In December we had the bright idea of a trip to Nederlands. The ferry from Hull would be long and pricey with the van, but a drive from Dunkerque would fall into acceptable parameters and the good old DFDS ferry was much more pocket friendly and thus it was decided – road trip – France, Belgium, Netherlands and back.
Despite having made this decision, very little preparation was done. The ferry wasn’t booked until returning from Scotland and the old backpacking rule of making sure your first night’s accommodation is sorted was summarily ignored.
I will admit to a small amount of googling and perusing campsite pictures, and on balance it was only partly successful.
So here it is, details of each place to follow.
2pm Dover – Dunkerque sailing necessitated a 7.30am departure, which we just made. Had a text to say 90 minute minimum for check in due to the bank holiday and we made it with 10 mins to spare.
Crossing was calm and we arrived 2 hours later, but at 17.00 MMT in Dunkerque.
We had no desire to do another long stint on the road and having not made any reservations, decided to set off up the coast. 45 min later we found Zuydcoote Beach campsite, at 17€ per night including electric.
Day 2 was a long drive. We left at around noon, drove north along the coast road and eventually stopped for a lunch break by the beach at Middelkerke in Belgium. V windy.
I had been planning to go old school and navigate by map, giving Brian and Google the boot, but the map we bought was not at a detailed enough scale to take in the smaller places, so I spent most of the journey torn between watching road signs and consulting Google on my phone. Did not enjoy.
We entered the Netherlands just before 4pm and had another snack stop before doing a bit of island hopping until we reached the (previously googled) Camping Janse at about 5.30.
At 62.50€ for 2 nights with EHU it seemed a bit steep after the previous stop, but on reflection we got value for money and it was worth it.
Tuesday am we left to go further north. We programmed the address of another (pre-googled) campsite into Brian and sat back to be ably guided by his dulcet tones. We left Zoutelande at lunchtime, following the coast and island route again, we arrived in Brielle at half three.
Camping Marina de Meeuw was 57€ for 2 nights inc EHU, with a 20€ deposit for the ‘key’ to access the Johns and use the hot water. Really nice site and walking distance into Brielle town, equally nice.
Thursday am we began our descent, and left at 11.30. We needed fuel and a few supplies, so stopped off at a motorway petrol station having made 2 failed attempts in town to use the supermarket and self service petrol station which were mysteriously closed on a Thursday morning.
It’s a good job we stocked up, as in accordance with previous experience of Belgium, roadside stops and petrol were scarce.
We eventually had an emergency pull in just before 3pm when the boy’s bladder could hold out no longer in a car park which I later found out belonged to a nightclub.
We proceeded south, having planned to stop somewhere less than an hour out of Dunkerque for ease of travel Saturday am.
The campsite I Google selected was full, as were the following 2 we visited in the vicinity. We headed to the supermarket so at least we could eat and on the road out of town, having decided on a retreat to France, we found camping Te Hoeve with ample space so plumped for it as it was getting on for 6pm.
It was 77€ for 2 nights including 25€ for a card to operate the entrance barrier, and including EHU. The least nice campsite of the week and this morning we were packed up and away before 11.
Just before hitting the road I double checked the crossing back and it’s a good job I did. I thought we were on the 2pm from Dunkerque, but it turns out we booked for the 15.40 from Calais, so had a slow meander via Auchan and a picnic in the queue.
Having taken a poll of all the adults on the trip our top 3 countries are as follows:
818 miles covered from door to door.
Published at sea!
Pics and interesting occurrences to follow.