We rented a motorhome in the the Peak District and the Derbyshire Dales for a weekend. It was our first time with a motorhome, so here’s how we got on…
Ben and I drove up from Portsmouth and picked up our Hey Campers Motorhome from the depot in Coalville, in Leicestershire. After a 20-minute introduction to our new friend, ‘Beni’, including the ‘garage’ at the back with a picnic table and chairs, the two double beds, and the operating system which you could control on an app, we were off.
With three nights kindly gifted from Hey Campers, we didn’t want to go too far, especially with the four-hour Coalville to Portsmouth drive either end, so we decided now would be a perfect time to explore the Peak District and Derbyshire Dales, just an hour away.
Driving a motorhome in the Derbyshire Dales
Both of us were nervous about driving the motorhome.
‘Beni’ the Benimar is 6.99 metres long (22’11”), 2.30 metres (7’7″) long, and 2.89 metres (9’6″) wide – how do we get it through those little Peak District villages?
I stepped up for the first drive, from the nice, big, motorway roads around the Coalville depot, and into the Derbyshire Dales. The in-built motorhome sat nav took some getting used to, me having been a full-time Google Maps user before.
It’d been programmed to avoid tighter roads, and to give prior warning to any sort of hazards – but we couldn’t get the volume to work.
Cue me missing a turning and ending up on a skinny uphill path to a church viewpoint, with little scope for error on the eventual 5-point turn to get back down the hill. The Friday lunchtime retirees in their soft tops were queueing up behind me to get back on track via the hairpin turn at the bottom of the path.
I did it. And I’m stronger because of it.
Apart from that little misdemeanour, the motorhome journey into the Derbyshire Dales was relatively trouble free. I definitely got my motorhome driving stripes going through the small streets of Ashbourne, and successfully exiting the other side with no scrapes, or even near scrapes actually.
Prepping for a motorhome in the Peak District
In my prep for driving a motorhome in the Peak District I’d learned that I should stick next to the white road marking down the middle of the road, I should also go a little slower, and pull out more on junctions, before I turn. All excellent tips for our Peak District motorhome adventure, so it turned out.
Hey Campers have a motorhome pitch at the Knockerdown Inn, near Ashbourne and Carsington Water. On site there’s the pub, a few animals and a currently closed shower block. It’s clean, tidy and peaceful. Just what we wanted.
Also, conveniently, just 30 minutes away from where my parents live. So, we stayed there and they came to join us for a motorhome BBQ. It was the first time I’d seen them in six months, so it was all pretty exciting and frantic!
It was great to be able to just set up the bucket BBQ just outside though, and have cold food and drinks from the fridge. The ease of having a water supply and toilet too just proves why the motorhome movement is growing.
Sleeping in the motorhome
Having rented campervans before, having the toilet and shower of the motorhome was just absolute dreams. It made everything so much easier.
I had a hot shower every day, two on the Saturday after our cycling, and there was space to get washed, and dried. There’s a cupboard in the bathroom to keep all your stuff to hand too.
Ben’s 6 foot 3, and fitting in the motorhome lengthways was snug. We were so tired by the end of each of our three days, we both managed it fine, but with me picking the short straw and being on the inside, I did wake up after flailing my arms at the wall a few times. By the third night I was totally used to it.
Hey Campers can give you pillows and a duvet if you like, but I’d recommend taking your own just for some home comforts. We slept well on our three nights in the motorhome.
“With Hey Campers we’ve added lots of personal touches and special extras, to make sure trips in one of our motorhomes, will be truly memorable. These include luxury bed linen, made to order food hampers, 5G enabled WIFI fitted as standard and premium sports and movie channels.
Our ambition is to also explore ‘money can’t buy’ experience stays and to get the message across to all our customers that with a Hey Campers hire they can have holidays they’ll remember for a lifetime. Just last year, Adam and I were sitting in our motorhome Tillie in Jersey overlooking the beautiful St Ouen’s bay. As I watched the waves crashing over the rocks, Adam made us a Sunday lunch with roast lamb and all the trimmings. We sat down in this perfect location to enjoy our meal and I remember thinking, what more could you want? That’s what I want for all our holidaymakers.”– TRUDI LILLEY, HEY CAMPERS OWNER
Driving a motorhome in the Peak District
On the Saturday morning we chilled in the motorhome listening to music on the Bluetooth speaker they gave us, and me cooking up a bacon sandwich for us for breakfast. I loved the design of the motorhome, every cupboard was so carefully thought out, and the way the cooker and sink could adapt to be just surface areas created more space in the motorhome.
