4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 23rd Jan 11
Words by James Trembath, Pictures by Mark Walford

With numbers of attendees on the up for the DRDs it was disappointing to get a call that yesterday from Mark and Kevin to say they still had an unresolved CV problem and wouldn’t be able to make it. On the plus side that left us with three pretty standard vehicles – less their MT tyres. Steve White joined us for his first outing with us in his classic shape full bodied Range Rover. He was accompanied by day by Sarah and Natalie who were along for their first proper off road experience. David Webber and his son Edward also joined us, this time in a very standard disco powered 200tdi 90 hardtop. Finally Anthony Counsell and Joe Day were in attendance on Anthony’s tdi truck cab. Anthony had already completed a day with us at Wellington and was particularly keen to try a Bampton day. He had even spent the previous day ensuring his snorkel was leak free so he could attempt the infamous ‘wet corner’. Mark Walford was codriving the lead vehicle and had the position of chief gate opener, whilst Richard Watson had jumped in the hot seat with Tim Jones as tail end Charlie and gate closer. (I am not sure the gate elements were explained to them before the day though....!)

After a brief safety chat in the landowners yard, a convoy order was set and we were off. First port of call was warm up woods. The recent thawing of the ground made it very slippery undertyre and going was tough from the off. The woods certainly lived upto its name and woke a few of the drivers up, shaking out those cobwebs. Anthony put himself in an interesting predicament after failing one of the climbs (a lack of momentum halted his progress – not something he suffered from again during the course of the day!) He ended up sideway on the track with the rear of the vehicle wedged against an old trees stump and the front cross axled with a slight up hill climb. Mark Walford was soon down to assist with some lumps of wood under the wheels and a little guidance after a few shunts and much amusement Anthony was out. Steve took the opportunity to lower the tyre pressures on his vehicle to maximise what little traction was available from the ground, he reported a marked improvement after the change.

With a quick drive around complete we headed off to first drop and the first of several river drives. The first drop really has been worn away on the bottom edge and with alot of leaf mulch on the top section it has now become a bit of slide down into the river. The lead vehicle certainly hit the bottom with a hard smack. Anthony was the only other vehicle to attempt the section and had a much more controlled descent although he did make a bit more of a meal of the exit climb!

Tim then took the lead back into the woods and up to first long drop. The rutted climb on the final section was taking its toll with several vehicles needing to give it a second go to clear the climb. The drop in itself was remarkably firm given the preceding sections ground conditions. The drop starts with a small descent through the leaf mulch, crosses the access track, then turns into a rocky rutted drop to a short river crossing. Immediately after the river its either Nail’s’ Bomb hole or the first axle twist. David, who was the first vehicle on smaller tyres (all three vehicles were running 31”) took several attempts to clear the rutted cross axle with his front axle grounding several times until the top of the rut was smoothed off. Once he was through this obviously (so we are told) aided the other two vehicles who both cleared the section with little trouble!!!!!

Deep Ruts was out next target. The woods as normal was colder than anywhere else so we didn’t intend on hanging around in there too long. David however seemed to have other ideas and started by parking for a while on the access hump! To be fair he was the first vehicle in the group with the lower tyre wall height so he did have his work cut for him. (and Mark Walford) Several winches later using possibly the longest tree strop in the world and we were all clear of the rutted section. We would also point out that Steve needed a quick tow from Anthony but that would detract from David’s predicament!!

As we were leaving deep ruts the lead truck picked up some mud between the bead and the rim meaning a slow puncture, a quick jump ahead and with the use of David’s winch and willing hands the spare was fitted whilst the others extracted themselves, under Tim’s watchful eye, from the wood. It was then back to the yard for a quick bite to eat. The yard works well, it gets most of the sun at that time of day and there are conveniences available for the ladies present. It is also enroute to Warrens hill, the first section for the afternoon.

Warrens Hill can be slippery at the driest of times, so it was no surprise that we had our first failed hill climb there. This particular climb is well hidden in the trees and the top sections is becoming slightly rutted from tree roots, it also helps to act as a drain off the fields above. Having said that this was the first time we had ever had a failure on the climb – lack of momentum being the key problem it would seem. We moved onto the first descent with caution but as it turned out there was plenty of grip to control the drop. Moving across to Sam’s hill we also took the precaution of going down this one again, coming up just wouldn’t happen with the ground conditions as they were. A few more short drops and we were back onto tarmac to head across to wet corner and Middle wood.

Wet Corner for the first time this season didn’t have 2” of ice on it, it was down to about ˝”! Anthony was bravest (?) of the bunch and decided to take the plunge – after Joe had secured a recovery line to the front for that just in case scenario. Guess what – it was needed. We soon had the rope strop connected to a recovery vehicle to extract Anthony, but not soon enough by his account as his seat got a little damp. It was noticed that this was quickly resolved by Anthony by kindly letting Joe drive!!!! With no other takers Middle wood and the big bomb hole loomed as our next objective.

The route down to middle wood meanders through the trees taking in some nice side slops combined with bumps and dips as we weave our way down. We stopped for a video and photo opportunity so the occasion could be recorded. We also took a few clips of the preceding bomb hole which both Steve and Anthony hit with some gusto! Steve and David took the wise decision to miss the big hole out fearing for their wings and insanity. Anthony was not to be deterred though and didn’t reckon it looked that bad as he watched the lead vehicle cover the obstacle. Thats was until he did it himself where the facial expression said it all!!! Finally the sunken river with its combined side slops and cross axles brought us out by Steve Bumps and Dips. Anthony again decided to have a quick play here, luckily David was about to help out with his new TDS winch (again!). Tim then drove the same route to show Anthony it could be done! With the recovery completed and flasks away it was the final river drive to finish off. We opted to do the shorter river drive as the RR Classic would of struggled on a couple of the corners on the longer option, but that did mean we had the nice drop into the river to contend with. With the short section combing various climbs and descents in and out of the river completed it was time to head back to yard.

Another spectacular off roading day completed with a minor scuff on the RR Classics bonnet being the only notable damage during the course of the day. Everyone most of liked it as they then all booked up for the next DRD!!!

Videos clips of the event...

Some pictures from the day