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Travel: Embrace life on the open road with a Dorset campervan trip

© Press Association ImagesRosie and Poppy in the campervan.
Rosie and Poppy in the campervan.

This is sick!” exclaims a very excited 10-year-old Poppy as we’re shown how to move the electric beds up and down in our campervan.

We’re in Poole to pick up our home on wheels for the weekend, and are heading to the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. Rosie, 13, can’t wait to unpack and fill all the cubby holes.

We’re renting it from Camplify, and our camper is a deluxe Roller Team T-Line 700.

I won’t be doing any of the driving. It’s scary enough being a passenger as my husband James guides this enormous beast through the town and I attempt to work out how to keep the satnav on, while catching flying water bottles and stopping things making clanking noises. But once we’re out of town and James gets into the groove of driving a 23ft vehicle, it feels more relaxing.

We’re staying at Pilsdon View, a campsite run by Terry and April, who do the rounds every night, delivering fire drums and wood, so we can gather round, keep warm and toast marshmallows.

It’s a great set-up, with showers better than lots of us have at home, flushing toilets, hot water, and a decent washing-up area. There’s no electric hook-up here and noise is discouraged late at night, meaning it’s popular with families.

The play park, bouncy hoppers and unicycles keep kids busy and there’s a van selling hot breakfasts in the morning, and burgers and hot dogs by night.

As we drive in, our names are all on a welcome board, and as we leave one day, April comes running after the camper, telling us our skylights are open (this isn’t allowed when you’re driving…we’re such novices).

© PA
A handout of the campervan Claire Spreadbury and her family stayed in.

But we’re here to explore and Dorset is full of sandy beaches, lush countryside and endless skies, whatever the weather. We head to West Bay and climb aboard a charter boat, the Dash of Lyme.

Uncontrollable shrieks and giggles fall out of our mouths as skipper Milo reads the crowd, providing the perfect balance of thrills to chills as we skid and bump over the waves. Sheer cliff-faces overlook sandy shores until we reach the highest point of the south coast, Golden Cap.

The adrenalin making us hungry, we nip over the road to Baboo Gelato – an ice cream kiosk. If you’re looking for something more substantial, the Watch House Cafe sits right on the beach at West Bay.

Back in the van, we weave our way through beautifully quaint villages as we meander around Dorset: the bustling market town of Bridport, pretty Abbotsbury, the undulating coastal roads taking us past Ringstead and Martinstown.

At Chesil Beach, kitesurfers zip through the sea while paddleboarders attempt not to wobble off. We head over the road to Chesil & Fleet Nature Reserve and discover Ferrybridge sand flats, an area that’s vital for bird and marine life. Seagulls bathe in pools of water, while a watchful heron waddles alongside them.

Sea spurge sprouts up from the ground, reaching up to baby blue skies framed with candy floss clouds. The girls play in the fresh air, taking smiley selfies. The breeze blows the cobwebs away as nature ignites our souls.

Another day, we walk from The Smugglers Inn at Osmington, down the pathway to the coast where we scramble over rocks and into the sea. There are only three other people on this part of the beach. I sit on a craggy boulder watching the light dance across the water like a glitter ball while Poppy’s shape-shifting shadow dances in the warm, evening sun.

© Press Association Images
Pilsdon View Camping.

We drive the van over to Weymouth – a busy seaside town with plenty of rides, sandcastles and sticks of rock. But grown-ups might prefer the vista in Rockfish, Mitch Tonks’ fish restaurant, which sits opposite the seafront.

Decorated in sea shades of turquoise and white with maps of the world adorning the walls, their own-brand Rockfish Sea Cider is super quaffable and slides down beautifully with some sourdough and salty seaweed butter.

We tuck into a feast of salt and pepper halloumi, freshly caught haddock and sea bass, chargrilled calamari and mountains of chips. Delightfully intriguing curried mushy peas are an absolute must, too.

On our final morning, we’re woken to the sound of summer raindrops on a tin roof. It seems a fitting end to our first van escape. Our bodies are tired from late-night campfires and early starts but we all agree Poppy is right – van life is pretty “sick”.


The Jurassic Coast is England’s only natural World Heritage Site, a beautiful landscape underpinned by geology of global importance, with rocks, fossils and landforms.


The Super Lux 6 Berth Motorhome can be hired from Camplify for £149 per day.Book a non-electric grass tent or motorhome pitch for two people from £18.50 a night at Pilsdon View Camping.