4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 17th Jan 10
Words by James Trembath

At 10:30 we were all in our convoy order and following the quick brief on the route and a few do and don’ts we were set to go. With seven vehicles we were one more than normal but this would easily be absorbed into the group. There was a pretty even mix of vehicle spec, the majority LR with the one Jeep belonging to Kevin Williams and Jamie. Joining us for the first time we also had Kevin Luxton and Jason in Kenivs well prepared red 90 truck cab, Jonney Wise and David in a tdi blue hardtop, Niall Moore and James Wood in a nice blue and white V8 90 auto hardtop and David Knight ‘Spud’ and Adam in a black hardtop td5.

Chris Genner in his ever changing tdi blue truck cab had completed a day with us last year so he had a good idea of what to expect. He was along with codriver to be Dan Dawkins and Dan certainly had his work cut out! Chris’ vehicle now sported an 8274 and cage, not to mention the addition of some nice Ashcroft axle internals! Wayne Davys was also along for the day having now caught the DRD bug he is keen to get out at every opportunity with Wayne in the codrivers seat was Graham Rogers.

Staying with the traditional start to the day we set off to Warm Up woods. It was just as well we did really as the woods gave a good insight into what the ground conditions would be like – wet being the key word!!! With people soon getting into the swing of things and remembering what off roading was about we started to make good progress through the sections. James Wood found some of the slopes a little hard going, struggling to find traction at time. Meanwhile Jonney was glad and very grateful of some assistance from Tim in weaving through a nice tree lined cross axle. The small water hole provided a good test of the vehicles (and drivers!) wading ability. Niall pulled to one side and stopped to attach their snorkel trunking and adjust the lpg mix. In doing so they then entered the water on a slightly different approach route to the rest and soon found a nice cross axle where with pure V8 grunt and ability the vehicle formed its own new route through – much to the amusement of James who in the driving seat managed to get mud and water just about everywhere!

After a 10min ‘shake out’ where people sorted a few niggles we took one of the acces tracks via a small hole to take us down to the road before hitting high range for a mile. This brings us to a lovely single track climb up some rocky steps heading towards Warrens Quarry. The route is a nice hard wearing climb all the vehicles managed it without issue.

Taking the route down through the fields to Warrens Quarry it was obvious from the amount of standing surface water in the top fields that the quarry was going to be ‘interesting’. Even the route down to the quarry caught a few out! The wet grass combined with a steep slope after a small drop off a mound soon had a few vehicles going slightly faster than they would of perhaps liked! The route has a nice big run off at the bottom so as long as wheels were kept pointing down the hill there was little that could go wrong! Having said that Niall and James’ 90 struggled for traction to brake on the descent and had a little sideways slide to the bottom of the hill. Thankfully there were no obstacles in their way as they slid down!

Leaving Tim at the top of the field we dropped down and into the Quarry taking the steady drop in, this was more akin to a ski run with the lack of traction. Its then a mud splash and rutted short climb to bring us around to the quarry ‘proper.’ This has a big drop in and unforgiving side slope climb to the exit. Leading the group we succumbed to the side slope and it was soon winch out to get us to the top of the hill. Meanwhile we CB’d back to those following to take the bypass route around the sideslope climb. Wayne did a sterling job getting himself around the bypass which then took him out in to the field for the final drop back into the quarry. The field conditions deteriorated with time as the vehicles slipped around fighting to find grip. In the end only Wayne managed to get himself to the start of the next section and after watching him successfully drive it the others decided to take the bypass option! Kevin Williams gave it a good go trying to get to the start but the available traction was just not quite enough for MTs. So using an extension and Tim’s vehicle, plus James Woods vehicle which we had also been pre-positioned we resorted to winches to extract ourselves back up the hill and out into the sun for a spot of lunch. James and Niall who had ably stood by as an anchor vehicle now had their chance to drive the quarry section which they did with noproblems before them then needing a winch up across the field to join the rest of us for lunch.

Taking the route out across the fields and down to the road we then picked up some farm tracks to take us back up towards the initial meeting spot and some tracks along the ridge-line. The first deviation to the right was down a reasonably gentle gradient but its was very slippery underfoot. It had to be tackled at a steady pace with a good gap between vehicles just in case there was an incident! The climb back up was again hard going but after a bit of gusto all the vehicles made it before we headed off through some of the axle twists and trees to wet corner.

Wet Corner was in fact this time just wet and not frozen which made a nice change to the last few times we have been up to it. With a group confident with their vehicle preparation and waterproofing abilities there was a good queue for the section. ‘Spud’ was first up, which meant he had a little silt clearing to do on the corner necessitating a shunt and a little run up he came through with some speed – anxious I expect by then to get to the end!!! Chris Genner and Jonney Wise then completed the sections with no problems leaving the route open for James Wood in his V8 - and, unlike last time with another V8, this vehicle cleared it without even a splutter! Some of the guys enjoyed it so much they asked for another go with Spud again taking the lead and this time making a clear transition after his previous stage sweep, Johnny couldn’t be stopped from going in again and the smile at the end of it said it all – he had loved it. Heading back out onto the track Spud’s engine management light come on (td5!) shortly followed by the engine stopping. A quick look at his ECU swimming in the underseat box told him why! With the drain plug carefully removed about 5L of silt and water could then exit the seatbox. A little WD40 on the connectors and she fired up and ran like a dream – a very luck man – maybe an ecu extension is next on the shopping list!

Tim then led us on a new route down through a small copse to the bumps and dips at the end of middle wood. (These are adeptly named Steve’s bumps after he spent quite a while in them at the beginning of the season!) With the vehicles down for the day and the wet conditions we had decided to give Middle wood and the sunken river and big hole a miss, the potential for vehicle damage was too great. Steves bumps more than made up for it though. After Kevin Luxton had a very good drive through the second set of bumps (we wont mention the winching on the first!!!) Kevin Williams was keen to show that his V8 Jeep could also do it. However the track width of the vehicle meant he had a few issues getting to the start – but once in there the vehicle came through with relative ease showing how a light weight and powerful motor even without aggressive tyres will always do well. Chris and Johnny having both completed the section then decided to try something different with Chris going back the other way. However halfway there and about to start winching he ran low on diesel and then the starter motor decided to play up. Having safely extracted him with another vehicles winch Jonney was then left to tow start Chris’ vehicle and with that we looked to make a hasty withdrawal from the section. Whilst we were overseeing this Spud had gone around to give the section a go and must have had a slight mishap approaching the first set of bumps. He had caught his bumper which was now fouling the tyre. A quick rear recovery courtesy of Wayne and his winch saw him safely out of the section where a little work, again with the winch, had the bumper straightened out as best as possible.

The river drive is always a fantastic way to end the day, with the nice drop in off the tarmac road is provides a great meandering route with a few deep sections combined with tight banks and trees to ensure you keep your wits about you. Chris had a few issues on the first corner and much to Kevin W not doubt satisfaction had to be towed backwards! A Jeep rescuing a Land Rover (again!) – what is the world coming too! Spud also had a little issue with a tree or bank on the same section requiring a small adjustment to his wing. The others made it through unscathed.

Videos clips of the event...

Some pictures from the day