You’re Hired! McRent Lowdhams
Campervan Readers' Stories
Our reader hired a campervan and had an amazing tour of Yorkshire.
Peter Rosenthal has a campervan adventure exploring Yorkshire in a hired campervan from McRent...
Words & photos by Peter Rosenthal
- Ch. 1 - You’re Hired! McRent Lowdhams
- Ch. 2 - Heading to Huddersfield
- Ch. 3 - Feeling right at Holme
- Ch. 4 - It’s all about Cliff...
- Ch. 5 - Last of the Summer Wine country...
- Campervan Hire Details
- Peter's verdict
- Campsites Visited
- About Campervan Magazine
1. You’re Hired! McRent Lowdhams
Hiring a campervan makes sense
Why buy a campervan when you can McRent one? Hiring is a great way to enjoy the benefits without the ownership costs...
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, it probably hasn’t escaped your notice that leisure vehicles – particularly in campervan flavour – have never been more popular.
Considering what you’re currently reading, you’re probably thinking of investing in a campervan if you don’t already have one. The trouble is that they’re a fair old chunk of change and few people have a spare £50,000 sloshing around in their bank account...
Equally, not everyone can make use of a campervan all the time, or may not have anywhere convenient to park one. You may only have a small campervan and want to take the family away, or need one for a special event. There are lots of reasons why it makes sense to hire a campervan when the need arises, and McRent leisure vehicle hire can help.
About McRent Campervan Hire
McRent is the largest hire firm in Europe, with branches across the Continent and severa; dealers in the UK that all hire out Erwin Hymer Group vehicles.
It’s clear where they got the inspiration for the brand from and no matter your views about the wares sold beneath the Golden Arches (but who doesn’t like a burger on occasion?), you have to admit that McD’s are the masters of marketing. And the McRent brand is an equally great bit of marketing – you won’t forget it, will you?
But will hiring a McRent vehicle prove to be a tasty treat, or leave you feeling bloated and a little uncomfortable? Time to find out...
2. Heading to Huddersfield
The pick-up experience
To check out how the McRent hire scheme works, I headed to Huddersfield Lowdhams. Picking up ‘my’ campervan proved to be an easy task and helpful Frankie showed me around the vehicle and handed me the keys in a fuss-free fashion. The good thing about McRent is that your rental fee includes all you need to drive away – comprehensive insurance, breakdown cover and unlimited mileage.
Best of all, the interior of the ’van came fully loaded with all that most people would ever need. The kitchen kit was particularly impressive and included plates (in a variety of sizes), cutlery, knives and chopping boards, glasses, mugs, kettle and even a toaster. Pack a bag with your clothes, toiletries, a towel and your bedding is all that’s needed. If you’re truly lazy or forgetful, or were visiting the UK from abroad, you can even hire the last two items...
Who can hire?
You need to be between 25 and 75 years old to hire one and have held your licence for at least a couple of years. You can book online and on collection will need to bring two forms of ID with you (such as utility bills less than three months old), together with a credit card and your passport. A £1000 deposit on your credit card is also needed and after that you can be on your way. Simples.
My rental vehicle was in the cheapest ‘Urban Luxury’ category that includes the Sunlight Cliff 601 and the Hymer Car Free 540. We’d got the former, which I’d have picked anyway as, at 5.99m, it’s half a metre longer than the Hymer, which gives it a bit more interior space and the layout is a little more practical. If you’re planning to visit somewhere with more restricted parking or really narrow lanes, you might want to pick the smaller Hymer Car.
All the McRent vehicles are from the Erwin Hymer Group and the Sunlight brand offers entry level campervans and motorhomes built by a co-operation between Dethleffs and Hymer, who set up the firm Capron in 2005 to build budget ’vans. As well as the Sunlight brand, it also build Carado models.
It’s best to think of them as sort of ‘Hymer Lite’ models – all offer good build quality, basic practical kit and fewer bells and whistles than Hymer or Dethleffs vehicles. I like them a lot and bought one: a Eurostyle model, which was a dealer special that Capron built for Lowdhams. I owned it for five years and it was great!
This particular Cliff 601 was the 130bhp model and had the added benefit of having Fiat’s ComfortMatic gearbox, which was a plus. Some people find the ComfortMatic a bit of a Marmite gearbox and, having driven lots of automatic cars, I can understand why. The robotised manual isn’t quite a as slick to shift as a torque-converter auto, but it’s still pretty smooth. The key point to make is that, to get the best out of it, you need to drive it a little differently to a conventional automatic and get it to change gear when you want by easing up on the throttle – to get it to change up – or apply a little throttle to get it to drop a gear. With a little practice you soon get used to it and, on hilly roads, it’s definitely an asset and saves you having to stir the gearbox manually. If I was buying a Ducato, it’s the gearbox I’d go for.
