...and we're off! The beginnings of life in a carpet van.

Haweswater Reservoir, Lake District, England, UK


Having got to know each other over long, stressful nights in the library, the least organised History students in our year, it's hardly surprising that Dan and I struggle to get ourselves together before a (hopefully) long trip. Despite slogging and saving for over a year in preparation, we found ourselves committed to leaving our jobs forever in two weeks time, with no van to move into, half a flat full of things and Dan still learning to drive. 


A final weekend camping on Dartmoor. 

Haweswater Reservoir, Lake District, England, UK


Just as we were coming around to the idea that we might have bitten off more than we could chew this time, we finally found an affordable enough van that passed the scrutiny of our valued advisers, in a stroke of genius Dan passed his driving test first time and mostly thanks to our friends and Dan's family in Exeter, we were on the road and trundling up to Scotland with a home-made bed in the back within a couple of weeks of being unemployed. This in itself was a worry; previously a very nervous and somewhat uncoordinated driver, I'd never ventured onto the motorway and Dan was fresh out of L-plates. We left at 5am to avoid traffic.


The little guy roared along at 57mph with few problems other than the slight panic of being sucked into passing lorries and we were in the Lake District by lunch time. 


Far from the haven of tranquility we were hoping for, an expanse of green on our ragged road map, Windermere and Ullswater lakes were crowded with holiday makers. We bumbled around single track roads in search of a peaceful lay-by for an hour or two before striking gold in late afternoon at Haweswater Reservoir.


Haweswater Reservoir, Lake District, England, UK


Aside from a few midges, our first night was everything we could have dared hope for and we continued up North the next morning refreshed enough to just about survive the trauma of navigating through Glasgow at lunch time.


Haweswater Reservoir, Lake District, England, UK
Haweswater Reservoir, Lake District, England, UK
Haweswater Reservoir, Lake District, England, UK


After a crackled and confused phone-call:


"We've just gone past Rest and be Thankful. Where are you?"

"Rest and be Thankful"

"Yes, where are you?!"



- we realised that my mum and cousin Emma (who were also driving back from Dorset) had caught us up in one morning and were reunited for the final stretch through the highlands towards Kennacraig and the ferry for Islay.


Rest and be Thankful junction, Scotland, UK
"Rest and be Thankful" junction
The Dower House, Isle of Islay, Scotland


Finally able to relax, we're staying on Islay with my family, patching up some final rusty holes in our van and stuffing our faces with all the types of food that we know will soon be too extravagant to justify. 


Keep posted for details on converting an old carpet-fitters van into a camper for less than £200 if you're interested and more photos of Islay and (hopefully) our onward journey into Europe. 





With special thanks to all of our friends and family in Exeter, especially Rod for his tireless help and advice regarding all things to do with the van, Jan for her beautiful curtains and hospitality, Will for letting us mess up his flat for over a year, Morgan and Ivan for relieving us of our unwanted furniture and the good people of Exmouth for putting up with me and for their van-warming presents. You will all be sorely missed.

The Dower House, Isle of Islay, Scotland

Write a comment

Comments: 32
  • #1

    Natasha von Geldern (Wednesday, 20 July 2016 10:41)

    Marvellous photos Katie and I'm so excited for you and Dan! Looking forward to future posts ...

  • #2

    Katie Featherstone (Wednesday, 20 July 2016 10:50)

    Thanks Natasha! We're excited too! :)

  • #3

    Becky Padmore (Wednesday, 20 July 2016 14:14)

    Oh wow what a special adventure can't wait to read what happens next! Beautiful photos as usual!

  • #4

    Katie Featherstone (Wednesday, 20 July 2016 18:15)

    Thanks Becky! :)

  • #5

    Paul Burbery (Thursday, 21 July 2016 22:18)

    Great photos Katie. Good to see the old van made it as far as Scotland! I'm Looking forward to reading more of your blog to hopefully inspire me to go further afield in mine.

  • #6

    Katie Featherstone (Friday, 22 July 2016 09:38)

    Thanks Paul! Yeah, you're fully kitted out so why not?!

  • #7

    Zoe (Saturday, 23 July 2016 19:25)

    So cool! Looking forward to reading about your adventures :) And I'm sure the driving will get less stressful with time... (says me who outright refuses to drive in Italy despite living here 4 years...)

  • #8

    Katie Featherstone (Saturday, 23 July 2016 19:30)

    Thanks Zoe! Yeah, Italy sounds terrifying, I'm hoping to avoid any cities there!

