We’ve just returned from a week in our caravan in the Derbyshire Peak District. We stopped at a site within a walled garden on the grounds of Chatsworth House. On arrival the lovely lady in reception gave us a door key, explaining it was for entry into the Park. We unhitched, set the caravan and awning up, enjoyed a grape-based refreshment then headed off excitedly to the magic gate in the wall.
Wow. Literally (in its literal sense) breath-taking. Beautiful parkland stretched out before us, running up to a wooded hill, and there to our right, majestic before a beautiful stone bridge over the winding River Derwent, stood the House itself, the sun glistening off the gold paint and the towering fountain, looking out over rolling hills of grassland (reminded me of the teletubbies!?!). Now this is why we bought a touring caravan.
We spent the days walking through the woods up to the Hunting Tower, around lakes, over hills, down dales, through caves and along rivers, and treating ourselves to a dinner at a tiny village called Edensor, situated entirely within the Estate grounds. Afterwards we walked in the twilight through a herd of deer back to the van. Beat that Costa Del Wherever!
OK Yes, I know, and no, the sun did not shine all of the time, and yes, we did get hailed on at the most bleak part of a moor with not even a tall bush to shelter by, so there can be a downside. Like the time I hitched everything up carefully then wondered why the car wouldn’t move. After glancing round to see if anyone was watching (they were), I realised I hadn’t pulled up the jockey wheel. I jumped into the car red-faced, only to find it still wouldn’t move. I’m sure I heard a few sniggers as I realised I hadn’t wound up the legs of the van and had gouged 4 6-feet grooves across the ground …
I was amazed to read the results of a recent survey and the incredible insurance claims that fellow caravanners have made.
One of the most bizarre claims involved a couple driving home after their caravan holiday who suddenly heard a loud bang. They pulled over to investigate, and a pigeon had fallen out of a tree and smashed through the window. In fact, the bird caused so much damage that it cost them around £1,000 to replace the glass.
And in another case, when severe storms hit the UK, many people naturally expected to find some debris in their garden – but one caravan owner found next door’s trampoline had landed on top of his caravan causing around £6,000 damage.
Another caravanner was the victim of an expensive prank when someone super-glued her caravan doors shut, and another put his caravan into storage at the end of the summer, only to find when he went to spring clean it that someone had stolen all the seats.
Travelling the UK’s narrow country roads with a caravan in tow can also be a risky business, even for the most confident of owners, never mind me. One enthusiast used his Sat Nav to find his chosen caravan park, and followed the directions to the letter only to find himself stuck fast along a tight stretch of road – although he was unharmed, his caravan wasn’t and the scratches along the side of the vehicle cost more than £1,000 to fix.
It’s clear that more and more people, my family included, are turning to the joys of caravanning for their holidays, but the evidence is also clear that it’s vital to have the right kind of insurance cover in place – you never know what might happen!