UK staycation: Touring Cornwall in a VW campervan and falling love with a vintage lifestyle

Motorists wave because the vintage campervan rumbles into view. A warning that lights are on the blink or the exhaust is falling off? The latter appears most certainly as there’s a deep growl coming from an outdated engine lurking underneath the boot. But no, it’s simply one other pleasant greeting from fellow free-spirited drivers who love the enduring Volkswagen bus.

This yr, with the uncertainty of worldwide journey, a campervan makes for a good bubble, with out the necessity to trouble with lodge rooms, and a perfect retreat, particularly if you wish to go to the Cornish hotspots.

The cult of the ‘Vee Dub’ started in the ‘flower power’ period of the Sixties, with its capability to move motorists on a music-festival journey offering a image of freedom. Yet its origins sprung from the ashes of Nazi Germany.

'Pootling along at little more than 40mph, you feel king of the road,' writes The Mail on Sunday's Toby Walne (pictured above)

‘Pootling alongside at little greater than 40mph, you’re feeling king of the street,’ writes The Mail on Sunday’s Toby Walne (pictured above)

Tight squeeze: The picture-postcard port of Mousehole has a steep drive down to the harbour

Tight squeeze: The picture-postcard port of Mousehole has a steep drive right down to the harbour

The bus was unveiled on the 1949 Geneva Motor Show as an financial method to escape post-war austerity. Over the subsequent 4 many years, 5 million campers rolled off the manufacturing line. The first fashions had been nicknamed ‘splitties’ because the windscreen was made up of two panes of glass. The ‘bay window’ adopted in 1967 and in 1979 a box-shaped ‘wedgie’ mannequin arrived.

Our campervan Olive (all of them have a identify) is a 1973 bay window from close to Falmouth in Cornwall. She is a two-litre Westfalia mannequin, with a pop-up roof so as to add area. With a high bunk, the van sleeps as much as 4. Inside is a small kitchen – range, cool-box fridge, sink, desk, and plenty of utensils. 

Adverts of the interval present photos of a healthful household having fun with a carefree picnic beside the tiny present dwelling on wheels. It harks again to a bygone period earlier than motorway site visitors jams, the web and smartphones had been invented, and it’s this nostalgic want to unplug from fashionable life that lures lovers.

Once settled in Olive, we take the 20-mile drive south to the wild shoreline of Lizard Point for a cliff stroll. Sitting in the driving-seat excessive chair with a steering wheel the scale of a dustbin lid hovering above the lap, it takes a whereas to loosen up and go with the circulation. Looking on the van clock, completely fastened at a quarter to 9, time slows proper down however doesn’t really cease.

Pootling alongside at little greater than 40mph, you’re feeling king of the street and you’ve gotten a clear means forward as you snake by slim rural lanes – as a result of different motorists should comply with behind.

Olive gives a nice finances journey for one or two, plus there’s room for 2 children to make for a enjoyable household break.

Toby describes the van as having a 'Tardis-like quality'. Pictured is a neat little kitchen area, revealed behind a sliding door

Toby describes the van as having a ‘Tardis-like high quality’. Pictured is a neat little kitchen space, revealed behind a sliding door

The hippy vibes of Henry’s Campsite at The Lizard encourage campers to take a seat round campfires and unwind. Rolling up as a couple, our pitch prices £32.

The considered washing dishes at a campsite may be a turn-off for a lot of. For us, the built-in fuel range is used for boiling the kettle and the ample meals larder is became a gin palace. For meals, visits to pubs in simple strolling distance are justified due to the financial savings constructed from not staying in a swanky lodge, Airbnb or bed-and-breakfast – all of that are already booked up.

A spur-of-the-moment choice to journey 30 miles north-west to the picture-postcard port of Mousehole is straightforward in a campervan – travelling like a snail with lodging on board. But it nonetheless takes greater than an hour to navigate the maze of hedge-lined paths, and a regular nerve for the steep drive right down to the harbour. 

Rugged: Toby drove to the wild coastline of Lizard Point for a cliff walk and to soak up the stunning views

Rugged: Toby drove to the wild shoreline of Lizard Point for a cliff stroll and to take in the beautiful views 

An outdated sea-salt car-park attendant gives sage recommendation – reverse into a parking spot, somewhat than head-first, as in any other case it might be a battle to depart. Fortunately, by now the artwork of discovering reverse gear and managing the trombone-like handbrake is mastered.

Next cease is Padstow, the place you may merely flip up at Dennis Cove Campsite and discover a ‘wild’ place for £33. But to ensure a area, it is best to at all times telephone forward. At the highest of the hill overlooking the harbour there isn’t any electrical energy to plug into or water faucet – and the spotlessly clear rest room block is 200 yards away. Yet for tranquillity, that is a good pitch.

Padstow is a gastro delight and the Halfway House Inn at close by St Jidgey gives one thing particular: a £49 seven-course meal, every small however good dish paired with a completely different glass of beer from Sharp’s Brewery. A spotlight is wild sea bass trawled from the ocean that morning by the fisherman father of waitress Kelly, and washed down with Atlantic Pale Ale.

Toby spent a day at the tropical gardens of the Eden Project, which is one of Cornwall's tourist hotspots

Toby spent a day on the tropical gardens of the Eden Project, which is one in all Cornwall’s vacationer hotspots 

There is a Tardis-like high quality to the best way Olive swallows up baggage but nonetheless gives area to take a seat again and loosen up with a ebook on the retro inexperienced and white rear couch. At evening a ‘rocknroll’ mechanism signifies that it takes simply a second to show this cosy sofa into a double mattress.

Following a day journey to the tropical gardens of the Eden Project, the Stay Wild campsite close to Helston boasts personal en suite luxurious perfect for a modest camper however offering the perfect of each worlds. For £70, you get your personal three-acre area and a shepherd hut-style annexe – inside which is a gleaming lavatory with roll-top bathtub, bathe, two sinks and flushing lavatory.

The journey over, it’s lastly time to rejoin the twenty first Century and the fun of street congestion as we depart Cornwall. The solely aid is an occasional sight of an outdated campervan – and with a wave, we want the occupants peace and love.


Toby Walne was a visitor of Camplify, which has particulars of greater than 5,000 van homeowners worldwide who lease out their automobiles ( He was additionally a visitor of Sharp’s Brewery. Olive got here from Happy Days Camper Hire. Seven-night rent from £495 (