After a long and fruitful chat with the folks at 4x4 Treks Galloway at last year's Adventure Overland show in Stratford-upon-Avon, I decided to join one of their Scottish treks in my Land Rover campervan.
We were sure to encounter lots of lochs and rivers, so I took along my canoe, but sadly the weather prevented me from using it.
After filling in the vehicle information sheets, I was given directions to the first overnight campsite at Powfoot, in Queensberry Bay: a 113-mile trip starting on the Sunday afternoon. My first thought was the weather, because this entailed a trip over Bowes Moor via the A66, which often means wind, rain and possibly snow, but it turned out to be a very enjoyable trip. The first evening was taken up with meeting my fellow travellers to discuss our itinerary. This included shooting under expert guidance on a vast estate, visiting a dairy farm, and getting really close to a herd of wild deer. I was so full of excitement about what was to come that I hardly slept that night.
We spent the next five nights in a base camp alongside picturesque Loch Ken, which provided creature comforts in small cabins or yurts with wood-burning stoves.
The off-roading was a real eye-opener. Some of the locations where we stopped were breath-taking, and the trails ranged from almost as smooth as tarmac, to bone-shakingly rough over disused rail lines in the middle of nowhere - so our vehicles had to be in prime condition.
We had to saw up and remove some trees that were blocking out way after being brought down by high winds. It's amazing what comes out of the back doors of 4x4a on these occasions: axes, saws, ropes, straps and, of course, the hand winch.
This trek would test any hard-core off-roader's appetite - and their endurance. On a couple of occasions I followed our guide Mick's advice and didn't attempt certain sections. Instead, I travelled as a passenger in another vehicle. Afterwards, I knew I'd made the right decision because some of the mud and cross-axle washouts were mind-blowing - but isn't this what trekking is all about? Despite not driving these sections, I was impressed by just what my 3.5-tonne camper can do.
On the west coast of Galloway and Dumfries we visited an old lighthouse that's still working. From the top we should have been able to see Ireland on a clear day - but this wasn't one of those.
One of the highlights of the trip was socialising with like-minded folk. One couple had come from Luxembourg in their 110. Another, Peter, was a geologist who analysed the rocks each time we stopped, showing what a mixed bunch of travellers we were. After six days and 700 miles, we ended our adventure in a comfy pub - and I certainly haven't ruled out repeating this very enjoyable trek.
'I've owned my 1989 ex-army 127 Rapier for more than 10 years. I chose it specifically to carry a 1 1/2-ton self-built demountable camper body and I've given it a complete makeover, including a re-spray. I fitted a new Td5 engine, tweaked to deliver 170-plus bhp, and a new R380 box. It also has a heavy-duty Salisbury front axle, larger disc brakes (converted from drums at the rear). the old V8 wiring and dash have been upgraded to Td5 spec. Wheels are TX alloys, shod with 285/75 R16 all-terrains. It also has a stainless exhaust, uprated coils, Koni Heavy Track Raid dampers and two 31-gallon fuel tanks.'
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