Day 6/7 of our Germany Motorhome Tour.
After visiting Hohenzollern Castle, we needed to find somewhere to stay for the weekend. We prefer to use campsites when we’re away using the motorbikes as we feel it’s safer than leaving the van unattended somewhere remote- especially as we don’t know who might have seen us unload the bikes and ride off.
The drive was around an hour- it was probably slightly longer than necessary as I did one of my amazing ‘detours’ and we went cross-country instead of using the motorways. One thing we both agreed on when we bought a motorhome was that it would be a tool, not something to worry about going down muddy roads with. Good job, as I regularly direct Mr WB down tiny little lanes with grass growing up the middle. It’s not a proper adventure unless there’s grass in the middle of the road!
It was just growing dark as we approached Schiltach. We found the campsite- and immediately worried about the tightness of the entrance. It would be tight for a normal 7m motorhome… but with a trailer as well it made it even harder! Luckily the street was quiet, so I jumped out to ensure we didn’t hit the low walls on either side and we took a swinging turn into the entrance. All was going brilliantly, we missed both walls, when suddenly there was a loud & frankly terrifying SCRAPE as the bottom of the van hit the road.
What neither of us had registered, being so concerned with the turn & the walls, was that the entrance sloped steeply downhill after the pavement, so our front wheel went over the pavement just fine, but the van then dropped before the back wheel had a chance to rise up. It made a horrendous noise and we both stopped like startled rabbits and stared at each other. It didn’t help that the village was extremely quiet and the noise was incredibly loud- I saw several curtains twitch.
So, what exactly do you do when you have half of a motorhome in an entrance way, the middle scraping along the road, and the back end (with trailer) blocking the main route through the village?? Going forward wasn’t an option as we had bottomed out… so we had to go backwards. The only problem was the trailer, which couldn’t reverse along the same lines it went forward on. It had started to turn with the rear of the van- and once a trailer starts to turn there is nothing you can do to stop it turning unless you straighten up and start again. But we couldn’t straighten up- remember those two low walls??! We tried to take the trailer off, but because the van (and therefore tow hitch) was no longer level, it was impossible to get it unhitched. So we began the world’s most frustrating 7000 point turn. Mr WB did brilliantly and we are incredibly thankful that no other traffic came along during the 5 minutes it took to extract ourselves from that situation- it felt like a lot longer than 5 minutes!!
Now we had a bruised van, with who knows what damage to the underneath (we were very concerned about our new MA-VE self-levelling system, which is bolted on), we had a very unhappy Mr WB who felt he should have seen that coming and was berating himself for his stupidity and we have nowhere to stop for the night. We love exploring in the van, but sometimes it just doesn’t go your way.
Luckily, I found a motorhome stopover point just down the road- also by the river. Normally I would have dismissed it as the bays looked pretty small, but I didn’t think driving for hours would have been appreciated right at that moment. so I directed us about half a mile down the road. By now it was dark and the village was lit with beautiful lights- it really was very pretty.
When we arrived at the motorhome point, we couldn’t help but laugh. As you cross over the bridge, the turning is on your left and it was to be a good 120 degrees back on y0urself! There was no way we could ever make that turn! Luckily, there was a carpark area near the railway line a little further up the road, so we managed to turn around and commit ourselves to driving into what looked like a very small carpark.
However, once we had turned in, it opened up a little. The designated motorhome point was right at the end and we were the only ones there. Big signs reminded us that it was for 24 hours only, but there was no fee to pay. I was correct in my fears about the size of the bays, but there was a grass field just behind the parking so we managed to reverse in and nudge the trailer just onto the grass- 8/9m vehicles would be fine as long as there weren’t a lot of other vans there, as turning room was tight.
Once we had stopped, made dinner and opened the wine, things felt a lot better. We deployed the legs with no problem and Mr WB took a look underneath with his flashlight but couldn’t see any damage, so we forgave ourselves our stupidity and vowed to learn from the experience. Every day’s a school day! We went to bed feeling a little happier with the world.
The next morning, I woke up early, as I do a lot when we’re travelling. We shut the cover on the sunroof, but somehow my body is tuned into sunrise, so I often wake up and go out to enjoy it. This morning, I was up and strolling around Schiltach by 7 am. The sun was just starting to peek above the mountains and there was a surprising number of people up and about, going to work or school. A local bakery had a van at the end of the street, selling buns and fresh bread to people walking by. For about half an hour, it was like being in a big town- then it died off again after a load of buses had been, picked everyone up & departed.
After breakfast, I dragged everyone out for a stroll around the town. It probably is a town rather than a village, but the centre is so beautiful. There are the usual shops and restaurants, and if you get a chance to visit we highly recommend it, although it’s not worth going a long way out of your way for.
I found another campsite about 20 minutes down the road, so we set off again to Lahr. It was only when we arrived at this stellplatz that we discovered we’d lost all our fresh water. We had plenty when we left Schiltach, so it had happened en route. Further investigations showed us that the tap to our fresh water tank had disappeared, leaving a nice big hole where all the water poured out of. We guess that the tap was damaged when we hit the road, and then during the journey from Schiltach to Lahr it fell off and allowed the water to escape. Grrrrr.
So now we needed to find a camping shop and buy something to fix our water tank. Mr WB wrapped gaffa tape tightly around the drainage hole, so at least we could refill our water tank. Thank goodness we went to a stellplatz and not wild camping! But it was 5 pm on a Friday evening, there is no camping shop in Lahr…. so we decided to go for a bike ride to see the world’s largest cuckoo clock instead. As you do.
TOTAL COST TODAY:
I list most of our costs in the post on Hohenzollern Castle. Dinner was in the van and parking was free!
N 48°17’27.96” E 8°20’33.252”48.291100,8.342570