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Large MH travelling to south Spain - what do you guys do?


sean.clarke

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Hi,

Just come back from a short break to DLP and already planning our next trip (oh how times have changed)... Considering a 2 week jaunt to Portaventura and a meander back through south France and coming back on the tunnel.

 

Question I have is what do you do/would do regarding getting to south Spain. Looking at a Portsmouth to Bilbao crossing late July/August it comes in around £780 with cabin etc. to me that seems extortionate. Bear in mind I have a 8.7m x 3.1m tag axle so I am the largest of each dimension on their sit (<9m and <4m), but even their car "deals" come in around £400-£500 each way.

 

The journey the other end looks like around 540km - so, it looks like a huge price for the ferry and a 550km drive or a cheap tunnel/Le Havre crossing and a 1450/1300km drive through France.

 

I know some of you guys have done both, from your experience what would you advise? I am young(fish) and don't mind getting there on a mission - perhaps stops at Bordeaux, maybe slow for the mountains with an extra stop, then a short sprint to PortAventura.

 

Only considering destination options at the moment, but would appreciate your thoughts.

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We used the ferry 5 years in the 90s with kids and enjoyed it. We used it again 3 years ago with our van and were disappointed. The vessels had been updated, the reasonably priced restaurants had gone and it was all a lot more expensive once you were on board. From London it was no quicker than driving, 2 days, a lot more money and rather boring if less tiring. The next year, even looking well in advance, it seemed to be booked up so that made the choice easy; we drove and appreciated the things we saw along the way. We did the same last year.

 

Another factor is that if you want to change your return date, as we did last year when my wife was unwell, you can just turn up at the tunnel.

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Sean

Have you taken in to account the fuel you will use getting to the tunnel, and back on the other side? I do think BF are expensive, but 3 hours to Folkestone, and back other side, we bite the bullet and go from Portsmouth, less than 10 mins for us.

One other thing, you may find you will need to book sites, with such a large van, especially at that time of year. We go out of season usually May/beg July. amd don't book, but we only have a 6 mtre van

i am toying with the idea of joining BF Club, but still undecided, as to wether it is worth it, as we mostly only go once a year, so would not save on first year, but will after wards. i have been using a friends account and saving 10%

PJay

 

If I do decide to join BF Club, I could "invite" some of you on Forum to use it (Saves 10%)

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Sean

Have you taken in to account the fuel you will use getting to the tunnel, and back on the other side? I do think BF are expensive, but 3 hours to Folkestone, and back other side, we bite the bullet and go from Portsmouth, less than 10 mins for us.

One other thing, you may find you will need to book sites, with such a large van, especially at that time of year. We go out of season usually May/beg July. amd don't book, but we only have a 6 mtre van

i am toying with the idea of joining BF Club, but still undecided, as to wether it is worth it, as we mostly only go once a year, so would not save on first year, but will after wards. i have been using a friends account and saving 10%

PJay

 

If I do decide to join BF Club, I could "invite" some of you on Forum to use it (Saves 10%)

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PJay - 2013-04-13 1:35 PM

 

Sean

Have you taken in to account the fuel you will use getting to the tunnel, and back on the other side? I do think BF are expensive, but 3 hours to Folkestone, and back other side, we bite the bullet and go from Portsmouth, less than 10 mins for us.

One other thing, you may find you will need to book sites, with such a large van, especially at that time of year. We go out of season usually May/beg July. amd don't book, but we only have a 6 mtre van

i am toying with the idea of joining BF Club, but still undecided, as to wether it is worth it, as we mostly only go once a year, so would not save on first year, but will after wards. i have been using a friends account and saving 10%

PJay

 

If I do decide to join BF Club, I could "invite" some of you on Forum to use it (Saves 10%)

 

Hi,

yes, even taking fuel into consideration I would guess it comes in around half the price. Tunnel crossing is around £70 and a tank of fuel is about £100 and good around 350-400 miles.

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Hi

 

We have both driven and used the ferry. It all comes down to time. The ferry from Portsmouth or Plymouth takes 24hours. To drive to Santander is at least 2 days ?(800 + miles from Calais) and I would suggest more than that unless you use the Toll autoroutes which just increases the cost(toll cost £113 each way). Even then it's two long days, or at least it is for me cos I don't push the speed much above 60.

 

I used ferry when i was short of time and when time in Spain was important and drove when I wasn't worried how long the journey would take cos time wasn't an issue.

 

I like both styles of travel it just depends on what is most important.

 

Peter

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Have you looked at either Portsmouth or Poole as alternatives? Nearer to you, and cheaper (though not cheap!) crossings, even for your behemoth! :-) Only about 4-5 hours crossing times. Run down west coast from Cherbourg good and quite quick, and you're down to Nantes before the tolls start.
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peterjl - 2013-04-13 4:44 PM

 

Hi

 

We have both driven and used the ferry. It all comes down to time. The ferry from Portsmouth or Plymouth takes 24hours. To drive to Santander is at least 2 days ?(800 + miles from Calais) and I would suggest more than that unless you use the Toll autoroutes which just increases the cost(toll cost £113 each way). Even then it's two long days, or at least it is for me cos I don't push the speed much above 60.

