Van trouble

The directions to Camp Igueldo overlooking San Sebastian expressly said that motorhomes shouldn’t follow the GPS directions but should take a different, longer and suitable route along the coast.

But we ignored that – our’s is a campervan, not a motorhome so we’d be fine we thought. So when we got to the start of the ‘unsuitable’ route, we also thought this sign somehow gave an exception to camper vans. It looked like the red circle was only around the bigger vehicles and so we set off and started climbing.

Recovering at the side of the road following our descent
Recovering at the side of the road following our descent

But it was so steep and narrow, we thought this can’t be right but the local farmer we asked gestured to us that the campsite was in that direction and, looking sceptically at our van, shrugged us on our way upwards.

And so we kept climbing and climbing round more and more twisty, steep turns, in first gear all the way with the engine straining and the temperature gauge showing the engine getting hotter and hotter and neither of us were saying a word because it was now sheer will power keeping us going up this steep, unending climb till finally the van could not take any more.

Stuart thought the temperature is so high we can’t go any further and pulled over on the hillside just as the radiator boiled over and clouds of steam came hissing out of the back of the van. And so our dream of a restful afternoon lunch in the campsite went up in smoke and we had visions of an unplanned night of wild camping and having to be rescued by ADAC,  the German rescue company we’ve signed up with, to tow us off the mountain.

But after pulling everything out of the back to check the engine which was red hot and clanking loudly, nothing appeared to have burst. So after a 40 minute or so wait, we set off again tentatively to coast back down the slope, with the lid off the engine and the van heater on full blast to help cool the engine down.

And so the van survived to drive another day and this time following the directions in the book and not ignoring any signs, we made it to the campsite.

It was a tense time but thanks to our local garage M & D motors, the van is in good shape. Here’s a photo of the team…

The team at our local garage who helped get us on the road.
The team at our local garage who helped get us on the road.


And we also have the reassurance that if we do find ourselves stranded somewhere needing a spare part, we will be able to call Just Kampers who assure us that they can ship what’s needed within a day or two.

Just Kampers in Hampshire - our first stop en route
Just Kampers in Hampshire – our first stop en route

Over the two years since we had the van, we’ve bought most of our bits for the van from this Hampshire specialist in VW parts. We took the precaution of calling to see them en route to Portsmouth to pick up a final batch of useful spares to carry with us. Ideally of course, we never want to have to call them again.

Maybe we won’t if we just accept that road signs apply to us too.


4 thoughts on “Van trouble”

  1. OMG what a start only another 11 months 3 weeks to go . I suggest that navigation should be swapped to the BLUE list. LOL

    1. Actually that horrific route skywards was entirely a blue decision!! But we are quits now so the new navigation policy is to both agree the route before setting off so if it goes Pete Tong we will be equally wrong.

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