4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 21st Nov 10
Words by James Trembath, Pictures by James Trembath, Video by Tom Drew

Things weren’t looking too good to at the start, the normal pre-day coffee shop was closed as immigration control were in the nearby service station, and then Anthony phoned to say that his front prop had come off about half way down to the site! Luckily things improved greatly from that point.

Gary and Jackie had travelled down from Kent for a weekend in Devon planned around the DRD. Gary has a very well prepared Tdi 90 sporting a nice cage and axle lockers, a little overkill for a DRD but a nice machine none the less. Also rejoining us in their V8 90 were Niall Moore and James Woods. Peter Bowater was also joining them in his silver Rangie with codriver Tom Drew who took some nice video clips, shown on the youtube links below. Andy and Ali, who had helped marshall for us at the Interclub were out for the their first real trial of their (new to them) Rangie, well to be fair Ali spent a great deal of her time walking alot of the sections – which I believe was so as not to show up Andy...... Mark and Kevin had come along for Mark’s first outing with us in his green 90 truck cab, which, although not connected had a nice front winch fitted. Kevin, a regular on the DRD and in the 2010 series was keen to see how Mark and the vehicle faired through the day and was on hand to offer advice as and when needed.

The first big drop of the day raised a few questions and comments – ‘I think I will use a rear winch’ being one of them! But after seeing a few vehicles safely through the majority were soon to commit. Luckily Niall seems to have the descents well under control now, unlike some of the ascents, which particularly in warm up wood, seem to catch him out a few more times than he would probably like. It was particularly heart warming to hear Jackie’s screams on the drops, and that was not restricted to when she was in a vehicle!

Niall and James took on the point role for the descent down through deep ruts, which having not been used since early March had recovered nicely and levelled a little, maybe Ruts should be its new name! The entrance to the section though had become a little trickier, the stubble field was pretty waterlogged which combined with the ‘hump’ entrance into the wood made lining up the vehicle for some a little testing. Once over the hump the small water section had certainly ‘mellowed’ over the summer with a great deal of sludge and sediment collecting. Once the first vehicle had cleared the route through though, after much shunting, it soon became a ‘simpler’ obstacle, you just had to watch out for the root step near the exit of the hole.

Wishing to be out of the wind and elements the decision was taken to push on upto wet corner for lunch. Enroute though, contending with the axle twists through the trees Peter picked up the corner of a root on his near side rim and popped the tyre from the bead. An impromptu stop and change was in need and the opportunity was also taken for a bite to eat. As we were stopped for a while the decision was made to use the time to put the tyre back on the rim. Gary loaned a winch line to compress the circumference of the tyre and an air line and with a little help to get the bead to seat Peter was soon back to four evenly shod inflated tyres. I am not sure his balancing beads would have made it through the mud though.

Post lunch it was off to wet corner, with James taking up the challenge, which was bold in a V8. He went straight on in and then parked it on the corner! It then unfortunately stalled which didn’t help the issue, followed by sinking as the vehicle took on board a little water. Niall had the winch deployed, taking the option to spool some off prior to entering the water, and with the help of Tim’s vehicle as an anchor point they were winched free; a little to the detriment of James’ now sodden legs and feet though! Having seen James’ vehicle flounder the rest of the group decided to give the water a miss!

With the V8 gently coaxed back to life it was off to middle wood to see how the summer had treated the big axle twist hole and the bed of the sunken river. Jackie was soon deploying her screaming warning sounds again and Gary edged his vehicle through – the pictures tell it as it was! Peter made light work of the crossing, the 100” adding to the stability of the vehicle, James and Niall executed a perfect drive through, almost making it look too easy. Mark and Kevin who were running tail end then had a bit of a stumbling block – a bent track rod on the approach meant opposite facing front wheels which made exiting the hole a no go. Tim winched Mark back onto firmer ground where the vehicle could then be extracted to have a better look at it. This left the rest of us free to continue on down the sunken river bed which now sports some great side slopes and a beautiful axle twist towards the end.

With one last section to do, we regrouped with Mark who by now had effected a temporary repair. Mark then limped his way back to the farmyard to have a better look where we would rejoin him at the end of the section. Tim led the group for the last drop into the river and down through the meandering course, all was going well until a large tree was found blocking the route. The landowner, who was accompanying us, deployed his chainsaw and using a front winch the offending item was pulled off the route. The climb from the river into the last field proved a little tricky for some with Gary certainly making an entertaining spectacle for everyone else! Having all safely exited we regrouped with Mark back at the farm. The verdict was not too bad and the bar was now reasonably straight, plus they had RAC cards to hand if help was needed! With the light fading and an exchange of goodbyes they were all soon on their way.

Videos clips from the day

Some pictures from the day