 

I used ferry when i was short of time and when time in Spain was important and drove when I wasn't worried how long the journey would take cos time wasn't an issue.

 

I like both styles of travel it just depends on what is most important.

 

Peter

 

The crossing is only 24 hours but ferry times mean you use two days in travelling. Using the tunnel and leaving N London fairly early we have done it in two days arriving in N Spain mid afternoon, without racing. In fact one year when Santander was blockaded BF dropped us in Roskoff and we did Roskoff to just short of Oviedo in the day. But I was 20 years younger. The roads have improved since then and it is pretty well motorway standard all the way.

 

Leaving aside the money, which you can work out quite easily for your particular route and van, I think it depends whether you like to spend your time reading and watching waves. The bit I used to enjoy most was the beautiful approach up the estuary to Santander with the Picos de Europa in the background.

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Hi

 

For us the journey home was always the best trip as the timings put you over the edge of the continental shelf at an ideal time for whale and dolphin sightings. One year, when the water was glassy smooth, we lost count of the number of pods we saw.

 

We have swum with dolphins and seen whales close up from an inflatable but never tire of seeing them.

 

Peter

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Thanks for the replies....

 

Brian, I assume you mean Portsmouth or Poole to Cherbourg as opposed to Le Havre - yes, that is a possibility, I will have a look.

 

Muswell, that is what I noticed - leave in the afternoon/evening for Bilbao/Santander and arrive the following evening - we will then need to sleep over somewhere then or during the 530Km drive through Spain.

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Guest JudgeMental
I would drive, have used Santander ferry once but prefer to drive....using tolls its very quick and driving overnight far quicker still. An evening crossing and i can be in south of france for a late breakfast......But it will be expensive as you are class 4 but guess you new this when buying the van. But 2 weeks a bit tight for a trip to Spain.....
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sean.clarke - 2013-04-13 9:50 PM

 

Looking at google streetview, it looks tempting to go for the drive option and exploring the Pyrenees....

 

You speak wisely. Cross from St Jean-Pied-de-Port and there's a very nice campsite close to the historic buildings of Roncesvalles then on to Pamplona where there is a good bus service into town from near the campsite. I reckon you could spend a very pleasant couple of weeks in Navarra and Northern Aragon; we have plans to do just that after spending a few days there 2 years ago. Think of what you'll save on diesel. Not so warm and sunny though.

 

 

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We've used the long crossing once but were bored, bored, bored and its expensive, much prefer to travel further in the van but then we're not in any hurry. I suspect even if you use the tolls for speed it will still work out cheaper then the long ferry
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sean.clarke - 2013-04-13 7:23 PM

 

Thanks for the replies....

 

Brian, I assume you mean Portsmouth or Poole to Cherbourg as opposed to Le Havre - yes, that is a possibility, I will have a look............

Indeed. Le Havre would be a perverse choice if travelling to Spain. Ouistreham would be better, but it is a longer crossing than Cherbourg, and you then have to circumnavigate Caen to head south. From Cherbourg, heading south is a blast!

 

Also don't forget you'll have no 230V to your fridge for the duration of any of these crossings. You can't use 12V (engine off), and you can't use gas. Not so much a problem on the shorter crossings, but not so good for 24 hours.

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Muswell - 2013-04-14 11:08 AM.............You speak wisely. Cross from St Jean-Pied-de-Port and there's a very nice campsite close to the historic buildings of Roncesvalles then on to Pamplona where there is a good bus service into town from near the campsite. I reckon you could spend a very pleasant couple of weeks in Navarra and Northern Aragon; we have plans to do just that after spending a few days there 2 years ago. Think of what you'll save on diesel. Not so warm and sunny though.

But, plenty warm enough in July/August, surely?

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Brian Kirby - 2013-04-14 12:52 PM

 

Muswell - 2013-04-14 11:08 AM.............You speak wisely. Cross from St Jean-Pied-de-Port and there's a very nice campsite close to the historic buildings of Roncesvalles then on to Pamplona where there is a good bus service into town from near the campsite. I reckon you could spend a very pleasant couple of weeks in Navarra and Northern Aragon; we have plans to do just that after spending a few days there 2 years ago. Think of what you'll save on diesel. Not so warm and sunny though.

But, plenty warm enough in July/August, surely?

 

Oh yes, warm enough. Not as hot as the south but on the return journey late June 2011 through the same part of Spain there was a heat wave and it reached high 30s.

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JudgeMental - 2013-04-14 8:53 AM

 

I would drive, have used Santander ferry once but prefer to drive....using tolls its very quick and driving overnight far quicker still. An evening crossing and i can be in south of france for a late breakfast......But it will be expensive as you are class 4 but guess you new this when buying the van. But 2 weeks a bit tight for a trip to Spain.....

