Thousands of VW cars and campers descended on Druridge Bay’s Country Park over the weekend

Thousands of VW cars and campers descended on Druridge Bay’s Country Park over the weekend of June 14 and 15 as the annual Mighty Dub Fest returned for its fifth year. ANGELA WALTON hired a home and joined in.

When it comes to cool, vintage stuff, there’s been plenty of it around me over the years, with my husband and various family members owning Lambretta scooters, among other things.

After a nasty accident on his a few years back, my brother, Julian, opted for a more family-friendly way to indulge his passion – a 1967 type two, split-screen VW camper van.

He and his family have been enjoying festivals throughout the summer ever since, and with every new addition to their family – the current total stands at three boys and a girl – comes a new strategy on sleeping arrangements.

It has always fascinated me that big families manage to stuff all the paraphernalia that goes with camping – along with their kids, dogs and whatever else – into the smallest of spaces and become addicted to this pastime, literally overnight.

It was time to find out what all the fuss was about. However, as a novice camper, I wasn’t about to risk breakdowns, leaks and be limited to a certain speed. No, I turned to Tyne Valley Motorhomes and opted for a top-of-the-range, all-singing-and-dancing Elddis four-berth with power shower, central heating and a cooker that was better than ours at home.

Feeling pretty smug, we headed off to meet our convoy at services on the A19. On arrival, it was immediately clear we weren’t going to win any prizes for looking cool compared with these stunningly beautiful, fully restored VWs. And any remaining smugness quickly dissipated as we made our way onto the boggy family camping field and promptly got stuck.

Meanwhile, our fellow campers chugged past in all their gorgeous VW glory.

‘It’s all about weight,’ I was told by the rather amused gang who pushed us the final few yards towards our camping spot for the weekend.

As the rain started to fall, we pushed all thoughts of how we would get off the field to the back of our minds and set about exploring the motorhome.

Our two-year-old son, Barney, settled into camping almost immediately, wandering barefoot, marvelling at this and that. His dad and I were just as fascinated with our new toy and there were lots of ‘oohs and ahhs’ as we discovered a full-size fridge with freezer, digital TV with DVD player, electric steps, double beds, hot running water and a flushing loo!.

This was nothing like I had remembered from family camping trips in the ’70s and ’80s.

Within a few minutes, we had our awning set up, pizza in the oven and the wine was chilling. We relaxed and watched the rest of the party battling with ill-fitting, tent-like awnings, portable gas stoves and regular trips to fill their kettles at the tap.

As the evening closed in and the temperature dipped, we simply popped the heating on to take the chill off and Barney enjoyed playing in a lovely warm shower before settling into his spacious, double cabin bed, which he loved.

Next morning, after a full English breakfast and a hot shower to set us up, we headed out to the main arena to wander around the stalls, watch the kids learning to breakdance and soak up the atmosphere. The setting is stunning, with miles of unspoilt coastline and a freshwater lake surrounded by woods and meadows.

This annual gathering, which attracts people from all over the UK, has grown from a 300-strong one-night event to a sell-out date on the festival calendar.

The vibe was brilliant and there were a lot of regular motorhomes just like ours, you don’t have tobe in a VW to enjoy live music, football on the beach, stalls, dog agility, beer tents, breakdancing workshops, live graffiti and more. England fans were treated to a fabulous outdoor and indoor viewing area for those who managed to stay up for their World Cup opener.

Returning to our home on wheels later that day, we had to admit, as non-camping people, we were getting the bug a little. Of course, the quality and high specification of our brand-new motorhome meant we just didn’t have to sacrifice anything or compromise in any way.

As we packed up our things and left the beauty of the Bay behind us, we felt sad that it was all over. There’s a real sense of freedom and charm to having a little home on wheels and a sense of belonging and community Mighty Dub Fest just added to that mix.

‘THERE’S SO MUCH TO EXPLORE AT DUB FEST’

Bruce Emmett, organiser and director of Mighty Events, believes there isn’t a better way for family and friends to spend time. “Mighty Dub Fest has a big following from all over the country as Druridge is such a beautiful venue and there’s so much to explore.

“This year was the best attended yet with more than 3,000 visitors over the whole weekend and a lot more local day visitors, which is great. The weather on the Saturday certainly helped and the ground, which had been wet in places on the Friday, coped very well. For anyone who did have difficulty getting off those wetter areas, we had a helpful farmer on hand with a tractor. The atmosphere was great and we’re delighted with the success of the event.”

Plans for next year’s festival are already under way – since the event has outgrown its current area in the Country Park, plans to move it to an adjacent field right next to the beach are being looked at.

“Everything else will stay the same in that you can just walk to the Country Park and enjoy all the same facilities – it just means we have a space that’s around ten times the size giving people more room and allowing us to grow,” said Bruce.

HIRING COULD NOT BE EASIER

* Tyne Valley Motorhomes offers a range of motorhomes for hire throughout the year.

* Prices range from £300 to £850 per week, depending on size and the time of year

* To hire you need to produce both parts of your driving license and a utility bill for insurance purposes.

* Simply book your van and drop your car off at the secure yard, where you’ll get a full handover from the experts and a full tank of diesel.

* On your return, simply follow the instructions given at handover and re-fill the fuel tank.

* Check out the website www.tynevalleymotorhomes.com.