4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Wellington Drive Round Days – 6th & 20th October 13
Words by Mike Cuff, Picture by James Trembath

Early in September, James Trembath of 4x4 Adventures, knowing that I was in between vehicles invited me to sit in within him for the Oct 6th Wellington Drive Round Day (DRD), an invite that led me going to watch a day out at David Boywer Offroad Site, which led me to have a thoroughly enjoyable day sitting in with Kev “Yellow Jeep” Williams in his CJ2A Jeep on the Oct 20th Wellington DRD, which led me to buy a Willy Jeep M38 chassis and body tub from Kev. The M38 being the military version of the CJ3A. Buying the M38 has finally put pay to my phaffing around, after retiring from Competitive Events I’ve been unable to make up my mind what to do – so thanks James for getting me sorted in a roundabout sort of way!

For those of you who have not heard of James and 4x4 Adventures, James (not one for blowing his own Trumpet) is well known in off-roading circles, competing in both UK and European Winch Challenge Competitions as both driver and co driver. Under the 4x4 Adventures banner in the last six years he has run Winch Challenges Events (both single and multi-round), a large number of DRDs, Challenge Training Days, the odd Offroading Adventure Weekend and trips to Europe, the last four being the items that James now concentrates on.

Back to DRDs, to me they are the best bits of a green laning trip, participants get to spend nearly 6 hours driving off road on private land, following the lead vehicle around routes that allow participants to tackle a wide variety of terrain, including varied water driving (over the bonnet if asked for), deep mud and ruts, fantastic wooded driving sections and excellent assorted ascents/descents. The various routes (selected according to vehicle spec/driver level) are designed to help participants develop their driving skill whilst gaining confidence in their vehicles ability, with the backup of other vehicles should you require it and all on private land. The days are firmly rooted in the social side of off-roading, everybody mucking in when a vehicle gets stuck, and are primarily targeted at “stockish” vehicles with MTs. However there is scope for everyone, just phone and ask first to confirm if you are unsure. Currently DRD’s are either held near Wellington and Bampton, in the West Country.

To give you an idea of what it’s like to take part in a DRD, I’m going to focus on the Oct 20th. Arriving at around 10. 15am at the Wellington start point, a field just off the main road that offers ample parking, I was immediately offered a mug of tea by Keith Dare; a very civilised way to start the day. Tea in hand, I found Kev “Yellow Jeep” Williams and stowed my bag in the back of his CJ2A. At 10. 30am James called us all together for a safety brief, to decide on the running order and to confirm we’d all signed in. The group for the day being, Keith Dare (Full bodied Black Defender 90), Matt Mills (Traybacked Defender 90), Steve Hollis & Jenna (Blue Discovery1 300tdi), Kev Williams & Me (CJ2A Jeep) and James Wickenden & Jenna (Full bodied Red Tdi Defender 90).

With James leading, we headed out of the field, along a gravel track for about 100yards, before entering the woods, woods that were to keep us occupied for the next hour and a half. Although flat the woods offered a wide variety of terrain that was not suited to any one vehicle, difference sections favoured different vehicles, with some particularly gnarly spots having bypasses. Initially we all stuck together, driving (and winching) along a series of tracks, some tight and twisty, some with deep ruts and water, some with big steps and some with lot of stumps to avoid – the woods is used as a training area for tree surgeons - the group getting to know each other whilst interacting during winching sessions and spotting the full bodied vehicles through the trees.

After about an hour, Matt and Steve took the more challenging routes available at pretty much every option leaving the rest of us to explore the rest of the woods with James, encountering three nice little features. The first a deep water hole that appeared to have a magic attraction for Keith and James/Jenna who drove through in both ways several times whilst Kev wisely took the bypass – the water would have swamped Kev’s little Jeep (and me as well). The second, a 90 degree drop into a stream bed, followed by a 90 degree climb out, the trick being to do it without stopping or requiring a shunt, and the third, “Tight Corner”, a name that only describes a bit of the feature, the corner is indeed tight, but it’s also located on a side slope with a 2m drop off and a nasty little tree root to climb at the end that pushes you towards the drop off. Needlessly to say everybody survived “Tight Corner”, winches being used to allow vehicles to safely traverse the tree root, Tight Corner being a great confidence booster for those new to offroading. With Tight Corner cleared, it was time for lunch so we headed back to the field where met up with Matt and Steve again.

After lunch (and a brew thanks again to Keith Dare), we all headed off a few hundred yards along the road to another wood. Following James, we started with some steep and slippery ascents and descents, the slipperiness being made worse because just as we were preparing to drive to the wood, the heavens opened for about 15 minutes, and I mean opened! Kev and myself getting some amusing looks when it started to rain as we did our best to remain dry whilst everybody else simply put up their Windows!

Moving on, we headed to an area of the woods known as “Bumps and Dips”, as the name implies, it’s an area that is criss-cross with undulating tracks that contain numerous small bomb holes and weave in and out of the trees. After following James for a few minutes, he pulled over and jumped out telling us all to go and “find our” own routes, it’s a great opportunity for James to take photos of vehicles maxing out their suspension and participants to learn to read terrain and how best to tackle an obstacle – Keith was particularly impressed with recent suspension mods he made to his Landie.

Moving on again, we headed off towards the lower part of the woods via a very “side slopey” deeply rutted track. Unfortunately this was one track that did not favour Kev’s CJ2A at all, whilst the Landie’s sat in the ruts, Kev’s ended up with one set of wheels in the ruts and the other on the track centre, drastically increasing the lean – I know because I was trying to hang on - unfortunately the lean was so much we ended up clipping a tree with the wind screen frame – very annoying yes – but something you have to accept, and not the end of the world as Kev had two replacement windscreen frames at home. Arriving in the lower part of the woods, we spent the last part of the day, traversing (sliding/winching) along a series of tracks before heading back to the field, and yep, you guessed it an end of day brew!

To end, I can highly recommended DRDs, they offer something for everybody, the tracks/routes being varied according to vehicle spec / driver experience. I look after James website and publish other participants write ups, it is surprising how often the same set of faces appear time and time again in photo’s. By the time you read this, we will be coming to the end of the Drive Round Day season, however if interested in, drop James an email at info@4x4adventures.co.uk and he will email with future dates. And finally thanks to Kev for a fun day out, it was very much appreciated.

Some pictures from October 20th

Some pictures from October 6th