4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Good Winch and Wellington Drive Round Weekend
11th/12th November 17
Words and pictures by James Trembath

Saturday started with a pub meet at the Waie Inn before off-roading at Goodwinch in mid Devon, a fantastic place to explore the capabilities of your vehicle – modified or standard, Toyota, Landrover, Jeep, mud tyres or Road there is something there for everyone.

The site is normally only available if you are attending one of the multitude of off-road driver, recovery or winch training courses that run at the site. However we are fortunate enough to be able to offer people the opportunity, (two or three times a year) to tackle the site as a Drive Round Route. David (Mr Goodwinch) usually leads these little forays around his course, after all no one knows it better than him!

With the ever popular demand from people wishing to try out their vehicles, particularly those whose vehicles are "daily drivers", these opportunities are becoming more and more popular. This foray being block booked by Jake Lloyd from Devon 4x4.

Sunday, the DRD at Bampton, it has to be said didn’t start well! Jeroen called to say he had timing belt issues, Tony’s gearbox let go on the M5 and we hadn’t even started yet! On the plus side being two vehicles down this did give us some great options for our first Bampton Drive Round Day of the season. With Tony and Mike Hedley, Paul and Jack Radford, Scott Copping with Edward Webber and Mike Cuff making up the four vehicle convoy we had a great complement of regulars, all with working winches (or so they told me!) which meant we could ‘hit’ Bear Down at some point!

Before we jumped in too soon though, post the customary safety brief and vehicle equipment checks, we headed off to First Long Drop to get people back into the swing of the Bampton Site. The route there works its way around upto approx. 18miles of tracks throughout the course of the day. These include some interlocking farm access tracks and the odd section of tarmac to ease the passage across the estate. We have a great mixture of steep hills, gravel, mud, ruts and the odd water splash within the purpose made wooded sections. You travel as part of a convoy (6 vehicles) so there is always help on hand in the form of advice or a winch rope should you require it. It is also important to note that all the sections are optional and have bypasses should you not wish to undertake any specific part.

With everyone firmly reminded of what the site has to offer, as they had just glissaded down the rocky, steep, leaf mulch covered ‘First Long Drop’ route we thought it prudent to visit ‘Slippery Side Slope Woods’ With a smaller than expect group, all with working winches and a willingness to push on it was the ideal opportunity to revisit the woods. We had so many options of new tracks for the 2016 season that we hadn’t even set a foot in there. The tracks were looking good though! In essence a muddy, rutted route (which at least helps you keep on track!) that meanders through the trees following the fall of the land as you negotiate the odd side slope, small water bomb holes and muddy ruts. With plenty of help on hand – mainly Edward Webber as a willing ‘co-driver/winch man’ we soon worked out the most efficient way through and how to wear Ed out! The smiles at the end said it all, well there were smiles after everyone had safely negotiated Bowyers hill near the exit! Adeptly named after David’s vehicle descended it a few years back probably a little quicker than he intended! All that radio kit must be quite heavy! Have a look at the video clip of Paul on the same descent. The woods is a superb little challenge at the best of times and when its wet in there it can be very hard going. This time with the group number and capability we timed it perfectly, all through with few dramas but lots of grins and some seriously muddy vehicles!

Being on a high we decided to maintain the tempo and having quickly finished off lunch we took on Preistlands (after consuming Warrens Hill as a secondary warm up for the descents!). Last year Priestlands had been hard work in places with quite a few struggling on one of the access tracks. This year the way in was no problem, but the actual tracks within it proved a little more challenging! The climb up just prior to the bridge was particularly greasy and if I recall correctly caught everyone out with people resorting to the winch. Which was a good time for Mike to find out that his winch was playing up, the motor obligingly allowed the rope to be spooled out, and then prompty died as when attempting to winch in! Not ideal! Thankfully Scott was close enough to give a helping hand. Scott has recently rebuilt the engine in his trayback and along with some 500 road miles trying to bed it in decided a DRD would also help loosen the engine up a little. So a trayback on MTs with rear winch was called into action – its proved its worth pulling the Jeep effortlessly up the slippery incline. (Did I mention it was a Land Rover Trayback?!)

With everyone safely accounted for and out of the woods we took the gentle routes back to the original meet place for an end of day clean up and good byes. We hadn’t taken on all the routes the estate has to offer but we had certainly maximised the time out and about in the rough stuff. For our next Adventure we will have to cautiously test out the Bumps and Dips in Middle Wood – always plenty to keep everyone entertained!

Some pictures from the weekend