4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Wellington Drive Round Day – 10th Oct 10
Words by James Trembath, Pictures James Trembath and Jamie Walker

We didn’t get off to an ideal start! Originally there were only going to be 5 vehicles running for the day anyway. Then Kev Luxton sent a text on Saturday to say he was having some issues with his timing belt and probably wouldn’t be along. Then with 5mins to go to the start time we were sat with only 2 vehicles waiting to go (Kevin Williams and Jamie Walker had at least made it)! It wasn’t long though before Jeroen turned up with his son Ger and codriver Julian in Jeroen pretty std less the the TDS front winch 90. Then on the start time James England to phone to say he was a little navigationally confused and needed some guidance. To be fair he was within a couple of hundred meters of us. So with our new full house of 2 jeeps and 2 LRs and a couple of minutes beyond schedule we were ready for the off.

The first section took us across the road to the Moor. A big wooded area interspersed with logging tracks and some custom made routes for us to tackle. The first obstacle was tight corner, just to make sure everyone was concentrating! A reasonably easy looking obstacle but with an unnerving lean on a side slope combined with some ‘well placed’ traction defying tree roots the corner soon gets everyone in to the right frame of mind! Kevin Williams made the section look particularly easy with his narrower tracked jeep – but the smile wasn’t to last long once we hit the first open crossing of the moor in the deeply rutted peaty soil. Being leaf sprung too the little jeep had just met its comeuppance, much to the amusement of the others who had struggle through the tight trees wit their wider tracked vehicles. The course certainly has a little of something to keep everyone on their toes and there seems to be no one vehicle that is more suited to the whole route.

Having negotiated the deep ruts we headed on down through the site to the first of many route options. Jamie took the middle route, being a little wider on the body work in his jeep it was a good informed choice to avoid possible wing damage. He still had the hard exit section to drive which with a bit of right foot and and those axle lockers working hard she managed on the 4th attempt. James England took the hardest route available (something that became a trend through the day!) unfortunately he came off the power a little too early and needed a short winch pull to extract the vehicle. I think he just wanted to get Jason out and in the mud!

With Kevin taking the bypass on the deep ruts and Jeroen opting for the middle route (along with some winch assistance!) we were soon regrouped and heading back up through the pine forests taking in some more rutted boggy tracks and the quick dip in the ‘submerged’ section along with accompanying hole (which everyone drove) before coming around the steeper, short drops into the stream. Jeroen led the group around across the open field and then took the right hand longer, shallower drop into the stream, he was quickly followed by Jamie while James decided to take the full plunge down the steepest drop. Although only a very short section it does require a fair bit of skill to drive in one go – which has been done, the balance needs to be made to come on the power as soon as the front touches down into the stream to try and avoid it digging in too much and drive the front end up and out, but as you are hard on the brakes controlling the descent to avoid the vehicle going on its roof it is a very short period to find the perfect time to put the power in. Needless to say James gave it a sterling effort and provided some good photo opportunities.

After a quick bit to eat we were heading back up to Sams pond. A very short water section but misleadingly deep it certainly caught out one or two! There was also the option here to drive a short circuit around several obstacles which in all fairness Kevin with nephew Toby watching on, video in hand, did with superb skill and style with the minimum of fuss.

From here we headed up to the island where the terrain changes from predominantly boggy to loose leaf mulch. With some interesting climbs to contend with – one of which even caught out the DRD veteran Jeroen! The vehicles were soon put through their paces – as were the drivers with some commenting post event that the drops and extreme angles reached on some side slopes had far exceed not only expectation but also anything they had previously done before. With some interestingly technical sections to content with, driving the twister without stopping plus one of too hair raising drops the drivers certainly had to concentrate. Luckily the codrivers had a bit of a rest now after their harder morning work with the various vehicles needing winching at points. Having completed the ‘warm up afternoon section’ we headed over through the woods to take in some of the longer drops, starting with the rutted ones (less chance of them getting it wrong), it was good to see some drivers having a quick foot recce prior to committing as we progressed through the harder sections. We finished on a long drop down through the trees with a nasty little kink in it which has seen some incidents in the past. With the group through with the minimum of hassle it was time to head back to the meeting point for a quick vehicle clean of lights and number plates over a well deserved coffee!

Some pictures from the day