If you’ve been following us for a long time, you’ll know by now that we are right big advocates for the UK’s outdoor travel scene. Not only do we talk and talk and talk about this on the internet a fair old bit, it even formed the central theme of our first ever print magazine. Yes, adventure in the United Kingdom – we’ll bang that drum until we’re blue in the face and our hands are calloused. It’s one of many reasons why we were well up for a chat with the YouTubers Wandering Home.
Wandering Home consist of couple Charlie and Josh. With backing from Columbia, they spent the summer exploring all 15 of the UK’s national parks; showcasing to their audience of over 14,000 subscribers the very best of this extremely varied, never dull, nation of ours.
Here’s what Charlie had to say when I asked her some questions about it all.
So, you’ve just finished your UK van life tour. That looked like a lot of fun. Did you enjoy yourself?
Yeah, it was great. It was not something we’ve really ever thought about doing before. The idea of travelling around the UK, pre COVID, we’d never even given it a thought. We’ve maybe thought about getting up to Scotland but to do a proper trip all round the UK, we feel really good about it all now we’re back. We feel like ‘God, I can’t believe we never would have considered that’.
“To have those experiences, without going abroad, was really good”
Yeah, it was amazing. There were so many places we just didn’t think you would find in the UK. We were actually talking about it the other day, saying that everywhere we went reminded us of somewhere we’d seen abroad in countries like France and Canada. To have those experiences, without going abroad, was really good.
It was also really nice to meet new people again. It was nice to have, like, our faith in humanity restored a bit by just travelling and speaking to random people, hearing other people’s stories and stuff. Yeah, we had a really great time.
Do you think we kind of underestimate just how beautiful the UK can be in terms of outdoor terrain?
It definitely did feel like that when we went to Wales. Neither of us had been to Wales that much at all and we were just both taken aback by the fact we could be in the sea but still see mountains. I just didn’t really know we had that in the UK. The diversity of terrain we have in the UK is so special. Like the Lake District, for example, is so different to Snowdonia. There’s just so much more variety than I think we appreciate.
What were your highlights of the trip? What kind of moments stood out for you in particular? What were the ‘pinch me’ experiences?
We definitely had a few of those in Snowdonia. Hiking up Snowdon was amazing. That felt like an achievement for us because we hadn’t done much mountain climbing really. We also camped on an island that was really fun.
We did a bungee jump in Scotland. I’ve never thought about doing a bungee jump in Scotland so that was pretty fun. Yeah, basically every part of the trip was great. 15 weeks of good, good, times.
“Travelling the UK in a van really helps you to make the most of the weather”
When the weather is good and you’re somewhere really great, you just think ‘Wow, we’re so lucky that we’ve seen it in this light’. By doing a tour of the UK in the way we did, we could be a bit more flexible with the weather and hang around somewhere until it improved or move on somewhere if the weather wasn’t great. I think that travelling the UK in a van really helps you to make the most of the weather when it comes.
I’ve gone off on a tangent from your question here but obviously a lot of people this summer were saying the weather wasn’t good, but I think we definitely did have good weather it’s just that we had to chase it around a bit more. We had to chase the sun.
What was your favourite national park of the trip?
I can’t speak for Josh but Snowdonia would have to be right up there for us. There was hiking up Snowdon of course, something I guess everybody thinks to do there, but we just had so much fun there. We didn’t realise it was on the coast so we went to lots of beaches and did quite a lot of exploring. There’s so much more that we feel we missed in that top corner of Wales.
We also really loved the national parks in Scotland. We felt like we only really scratched the surface of Scotland so that’s one we’re definitely going back to. We knew we only had two weeks there and we were both like ‘No, we’re going to have to come back as soon as possible’.
“They’re really proud of where they live, and of the beauty you can see there”
Like, we couldn’t believe how big it is when you get above Glasgow and Edinburgh. We also loved how friendly the Scottish people we met were. We talked to quite a few people there and they were always like ‘Oh, next time you come back you have to come back into this area’. They were telling us all the good spots to go and that when we came back we were welcome to park in their driveway. They’re really proud of where they live, and of the beauty you can see there.
You’ve obviously got this pretty sizable YouTube audience. How did they respond to it all, and do you feel like you’ve inspired some similar road trips?
When we first announced the trip, the comments on that video were crazy with so many people suggesting different things to do when we got to the various parks. The audience got really involved and helped to shape a lot of the planning for the trip. It was really nice when one of our subscribers, who was local to an area, would give us really great advice on where to go, what to see, and where to stay. Yeah, that was amazing.
Also, as we went around on the trip we’d meet people and tell them about our journey. We’d tell them we were documenting our journey on YouTube, and then they would follow us and engage with it as we went.
“When people say they feel like they’ve travelled through our videos, that just seems like such an accolade to us”
It’s so nice now to have this network of people that we’ve never met, and people we’ve met on our travels, who have become part of what we do. They sometimes tell us that they feel like they’ve been travelling with us and that’s been really sweet. Now the trip’s come to an end, they’ll tell us they’re sad the trip’s over. People who used to live in the UK but now live abroad have told us that it’s nice to see the UK through our eyes, if that makes sense. That sort of stuff is amazing to hear.
We’re not professional videographers. We’ve learned as we’ve gone along so when people say they feel like they’ve travelled through our videos, that just seems like such an accolade to us because when we set out on this venture we didn’t know what we were really doing. It’s quite nice to think people feel transported with us.
That must be such a rewarding aspect for you guys, right?
Yeah, definitely. When we started out we were just going to document the van build for ourselves, and for our friends and family. But it just grew and grew from there.
“You can take these people with you and build a community in a time where we haven’t been able to connect”
When Columbia got in touch to do the trip, we were kind of at a bit of a loss as to what we were going to do next. We hadn’t really ever considered documenting our travels and now it just feels crazy that we hadn’t considered that because we’ve loved sharing it. It’s a really nice way to travel because you feel like you’re documenting it for yourself one day to watch back. But also, you can take these people with you and build a community in a time where we haven’t been able to connect as much with people. It’s been really nice.
You can watch how this ultimate UK road trip unfolded on the Wandering Home YouTube channel. The trip was backed by the good people at Columbia. You can pick up some of the brand’s best gear via our pals at Blackleaf.