4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day Ė 9th Jan 11
Words by James Trembath, Pictures by James Trembath

With only two vehicles booked in for the day we knew we would be able to tackle some of the newer and trickier routes and also still have time to do all the Ďnormalí routes, the advantage of the small group is you keep moving that much quicker! With Richard the landowner due to join us for the afternoon the decision was made to stick with the normal routes for the morning starting with warm up woods and first drop before moving onto Deep ruts.

The former was completed without incident. Jeroen in his standard red 90 had is son Ger with him for the day and Gerís friend Luke. Jeroen certainly had enough to contend with looking after the two lads let alone the driving! This could explain the reason for his winch being deployed on more than one occasion over the course of the day Ė well thatís a good excuse to use anyway!

Niall Moore and James Wood were joining us in their very well prepared 90 v8 auto hardtop sporting limited slip diffs front and rear along with front and rear winches. A little overkill with respect to what is needed for a drive round day but none the less a superbly kitted vehicle, they had recently converted the engine to Megasquirt was well so it should be fairly waterproof for a V8. Niall did mention they had a suspected head gasket gone though at the start of the day as she was using a bit of coolant, they were going to keep an eye on things through the day and see how it panned out.

Moving onto the latter first drop woods and deep ruts certainly provided some entertainment and challenging terrain for both drivers. The first river drive and actual drop were completed without incident. After the first long drop Niall then attempted the first bomb hole Ė to say he attacked it with gusto would be an understatement (see attached U Tube link!). With one failure though he didnít give up but kept giving it a go working the 90 hard but it just failed on the last 4ft or so. The front limited slip just taking a little bit too much time to lock up was meaning he was loosing a little bit to much momentum on cresting the bomb hole and couldnít quite make it. After graciously admitting defeat he took the bypass route. Its just as well Niall is a resilient man as straight after Tim who was tail end Charlie drove the hole in one!

Deep Ruts proved harder work than normal for Jeroen who with slightly smaller tyres than the majority just struggle with ground clearance on two of the sections. Meanwhile Tim was guiding Niall around on the bypass route (reserved for vehicles with cages and axle lockers). The V8 hardtop had a few issues and did manage to end up perpendicular to the route direction, but nothing that a short pull with the rear winch didnít sort out. From there it was the relatively straightforward drive to the main rutted track. Niall didnít quite see Timís technique for manoeuvring into the rut and after overshooting the furthest rut a little he ended up, for the second time, perpendicular to the track completely cross axleíd and even with four wheels being driven still going nowhere. A quick front winch pulled her across and back on course. Richard did later mention that Niall was not the first person to end up in that predicament at the same spot (but we wonít mention that to Niall, he does like to the first normally!)

After a short road trip we were back in the yard for lunch and to meet up with Richard. The first venue for the afternoon was Warrens Quarry and Hill. Richard led us on a new route to the quarry taking in a Ďbridgeí between two of the larger holes within the quarry, certainly a section to be taken with care and a low speed. Even the route up to the bridge proved a little too steep for some and Jeroen had to take a small detour around the steepest part of the track.

The Quarry itself proved a good testing ground. It was very slippery underfoot for the first few vehicles in but the tracks then improved before deteriorating again. The exit route is used a few times to link in the sections and towards the end the route which is a gentle climb on a side slope just became too much and one vehicle had to winched out. Tim had left his vehicle high in the entrance field just in case the ground had proved to be too boggy so at least we had an anchor point. Luckily we didnít need to resort to it this time!

Taking a new route to Warrens Hill to enter from the top the lead vehicle got it wrong and whilst approaching the first gate on a steep downhill section failed to stop on the wet grass in time and ended up popping the bottom hinge off the post, although we were grateful that the gate and post stopped the vehicle! Thank fully having the landowner with us is a godsend at times like this!

Niall had a little winch assistance in the woods whilst attempting one of the trickiest climbs up through some thick leaf mulch, which given the ground conditions was going to be pretty inevitable after the first vehicle had been through and churned the ground slightly. Tim and Niall were the only two to attempt the section. The convoy then headed off, this time going down Samís hill after the palaver of nearly everyone having to winch up it last time! Warrens hill then compete it was across to wet corner where Niall was keen to try out the megasquirt.

En-route however their V8 started playing up a little and started to miss occasionally. At this point Niall and James took the wise decision and decided it was time to call it a day in order to nurse the vehicle home. That left the three of us to head across to middle wood and the sunken river after the bomb-hole drive.

The bomb hole has now become even trickier with a great deal washed out on one side at the start with a cross axle now fully developed in the middle. The bank is now truly responsible for stopping the vehicles tipping over as the front left hand drops in the now very deep hole. Without axle lockers a little momentum is needed after the first drop in to help clear the cross axle. Not something anyone is keen on applying at the time their vehicle is leaned right over onto the bank! Jeroen, the only customer vehicle left for the day made it through unscathed much to the delight of both Ger and Luke.

The section that then takes you down to the sunken river is also now becoming washed out with a nice 2ft drop on one side as the course meanders on down. This has to be taken slowly and with care, too much speed and the rear crossmember will get a hammering.

Having cleared the sunken river we headed across for the last river drive. Tim took the longer route with the tight corner that had caught out the lead vehicle last time whilst the remainder stayed high in the field taking the shorter sharper drop into the river. With the recent rain the water level was up making it an excellent finish to a superb, relaxed days or effectively advanced laning but all taking place on private land.

Videos clips of the event...

Jeroen 1st bomb hole

Jeroen 1st drop

Niall 1st bomb hole climb

1st river drive and stuck!

Some pictures from the day