4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 16th Nov 08
Words by James Trembath

The first Bampton Driving Day of the season and it was not only warm but despite the recent down pours it even stayed reasonably dry – when not up in the mist!!

It’s always good to get back to the Bampton routes. They lie dormant from Apr through until Nov to let the ground recover and being the first vehicle through in Nov is always quite interesting – particularly on wet corner when the sludge builds up over the quiet months needing a good push through to clear the route.

For this particular day we had a good mix of vehicles ranging from Tim Jones in his Hybrid V8 Defender running 3 link front, through to a pretty standard Toyota SWB driven by Steve and then Steve Hart and Fran in their White Pajero with Robin Watson in his Discovery and Karen in her Suzuki Vitara.

With the landowner on board we set off to the top quarry to get everyone in the mood with a few little drops to wet the appetite and keep all amused. Karen in their Suzuki Vittara was certainly in at the deep end with Mark on hand to give help and advice. Mark is a member of the Bristol and West Off Road Club who has completed a few of the Charity events with us. He was brought along for the day by Robin Watson who had pre-booked 4 places for club members. Robin in his lifted Discovery had also attended a Bampton DRD with us last year along with Kevin Butler. Kevin was also back again to give it another go, this time with partner Debbie but luckily minus his roof rack –which would make things through the trees a little easier!

On completion of top quarry we headed off to the first little river drive combined with some steep climbs and descents to keep all in the mood. Robin did his best to get his Discovery around one of the corners for a descent but the vehicle was just a little too long, so with discretion being the better part of valour he gave that drop a miss. All the sections are totally voluntary with lots of opt out routes for those not wishing to take on all the elements. Robin joined the other 3 vehicles here and bypassed this one, which after the descent had quite a tricky climb back out. The climb has been worn away in places with some tree roots causing undulations on the near side that need a good combination of momentum and vehicle positioning to get up unaided. Needless to say the rear winch on the lead vehicle came into play to help some of the others up.

After a great woodland drive section, again with a nice descent down to the river and a mud hole which Tim managed to successfully drive we headed off on some water logged private lanes to take us around to wet corner. First car through cleared the route leaving a good wading section for the following vehicles – It appears pretty deep on a Vitara that must be said!

From here it was across to middle wood and the bomb holes and washed out river sections which had changed over the course of the summer with some great axle twists to keep everyone on their toes. A nice drop in at the start also allowed a little air under the rear off side tyres – at least it kept the adrenaline flowing!

After a short lunch break and some more muddy rut driving, with some extraction work required on some of the vehicles with limited ground clearance it was back down through the farm yards with a few more drops and river drives to content with. The Final river drive starting with an excellent blind drop off the tarmac road followed immediately by a steep left hand climb, it certainly proved a tricky ascent with all the rain of the past week. Prior to this Steve and Fran had had a little bit of a scare when they had slipped off the route slightly and were moving slowly sideways towards a small stream – well it made Fran grip the dash hard anyway (so i am told!) A quick winch backwards from Robin with Richard’s guidance soon saw them undamaged and back on route.

Overall a great way to enjoy a Sunday with a cracking group of like minded people all out for a fun day. The tracks had changed enough to keep those who knew the site on their toes and with a few new sections thrown in there was certainly something for everyone.

Some pictures from the day