4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 14th Dec 08
Words by James Trembath

Quite a lot of interest for this day, word must be spreading! So much interest in fact that we decided to run two convoys to avoid people being caught up or having to wait too long. Tim Jones led convoy one which with the exception of Chris in his Navara was made of people who had previously driven the routes consisting of Jeroen in a std LR 90, Grenville in his Jeep and Gary Sharpe in his white hardtop 90. Meanwhile I took on group two with Johnny in a well prepared hardtop 90, plus Dan and Wayne again both in 90s with Tony in his 200 Discovery bringing up the rear with Ben in a Tdi 90.

Jeroen although having been several times before took on more and more of the elements this time round with his first time on the steep descent into the river proving to be an eye opener! Jeroen is running a pretty standard 300tdi with front and rear Jate rings and guards plus has now added a heavy duty bumper to the package – which he made himself. Chris in the Navara was running AT tyres and was obviously keen not to overdo any of the sections in quite a long vehicle for the course. Luckily with Tim on hand with some sound guidance there we no problems with alternative routes being suggested when Chris didn’t like the look of it, or if we knew he would have a problem on a particular section due to the vehicle size. Luckily for us Chris took the advice and therefore came home a happy man with no damage! A lot of the day is about doing what you are comfortable with and not over committing to anything.

The second group made good progress through the initial quarry section with everyone taking on the few short drops in there – with a lot of ‘whooping’ noises coming from a couple of the 90s – Wayne and Dan! With a quick road section down to the first river drive the surface in was a little slipperier after the first group had been through but the climbs out were slightly easier than previous trips. This was probably due to the amount of rain of late changing the mud consistently enough to allow the tread blokes to clean and therefore gain purchase. Normally one of the climbs out with opposing axle twist holes is very tricky and the winch has been known to be used to aid a few in the past. This time everyone in both groups drove it with a little thought – and a couple of attempts for some!

With some good water filled private lane driving taking us around to middle wood we started the descent down through the various bomb holes. Some of the sections have changed dramatically over the past 12 months with a good rear wheel lifting short axle twist in an early section on the way down to the river bed. The river bed itself has a fantastic lean on it where the water has run down and eroded just one side of the bed.

Discretion was the better part of valour here where even Tony who had driven everything to date decided to take a little diversion – he was after all along with his family for a fun day out and didn’t want to overdo it with the little ones in the back. Meanwhile Ben threw himself yet again at the challenges in his pretty std truck cab 90 determined not to get stuck - which he managed with a little forethought and gentle throttle application. Wayne and Dan also drove the whole sections although Wayne did need a little tug out at the beginning after entering the section with not quite enough momentum to see him around the first side slope and drop in.

Meeting up with the others for a short social and lunch we then extracted Ben who had decided to try and follow Wayne and Dan around a short bombhole section close to the stream. Luckily Johnny was on hand to help out otherwise I think Ben would have been there even longer.

From here we left as one convoy to drive the later part of this section down through the farm, Grenville made a slight mistake on the way down on a side slope (well to be fair it was Andy driving!) which required some careful extraction to avoid scratches which Ben dutifully took on. With the potential of a delay looming whilst Grenville’s vehicle was cleared we split again and took on the last river drive with the short drop in from the road with Tim bringing along the remainder. Johnny had a slight knock in one of the river sections just misjudging an exit between two trees but nothing major. With Tim and his group now back with us we split again to take on the ‘deep rutted woods’ whilst Tim shot off to another one of the quarries. The entrance to the wooded section caught Ben out who succumbed to the wet grassy field getting stuck in the entrance! I think he was all out of luck after getting stuck in the lunchtime bomb holes! Cleared from here we headed down into the woods, which despite being early afternoon were already quite dark! With some bride repairs needed enroute and quite a few making a few mistakes and ending up stuck it wasn’t ling before not only was the lead vehicles rear winch required but Tim’s group had caught us. Coming to the end Tim’s group were now soon left behind as they took on the various obstacles leaving the lead group to head off and finish with wet corner. On completion we returned to the farm for a quick chat and coffee plus a bit of vehicle cleaning before heading off on our separate ways – Gary having to go all the way back to Kent!!

Our thanks goes to Tim Jones and Mark Booth his capable co-driver for leading the convoy around and we hope to see some of you back again in the new year.

Some pictures from the day