The Long Way Up
Gooood day and welcome back to another entry from me…the LOTR obsessed, noodle eating, board game lovin’ road pirate….Jack Mac. In the remaining weeks before leaving for Scandinavia I’m working round the clock to bring my life on the road up to date. So lets get to it…
I’m hoping to put together a video in Norway that explores why I decided to live in my van, but for the purpose of this blog lets just say it was an opportunity to break free from the shackles of society and create as many opportunities for adventure as humanely possible. One top tip for maximising fun on the road is not to focus on the destination, but to make the most of the journey ( …perhaps a valuable metaphor for life ). Thus, when I decided to head back to Skye at the beginning of the year I got in touch with one of my best mates Leah ( Insta: @syncro_wolfpack ) and we set aside some time to hike/explore in the Lake District. However, what I didn’t know was I driving into one of the most severe snowstorms to hit Scotland in some time and to make matters worse my van was secretly planning a complete electrical meltdown!
Lets face it, if you own a classic car/van there’s always part of you wondering when the next thing is going to break....well when you’re covering 25-30,000 miles per year in a fully loaded thirty two year old van then the odds really are against you. I therefore take no chances and invest copious amounts of money into servicing, upgrades and pre-emptive work to ensure the Apocatron is running sweet. Well, on the journey to the lakes that’s exactly how the van was running, sweeeeetttt as a nut …well as I entered the Lakes in the middle of the night I lost headlights, wipers and fan. Great. I initially believed the fault to be something simple, like a fuse or relay, but little did I know this would take almost three months to fix. Despite issues with my van, me and Leah had a great time exploring for a few days; kayaking Wast Water and MTB’ing around Ennerdale ( two must sees if you visit ). After a few days of exploring I hit the road and headed towards the Highlands.
Leaving the Lakes I was quite pushed for time and without wipers/lights I had to think carefully about the journey ahead to ensure I got to Skye ready for work. I have to say, this was one of the most testing drives I’ve ever done and as I entered Glen Coe I was hit with an almighty blizzard and some of the roads began to disappear altogether. As I drove further north conditions worsened and many of the roads were closing behind me. The Syncro powered on and despite the deep snow/slush on the roads the 4WD system kept the van planted. There were numerous points where I had to pull over as the snow became so fierce my windscreen would become completely covered and without wipers I had to get out and clear it by hand. The journey was exciting and I loved putting the van through its paces, but when I finally got to Skye I was beyond wrecked. I was heading an hour north of Portree so after a brief pit stop I climbed the winding road out of the town and onto the most dangerous roads I’ve ever driven. Oh and when I say roads, well, snow. Various cars had been dumped along the route and I didn’t see a single moving vehicle for the entire journey. The thing that made this final section so scary was the fear of just sliding out of control on some of the steep climbs/descents. Despite all of this, the van continued onwards with ease. I finally arrived at my destination to the disbelief of my friends who hadn’t been able to get their vehicles to the top of the drive in a week.
The van’s by no means perfect, it’s a labour of love, but it always gets me to my destination. People often ask me is 4WD a necessity for vanlife and for the most part it really is not…but personally I would never own a 2WD after owning the Syncro. I’m hoping to publish ‘ Apocatron 4.0 ’ before Norway, which will run through almost a year of solid upgrades and servicing so if you’re interested in the van build stay tuned. The next instalment will be published along with my latest youtube episode, but for now here’s a taste of Wast Water, Ennerdale and the ' Beast from the East '.