4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bamton Drive Round Weekend - 16th/17th Mar 19
Words, Pictures and Videos by James Trembath

Presitlands wood, one of the must unforgiving pieces of ground we have on our Bampton Site. The ground looks so easy going, you drive in there and typically winch back out! We certainly did! We used to use Priestlands for our winch challenge events around 2008-2012. The ground up in the North part of the wood is very unforgiving but also technically challenging and good fun to pitch your vehicle against. Boggy rutted tracks with some technical winch points to keep everyone on their toes! Meanwhile there are some easier parts in the southern part of the wood with a mix or rutted driving over ditches and various other obstacles.

The plan was simple. Priestlands occasionally forms part of our Drive Round Day route. There is a bridge in part of the route that needed some restoration work. So we worked on getting a team together to come in Saturday morning to help fix the bridge followed by opening up some of the older more challenging routes within Preistlands. The plan was to then camp overnight with the option of a night drive before tacking a mix of tracks within the same wood Sunday.

The weekend was brilliant, a good mix of vehicles and camping trailers with the full on 4x4 Adventure of making our own way in and out of the woods. Mike and Tony Hedley led the way into the woods and made superb progress (no one saw the slight hiccup parking on the stump…). A short pull from our soft top 90s winch had us back under way. Kevin Williams and Richard Watson made up the middle section with Ian Stokes in his std 90 and Scott Copping at the rear driving in his very capable 6x6 Pinzguager. We had a communal area under canvas which worked well keeping the worse of the elements off. We initially set up camp after ‘cutting our way’ into the woods through the mass off fallen trees from the winds of the recent weeks. The tracks were challenging enough on the way in and we had gravity on our side.

Richard Watson and Tim Jones, both in 90s also joined us to camp plus Kevin Williams in his jeep complete with off road camping trailer. I am pretty certain his setup is the only camping trailer to have ventured that far off road within Priestlands and very capable the whole set up was too. In fact I am pretty certain no one has camped that deep in the woods ever let along made their own way in on virgin tracks they constructed enroute with vehicles and trailers!

With Jason Midgely and Kevin Luxton turning up to help with the bridge rebuild and some foreplaning we were soon tackling the task in hand with digging, winching, log moving all in hand to replace a couple of rotten sections. Incidentally the logs we didn’t change last time we worked on the bridge 8 or so years ago. Amazingly the ratchet straps we used were still serviceable which made life even simpler.

The bridge complete it was time to reopen some of the older ‘challenge style’ routes plus add to the existing Drive Round Day routes. Scott has also brought his trayback up which combined with Kevin in his Jeep and Kevin L in his 90 plus Richard Watson in his 90 we had a good team of capable vehicles and some willing codrivers with Ian, Ed Webber, Tim, Jason all on hand to help out as required.

That evening Scott and Richard went out on a night drive, I think they both wanted to test out their new light bars – which were good, but not that good that they didn’t stop both vehicles parking up and doing some impromptu winch testing! It was wet in there and the conditions are testing!

Sunday – after a night of rain made for even more interesting terrain. We spent the first hour or so opening up a new drive round route with an intriguing side slope section that ties into the bridge section of old. This combined with the entrance route we used to the campsite will make for a testing Drive Round Route, maybe one to work on in the summer!

Following some brunch we then took the more capable vehicles and headed off to the North side of the woods. The pictures explain it far better than I can, but lots of good winching through bogs, over mounds, across ditches. We tested the vehicles, drivers and codrivers and re-established some of the routes that have lay dormant for the last 7-8 years.

Now the final challenge – getting back out of the campsite and woods. The rain and vehicle usages had made the tracks more challenging and we would be fighting gravity! The more capable vehicle (pinz and trayback) took the more challenging original entrance route, both still resorting to winches, whilst the remainder of the group used a combination of the new Drive Round Route with winches and chainsaws as required as we forged our own path out. Testing and great fun. A really good true adventure with 4x4Adventures.

Some videos of the weekend

Some pictures from the day