4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day Ė 4th December 16
Words by James Trembat, pictures by Richard Watson

Sticking with tradition and post a summer of Drive Round Days at the Wellington Site, we returned to Bampton with a vengeance today. Having spent the previous week clearing the routes and making a few new additions to keep the regulars on their toes, we were surprised with what the site could throw back at us quite so early on this morning! A little lie down for Steve Hollis in Warm Up woods! It just goes to show that you canít always go somewhere someone else does and when you are not concentrating these things do come around to bite you!

As with previous years we limited the numbers for our first Bampton foray to make sure the routes all flowed and worked without problem. Last week we had reopened a few climbs/descents that hadnít been used for a few years and it was these that caught out the unwary!

Joining us for the day was Tim in his trusty Hybrid V8 soft-top, Steve Hollis with his new to him Nissan axled bobtailed Range Rover. Paul De Bono with his well-prepared (although marked!) Discovery 2 and Scott Copping in his very standard but very capable 300tdi pickup 90. Russell Lemon in his standard series (now sporting a truck cab for the winter!) Jeroen Van Der Hooft unfortunately suffered a suspected cam belt failure en-route to the site and didnít make the day.

The normal route started in Warm Up woods, where after trying some of the new drops (with Scott leading the way on most) Steve and Paul decided to try a more challenging climb. With both of them allowed to run their larger Simex patterned tyres for this last weekend, it should have been easy going, but the ground soon churned up and after Pauls successful attempt Steve was left with limited options for his attempt. Unfortunately he came off line on the failed hill climb and after sitting precariously for a while on the balance point - a very slow Ďflopí onto his side resulted! ĖPaul winched him back onto his wheels, the engine oil was left to settle for a while, topped up and we were off again - albeit a little later than planned.

Warrens Quarry and Hill were not quite as eventful but they did provide plenty of opportunities to attempt the various climbs with it being so dry in there for the time of year. We took the opportunity to enjoy the views over lunch on the side of Warrens Hill before loading up again and heading off to Wet Corner.

Steve Hollis could be heard to say he would do it if Paul went through first. Paul duly obliged but the td5 throttle potentiometer didnít like this current dunking and Steve promptly changed his mind - so only one vehicle through this time! The lack of power from the dunking requiring a winch out probably dissuaded Steve.

Russell meanwhile was un-phased by all of this, gently plodding along with us, the leaf springs working overtime and giving him enough to concentrate on! Even more so when, post Top Woods we entered the ruts and washed out track sections of Middle Wood. There are now two great axle articulations requiring some good concentration and sound vehicle positioning. Many opt for the sensible bypass to avoid the potential panel damage. Russell was concentrating that much on the next obstacle down some deep ruts so much so that he forgot to maintain the momentum needed to clear this current obstacle. Luckily Scott was on hand to turn around and come back up to affect a recovery with his newly fitted winch. But, as he took soooo long, we decided to use Paulís over-volted TDS in the vehicle behind and a pulley bloke to extract Russell.

With Paul and Steve now taking the old path of the sunken river, the rest of us headed out across the headlands to Steve (Gittinís) Bumps and Dips. These havenít been used for 2-3years and proved just as testing for some as they did back then. It was good to get vehicles through them again and provided an extra challenge to those driving who had not been through them before. Steve, Paul and Scott all did admirably well making parts of the sections look easy! (Too easy!)

With the final push down the farm yard using the old farm access tracks and previous river paths there was plenty to keep all on their toes. A tight corner caught out Russell, and some reversing for Scott put both to the test!

Well, we can confirm the routes are now all cleared and ready for use and very enjoyable they are too.

Some pictures from the day