I work as the designer for Practical Motorhome’s sister title, Mountain Bike Rider, and last year was asked to help out as a model – I’m the green-jerseyed cyclist you’ll have spotted on the front cover of Practical Motorhome issue 254!

As a very generous thank you, I was given the chance to borrow the magazine’s long-termer, an offer I was more than happy to take up.

I’m an occasional camper, usually at cycling events and music festivals, but have always gone with the budget option of sleeping under canvas, so I was very keen to see how the other half live.

My wife, Clare, and I decided that a long weekend Lake District tour with our dog Colin would be the perfect test of what it’s like to live in a motorhome. We were both excited, but I was quite nervous, mostly about the driving: the 7.37m-long Bailey Autograph would be by far the largest vehicle that I’ve ever driven.

Ben Smith and his wife Clare

I quickly got used to driving on the open road, but remained nervous about manoeuvring the vehicle in tight spaces and down narrower roads – the standard-fit reversing camera was useful, but given that many small modern cars are fitted with more comprehensive rear-facing cameras, I still felt the need to employ Clare as a second pair of eyes while I crept backwards!

As such, we decided it would be easiest to leave the ’van on its pitch once we were at Gillside Farm in Glenridding, on the edge of Ullswater, and walk around from there. There is plenty to do in the area, so we never felt the need to drive further afield, but check out our guide to the best campervan sites in the Lake District if you’d like to see our top picks in the area.

We aimed to make the most of the motorhome’s excellent facilities during our stay, cooking meals in the ample kitchen, and eating them under the roll-out awning, watching the sun setting behind the fells – wonderful! There was loads of room inside for Colin’s dog-bed, without us tripping over it constantly, and the storage under the fixed-corner bed swallowed up our paddle boards and hiking rucksacks with room to spare, meaning we never had to shuffle bags around the space as we might with a smaller vehicle.

Colin the dog

We found all of our campsite neighbours friendly, offering us motorcaravanning newbies advice on anything we had questions about, from electric hook-up to waste disposal, and making us feel very welcome. That fact, combined with the mostly good weather and truly stunning scenery, meant we thoroughly enjoyed our Lake District tour and the window into what it would be like to own such a vehicle: one we’d love to repeat given the chance.

Are you thinking of embarking on a UK tour? Then take a look at our guide to the best motorhome sites, where we reveal the standout destinations to head to from across the country.

Essential information:

Bailey Autograph 74-4

  • Price: £69,499
  • Berths: 4
  • Belts: 4
  • Base vehicle: Peugeot Boxer
  • Engine: 2.2-litre, 165bhp turbodiesel
  • Length: 7.37m
  • Width: 2.49m
  • Height: 2.71m
  • MTPLM: 3500kg
  • Payload: 445kg
  • Expenses: None

If you’re looking for your own four berth to embark on a tour in, you can also check out our guide to the best 4 berth motorhomes for further ‘van inspiration.

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