Rory White

See other Blog articles filed in ‘Travel and touring’ written by Rory White
With a party of seven and a weekend at Glastonbury Festival to survive, Practical Motorhome's Bailey Approach Advance 665 was called into service

We'd done it! Two desktop computers, two laptops, lots of coffee and clicking had resulted in six Glastonbury tickets. They were expensive, yes, but given the amazing time four of us had had two years previously, we weren't worried.

On that occasion we'd taken a two-berth Bailey Approach 620 SE, but this time we were seven, and the Bailey Approach Advance 665 was called into action. Don't worry, we hadn't overlooked the fact it's a six-berth 'van – three people had agreed to camp in a large tent beside us on the pitch.

Now, one of the biggest attractions of spending the extra on a motorhome pitch is the ability to have at least one warm shower during a potentially very soggy four days. With seven people to cater for I needed serious reliability from the Bailey's water heater, so I headed out to investigate.

I was met with a control panel I'd never seen before, and while it was extremely simple to use all the main functions, I was having trouble switching the water heater from mains power to gas. You see, Glastonbury has few luxuries, and certainly doesn't have mains hook-up. 

No amount of fiddling and seat-lifting solved the problem so I called Bailey, who were fantastic. Technical guru Ian knew what the problem was; it was a simple press and hold of a button to unlock a switchable menu, which could be cycled to gas. Solved!

The day came around to pack and go, and finding places to store food, drink and luggage for seven was no issue in the 665's huge range of cupboards, drawers and cubbyholes. We were four for the journey down, and there wasn't any complaining from the two rear passengers. Both felt comfortbale and had a great view of Stonehenge against a purple sky as we headed towards Worthy Farm.

The 665 might be the biggest Approach Advance on sale, but it's a surprisingly easy thing to handle. The steering is easily light enough at low speeds to manoeuvre its large bulk, and having such large mirrors makes spotting obstacles during tight turns extremely easy. Only rear parking sensors or a reversing camera would make life a bit easier.

It's a cinch to drive at higher speeds too. The engine had plenty of grunt for hauling four people and luggage across our rolling countryside route, and the 665 remained steady even up at the legal limit. 

On arrival, we were disappointed to find both the screws holding the wardrobe door and toilet roll holder had managed to work themselves free. The first person to use both was left with said article in their hand, with a worried face. However, these two setbacks were the only issues. 

Everything else was nigh on perfect. The rear double, made up from the lounge seating, went up in seconds and was genuinely comfortable. The side seating double was similarly easy to erect, if not quite long enough for my lanky friends. We didn't use the drop-down double above it, but I wasted no time in wowing the crowds with its electric operation. All were very impressed.

There's no mains at Glastonbury, and the water is a good walk away too – something I found out when trying to lug water containers 600m two years before. This year I was prepared, with two Aquarolls and feeling smug. Until, that is, it came to getting the water in the 'van. I had no pump.

Liking a challenge, my friends and I fashioned a funnel from two plastic tonic water bottles and spent each morning filling the Bailey's 90-litre water tank. It was worth it, because seven people ate, washed up and showered each morning on a tank.

The kitchen area was only really used for cooking bacon and warming pizzas but, even so, the cooker warmed up quickly and evenly while the hob helped us heat water and provide the all-important morning bacon sandwiches. 

The leisure battery required little attention over the four days, too, dropping from 13.7 volts to around 12.1 over the course of our stay and never giving up on providing decent light inside and out.

On our journey home, everybody agreed that the 665 had been perfect. Just big enough to cater for seven, easily big enough to sleep four, and its quick-heating, reliable facilities provided everything from a shower to breakfast via a bright awning light to help remove our wellies at some ungodly hour in the morning. Verdict: fourteen thumbs up. 

It's just a pity we didn't see the other Practical Motorhome 'van that made the trip – read how the guys got on in the Benimar.

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