The rest of the cab kit fitted to the Cliff 601 was pretty much all you’d want with cab air-con, cruise control, electric windows and mirrors, plus the useful addition of rear parking sensors. I’d have liked a reversing camera and sat-nav, but it’s worth noting that you can hire a standalone sat-nav from Lowdhams for £10 a day if you need to. Like many people, I opted to simply plonk my smartphone on the dash holder and use Google Maps. Time to explore...
3. Last of the Summer Wine country...
History, tea shops and cobbled streets
Even though Lowdhams’ Nottingham branch is my nearest McRent branch, I’d picked the Huddersfield McRent branch as part of a cunning plan to visit Holmfirth. I’d better explain. While I love modern campervans, I also have a penchant for brown furniture, old clocks and antique shops. Holmfirth is a real treat from this point of view as it’s filled with historic buildings, tea shops and lots of cobbled streets. It’s also surrounded by rolling hills, valleys and a complicated criss-cross of dry stone walls. Little wonder it was picked as the backdrop to the well known TV series Last of the Summer Wine...
You can tell when you’re getting near to Holmfirth as there’s a noticable increase in the density of grey hair. I felt right at home.
As seen on TV
The town itself is dotted with filming locations for the TV show – the most popular of which are Sid’s Café and Nora Batty’s front door step where she used to fend off Compo’s advances, usually with the help of a broom.
As you’d expect there’s a Last of the Summer Wine exhibition in the town centre, which is complete with a well stocked gift shop for those people who can’t live without a matching pair of Nora and Compo mugs. There’s even a vintage vehicle bus tour around filming locations, so fans of the TV show can get fully immersed.
Not being a fan of commercial touristy things like this, I preferred to amble around the outskirts of Holmfirth and savour the scenery. It doesn’t really matter in what direction you point your vehicle as it’s a pretty incredible slab of God’s Own County. It’s the combination of the stubby little hills, verdant valleys and lush greenery that makes this area so attractive and driving around the empty back roads, flanked by lots of dry stone walls, is a real pleasure.
The little villages around this area sport some cracking names, too, with the Cliff passing through Netherthong, Upperthong (painful) and the intriguing sounding Thongsbridge (how would that work?!). A sign I passed pointed to Penistone and I debated heading over to start a ‘rude village names’ photoshoot collection. Finbarr Saunders would have a field day here...
In the end, the bucolic scenery won me over and I simply enjoyed ambling along the backroads.
Stopping for some photos, I had a chat with a lady on horseback and watched as her steed plodded firmly down the road into the distance. It was a relaxing sight.
4. Feeling right at Holme
The Holme Valley campsite
It’s always a delight when you visit a campsite that you’ve never been to before and it turns out to be a real find, so it was a real treat when the worryingly bumpy track down to the Holme Valley campsite opened out to reveal a beautiful location.
This included a neat grassed tent field shielded by trees, a wooded area with hardstanding pitches and, best of all, a duck pond fringed by pitches. With a small shop and a couple of seasonally open food outlets (one serving wood-fired pizza and one serving everything from curries to wraps) it’s a good place to stay and it’s only a mile from the delights of Holmfirth. Only an on-site pub could improve it. There is a pub a 15-minute walk away, so at least you’ll be able to shed some of the calories on the stagger back...
A family of dozing ducks watched warily as I positioned the campervan for the photos, with Mrs Duck being particularly unimpressed with the camera flash. Fearing a peck, I beat a hasty retreat...
5. It’s all about Cliff...
Roomy and nimble
At 5.99m long, the Cliff 601 is a good size for a campervan: small enough to be nimble and easy to manoeuvre yet large enough to be practical for a family of four (as Sam, my son, was at school and Helen, my wife, was working, I had it all to myself so it felt pretty palatial).
It’s worth noting that being based on a German van, the sliding entrance door is not on the UK kerbside, so take care when offloading passengers if you’re not in a car park or campsite.
The interior layout is a great choice for a hire vehicle, meaning it’s an intuitive vehicle that’s really easy to live with. The lack of kit is a plus – on some of the posher models you waste so much time faffing around with the controls and lighting systems that it can detract from being outdoors. On the Cliff there’s just a handful of light switch in the lounge, kitchen, bedroom and washroom, making things simple, while the electric control panel above the cab only has three rocker switches on it. Refreshingly simple.
The lounge itself features two forward facing travel seats – each with a three-point seatbelt and an adjustable headrest – with both cab seats mounted on swivel bases to form the remaining pair of lounge seats.
An angled table fits between the four seats and an extension section stashed in a cupboard allows the table to be enlarged to make it easier for the driver’s seat diner to get to his grub.
The grey seating trim has practical vinyl edging to the sides that should help prevent seat wear, while the pale oak cabinets, cream walls and grey worktops give a modern feel and are light enough to reflect plenty of light.