  • #9

    Shikha (whywasteannualleave) (Monday, 01 August 2016)

    Oh my goodness, what an exciting adventure for you both!! Really admire your sense of discovery and adventure and looking forward to keeping abreast of all your upcoming travels :)

  • #10

    Beth W (Friday, 19 August 2016 11:07)

    Gorgeous photos, really happy for you guys :-D xxx

  • #11

    Nicholas(Journalofnomads) (Monday, 12 December 2016 19:47)

    You guys are really an inspiration!!Having your van to travel around at your own pace looks so practical and convenient.You're not only a talented writer but an amazing photographer!Really loved this article!

  • #12

    Katie Featherstone (Monday, 12 December 2016 22:07)

    Haha, thanks Nicholas.

  • #13

    Jenni (Saturday, 07 January 2017 18:17)

    I would love to do something like this but the ability of not driving sort of holds me back lol.

  • #14

    Katie Featherstone (Saturday, 07 January 2017 18:23)

    Dan only just learnt too Jenni :)

  • #15

    Megan Indoe (Saturday, 07 January 2017 19:08)

    Ahh I want to do this so bad! I just imagine all the awesome adventures you can get into with your own little camper van! You guys have already found some incredible scenery! This is just making me want to do this even more! I hope to see more updates on your adventures!

  • #16

    Katie Featherstone (Saturday, 07 January 2017 19:39)

    Hi Megan,

    Thanks for all your kind words and I hope you get the chance some day too. It might not be as difficult as you think.

    Happy New Year!

    Katie :)

  • #17

    Danik (Sunday, 08 January 2017 16:37)

    So need to visit Dartmoor now. I lived on these islands all my life, traveled all over and somehow missed out on Dartmoor. Great write up and loving the photos

  • #18

    Katie Featherstone (Sunday, 08 January 2017 16:49)

    It is a bit far out of the way for a lot of people, but definitely worth visiting if you're anywhere near!

  • #19

    melody pittman (Monday, 09 January 2017 02:02)

    Your travel van life looks amazing. What gorgeous scenery you are witnessing. Have a wonderful time and stay safe. ;) Awesome photos.

  • #20

    Erika Bisbocci (Monday, 09 January 2017 02:10)

    What a beautiful countryside! Roadtripping in a campervan seems like such a fun way to travel. I'd love the freedom that comes with it! Fabulous photos! I'm not really a lover of driving myself, but perhaps my boyfriend would take the wheel!

  • #21

    Katie Featherstone (Monday, 09 January 2017 11:55)

    Thanks guys, the scenery on the way up was pretty awesome in places. I don't actually like driving all that much either, but I'm trying to get over it!

  • #22

    Trisha velarmino (Monday, 09 January 2017 15:26)

    This trip of yours is very refrshing in the eyes! you can never go wrong with nature! Cheers and safe travels to you!

  • #23

    Katie Featherstone (Monday, 09 January 2017 15:38)

    Thanks Trisha!

  • #24

    anto (Monday, 09 January 2017 22:40)

    Congrats on taking the plunge and quit your job! I love your photos, they remind me of Scotland, a trip I really enjoyed a lot ... good luck and lots of fun on your travels!

  • #25

    Katie Featherstone (Tuesday, 10 January 2017 00:10)

    Thanks Anto. :)

  • #26

    Debra Schroeder (Tuesday, 10 January 2017 00:57)

    ROFL, Rest and Be Thankful. It's like the Abbott and Costello sketch who's on first. Your trip sounds exciting. Hope it brings lots of fun adventures.

  • #27

    Katie Featherstone (Tuesday, 10 January 2017 01:02)

    Thank-you for stopping by Debra.

  • #28

    Chrysoula (Tuesday, 10 January 2017 14:06)

    Wow you ventured on this adventure with a van and you just learnt to drive! You are very courageous.Good luck with your trip! Lake district is so beautiful!

  • #29

    Katie Featherstone (Tuesday, 10 January 2017 16:37)

    Haha, thanks Chrysoula :)

  • #30

    Lydia Nasso (Tuesday, 10 January 2017 18:52)

    Congrats on your first successful road trip! I think it would be hard not to "rest and be thankful" in a place bearing such a name (and what a view)!

  • #31

    karla (Thursday, 12 January 2017 15:02)

    Congratulations on your new adventure! It's such a delight to see more and more people trying different modes of transportation, making their travels slower, but deeper and more meaningful! :) Scotland is on my list this year and I can't wait!

  • #32

    Katie Featherstone (Friday, 13 January 2017 10:12)

    Thanks guys! It is really great to have our own transport. :)

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