4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 3rd January 16
Words and video by James Trembath

Talk about Wet! Wow, that has to be the wettest Drive Round Day at Bampton yet! But what a cracking day. The tracks are all a good mix with a firm base once you have got through the initial mud layers and with it being soo wet they were easier to traverse than on some previous outings. The fields on the other hand – now they were hard work. As for the river drives, they were great fun.

We started with our normal 9am coffee meet for heading across to the course for a 1030 briefing. With Barrie Reynolds and James Old joining us for the first time in their Discoverys we headed en-mass to Warm Up Woods. Even the little water splash there was holding a fair amount in it!

The route down to First Long Drop had at least turned back into a road, on the way up it bore greater resemblance to a river! The climb up to First Long Drop on the rutted twisty tracks proved a great challenge with several requiring the odd extra run up and attempt. The drop itself was great. A lovely 100m descent down into the river which crosses a track part way. A little glissading from some on the way but with plenty of run off at the end into the river. First Drop into the river itself was great, plenty steep enough to have the rear wheels off the ground at the bottom with some nice silt to slow you down too. With the recent rainfall and a faster than normal flowing river we carried out some extra site recces prior to the river drive. We would only attempt this going with the current and the route was only made open to those that had previously driven the river. Luckily they were all diesels so after watching our lead vehicle safely negotiate the water they were all only too keen to give it a go. Some extra precautions were taken – lifting anything off the floor being one of them! It made for a cracking drive as the video clips will show.

To break from tradition we headed to Middle Wood next. This way we had plenty of time to negotiate the lovely axle cross descents before the further rain due to fall had actually landed! We didn’t need it any wetter than it already was in there. As usual the bypass routes were utilised allowing everyone the opportunity to take on as much or as little as they wished. We had some great winching demonstrations in Middle Wood too. Will from Land Rover was keen to show us how good his winch was and how well prepared he had come for the day! He wasn’t the only one resorting to the winch though!

Our next challenge was a slightly unexpected one with the traverse of the grassy fields up from the Woods. Yes, it had rained, and yes, they were wet. But these were really really wet. We certainly had to work hard to get the vehicles up and across the fields, some a great deal more than others with several attempts being needed. It certainly made for an interesting tyre comparison!

With lunchtime looming we headed back across the estate towards Priestlands via the farm yard to make use of the building should a shower try and catch us out whilst we ate. Priestlands yet again provided a good area to be able to demonstrate your winches ability! Not Will this time though. He drove superbly to clear a greasy climb up through the trees immediately prior to the log bridge crossing (but don’t tell him). No, this time both Tony and Jeroen were keen to get their codrivers out in the mud scrabbling about with strops and winch lines! Well to be fair, Tim did it for them, despite the driver’s best efforts to get them out!

Warrens Hill had a couple of testing sections for us, the short tree stump descent proved as consistent as ever – that is in aiding people to slow down as they negotiated the stump – a route we only advise those with some sill protectors to attempt. Sam’s Hill we descended – we didn’t think to try the climb this time round with ground conditions as they were!

With time now approaching 4pm it was time for a last ‘blast’ as it were to Last River drive. James Old parted company with us en-route nursing home some worn trailing arm bushes leaving the five of us to take on the delights of the final Splash and Dash that the section has to offer. A cracking day, even if we did finish a little later than advertised, some great company, great tracks and a lot of water! Enjoy the clip to give you a taster of what we have been up to!

A video clip of the day...