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Community / Army truck-turned-campervan catches the eye on visit north

Stuart Pirie and Charlotte Cooper with their truck in Shetland. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

THERE will be an unusual sight on Shetland’s roads over the next few months – a former army truck which has been converted into a home-on-wheels.

Orkney couple Stuart Pirie and Charlotte Cooper have already taken their souped-up ex-RAF vehicle to mainland Europe, and they have now arrived in Shetland.

The pair have been living in the ‘Orkney Overlander’ – which they converted into a large campervan themselves – after leaving their jobs last year to take up a somewhat more nomadic lifestyle, first heading to Spain.

Pirie had planned to come to Shetland to take part in Delting Up Helly Aa, and while that has been postponed again they will make the most of their time in the isles by working to build up funds for the next big trip.

The truck on its travels.

The truck in question is a Leyland DAF T244 4×4 GS, which was first put into service for the RAF in January 1991, based in Germany.

“It was later returned to the UK in 1999 and eventually cast from service 2010 having only covered 17,265km in its service,” Pirie said.

“It was bought by a collector at auction in 2011 where it stood in a field until we bought it in 2020, since then it has been registered for the road by me and we designed and built the accommodation from scratch to what it is now.”

One of the most asked questions is the truck’s miles per gallon rate, with the vehicle holding 200 litres of fuel.

“It does average around 13.7 but there are upgrades planned while we are here that should see us achieve anything up to 18,” the 38-year-old marine engineer said.

The truck makes use of solar power, and the “house batteries” can be charged while driving. On board there is a toilet and a shower – and even a multifuel stove to keep things warm.

Around 400 litres of water can be carried in an interior tank, “which will last a couple of weeks if we’re sensible with it”.

The only complication with food tends to be fitting into supermarket carparks.

The couple have been living in the truck since June last year, but they have called self-converted vans home for a few years now.

The desire to live in the moment and explore the world saw the pair try the different lifestyle.

“There might come a time where we decide to go back to ‘bricks and mortar’ instead of living nomadically, but not any time soon,” Cooper said.

“We have bigger plans to travel further afield to places like Mongolia and Africa first.”

Their adventures can be followed through the Orkney Overlanders website and on social media.