4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 24th February 13
Words and pictures by James Trembath

The penultimate Bampton DRD was due to be a good one, twelve vehicles for the day in two groups, quite a few new to us too including David Bowyer from Goodwinch (what video of him stuck??), a good ground frost the night before, access to Warrens Hill being granted and a fantastic ‘spring’ (with a bit of winter air!) day.

David Webber had kindly agreed to lead the second group along with Richard guiding the way and Nick Bolt bringing up the rear. Well, Nick would have been, but as we know these V8s don’t like running for too long and his vehicle promptly refused to start after the briefing! The majority of people in David’s group had been before, Bill Turner, (Suzuki) Steve ‘one day I will be early’ Hollis, Kevin Luxton, Steve Gooding in his superb, recently rebuilt td5 90 and , Steve & Curtis Purrington.

The other group consisted of some ‘Bampton virgins’ including David Bowyer and Simon James along with some regulars who had returned after a short interlude; Jeroen and Ger Van De Hooft, Jason Davies, Martyn Middleton and Nick Calcraft. This presented a mixed group of 90’s (all running TDS winches which should have kept Mr Bowyer happy) plus two tdi Discovery’s.

Staying with tradition we started in Warm Up Woods leaving David Webber and his group to head off under their own steam on a different path. Jeroen showed everyone how much he had forgotten by sliding sideways towards a low hanging branch very early on in the day. He soon had his winch out (a first for Warm Up Woods this season) and extracted the vehicle without damage.

Once regrouped, we then headed the mile or so down tarmac to First Drop. This could well be named First Climb. The water course has certainly changed even over this season at Bampton. The climb out of the river is now quite severe with the left hand rut being eroded over time to, well, not a great deal really. The lead vehicle managed the climb on the third attempt and then assisted in winching up the remaining six vehicles. Not a great start to the day but little that could be done to avoid it. First Drop proved entertaining for Jeroen, the lead vehicle and Nick Calcraft with the remainder opting to take the bypass down into the stream. Here we hit the next hurdle of the day. The recent high winds had brought a tree down whos root base had been on the edge of the river. This was now in the middle of the river and needed to be extracted in order to allow the convoy through. Ten minutes later and we were on our way taking in the new river ‘first river’ drive down to the end of First Long Drop. With a loop from here out onto tarmac we could then head back to the top of First Long Drop so everyone now had the chance to experience the great little descent back down into the river.

Warrens Hill was our next port of call. The first descent caught Martyn out who was unfortunate to catch the side of his Discovery on a tree stump. Hopefully the dent will pull out and thank fully it was nothing major. With a longer descent to follow, (which incidentally had plenty of traction for once) we then took the opportunity to stop for lunch. Sam’s Hills was to follow immediately post lunch. This hill, (reasonably steep with its slippery base and deep ruts) certainly requires a great deal of commitment. With a rear locker in the lead vehicle, it made the climb although the remainder had to take the bypass route, some after a good few attempts and deciding maybe the bypass route was going to be the only option!

Warrens Hill mastered, we headed across and up to Warrens Quarry for the first time this season. The access up and then back down across the field was good considering the recent weather but the quarry itself was very slippery. We left Jeroen to stand vanguard initially just to make sure we had an anchor point if needed from the exit route. With the lead vehicle in and around followed by the two Discoveries and Jay’s Range Rover you would have thought all was good, however David and Nick both managed to find places to ‘hole’ up for a while, as did Jeroen when he then took a trundle down in to the Quarry!

All safely extracted we headed back up to the ridge road, skirting around Wet Corner (the ice looked a little too thick!) we headed across to Middle Wood. The start didn’t go too well. Nick’s truck was starting to get hot with the electric rad fan having a rest from its prescribed intended use, so we took a few minutes to hard wire it back in so he could continue. We also took the time to explain to Simon and Martyn that it may be prudent for them to bypass the bomb hole and the sunken river section at the end. We also advised David and Jay that it would be best for them to recce it first before committing. Jeroen already knew what it involved and had decided to give it a miss! The axle twist bomb hole provided good entertainment for Nick and Jay with both of them also deciding to follow us on down into the sunken river. The water had done yet more work eroding away the sides, leaving some excellent driving opportunities to negotiate our way through. Jay demonstrated a unique way of tackling one of the axle twists by starting to straddle the river across its width and then falling back in! He cleared the obstacle and the technique, intended or not certainly worked. Towards the end of the sunken river we could see the other group over on Steve’s Bomb holes on the edge of the field, as we took a moment to fault find on an air compressor a few of them wandered over to see how the last obstacle of the day was going to be tackled. A very short rutted climb out of the river bed with a large washout on the front driver’s wheel. Momentum doesn’t work due to the depth of the hole, and without a front locker Nick and Jay both resorted to using waffles to bridge the gap. Jay also needed to show us how good his TDS was just as Mr Bowyer came into view!

With darkness approaching we took heed and having rejoined Martyn, Simon and Jeroen we headed back to the farm for a quick farewell and reflection on the day.

Some pictures from the day