From camper van hire to avid owner, read how Mary Tolcher’s dreams of the simple life of touring have finally been fulfilled, three motorhomes on

Long ago, my first husband hired an old VW camper van, in which we toured Scotland. That started my longing to have one…

I had this idea about having a mini-van, with a mattress and a gas ring in the back, and getting back to Scotland. Sadly, it never came off.

‚The years passed, I remarried, and we became caravanners. On a trip back from Scotland, we passed what would have been a wonderful wild camping spot if we’d had a motorhome. It started us thinking, so we looked at a few.

One small problem: we needed around £20,000 to buy one, and the money we had was locked into a long-term investment.

We didn’t win the lottery, but the Halifax contacted us and said we could re-invest our money for a better return. I don’t think they had in mind the investment we ended up making, but we have never regretted buying our first motorhome!

It was a Lunar Roadstar 780, which we called Grenville and was about as different from a VW camper van as possible. It was huge, so parking was a problem, and we barely fitted onto some pitches.

After a few months, we decided it was a bit on the large side, so we started looking for something smaller. Enter Grenville 2, an Auto-Trail Cheyenne 630, which was the ideal size.

We had Grenville 2 for five-and-a-half years, and had a wonderful time touring Britain and France in her.

We planned to downsize to a van conversion with an automatic transmission when Derek’s Motability contract ran out, then use it as our daily drive.

We loved the idea of being able to go off anywhere and have a cup of tea, use the loo (important as you get older!) or have a snooze, perhaps even stay the night.

Having a narrower vehicle would mean going where Grenville would have been a tight fit, and not having to worry about tractors knocking off our overtaking mirrors.

I diligently searched the used motorhomes for sale pages online but automatic ’vans were quite scarce, and finding one to suit us was difficult.

Then a 2006 Devon conversion on a Renault Master automatic came up at Barnstaple.

It was ideal for us and I think we knew we would be coming home with it before we even saw it. Derek even christened it ‘Riley’ on the way there!

The worst part was transferring the contents of a coachbuilt into a van conversion – I couldn’t believe how much stuff we had accumulated.

We love our life in Riley, and I have finally got my own camper van. Hopefully, we will be touring in it happily ever after for many years to come!

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