Bryony SymesSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Travel and touring’ written by Bryony Symes
Summer has been off to a good start this year, with plenty of sunshine for me to gaze at through the office window. It soon had me itching to get out and enjoy the sunshine, though, so I skipped out of the office for a few days in favour of seaside treats.
I borrowed a rather sleek Ventura VR200 for the trip, which is very conveniently produced just outside Newton Abbot, just a few miles from the regional winner of our Top 100 Sites Guide, Ross Park Caravan Park.
The Ventura is brand new and boasts a starting price of under £30,000 for a fully functioning campervan, with plenty of optional extras that you can add on to create a 'van that is tailored to your needs. We were excited to try it out and see just how functional it is, testing out a loan 'van which had £7482 worth of kit added to it, bringing the total price to £37,477; still a very reasonable price for a 4-berth campervan.
With Ross Park being ideally located between the 'van collection point and my ultimate goal on the south coast, I decided to stay at the park and see for myself why it was so highly acclaimed. Despite arriving late, Helen was ready to greet me and show me around the site, giving a warm welcome that was gratefully received after a busy week. I was more than ready to wind down for a couple of days of peaceful exploring.
I've travelled to Devon several times in the last few years, tending to head to Torquay and Paignton for bustling town breaks, so I decided to try a different tack for this trip. The compact size of the Peugeot-based Ventura allowed me to head straight for the quiet lanes and charming villages in the countryside, avoiding the busy streets of the main towns.
And what a wonder of secret places you can discover when you delve into the network of lanes! Although some were a rather snug fit, and I avoided most of those with grass growing in the centre, there were hardly any other vehicles. By some luck I almost always met said fellow vehicles near a passing place, so there were no awkward deadlocks during my couple of days touring.
All of this allowed me to discover some true gems; places where I could unwind away from the crowds of the tourist traps. There were a few people about, yes, but they were mainly locals out walking their dogs, or going about their business. You can easily walk a mile down a footpath and not see another soul, and the scenery that will greet you when you set out on the South West Coast Path is spectacular.
Of course, there's also peace to be found on Dartmoor, which I visited just before I returned the 'van - only a slight detour further north and worth every mile. The wild ponies grazing and pretty foals prancing around the moor as I clambered up to Haytor Rocks provided a perfect backdrop. There was hardly another person in sight as I took in the view; the perfect way to end my first tour of the summer season.
Read the full feature of my adventures starting at p24 of the Summer Special issue, on sale 28 June.