4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 25th Jan 09
Words and Pictures by James Trembath

With yet another wet January we knew there would be some excellent testing driving conditions for the popular Bampton day out. As usual we met in the land owners yard to have a quick introduction to the members and safety brief on what to expect for the day.

Today we had some first timers out with us, John Dymel in his Discovery with a 300tdi had come across from Chard. Simon Jilks, Lee Tatum and Roger Gowing had come along from Lanes, Tracks & Trails (LT & Ts) under Maff Bradleys guidance. Maff had participated on the 5 Jan DRD and after talking through some tyre issues he was keen to come back for another outing in his Jeep Wrangler. Maff who does a lot of outings with Jim Hancock (LT & Ts) had also convinced fellow members Simon, Lee and Roger that they would have a good day out. Simon and Roger have been along to previous events with us so they knew roughly what to expect but they were new to Bampton!

After a short section in the top quarry John was soon found airing down his tyres on his Discovery to help with traction. Here we had an introduction to the drops and water sections we were likely to come across later and we were soon heading off down to take on some of the first proper descents and stream drives. It was one of these early sections that was to see the demise of John who after tackling a short river section picked up some water in the air filter which stopped his Tdi. Recovery was on hand with Tim Jones who winched him out of the water and back onto tarmac before towing the stricken vehicle back to the yard. Meanwhile the rest of us carried on with the route to be joined by Tim – now with John as a passenger to start some of the first descents. With the wet rocky ground conditions there were certainly some interesting moments for some on the long first drop back into the stream! But then again that’s what its all about, learning how to cope, taking on board the advice and taking your level of experience just that one step further. The exit route from the stream was to prove interesting with everyone less Maff and Tim needing a little extra help from the lead vehicles winch due to a particularly nice axle twist on the exit.

From here we headed up over a good few miles of nicely waterlogged tracks to get to ‘middle wood’. With some interesting negotiations of obstacles en-route it was soon time to stop for lunch in the lee of the hedge. From here we headed on down to the washed out river taking in the ‘interesting small hole’ in the track on the way down! Roger decided to take the bypass option here. However with his Tracedge tyres clogged up with mud he was soon beginning to slip a little sideways down the hill as he tried to negotiate his way past the top of the hole. A rope was quickly attached to the rear of the vehicle to try and pivot him around but with the ground being so soft and Roger not being particularly keen on the vehicle angle a winch line was deployed from the rear vehicle in the convoy. From here he was safely recovered back on course and made his own way on down through the bypass.

Tim then led the group on down through the rest of the washed out river with Simon and Maff choosing to follow on whilst the others took the alternative route not fancying the risk of catching a wing on the final lean of the section.

With a short section up a gentle sloping grass field looming there was potential for making a mess – which we were obviously keen to avoid, however with some gentle application of power the convoy passed over it with ease showing what some forethought and thinking can achieve rather than the gun hoe ‘nail it’ approach. From here we were into an interesting section dropping in and out of the river with some cheeky climbs to contend with on the exits. Passing on through a farmyard we then headed off for the final river drive. The entrance to this final drive is a sharp drop straight into the river off the tarmac, the longer vehicles struggling here a little with tow bars catching. So much so in fact that Lee needed a helping rock and then winch to get him fully down into the section! All the vehicles less Maff then required some assistance from Tim to get up into the field from the river. The tight cornered climb does take a knack to conquer and it was good to see people having to think through their approaches. It couldn’t of been that tricky from the water though as our tail end Charlie made the climb unaided.

From here a few more sharp drops back into the river and the end of the day was in sight. The river drive is a fantastic end to the day with some nice meandering routes through the water and over the banks amongst the overgrown foliage; it certainly makes for a picturesque end to the day. With the final short climb completed by all we head back up to the yard for the obligatory chat and cup of tea.

Whilst we were all there we also had a look at John’s potentially flooded engine! Investigation showed a saturated air filter, but the engine rotated on rocking and the intercooler pipes were pretty dry, there couldn’t off been a lot of water in there. With limited tools and not wishing to cause any further damage recovery was sourced and John was soon on his way home. As an aside after removing the glow plugs and turning her over by hand to expel the water from two cylinders she fired up a dream – the greater concern is the now the wet carpets!

Some pictures from the day