4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Wellington Drive Round Day – 22nd Sep 19
Words by Mike Cuff and Pictures by James Trembath

The first Wellington DRD of the latter part of the year proved to be as interesting and good fun as ever, the group made up of newcomer Steve Bayliss and his daughter Sophie (in a very clean looking Discovery), regulars Scott Copping (Blue Truck Cab 90), Kevin and Ashley (Red 90), and Paul Radford and his son (Blue Hardtop 90) and off course myself (Jeep Cherokee).

Arriving early, I took Bozzee (my Dalmatian) for a walk in the area known as the Moor, I was hoping to be sheltered from the rain by the trees, however there were no trees – the centre area having been totally cleared since I last visited at the turn off the year - allowing James and his team of volunteers to create some new interesting routes – routes that Bozzee certainly had no trouble navigating – routes that allowed him to enjoy his love of muddy water holes! Anyway, enough about the most capable 4x4 at the event.

After the usual safety briefing from James, we headed off making our way to the aptly named “tight corner”. Unfortunately the photos never do it justice, I’m sure the phrase “baptism of fire” could be used to describe Steve who told me his previous experience was driving on Salisbury Plain and “priceless” to the expression on Sophie’s face as she looked down into the gully whilst her Dad, under the watchful eye and direction of James, navigated the corner, hugging as closely as possible to the trees, sliding to towards the gully as he edged over tree roots, learning what a Discovery could do on all-terrains – impressive would be the word I’d use.

Leaving tight corner, the drove (and winched) various tracks, including regulars such as “Rhododendron drive”, “Sam’s pond” and “Sam’s corner” before arriving at the originally named “the new route”, located in an area of the site I skirted when participating in one of James Winch Challenge events many years ago, an area that is gradually being opened up for future DRDs. As the new route involved snaking through trees and potentially (optimistic) some winching at the end, under advisement from James, Steve parked up is Discovery and came to watch. Nobody had any issues snaking through the trees but seeing that we had to cross a mud trench at the mid-point I just knew I was going to be busy with the pressure washer! All of us driving in and then experiencing that sinking/stuck feeling! Now being a good time to mention Scott, who was as enthusiastic as ever, acting as winch man.

Once everybody cleared the trench, we met up with Steve and headed to the lunch spot. After a quick snack, I left the others chatting and headed off with Bozzee for a 10 minute or so walk to let him stretch his legs and sample the local sticks! Walking past two ponds we were treated to what I can only describe as a demonstration of duck synchronised swimming, a triangle shaped “raft” of ducks (thanks Google) all following one lead duck as it turned left and right.

Post lunch, we exited the Moor via the “original sunken lane” and took the main road to the Quarry, a small site located a couple of miles away. Entering the site, as I lead the group to the play area, James pointed out areas of the site that he was intending to re-open in the next few weeks during a DRW working party – areas left unused since James ran Winch Challenge events. Arriving at the play area, James held a short briefing and then allowed folks to free-style, tackling a series of short twisting ascents and descents including one named the “Wall of Death”, no issue for long wheel based vehicles but short ones needed to keep moving at the bottom to avoid potentially standing on their noses! James clearing a couple of tracks of over-hanging branches.

Leaving the play area we did a couple more tracks including one that’s not for the feint hearted, I can’t remember what James called it, however “big drop” gets my vote, you drive a long the edge of 20 foot drop and then have do a 90 degree turn around a tree, the distance between the edge and the tree being Land Rover Defender width! Not surprisingly, those not in Defenders bypassed it!

After the Quarry, we ended the day at the third site of the day, the “Island”, where we did a short loop around the Pheasant pens. Another good opportunity to see what a stock Discovery could do. All in all a good day out, except for getting a puncture on the way home, something put a hole through the centre line of one of my rear 33 X 10.50 BFGs.

Some pictures from the day