4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day Ė 8th February 15
Words by James Trembath and picture by Chris

What a cracking day! Some new routes to try for the regulars with our first foray back into Preistlands for 6 or more years on a Drive Round Day, plus we added a slight twist to some of the well known sections by a few subtle changes plus driving the odd one or two in the opposite direction.

We had our regular Land Rover complement of vehicles plus Mike in his trusty Suzuki along with us today. We also had a few along for their first real test of off roading as accompanying passengers in various vehicles.

We started the day by heading straight in to something new; driving up, against the flow, of the Last River Drive Section. Kevin commented that even driving something that they knew the route of just adding the twist of tackling it the other way around made a massive variation and brought on its new challenges. We did place Mike a little further down the convoy so he had plenty of opportunity to see other vehicles tackle the very short but deepest section of the river before he committed. (He always had the option of going around it if he didnít fancy it).

After Last River Drive we took a new route soon after the Farm yard whilst re-entering the water course. It was only a slight deviation but it brought quite a few smiles (and looks of concern/determination) to some, the same some who needed more than the odd one or two attempts Ė didnít they Tony!

We had another new section to add in which we have called Timís Lost Section for various reasons Ė one being he was the first to drive it, the other being he couldnít remember where it was the next time he went back there! We tackled this in the opposite direction too. This means negotiating a nice little side slope down to a brook crossing between two high Devon banks before a short but steep climb up a clay based track. With some nice steps on the climb out it needed some commitment and a good line to get up and through for those on MTs. Keith drove it superbly, he also remembered to stop at the top (but only just in time! Those trees do move quickly donít they!) Some of the vehicles resorted to a short winch pull after my request rather than dig the section out. All in all it proved a good new challenge for everyone.

We were soon heading up through Top wood and then across to Wet Corner. It wasnít the warmest of days and not many seemed that keen on the potential of a wet bottom should they get stuck in there so we took the leisurely route that meanders around the back of the water section to bring us back to the main access track along the spine of the hill.

A short transit to the road, picking up Richard (the landowner) enroute and we were off to Preistlands to try a new to all route that we had opened up and proved since the last DRD. I wont mention the temporary works on the way there, but 13mins does seem a long time for a traffic light to stay Red, Sorry about that guys.

Priestlands is a large ish wooded section 30-40 acres, that we used to used for running challenge events. It does have some very testing sections, but this time we were looking at just transiting some of the access tracks and intermixing them with the odd mud run, bridge crossing, hill climb, steeper hill climb, a few interesting side slopes and a fantastic little rutted section. Unfortunately we had a small issue with our bridge so bypassed it meaning we missed out on some of the rutted sections and climbs. Keith did manage to get a go (or four) at one of the climbs which having been frozen for the last few days and now in direct sunlight was proving a little tricky! It was good practice for his failed hill climbs anyway! With time moving on we also took the opportunity of a bite to eat whilst in the woods and a bit of sun!

With us being in the general area of Warrens Hill it seemed only right that we should tackle the various climbs it has to offer. After getting a feel for the ground there with a few descents we took on Samís Hill with both Tony and Tim making it up along with the lead vehicle (just) before heading across to tackle a few of the gentler but longer climbs through the trees. You need a good balance of power on some of this climbs to balance the gradient against traction, and some of them do go on a little way! The Tdiís of Jeroen and Tony were certainly working hard.

First Drop was soon to be heard calling so we took the short tarmac section down to the formidable step, slippery drop into the river to then drive the section down to a nice exit point up to the road before following a nice long loop up to the top of First Long Drop. The last rutted climb here was surprisingly dry for this time of year and a good few of the vehicles made it up first time Ė Keith and Kevin and Tony with no troubles leaving some of the other guys to take the bypass.

With time now ticking on we headed back around to the village to drive Last River Drive one final time in the Ďusualí direction to bring us back closer to the farm and in time to catch the last of the sunlight for a group photo!

Some pictures from the day