4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day Ė 7th Jan 12
Words by James Trembath, Pictures by Kevin Williams and Roger Gowing

We rebuilt our truck some three years ago and it had to let us down at some point (it is a LR afterall!) Well todayís DRD was the day! To that end we made it there but with very little power. David Webber kindly led the group around so they could actually keep moving which meant we were destined to follow along at the back of the group! Luckily it was a small group of regulars, with David leading in his 90 We had Roger Gowing and daughter Charlotte in a second tdi 90, followed by Jeroen and Ger with Kevin Williams in his CJ bringing up the rear accompanied by Helen and Natasha.

Warm up woods was particularly slippery and really set the tone for the rest of the day with respect to the ground conditions. In fact we were pleased to have not been down on the Thursday for the DRD with the river levels about 2ft higher!

With the hunt meeting at first drop we headed for Deep Ruts first to keep out of their way. David led them up the byways and around to the entrance although I hear the sown field route in proved quite tricky and sticky! Roger needed a little tow through the first washout on the way down through Deep Ruts but then soon found the loud pedal which enabled him to clear the second harder washout with ease. Kevin, with the jeepís narrower track, made easier work of the route but perhaps not in the most comfort!

Wet Corner was Ė well very wet and very deep. The decision was taken by all to give it a bypass as no one wanted to risk wet seats. We were soon on down to Middle Wood and the axle twist followed by the sunken river.

David and Roger opted out of the axle twist, which had become slightly deeper with the recent heavy rainfall. The lead vehicle (still running on limited power) made it through unscathed. Jeroen (second up) didnít have quite so much luck and caught his wing on the way through, luckily nothing that wont bend back out with a little persuasion. Kevin then showed us how it should be done making it look particularly easy, this is where the narrower track helps enormously. Taking us down into the Sunken River, the initial step down into the river over some tree roots has become slightly deeper but the real surprise was in the old river path itself. The recent torrents had cleared out one section of the ruts. This side changing to the opposite side every 50m or so as you progress down the river making for some really good side slopes interspersed with cross axles before tackling the next side slope. It certainly kept you on your toes (or side as it were). With the lead vehicle through, Jeroen did succumb to some winching as his axles became hung up a little on the top inside edges of what was originally the river bed. It just goes to show how much the route changes over the seasons and even between our visits to the site.

With the exit bringing us out at Steveís bumps and Dips we stopped for a bit to eat and to marvel as Kevin repeatedly made light work of the obstacles. The V8 roaring away Ė plenty of power when needed to make the climbs look like nothing! None of the LR dared venture in!

With the landowner, Richard, now joining the group, David and Richard took the lead down through what would normally be our last river drive. The current here again having changed the river course slightly and made for some unexpected deeper bits with a sharper drop in here and there. From here we headed out across to First Drop. With a severe power issue now our truck cab struggled to even make the climb up out of the river (1 1ft step at the top on one side) so the decision was made to not make any further hill attempts with it! Roger was first off on First Drop and Charlotte even stayed in the vehicle although she may have wished she had got out first after the experience! With Jeroen and Kevin (albeit without Natasha) down we trundled on around to the first long drop back down through the woods. This is a nice gentle (ish) drop across some large gravel/rocky terrain before dropping in and then crossing the river followed immediately by a cross axle and a short climb back onto tarmac.

With the end of the day approaching we headed via Warm Up woods across to Warrens Hill. Having failed the first normally easy climb a month ago we were interested to see the impact the recent weather had had this time around at the top of the climb. David and Richard made it, being first up and some good tyres may have helped but it certainly didnít leave alot of grip for Roger who was second up. After a couple of attempts he ended up sliding back towards a tree and at that point we decided a winch to the top was the best option in order to avoid any further vehicle damage having just clipped a wing mirror. Jeoren was also struggling with the climb but they all eventually made it there. We wonít mention Kevin who just breezed up it! The first drop down through the woods also proved an interesting descent for many. A little wet and slippery under tyre meant the first section was a little quicker than most would have ideally liked. There is plenty of run out there though and time to regain traction before it becomes an issue. With time and light quickly disappearing it was over to Samís hill for a few further tests before heading back to the farm.

Some farewells, post vehicle light cleaning and the guys were soon on their way, just leaving a couple of us to sort the lead vehicle fuelling issue to try and get it home!

Some pictures from the day