4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 21st Apr 19
Words and Pictures by James Trembath

I think it would be fair to say that our final day at Bampton did not start well! We met in the yard as normal, Simon Clarkson had joined us for the first time in his series Landrover and whilst co-driver Paul was putting on his boots we talked through the pros and cons of the day; what to do, or how to avoid bits, the options of bypasses, recovery options available. We then conducted our safety briefing and we were pretty much ready to go, well the people were, but Simon’s vehicle wasn’t (a lift pump failing within the first 20 m of setting off) Not a great start to the day. Thankfully as it turned out the landowner happened to have a brand new spare lift pump in the garage, but unfortunately despite staying behind to fit it, hoping to join us again later, it was obviously not meant to be as debris from failure of the first pump cause a little bit of rough running. The decision was taken to quit whilst ahead get it back home to the garage and have a look at it properly!

With Simon in the yard the rest of us headed off to Warm Up Woods which is where Peter Brindle had been out with us before on a training day. He now joined us on his first Drive Round Day at Bampton. Warm Up Woods is a great little spot to get used to the ground conditions and remember how your vehicle behaves over the bumps, dips, climbs and descents whilst also refreshing your skills which may have been lost if you haven’t been out for a little while. Moving on from Warm Up Woods we headed off in convoy through the various Farm tracks across to Warrens Hill. We decided to tackle Sam’s Hill early on, going straight across to head up it. Ground conditions were really good considering the rain we had had in the week, but with a bit of wind and two days of sun on them everything has dried out fantastically. We took the decision to do something a little bit different to the norm and tried going up a couple of the other climbs that we would not normally consider ascending. I mention the good ground conditions which were unfortunately a little bit too good as Russell in his Series found out when he lost drive within his front axle. The front hub had stripped the splines off the end of the short shaft, our second unfortunate vehicle casualty of the day.

Heading across to Warren’s Quarry we had the opportunity to tackle some great challenging sections some of the climbs and descents were as testing as ever but after the bike Enduro event the previous weekend it also gave us the opportunity to open up some new routes having never been driven by 4x4 before. A couple of twitching moments particularly for young Scott negotiating a little descent, with a very light back-end! We also took the opportunity whilst there to making the most of the sunlight for a lunch stop which also gave the opportunity for some to carry on driving round picking and choosing the sections as they went. Kev William’s V8 sounded fantastic as ever making its way up to some of the climbs. A very formidable machine.

With First Drop calling post lunch we headed on for a little bit of a road section to take us down to First Long Drop. The route has had some changes to the to the ground with the layout down there. We decided to get up the very first part of the normal Descent, which is easily negotiated or bypassed by a couple. It was then the Long old Drop down through the small water crossing before making our way back up onto the road. Unfortunately at this stage we had our third vehicle casualty for the day in the form of Peter Brindles 90. Only something very minor, the previously welded linkage on his high-low transfer box had failed meaning the box wouldn’t easily shift between the two resulting in you having to get in underneath and manually select high or low range. At this point Peter decided it was probably best to call off the day as time was approaching 4 so made his way back home to Bristol, which he made without any further faults. Hi/Low linkage now on the shopping list. So with Paul, Scott, Kevin Luxton and Kevin Williams left we headed out across to top Wood after taking on the various byways and Farm tracks to gain access across the farm ground we dropped down across Tims Lost Route taking on the side slopes and the various great bumps and dips bringing us into the bottom of Middlewood. With a smaller group this allowed us the opportunity to drive an old sunken river course.

This is not something we normally undertake with a full group but now with slightly less numbers and originally planned and with all the drivers been regulars and quite prepared for a challenge we thought we’d undertake the route. Scott decided to watch a few through before he physically made the decision to commit, very sensible. (unusual for him)

With the time now pushing on a bit we were making our way back to the farmyard but decided to take on as a final challenge in Priestlands. Back at the work weekend we had opened quite a few new routes through Priestlands so with Paul in the group it was a good opportunity to head out over there and show him the new routes. This didn’t go too well because Paul became our final casualty of the day with a hydraulic clutch issue on this Discovery. His first mechanical issues with the vehicle since he joined us about 3 or 4 years ago! Thankfully we could recover the vehicle back to Richards Farm where it could await recovery later in the week and unfortunately for the discovery but it did give the rest of the group the opportunity to head off and tackle some more tracks we wouldn’t normally do!

We are now finishing with our Bampton site until Nov 19. We will be running out of our Wellington site from 19 May 19.

Some pictures from the day