Travelling is something I’ve always loved ever since I was a kid but it wasn’t until my mid 20s that I got into running. Until then I’d always thought of running as being some kind of torture and wondered why anyone would want to subject themselves to it. This was mostly because I’d never had naturally good stamina and so found it difficult and unpleasant. However when I dedicated myself to it and started setting achievable goals, I found it to be extremely enjoyable.
Fast forward a few years to 2014 and I decided to buy my first motorhome. Having a motorhome is something I’d always liked the idea of but either couldn’t afford to buy one or didn’t have the space for it. When I finally did make the plunge, I was delighted with it.
As I’m sure is the case with many new motorhome owners, I was slightly hesitant to take my new vehicle/home overseas at first – worrying about things like insurance/fuel/weird driving laws (or lack of laws altogether). However this year I decided to take the plunge and go on a trip across Europe covering multiple countries.
Not only did I want to venture further than I had before though, I also wanted to combine my love of running and travelling into one amazing adventure. I decided that wherever I went, I would run at least 10 miles a day.
One of the first things I did before I set off on my journey was to make sure I was properly covered. I called my insurance provider and asked them to add European cover to my policy. To my surprise this was actually quite a bit cheaper than I imagined it would be.
Once that was sorted I started planning my journey in detail. I knew I wanted to start in the Netherlands and head south, finishing my trip in Barcelona.
Below is an account of my travels, including all the countries I visited and how I was able to fit my daily run in.
Day 1 – Hoek van Holland, Netherlands
I took a ferry from Harwich to Hoek van Holland. This was an ideal place to start since there are some great campsites in this area.
I arrived in the Netherlands on the first day and thankfully the weather was great. I was a little bit sea sick from the trip on the ferry but I soon got over it.
The weather was really good for most of the week I was in the Netherlands, making it ideal for running. I explored the area around the campsite where I was staying and found some great routes. Over the course of the week I explored further afield and found that there were also some fantastic routes near the Hoek van Holland Haven railway station.
Day 2 – Blankenberge, Belgium
After an amazing week in the Netherlands I headed to Belgium. I stayed in the beautiful coastal town, Blankenberge. Blankenberge has a great beach and promenade making it perfect for me. There are tonnes of great things to see there too, so it’s not just for campers or joggers.
Depending on what I was doing on any particular day, I would vary my run from 10-20 miles, but always made sure I did at least 10 miles each day. My stay in Blankenberge was definitely one of the best parts of my entire trip.
Day 3- Paris, France
France was up next so I started driving towards Paris, which was where I was planning to stay for the third week of my trip across the continent. It might be surprising to learn that Paris actually has some great campsites, making it ideal for motorhome owners.
In addition to offering great food, sites and things to do; Paris also has some fantastic routes, which I made the most of for the entire time I was there. In Notre Dame there’s a great route that runs for around 7km and crosses the Seine. I used this particular route many times while I was staying in Paris.
Day 4 – Barcelona, Spain
I knew that I wanted to end my journey with a trip to one of the sunny beaches in Spain so I headed to Barcelona. I’ve been to Barcelona plenty of times before and have always loved the city. With Barcelona you get the best of both worlds since you’ve got a great bustling city, with a beach right next to it. Although Barcelona might not have the longest beach in the world (approx 4m) it is ideal for running thanks to the soft sand.
Here is a great stretch that leads from La Rambla to the main beach in Barcelona that’s perfect for running. It’s extremely wide so even when it’s busy during the peak of the day, you still have plenty of room. This is where I did the majority of my running while I was in Barcelona. Any days I planned to finish my run on the beach I got up early since it’s just too busy during the day.
After a week in Barcelona I headed north to Santander so I could get the ferry back home. When I arrived in back in Portsmouth I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was almost as sunny as it had been in Spain. I decided I’d head to London and spend the night there before heading back home.
Overall it was an amazing experience travelling across Europe in my motorhome. Although the different driving rules took some getting used to, I had a fantastic time and it made me realise how important it is to find new routes all the time if you want to keep things fresh and exciting.