An Icelandic Adventure

We live in Perth Western Australia and spend about 6 months a year back in Europe.  The T5 van you converted for us has to work as our “car” when we are in the UK and “home on the road” when we are travelling around Europe each summer.  With family in Northumberland and Dorset we do a fair bit of travelling the length and breadth of the UK each summer. 2018 is our fourth summer with the van (which you guys converted in 2015) and we have previously traveled to France, Spain, Portugal twice and other runs to The Nederland’s, Denmark and Sweden.

It is also a big help that the van is comfortable, easy and economical to drive for long distances.  We have covered around 55,000 kms since April 15 and we are loving it!

After our daughters and some friends had visited Iceland we decided to go and see for ourselves.  The only “obvious” way to go with the van is on the Smyril Line ferry from Hirtshals in Denmark to Seydisfjdour in the east of Iceland via The Faroe islands.  After two days driving from Dunkirk to Hirtshals and 3 days on the ferry we arrived on Iceland to dramatic fiords with snow and ice plus warm sunshine!  As Iceland has only one “Ring Road” the only real choice is clockwise or counter-clockwise.  We took the counter-clockwise option and headed north to visit lava fields, volcanoes and waterfalls.  The driving was easy as most of the ring road is paved and the traffic light.  As we don’t have a 4×4 van we were not able to visit the interior highlands where  access is restricted to 4×4 campers, expedition vehicles and the Icelandic Super Jeeps which are mainly Toyota Landcruisers or Hilux Utes and Land Rovers with huge tyres fitted for driving over the snow.

With an Icelandic camper card we had access to good but basic campsites all at a reasonable cost. After a couple of days the Icelandic weather lived up to its reputation and we were very glad of the diesel heater in the van and the large warm waterproof coats we had brought from the UK.  Iceland is a fantastic place to visit with spectacular geology, birdlife, geysers, waterfalls, glaciers, geothermal hot pools, lava fields, icebergs and fresh fish at every turn.  It would take a lot of planning to visit without a campervan as there are very few hotels and restaurants once you are outside Reykjavik.

After 16 days to easily cover the 2,200 km drive around the island with a few detours and back tracking for a day trip to the Westermann Islands off the south coast we got back on the Ferry to The Faroes.  With around 45 million years more erosion and weathering The Faroes are less dramatic than Iceland but still a remote and beautiful area to visit.  With only 3 days between ferries we stayed on the main two islands and checked out Puffins and other sea birds and the Faroese wool/jumper options as it was still rather cold and wet most days.

The heatwave in Denmark gave us a chance to catch up on 4 weeks of laundry and dry out the heavy coats before a leisurely drive back to Ijmuiden near Amsterdam for the return ferry to Newcastle.  Once home I finally managed to clean off the worst of the Icelandic volcanic silt and sand that had plastered the van when driving on gravel roads in the rain.

Next trip in August – September is back to Portugal via France and Spain so we won’t need the big coats or a bank loan to buy a couple of beers as was the case in Iceland a couple of times! Cheers for now!

(Words and imagery by Marc Woodward) 

We originally sold a T30 140 Highline Kombi to Marc and converted this into a 4 Berth Chesil conversion with additional 18″ black Sportline alloy wheels, VW bike rack and a real wood work top and table.