4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 14th Feb 09
Words and Pictures by James Trembath

Well Fri 13th certainly played its part on this DRD for one attendee! Bob Smith who was due to come along with us unfortunately broke down on the M5 whilst travelling down on the Friday night with major gearbox problems. This certainly put a damper on their planned weekend in Devon as they were soon loaded up by the recovery services and were on their way back home! Not a good day for them.

For the rest of the group it was a normal meet in the yard for the 10:30 start, this time with everyone there early and eager to get on we had wheels turning by 10:15hrs. As usual Tim Jones was along to help with the day this time tail end Charlie with myself in his passenger seat. This left Sam Woodbury in his V8 90 with the landowner taking point and leading the convoy around. Sam has attended several days with us and being first always adds that little bit of apprehension to the day which makes it all the more exciting. Ben Proctor was 2nd in line in his 200tdi truck cab 90 now sporting a working milemarker winch, with Jeroen Van de Hooft coming in 3rd again in another 90 – a pretty standard CSW 300tdi with rear tank, heavy duty front bumper and a steering guard and snorkel. So a small group and all 90s which is the first in a while.

After the warm up woods were we took in some new routes to keep everyone on their toes with some nice axle twists we headed off to the first section. The water drive was slightly lower than the last outing but enough to get people into the swing of it, everyone took on the first short drop into the river which was good to see plus made it unaided up the climb which has now developed into a steep set of muddy steps certainly a good climb to get the momentum right on! We were soon into the further drops through the woods after clearing a few windswept trees off the routes. Ben had an interesting moment on the latter part of the last drop with some sideways action before dropping down through the river again! (he kept quiet about that though!). Taking the easy route around the bomb hole climb from the proved testing for most. There is a small undulating climb up out of the river with a high centre. As vehicles start to come through they catch the cross axle if too slow which takes the momentum away from the truck which then means it gets stuck on the high centre slightly further up. Sam had a recovery from here by Tim with a short tug on the KERR, Ben wanted to try out his winch here and winched himself effortlessly (although slowly) free while Jeroen displayed just the balance needed and managed to drive through. Once we were all complete we headed up to the deep ruts sections. The rain taking its toll again and with it being a pine forest the sun had struggled to penetrate the canopy to dry the ground. Sam, still leading was soon stuck with two wheels in a rut after sliding off the track. Ben was called in the winch him backwards and then found the belt was slipping a bit on the pump with the winch refusing to pull, in the end with some more rocking, digging and application of the right foot Sam managed to extract himself. The rest of the section down through the ruts proved a good test for the boys on the 235.85s but they all drove it, some with more attempts than others! It was the end of the section with the side slope still covered in snow that proved a good tester! Sam was soon airing down tyres a touch more to maximise traction and after coming off the track with everyone pushing we managed to get him back up on course. Ben and Jeroen then pretty much followed the same path as Sam, none of them being able to stay on the track and all requiring some pushing to help extract!

Middle wood was the next destination after a quick lunch break, this also giving Sam time to fix his door car and the window mechanism on the drivers door. With some great bomb holes and the washed out river to content the slippery conditions certainly made the route interesting. The bomb hole does have the potential to cause some wing damage so Sam wisely bypassed this whilst the others slowly eased them selves through – see the pictures below! From here the washed out river made a great drive with some good leans and big cross axle towards the end all being driven by Jeroen and Ben showing with some forethought and the right application of speed it can be done with no damage too.

The remaining section down through river and yard had some good drops and with the recent rain the terrain had changed somewhat making some of the climbs a little testing, not to mentioned the washed out bottom of the drops into the rivers. With a small group and moving quickly we were soon heading over to warrens hill to take in some spectacular long climbs up through the pine forest followed by breath taking drops back down to the main tracks before heading off between the trees to take in one last long climb back to terra-firma. Ben had to bypass this climb with his low profile (relatively speaking) remoulds and the ruts were just too high in the middle and kept grounding him. Sam proved V8 power is the way to go for instant, on tap effortless climbing ability and after a couple of ‘warm up attempts’ made the climb with determination.

With darkness closing in it was time to head on back to the farm for a quick talk through the day, making plans for the next outing and general tidy up of the vehicles before heading off home.

Some pictures from the day