In the afternoon we walked the 12 minutes down to Carsington Water and rented electric bikes to cycle up the Dales and round the reservoir. We covered around 20 miles and were very grateful for the electric boost going up those hills.
By the end we were ready to get back to our motorhome and get showered and a cold drink.
Some local friends (Jen and Ollie) came to meet us and we had some ‘English sparkling wine’ (sounds better when you say Champagne) sat outside the motorhome before venturing over to the Knockerdown Inn for dinner. One of the benefits of parking up near a rural pub!
On the Sunday we were eager to get out on an adventure, and have a drive in the Peak District. Here’s the map of our adventures if you want to see our route.
We drove to Matlock Bath – parking the motorhome on the side of a wide road as I couldn’t see how we’d fit in the car park. We mooched about and got a coffee while admiring the many motorbikes in the village. This is a great place to stop for breakfast.
Chatsworth House was our next stop. One of the most popular stately homes in England. I’d actually been a few times before, as a kid, so it was really nice to see it again now I’m all grown up.
We were allowed to park the motorhome for £5 on this one occasion – although you’re meant to prebook. I think if it’d been any busier, they wouldn’t have let us. We could wander the grounds, and see the little baby lambs just being cute, but unfortunately we couldn’t get in the house without a prior booking.
After an hour of mooching, napping and sending up the drone here, we went to see our friends at the Maynard Arms, in Grindleford. Another fun Peak District motorhome experience in trying to get it parked, over two spaces, by the train station. With no parking guidelines there, and the payment machines covered, we decided it was free.
At the Maynard Arms they had a band on outside, and Sunday lunches. Absolute dreams with great views of the Peak District all round. The food was amazing. I feel like I’ll be searching for a sweet and sour duck dish as delicious as that one for the rest of my life.
It was so good.
From there it was a quick trip further north to the ‘Surprise View’ to see what that was (see pics) before we drove the hour back to the Knockerdown Inn, and our campsite for the night.
Top tips for driving a motorhome in the Peak District
– All journeys take longer than the sat nav says. Either through village traffic, cautious driving on bends or just admiring the view.
– The views out of the huge front window are fab.
– Avoid Winnats Pass! I’d originally planned to drive up to Mam Tor and walk around up there, everything I read online said to avoid Winnats Pass at all costs, if you’re in a motorhome.
– Parking can be difficult. We were there on a sunny weekend in April and the car parks were full, especially in Matlock Bath. We parked on the side of the road and tucked in well. We did the same in Grindleford with no dramas, but it’s up to you to decide if its safe and legal.
What to bring on your Peak District motorhome trip
– As little as possible! There’s definitely a good amount of storage on board, but I think it takes a while to get used to it. If you only have a weekend I’d recommend bringing the bare minimum.
– Bring a blanket though. We would’ve liked to sit out for longer in the fresh air, but it was too cold!
– Bring your own duvet and pillows. Always nice to have your home comforts, and sometimes I forget how much time and money Ben and I have invested in our bedding – makes it difficult to sleep under anything else!
– Milk. I was so prepared with food and snacks, and booze, and even coffee. But, I totally forgot about the milk. At the Knockerdown there aren’t any shops within walking distance, and we couldn’t really face the parking in the little co ops we saw around. I should’ve remembered in Matlock Bath really.
Hiring a motorhome from Hey Campers
Hire a motorhome with Hey Campers and it comes with all the utensils you could ever want, and a BlueTooth speaker, and Now TV too. There’s a whole list of extras to choose from. The staff are all really lovely and just want you to have a great time. We stayed close in the Peak District in our motorhome, but one of the others was in Cornwall, and another was heading up to do the North Coast 500 in Scotland. You can go where you like!
Hey Campers have six motorhomes to choose from – Tillie, Beni, Lexie, Lillie, Minnie and, Tessie – to suit different party sizes and budgets. Check out their late availability page for the best deals, but I’d also recommend getting in there early as summer 2021 in England is bound to be hectic.
“We’ve already seen booking for half of our summer availability this year and feedback from campsites is that they’ve seen a rise in enquiries too. If holidaymakers can’t go abroad, then the chance to take to the open road and discover something new in the UK is a popular alternative, especially as motorhomes provide self-contained living with onboard bathrooms and kitchens.”– Trudi
Driving a motorhome in the Peak District
Driving around the Peak District in a motorhome was much simpler than I thought – just don’t overthink it. Next time I’d research a few different campsites, so we can explore more of the north of the Peak District, but for our first time in a motorhome, I think we did everything right!