would have learned that yes these windmills do actually still pump water, which is about the essence of it all. Though they no longer pump water to keep our feet dry, other pump stations do. The reason why Kinderdijk is on the World Heritage list of Unesco you seemed to have missed. In Kinderdijk all stages, both historic and mechanical, of a watermanagement system are still visible and maintained.
    The ships embarking at Kinderdijk do so on the river Lek, which is a local name for the river Rhine. The river Maas you mentioned passes through Rotterdam after joining that same river Lek.
    Our parking fee would have been 7,50 euro for a car of your size. Where you ended up parking your van is illegal. You were lucky you were not fined. I live in Kinderdijk, and though at times it can be crowdy here, wall to wall tourists is an exaggeration. On the other hand, it would have been quite astonishing to find a site like this and not see tourists visiting it. Complaining about tourists while you cannot deny being one yourself is a bit off. Like going to a football stadium and complain about the people in the stands.
    Nice of you to drive your van through here, but I would reckon you would have gotten more than your money’s worth if you tried. I liked reading your post though.
    Better luck next time:-)
    Peter Paul Klapwijk
    Communications World Heritage Kinderdijk
    Also one of the millers of Kinderdijk

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  4. Thank you for your comments Peter. I stand corrected on the parking fee, as I drove in I was sure I’d seen the cost of €15 for motorhomes which is often how campervans are charged. I don’t think where I eventually parked was illegal though, as it was beside a sign for motorhome parking. I do take your point about the irony of a tourist moaning about too many tourists but it was purely from a photographic viewpoint which is why I settled down in my van and waited for better light. I didn’t enter the site until about 7pm by which time everyone, including the staff, had gone home.
    I’d also like to add that I had a fantastic visit to Holland and everyone I met there was very welcoming and helpful, it’s also the most bike friendly place I’ve ever been.

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