Play Hard

Overland Adventures – a Land Rover, a rooftop tent and Northumberland to explore

With everything you need on nothing but the open road, this is camping in Northumberland done right

Written by Rosie Harrison
Published 06.05.2023

I recently got the opportunity to explore Northumberland in a way I hadn’t before…

in a Land Rover Defender, with a rooftop tent and all we needed for a weekend of camping – thanks to award-winning camper hire, Overland Adventures.

It might be worth noting here that I don’t much like camping, especially the faff of tent construction and deconstruction. I also like a bed – pillows, duvet; I value my sleep!

Nevertheless, I was keen to try this type of camping out.

The Car

A Land Rover Defender Utility 110 XS.

Not something I’ve driven before, but we all know the Defender has hero status for many people, (my boyfriend, Michael, included).

A massive part of the experience for him was driving the Defender. We took the Forest Road through Kielder – 12 miles of stony track through the trees – and the Defender was ideal.

We both remembered camping in Northumberland before, on an earlier trip to Kielder years ago in his Corsa; we tried the track, but it was so uncomfortable we turned around.

So, the Defender is a great car to drive. I took some time getting used to it, it has to be said. I did get the hang of it, and eventually enjoyed it, but to start with it felt like driving a tank. You’re so high off the ground and you need to be aware of your size – and weight! Certain bridges aren’t crossable and you can’t go into multi-storey car parks.

But for weekend breaks Northumberland or even Scotland-wide, that’s not an issue. For those adventures, this car is your best pal.

The Kit

Overland Adventures provided everything we needed for successful camping in Northumberland.

We packed clothes, some toiletries, a power bank, and some films downloaded onto my laptop.

Already in the car was everything else. I’ll not list it all here, as there was so much provided, but here were some of the standouts:

  • SOLO STOVE. Usually, I’d not list this first, but this did make both our evenings much better, (as with most Northumberland camping trips, we weren’t blessed with the best weather, but at least no rain). Michael also wants one of these now – it’s a smokeless firepit. It was brill, stored in the boot in its bag, and Overland Adventures provided wood and kindling for us. We sat in our chairs (provided), and the stove gave us a great fire with plenty of heat, at the top and from the sides.

‘Strategically placed holes in the double-wall structure draw in air from the bottom and feed the heated oxygen to the top, resulting in a spectacular secondary burn. The best part? Nearly no smoke and minimal ash left to clean!’

  • THE TENT. This was a top aspect for me – the roof tent, with a queen-size mattress and pillows, duvet, and Pendleton blanket for added warmth (essential for camping in Northumberland!). It was simple to put the tent up, though I do advise watching the how-to videos that you’ll be sent, outlining the steps to put up the tent and the awning.
    • HLN Hint: Take it slow folding the tent away first time – make sure all the material is folded away before zipping it up.


  • THE FRIDGE. Also in the back of the boot, stocked up with snacks and drinks. The team have a smaller one for shorter camping trips, or a larger one with more storage capacity for longer adventures. There’s no shortage of farm shops to stock up on Northumberland goodies, too.
  • THE TORCHES. An array of lights – a lantern, headlight, and powerful little torch – again, Northumberland camping essentials.
  • COOKING EQUIPMENT. Tracey thought of everything we’d need for camp cooking – packets of spices, salt and pepper, stock, pans, cutlery and plates, knives, all sorts.
  • REMY’S BED. There was a hammock / seat cover to protect the seats and Tracey also provided a dog bed for Remy which, by the end of a day’s walking, he was begging to get into.

The Trip

We got ourselves an NLAND250 map and took some points of interest from there – the North East coast, (the northern part of which we know far less than the south), and Kielder Forest.

We also wanted to try a campsite and wild camping Northumberland style, to see which we preferred.

We took Remy with us, so we needed to be mindful of his needs and find spaces that were dog-friendly in Northumberland – of which there is no shortage. He was happily greeted much of the time, given lots of love at our coffee stop at Barn at Beal.

Tracey and Darren provided ideas and useful advice for campsites and routes, and any questions I had they were happy to answer. Since we fancied a freer experience on the first night, they suggested various wild camping Northumberland websites, including Wild with Consent and Hip Camp.

They also have a discount code for Camping and Caravanning Club sites if needed and had so much knowledge of the area and the options available.

We enjoyed both campsite and wild camping experiences, both with differing pros and cons. I was very happy to find a clean and empty shower block at Kielder Waterside’s campsite (with hot showers), and was glad we did our wild camping in Northumberland on the first night so it wasn’t too long between washes. Had it been hotter, we could have used the solar shower provided by Overland Adventures!

Having a wild campsite to yourself is something else though; peaceful and beautiful.

  • Note, always leave a place as you found it, leaving no litter.

For someone who actively avoids camping, this really surprised me. There were wobbles, of course, but Darren and Tracey were always on the other end of the phone to help out with suggestions or advice.

Next time we go camping in Northumberland, we’ll be taking the Defender for longer and heading more off-track… now that we’re seasoned adventurers.

To explore more, chat to the Overland Adventures team and book your own camping in Northumberland adventure, head to their website.

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