4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 30th December 12
Words and pictures by James Trembath

Robin Watson, the rights of way officer from Bristol and West Off Road Club joined us today with a few of his greenlane warriors – Mike and Claire White in their SWB Pajero and Jeff Lightly in his green 90. To complete the first group of five we also had Clive and Jay Davies in their Range Rover and Jon Madeley in his recently acquired Range Rover Special. Nick Bolt and Richard were leading the second group consisting of Rob Phillips in his Red 90, Steve Purrington (green pickup Range Rover), Andy Purrington (blue Range Rover), Steve Hollis (Blue 300 Disco) and Bill Turner (Black 90 V8 hardtop)

As it turned out all the second group vehicles turned up early, so after a short brief they were dispatched along with Nick and Richard to control them and keep them on track!

With Robin and his team arriving (still early at 1020hrs) it was then a short wait for Jay and Jon to join us. Again a short brief and vehicle check and we were off to Warrens Hill. The route over, using the interlocking byways has changed over the Christmas period, the short sharp clay drop had mellowed with the water flow over it to a gentle drop resulting in a nice meander over to the Hill. This was just as well as there wasn’t anything nice about the Hill itself. The climb in off the main road and up to the top of the Hill was ok, the descents themselves were... interesting. Luckily there was a fair bit of brush on them which helped ‘bunch’ up in front of the wheels to slow the vehicles and allow a certain degree of control to be regained! Those that were heavy on the brakes soon learnt how to cadence!

Having successfully negotiated Warren Hills we headed across to Warm Ups woods to familiarise ourselves with the steeper drops it has to offer there. The conditions remained slippery underfoot due to the recent rainfall and there a fair few struggled to find grip at times. The water splash provided some amusement for the few who dared drop in – it was actually nowhere near as bad as it looked! With everyone having had their fill it was down to First Drop. This time we used the option route to allow everyone the opportunity to continue on down the river to the bottom of First Long Drop. This in itself makes it a long section from the moment you drop into the ruts off the tarmac until the final climb out back onto the road. It also turned out to be an even longer section after a few struggles to get up out of the first river section to the start of First Drop. The lead vehicle drove it, albeit with lockers in, whilst the remaining vehicles all had to be winched up. Interestingly the vehicles in the other group made this climb having completed the section some sixty mins earlier. Jon in his Range Rover proved to be a hard pull. With the engine not running due to fuel starvation we called on Mike White to add an extra winch line to the stricken Range Rover to help with the recovery. First Drop itself was met with the usual intrepidation, some charging straight in, whilst others had a slower more relaxed approach! The indent on the far river bank at the bottom was an indication of those that were ‘in a rush’!

With the First Long River Drive completed it was then back up and around to the start of First Long Drop. The lead vehicle had a fair few attempts on the last rutted section of the climb in order to make it. Robin Watson struggled a little bit with the slightly smaller tyres of his 90 but soon joined us at the top. In the meantime Jay and Clive took the alternative route which proved just as interesting with a quick winch being required at the end. Whilst all this was going on we took the time out to have lunch at the top of the climb! Well we assumed it would take a while for the other three vehicles to join us, and then they all drove up! Post lunch Long Drop was completed. Interestingly I have always considered this to be a nice controlled descent but Robin’s comments would indicate it was not a drop he was that keen on! At the bottom we took the opportunity to head back up First Long River drive. Despite the recent rainfall even the V8 non snorkelled vehicles managed the drive without issue with the deepest sections being around the half a metre mark.

Middle Wood was our final target destination for the day. After the meandering tracks in and around the bomb holes and axle twist the group was advised to walk the sunken river section so they had a good appreciation of what they were letting themselves in for prior to committing. With that said, everyone then opted to drive the section. There were a couple of issues on the way down through with the Pajero’s reduced axle articulation over a Defender causing a few issues on the way down. Although Mike was not the only one who needed a bit of help now and then! The final exit from the sunken river needed some waffles to help with the vehicle extraction and to make it run a little ‘smoother’ we didn’t want any vehicles slipping off the side of the ruts into the stream again! With the group complete we took the last final river drive back to tarmac where the group then split, after farewells, to head off their own separate ways.

Some pictures from the day