Lots of light
There are two large side windows and an overhead rooflight letting in lots of light and, with the sliding side door open, you get a good view of the outside world (I’m not a fan of campervans that replace the sliding door with a small habitation door as it loses this connection with the outside world). Pleasingly, the sliding door also benefits from a slide-across flyscreen, which is an unexpected find on a budget campervan.
Stepping over to the kitchen pod – which only partially covers the sliding entrance door, meaning you can cook with the door open so cooking fumes can dissipate – and there’s a modest worktop inset with a basic sink and a separate two-burner hob. This hob doesn’t have auto ignition so you’ll need to use the supplied McRent electronic lighter to spark it up. An extra flap can be lifted to give a little extra worktop space.
There’s no other form of cooking than the hob as Sunlight have prioritised the storage space, which is a good call in a 5.99m long four-berth. The entire section under the sink and hob is devoted to storage and boasts a large cupboard, two deep drawers and a cutlery drawer. Overhead is a large storage locker and the 90-litre compressor fridge to the right of the pod also has an extra storage cupboard under it. With a wardrobe opposite (and yet another cupboard beneath it), there are lots of storage options for all your kitchen and touring kit, which is brilliant. It’s easy to underestimate the value of a big cupboard, but the use of space on the Cliff 601 is excellent.
Opposite the kitchen there’s a modest washroom with a duckboard covered all-in-one shower tray and a swivel loo and sink. There’s a mirror-fronted storage cupboard and a little worktop space for your toiletries, as well as a loo roll holder and hooks for towels. It’s worth noting that McRent provides all the toilet chemicals.
The loo and sink area are fine but the shower space is limited and taller folk may want to ditch the 3cm tall wooden duckboard to gain extra height (it’s 6ft tall with it in place).
To the rear of the ’van is the bedroom area and preparing for night-time is easy thanks to Remis blinds used in the cab and simple roller blinds throughout the vehicle. The lounge rooflight is a decent quality one, but the one in the rear bedroom is bit flimsy.
With the light shut out there’s overhead lighting over the rear transverse bed and a couple of reading lights at the bed head (the bed is 5cm wider at the driver’s side so you’ll invariably sleep this way around). The bed itself is of a good size at 6ft 0in long and 4ft 11in at its widest point and, thanks to a deep foam mattress over sprung beech slats, it’s soft and supportive, too. If you want to use it in four-berth mode, brackets on the sidewalls support an additional double bed frame that’s slightly smaller and ideal for kids.
The rear transverse bed also has a vast storage space underneath it and houses yet more storage cupboards. If you need more storage space for taller items, the centre part of the bed can flip upwards through 90 degrees to allow bikes or tall chairs to be easily slotted in place. It’s all highly practical and simple to use – just what’s needed in a hire vehicle.
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Campervan Hire Details
We hired a Sunlight Cliff 601 campervan.
A four-berth model based on the 5.99m-long Fiat Ducato with the ComfortMatic automatic gearbox. It has a rear travel seat with two three-point seat belts, and a rear bed measuring 1.82m x 1.50m narrowing to 1.45m (6ft 0in x 4ft 11in narrowing to 4ft 9in). There’s a Dometic combination two-burner hob,Thetford T1090 90-litre compressor fridge/freezer, Truma Combi 4 blown-air heating, 100-litre fresh water tank, LED ambient lighting and individual spotlights.
UK mainland only:
- Unlimited mileage
- Comprehensive insurance
- Breakdown cover
- Two bottles of gas (one full, one empty)
- Wheel wedges
- Toilet chemicals
- Full set of crockery, pots and pans
- Additional driver (£20)
- Sat-nav (£10 per day)
- Pets (£40 each)
- Bedding (£30 per person)
- Towels (£14 per person)
- Child safety seat (£20)
The Sunlight Cliff 601 featured here (and the Hymer Car Free 540) are in the cheapest Urban Luxury class and cost from £53 per day (low season, in 2019) up to £117 per day (high season, in 2019). A £1,000 refundable deposit is charged to your credit card on collection.
McRent claim to be Europe’s largest motorhome rental company and have bases in 15 European countries as well as New Zealand, the USA and Japan. I collected mine from Lowdhams, who have branches in Huddersfield and Nottingham.
Email: [email protected]
Tel:(01692) 538 948
The McRent set-up is a really affordable and practical way of enjoying the benefits of a modern campervan without having the cost of ownership. With branches across Europe and lots of choice of rental vehicle to suit whatever trip you’re going on, it’s sure to open up the joys of campervans to an even wider audience. Don’t want to buy a campervan? Nowhere to store one? Not enough spare time to justify the expense? Well, it’s no problem now. Just hire what you need, when you need it. If you want to try a camper that’s not too small yet not too large, and is suitable for solo campers, couples and families alike, then the Cliff 601 is a great choice.
• Holme Valley
Holme Valley Camping & Caravan Park
Address: Thongsbridge, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, HD9 7TD
Tel:(01263) 514 938
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