The new van got its first major outing last week with a short trip to Dartmoor National Park in Devon. We've been to Dartmoor many times, and the weather and terrain are usually best described as 'challenging', but amazingly this time we were greeted by blue skies and sunshine. Despite the excellent conditions the temperature stayed relatively low though, so it turned out to be perfect conditions to test the power systems on the van - cold enough to need to run most of the major systems, but sunny enough to test the charging capacity of the two solar cells mounted on the roof.
Dartmoor is also one of the few remaining areas in the UK where wild-camping is permitted, so if you want to get away from it all and enjoy some challenging walks and back-to-basics camping in a remote and quiet setting it is definitely worth a visit.
The first thing we've noticed about the Carthago is how easy it is to live with. On paper it is only slightly larger than the Fleurette was, but internally this extra space makes a huge difference, and combined with the extra room created by the liner-for-two layout makes for about as spacious and comfortable a living area as you could wish for. The upgraded GVW is also useful, giving a maximum permitted mass of 4800kg, although it did come as a bit of a surprise how quickly this extra payload is used up.
We have also already noticed the benefit of upgrading the power system to include three 80 Ah batteries (for a total of 240Ah) and two solar panels on the roof delivering up to 140W of power. During our winter adventures we couldn't remain stationary for more than two nights without the habitation batteries running low, and lacked a sufficiently powerful generator to recharge them once they did. Last week however even after five days and four nights stationary the batteries were still virtually full even without running up our new Champion generator that we purchased for longer trips away.
Dartmoor was a great shakedown for the Carthago and although there were one or two minor niggles these should be easily fixed over the coming weeks. Moreover, we had a great week walking and exploring the National Park in the type of weather you rarely see in August never mind March. Although it is slightly harder to get to than some of the UK's other National Parks and wilderness areas the benefit is that, once you get there, there tends to be fewer people and crowds with whom to share the space. Overall a big thumbs up for both Dartmoor and the Carthago!
Learn more about Dartmoor National Park here: www.visitdartmoor.co.uk