May 24, 2009
be perfect for the
By James Millar
PLENTY of people
will be travelling by train to head off on holiday this summer.
But how about actually
spending the week on a train ... without moving anywhere?
To be more accurate we're
talking about a train carriage.
Daniel Brittain has just
refurbished one as a holiday home in the stunning surroundings
of Loch Awe.
But it's not a new idea.
Camping coaches were popular 50 years ago and with the credit
crunch forcing folk to holiday in the UK again Daniel reckoned
the time was right for a comeback.
He explained, "I've
reached an age, 55, where I get nostalgic for the simpler,
happy-go-lucky holidays of my youth. I thought that if I'm
nostalgic then others are bound to be too.
"I stayed on a camping
coach when I was small. When I discovered this one at Loch Awe I
was amazed no-one had done anything with it sooner."
The coach had been in
position between Loch Awe and the local station since the
mid-1980s. Latterly it had been used as a cafe.
Daniel was holidaying in
the area three years ago and looking for a cup of tea when he
came across the carriage.
"I knew it as the tea
train but when I went along I found it closed up and clearly it
had been that way for some time.
"I'd wanted to do up a
camping coach for ages and so I spent a fair bit of the
remainder of my holiday tracking down the owners who, it turned
out, were happy to sell."
Daniel found experts who
could make sure the refurbishment was authentic and work began
in February last year.
The coach was officially
opened by House Of Cards author Michael Dobbs last week who
described it in the visitor's book as "The gateway to heaven".
Daniel is in charge of
BBC Parliament in London, the digital TV channel dedicated to
broadcasting coverage of the Commons, Lords and national
"Because I'm based in
London it took twice as long to get the coach finished. I'd be
up there during holidays and weekends."
Though he now lives in
London Daniel lived in Clackmannanshire for 26 years and worked
He added, "I love the
Highland scenery and I love railway buildings. The camping coach
combines the two.
"Loch Awe is one of the
most beautiful locations not just in Scotland but in the world.
The view from the coach is truly stunning.
"I much prefer the
emptiness of the Scottish scenery to the simple, pretty English
The Loch Awe camping
coach has two bedrooms and sleeps up to five people. The trains
on the nearby line aren't a nuisance, only three a day amble by.
Prices start at £350 per
week — compared to around £3 for the original camping coaches.
But with a shower and TV
it's considerably more upmarket than the coaches of yesteryear.
First opened in the 1930s
they provided basic accommodation with no electricity and water
was dropped off by passing trains.
But they were hugely
popular as cheap and cheerful holiday lets. At their height
there were 30 across Scotland and three times as many south of
the border in the 1950s and '60s. Sadly, all had gone by the
The coach is not the
first railway-related project Daniel's taken on. He refurbished
Scotscalder station in Caithness as a home and set up Dunrobin
Castle Station Museum.
"I love railway
buildings, I can't see a derelict one without wanting to take it
under my wing and renovate it."
But he stressed with a
laugh, "I have a slightly depressing interest in railway stuff —
but I've never stood on a platform taking down train numbers!"