4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 28th Dec 08
Words by Jim Hancock and Pictures by James Trembath

Everyone gathered at a very cold and frosty site near Bampton to meet and complete the admin, vehicle scrutineering and introductions before the days driving brief. The opportunity was also taken to find Les a seat in one of the vehicles. Les has supported James' Challenge series throughout the year as a marshal and was along for an insight into what the driving days entailed.

Vehicles participating included newcomer Lee and Co-driver Maff in an Olive Green Toyota Surf, Toby in a Land Rover 90 V8, Jeroen in his Red Hardtop 90, Dave Harris in his TD5 and Jim in the Pajero.

The day started with a short drive into the wooded area where we encountered some axle twisting drops, climbs and turns to get everyone warmed up and then a dip into the ice covered water splash. The beautiful sunshine and crisp cold landscape really was pleasure to be out in!

After a short tarmac drive James subjected us to the first real test. A very tight turn thru trees and a steep drop down into the narrow water course. This was ably demonstrated by our guide for the day, Tim in a very trick and smooth soft top V8. As is always the case these sections are optional so a few of the guys elected to watch this one out. In a moment of determination (madness!) Jim decided to try to get the LWB Pajero between the trees and down into the water! I think that James was a little surprised and very impressed to see the result with by his own admission, the best guest driver descent he has seen of that section, however there was even more smiling though when Dave's winch was required to haul the truck up and out of the exit!

We then drove up through the woods twisting and turning before a long steep drop right down to the river again where the exit routes were extremely wet and almost all of the guest vehicles had a little help back up onto the main road. A drive through a green lane took us up to the next location, more forest tracks with the water drive. This was covered by ice more than a centimetre thick. Jeroen decided to be ice breaker so led through. With a sheet of ice the size of a small dining table rising up in front of him momentarily, before turning left and driving the 30 metre hazard without any problem. Almost everyone else followed through although one or two attached ropes and straps before wading in – that water looked too cold to mess about in!!

Lunch was taken in the woods before James unleashed what looked like a vehicular assault course – many of us took the easiest route down criss-crossing the intended descent. This was however after Tim once again demonstrated that the route was possible.

Jeroen and Dave tackled the first section admirably well, but those of us with curved body panels thought better of it. Toby took the escape route ‘B’ and had to winch himself out of the muddy bottom, so the rest of us had to find route ‘C’! There followed more drops and climbs in and out of the stream which got increasingly more difficult so Jim and Lee missed the last one out after a couple of recoveries had been necessary (plus a 60+ mile drive home)!

Finally another green lane with a very steep rocky step which modified a couple of towbars and then a drive into a thick pine forest with a steep 100 metre climb followed by the descent down again! You could almost hear the concentration! Plus the sound of brakes grinding as they were full of mud!

‘Well Done and Thanks’ to everyone, (Winchman) Dave again, Toby and Lee and Maff for extracting the Pajero out of a couple of grounding situations. Toby certainly worked his winch hard down at the bottom of the assault course! Jeroen for not getting stuck at all and finally to James and Tim for another top notch event and Landowner Richard for joining us in the afternoon and his input as well.

Some pictures from the day