4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 4th February 18
Words and pictures by James Trembath

It wasn’t raining! Wow a first in a long time for our Bampton Days. As the pictures show though that didn’t mean that it wasn’t wet and very slippery. With a selected group for this outing the plan was to do something a little different to normal. Our traditional days mean we cover the majority of our 18mile route around Bampton area. Today however, with five vehicles, all of which were winch equipped and with experienced drivers we could tackle some of the harder sections that Bampton has to offer.

Bear Down is notoriously wet and slippery at the best of times and it can take a little while to get a group through. We will only take winch equipped vehicles in there. Something we had never attempted before was to tackle the route coming in the opposite direction. A challenge in its self! Normally Bear down is tackled from the top starting with a 400m mud run. This requires a little winching at points with some drivable sections. The lower return track can normally be driven along 75% of its length. It slopes gentle down which aids the vehicles passage, the last steep descent was a winch down last time were there as it was so wet.

This time coming in from the bottom we had winch up to get us to the start of the main route, this then continued with a gentle uphill gradient + a side slope for a further 350, so lots more winching and hard work for the guys out helping with the ropes. Progress was good, if slow, though with great teamwork and all getting involved. It was similar to a mission impossible of old/route find event. A great deal of fun mixed with hard work for both codrivers/drivers and the vehicles. Once the side slope had been mastered it was time for a light lunch before coming in the far end to tackle the mud runs. 400m doesn’t sound a great deal, but for some (Scott) with 4 – 5 winch pulls later it certainly was hard work. To be fair Scott was leading at this point and had the joy of breaking the ground through and taking some of the top off the centre ridge. This then aided the other vehicles on similar sized tyres (33”) Paul Radford on slightly smaller tyres had a little more winching to contend with at points, which certainly cleared the route out for Jeroen, again on 33”s and at the back who made the whole run without any winching! We took the fantastic opportunity make this run and it certainly worked a treat. Everyone loved the challenge and all the vehicles performed faultlessly.

To allow everyone to recover a little we then resorted to our more ‘normal’ drive round route by heading back to First Long Drop. Something has definitely changed of late here on this route, the descent is far quicker than I recall, more stones glissading possibly, still controllable but just different! Keep everyone entertained that’s for sure!

Middle Wood as ever with the great Bomb holes and water splashes was making a call and we made this a penultimate section but also included the little known ‘Tim’s lost route’ on the way back just to spice it up a little, the short, clay, rutted climb out of the bottom off the fence line is hard going, poor old Paul had the winch rope out again and Scott had to take the bypass! The rest made it unscathed and with the day drawing in we took the longish gravel access tracks back towards Warm Up woods where we finished the day.

A testing, busy and tiring day but extremely satisfying and great to revisit some little used routes and to take on Bear Down in reverse! It now seems everyone wants to do it again!

Some pictures from the day