4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Wellington Drive Round Day, 27th Jul 08
Words by Sam Woodbury
We started the day at the ‘car park’ field as per usual. After roughly arranging the vehicles so there were no more than two vehicles between each of the vehicles with winches, we set off into the woods. At first we drove the tracks through the wooded area that are fairly easy. Coming to a steep slope, we stopped to take a look. Aside from the usual considerations with traversing a slope, roots from trees lining the route would force the side of vehicles into trees opposite. After being spotted down by Tim and James, we slowly made our way to the bottom.

The drive then went up through the woodland again and along some of the other tracks. This site is by far my favourite out of all the ones I have used in the six months I’ve been off roading. The surface is a leaf-litter mulch which is on top of further decomposed material on top of clay like mud. This means that even the most simple looking of tracks become rutted after only a few trucks have passed through, and the exposed clay then provides little grip at all, completely changing the character of the site event after event. After this, we drove through the tracks on the other side of the wood that were almost impassable to without winching at the Daily Driver Challenge event in March, for which I had All-Terrain tyres. A week of good weather coupled with a day of sunshine had made it very drivable, but I still managed to get stuck at the point I had at that event. James led us over a bank that was just the right height for those vehicles on smaller tyres to get beached if you got it wrong, which is what I almost did again, having to reverse back up over it and try to end up on the track the other side.

Eventually we came to another steep descent, one that proved difficult at the last DRD due to the slippery surface seeming to make the trees loom even closer. The problem on this slope is that the ground has so little grip that 1st gear is not low enough, so the brakes need to be applied, and the skill here is in not locking up the wheels. An added problem for those of us not using diesels, especially my V8 when it gets hot, is that it is very easy to stall. It has to be said this descent is not my favourite, with roots about a quarter of the way down lifting the rear of the vehicle, breaking traction, making it unpleasant to say the least. That said, we all seemed to make it down this hill with no problems.

We followed more tracks until we came to an area that was very boggy. James was first to drive down and found the ruts too boggy, getting stuck. After winching himself out with the help of Tim, his passenger, Jeroen and Ger in the standard red 90 tried next. They too came to a stop slightly further on and were winched out by James. Next was my turn, and I too was stuck, but as the previous vehicles moved the mud out of the way each vehicle following managed to get further. As I was winched, James was clearing a track through the trees so that we could rejoin the route he had planned. The silver 90 of Ben and Ro were next, winching off my vehicle. When we had cleared the exit by threading the vehicles through the trees, the Land Cruiser of Jim Pugh was next. Despite a good effort, it was bogged down. Next were Ian and Jason Gildersleeve in their impressive V8 90 with huge tyres. Even they couldn’t make it through the bog, but were very close. Kevin Williams in his V8 Jeep was the last vehicle, but with a slightly narrower width than the Land Rover before him, he was stuck in the deep ruts approaching the bog. All the vehicles then made their way to catch up with the others.

Driving on some more, we came to another bank to cross with a short but steep slope before it. I managed to not see a small stump on the ridge that I then wedged under my car, denting the fuel tank. If I had driven only a few inches further left this would have been missed, and Ben and Ro learned from my mistake. After winching me off the stump and over the bank, they followed without any drama. After this we made our way back up to the car park field for lunch.

After lunch we headed to Widecombe moor. The first challenge was to get the vehicles through some tight trees, spotted by Tim. This was followed by more track driving through the dense wooded area.

We came to a part of the track which was a lot more boggy than when I had used it only two weekends prior for another event. At that time it had been fairly innocuous, but this time there were very deep ruts with water in them. There were two options for entering the ruts, a clearing in the trees letting the vehicles enter slightly further down avoiding the majority of the most rutted area. James, Jim Pugh and Jeroen made it through using these tracks, while James Wickenden in his V8 90 attempted the more difficult route. This proved to be too much even with the correct choice of engine! A short winch out enabled him to gain traction and drive out. I was next in the queue, and the crowd gathered at the side of the ruts made me not want to make any mistakes. By now the ruts even at the easier section were deep, so having watched the previous attempts I decided to keep the revs as low as possible and use the traction of the Greenway Machos I am testing out after having a set of Simex pattern tyres. This approach seemed to work, using just enough power to keep momentum while not breaking traction with the ground.

At the bottom of the site there is a small stream next to the track, the bed of which can be driven, with a steep entry and difficult exit. The first one to try this was Jeroen, who had two attempts at climbing out of the streambed before finally getting the correct line to scrabble up the bank. After seeing the correct line, we all had a go. It was a steep slope in to the riverbed, with a couple of shunts to get the car positioned to climb out the other bank. Here power was the main requirement, the challenge being to do it without locking diffs! At this point we were about to leave when Jim Pugh decided to go one further, taking the Land Cruiser the other way through the river bed. The slope out looked far too steep and covered in loose rock, but the wheelbase of the Land Cruiser pushing it up the slope and the weight of it sinking through to get traction meant it barely scrabbled for grip, which impressed everyone watching.

We continued up through the open area of the site onto the grassland and back through the site and back to the car park field. After a short discussion of the day and some feedback on how it went we left for home. No one had any damage to their vehicle, less the small dent in my fuel tank and it seems everyone had a great day, thanks to James.

Some pictures from the day