 

Yes, I was aware of the class 4 costs, luckily we have been through a dozen tolls already and everyone has charged us class 2.

 

We may not actually be doing much touring in Spain this trip other than a 4 day stop in Port Aventura with the young'uns - if they don't come with us this trip, we will still head down the Pyrenees and then meander back across S France moving back up north when we approach Monaco/Italy.

 

Thats the plan, but I'll take any advice and play it by ear when we take the plunge

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Its been class 2 with us also.

Never had a problem getting on a site in France at high season, but always go and check to see the pitch size is suitable for 8m van, some pitches can be very small that they suggest, always found another no problem.

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We  always go Dover / Calais,DFD  but we have plenty of time, love the French Aires, we try different ones each trip , plenty of Aires in Spain now  even in December  on the outward journey that we make, we have just done a four month trip to Portugal, £88 return Dover, Calais.7 metre van and two passengers . I live in Southampton so Portsmouth  is nearer but a lot more money , we don't use tolls at all  so it  is all very cheap, OK we use more diesel but for us the journey is all part of the adventure.Our trips always start from the  P n R Aire at  Canterbury, great stop over place.
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Brian Kirby - 2013-04-14 12:49 PM
sean.clarke - 2013-04-13 7:23 PMThanks for the replies....Brian, I assume you mean Portsmouth or Poole to Cherbourg as opposed to Le Havre - yes, that is a possibility, I will have a look............
Indeed. Le Havre would be a perverse choice if travelling to Spain. Ouistreham would be better, but it is a longer crossing than Cherbourg, and you then have to circumnavigate Caen to head south. From Cherbourg, heading south is a blast!Also don't forget you'll have no 230V to your fridge for the duration of any of these crossings. You can't use 12V (engine off), and you can't use gas. Not so much a problem on the shorter crossings, but not so good for 24 hours.
 My previous van [Hymer ] needed a new clutch in Portugal and was in  a Garage for three days having the work done, I  did not want the van hooked up to Electric whilst the job was done ,so the fridge was off for all that time, the freezer compartment was full of frozen food  ,and when we got the van back the freezer was still frozen, because it had not been opened , so a trip on the ferries is no problem for the fridge even on the Santander crossing.
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Guest JudgeMental
vindiboy - 2013-04-18 5:21 PM

 

Brian Kirby - 2013-04-14 12:49 PM
sean.clarke - 2013-04-13 7:23 PMThanks for the replies....Brian, I assume you mean Portsmouth or Poole to Cherbourg as opposed to Le Havre - yes, that is a possibility, I will have a look............
Indeed. Le Havre would be a perverse choice if travelling to Spain. Ouistreham would be better, but it is a longer crossing than Cherbourg, and you then have to circumnavigate Caen to head south. From Cherbourg, heading south is a blast!Also don't forget you'll have no 230V to your fridge for the duration of any of these crossings. You can't use 12V (engine off), and you can't use gas. Not so much a problem on the shorter crossings, but not so good for 24 hours.
 My previous van [Hymer ] needed a new clutch in Portugal and was in  a Garage for three days having the work done, I  did not want the van hooked up to Electric whilst the job was done ,so the fridge was off for all that time, the freezer compartment was full of frozen food  ,and when we got the van back the freezer was still frozen, because it had not been opened , so a trip on the ferries is no problem for the fridge even on the Santander crossing.

 

I brought some bags of ice for drinks in the freezer last week for our trip to wales . Clean forgot about them when we returned and had cleared the van out..36 hrs later they where still frozen

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vindiboy - 2013-04-18 5:21 PM........... My previous van [Hymer ] needed a new clutch in Portugal and was in  a Garage for three days having the work done, I  did not want the van hooked up to Electric whilst the job was done ,so the fridge was off for all that time, the freezer compartment was full of frozen food  ,and when we got the van back the freezer was still frozen, because it had not been opened , so a trip on the ferries is no problem for the fridge even on the Santander crossing.

Yes Malc, I agree that generally these fridges are very good. Nevertheless, I have some misgivings about extrapolating from the particular to the general.

 

After all, your van had a particular make and model of fridge, other folk may have different makes/models of fridge. Your fridge may have been well installed, others' may not. Yours had frozen food in its freezer, others' fridges may not, or may not have so much. It is also possible your freezer was at its lowest achievable temperature while others' may start warmer. Even, it is possible that others' vans may experience hotter conditions than did yours.

 

My caution is just that food that has thawed in transit, and then re-frozen while en-route to the first night stopover, will not necessarily appear to have thawed, but that if it has, it might become the source of a nasty stomach upset that would certainly take the gloss of the beginning of someone's holiday. So, while I'm glad yours was OK, I would be more circumspect at assuming that others could anticipate the same result.

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