4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 20th Dec 09
Words and Pictures by James Trembath

What a cold day!!! Thankfully the heater in the TGV is a good one, all the V8 boys were loving the weather with their built in bulkhead heaters! So, after gathering in the frozen farm yard and waiting for a few stragglers to turn up, the roads to the site were a little snow covered and frozen over to say the least, we had a quick brief on the day and were soon ready for the off.

Joining us for the first time were Will and Julian Vardy. Will, in his little Suzuki SJ with Lee and Julian with family in his bobtailed auto TDI discovery. Also along for the first time was Ron Hogg with family in his well-prepared 300 series Discovery. Wayne Martin had come in at the last minute taking Tony Cordell’s places in Mo Murphy’s old 90, this was to be Wayne’s first ‘proper’ off roading day so he was a little anxious to start but soon found his feet, he did have Steve Hardcastle in with him ‘helping?’ out as required! James Ramsay was again holding up the jeep marque back with us for his 3rd DRD whilst Richard Watson and Sam were joining us after Richard had taken a break from off roading for a year or so whilst travelling.

So a mixed group of 1 Suzuki, 1 jeep, 2 discos and 2 90s plus the lead and tail end 90s. The day started well with a quick session around warm up woods just to check the vehicles were all as they should be with no running issues and to get peoples minds into what they would be undertaking. Even warm up woods was not without issue, for the first time on a DRD we had the first vehicle through the small water splash stuck, poor old Will, this was the start of it not going to be his day, a gentle tow soon had him out. The narrower wheelbase must have been catching on the ruts within the puddle which combined with the frozen exit made it hard going.

From here we headed down to the first river and drop section. Luckily all were running snorkels and as luck would have it the river was a tad lower anyway so there was less cause for concern. Everyone took on the first river drop, with some girly screams emanating from some of the vehicles and I am not sure that wasn’t the blokes driving them!!

After tackling the second long climb and drop down through the river Will showed us how goof his front winch was using it to extract himself from a cross-axle at the river exit, Ron meanwhile whilst watching decided that he would attempt another exit route (You were advised not to remember!) this resulted in his disco being beached on the chassis rails, not to be perturbed though Ron soon had the winch rope out extracting himself while the others carried on around the original route. In fact James Ramsay made the cross axle look so innocuous that I think Will was getting annoyed! Even more so when Julian drove it too!

From there we headed up to deep ruts. Certainly the coldest section of the day! Entery into the woods itself was hard enough with the ruts frozen solid a lot of the vehicle were catching underneath and needing winching and towing through the first section. Not wishing Will to be disadvantaged with his narrower track in the later deep ruts we split the route and took Will and Julian on a separate bypass with an interesting exit on a side slope. The lead vehicle got it wrong on the hard compacted ice surface and needed a winch to get out whilst the little Suzuki shot straight through the narrow gaps no problem. Will had his own back then on Julian as Julian too ended up slightly sideways on the exit and need a winch to help him out. Tim meanwhile took the remainder of the group down through the deep ruts joining up with us at the exit. Whilst heading down from here to the lunch stop, Will had his fatal last fling when the cam belt snapped! Julian towed the little Suzuki down to the lunch stop and then the two of them opted out of the remainder of the day to sort recovery back to Julian’s garage between them.

Leaving our reduced group of 4 vehicles we now headed off to wet corner. Wet may be its name but icing would be more apt. Wayne, under Steve’s guidance – or it may have been insistence, decided to give it a go. The normal method for breaking the ice on the water is to dip in and stop allowing the bow wave to go ahead and break the ice as it goes. However as Wayne and Steve just dipped in they decided they weren’t going to get stop for fear of getting stuck and just plough, literally. Straight on. The ice was about 10mm thick but with Wayne’s big winch bumper and light protectors he got through pretty much unscathed less a cracked sidelight lens. The others decided to give the corner a miss, not wishing to have soggy carpets, which was a wise choice considering the temperature!

Middle woods proved as ever a good test of nerve with the nice bumps and dips on the entrance way leading down towards the sunken river. Several of the shineys wisely decided to bypass the big axle twist hole, leaving James and Richard to show us how its done. Wayne then rejoined us for the sunken river drive which certainly tested him and his vehicle on the side slopes and axle twist at the exit. Richard enjoyed the axle twist at the exit so much in fact that he did it, well attempted it, a good dozen times, momentum being the key, but too much and those sunken banks don’t get a lot of room for manoeuvre.

Heading across to the last river drive we took the plunge straight in off the tarmac road, a nice steep drop with a wheel lifting entrance it certainly keeps people on their toes. Having dropped in we took the immediate climb back into the field before dropping back down in to the river for the meandering drive down and back to the farm yard.

A very enjoyable days off roading seemed to be had by all, even Will despite his misfortunes with the cam belt immediately booked up another day to come back with Julian. With the obligatory washing of lights and number plates it was a quick good bye in the cold and everyone was off back their separate ways.

Some pictures from the day