4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 26th Feb 19
Words and Video by Richard Watson

An unusually warm winter morning saw our group of 6 90's meet up in the farmyard prepared for a challenging but fun day out. Amongst jokes about the excellent reliability record of TD5's (one being reluctant to start, although perfectly happy once running and the other starting fine but having a recent history of not wanting to do any more than that), winches were double checked and a convoy order established.

We started off driving with slippery drop into a gulley followed by a steep bank with a number of tree roots across it. Scott made it up on his second attempt but Paul had to admit defeat after a few tries and followed a bypass route. The rest of us made it up, diff locks proving their worth! Feeling smug, it was my turn for a fall as we entered a steep wet field - engaging the lockers once again I tried to gain momentum and just span up all the wheels and went nowhere, whilst Tim idled on past me wondering what I was playing at. Whilst the auto is great at certain things, getting moving quickly and gently doesn't seem to be one of them, where a manual can just select a higher gear. That's my excuse anyway, a second attempt with more of a run up and a shallower attack on the field saw me up to the top.

The most challenging part of the day was getting up a steep rutted climb which we'd normally approach in the opposite direction. This was why we wanted to be sure that everyone's winches were working as it would be almost impossible to drive any of the available routes without more aggressive tyres. Paul set off first and got young Jack working hard with the winch ropes and strops. Scott was making good progress up another route when a bang and crack signalled something giving way in the front axle. He winched part of the way up but still managed to drive one section further on with not-quite 4 wheel drive, a section that everyone else had to winch! The Luxton's made light work of the winching whilst the whole group got involved to get the vehicles through which is what I really enjoy about days like this and with a bit of assistance from my rear winch, they were through.

At the top I managed to bend my front bumper by driving into the same stump that had dented the rear crossmember on my previous 90. A daft mistake to think I'd be able to drive it when the winch was already out, but in my defence it looked easy enough!

Scott took his front prop off and then followed me out of the woods without needing a tow, although I almost stopped him a couple of times on the larger bumps as he caught up with me. Leaving his vehicle parked up and them jumping in with others, we followed various farm tracks to get to the next sections and a stop for lunch. Many of the most interesting tracks aren't byways so it's nice to be able to drive them with the landowner’s permission on trips like this.

A short road section took us into another set of woods with a long climb with ruts just deep enough to catch out most vehicles. I had the benefit of running first but couldn't quite get the last few feet after 3 attempts so winched the last part. Tony followed me up and made it look easy but Paul had to winch up after him. Kevin was running on smaller tyres so took the longer route around and joined us shortly afterwards.

As soon as I entered the next field I spun up the tyres again but a very gentle second attempt found some grip and got past the boggy bottom section of the field. The quarry section was incredibly slippery - a free-fall toboggan ride down into the bottom and power up the other side. A great sense of relief when you make it without any problems but not my favourite as I like to be in control! I tried a gentle approach to get out, hoping that my tyres wouldn't clog and I'd just float over the mud. Of course, I promptly slid down off the track to an inconvenient position straddling a fallen tree. A quick winch with Scott and James's help got me back into the field. Paul was struggling for grip in the wettest part and despite my best efforts, I ended up following him into exactly the same spot. I reversed out and tried again with the same effect, then on a third try decided to just stay in reverse and loop back up the hill backwards - proving that momentum really is the key.

Long drop was up next and we took the opportunity to re-open an old loop at the top of the hill before gently sliding down to the river at the bottom. I was glad to go first as at least there was some grip to start with, although the ruts kept the others in line on their way down after me too.

Coming to the end of the day we returned to Scott’s vehicle and started to work out the easiest way to get his now 2wd 90 out of the woods. A route was found around the edge of a field and, not wanting to damage the crops, with a couple of long winch pulls around the edge he made it back to the main track. All the winch pulls obviously put some strain on one of my air solenoids so we stopped to swap that over with a spare whilst the others went for a drive round warm-up woods to finish the a really enjoyable day off.

A video of the day