Brian Reeve

Whaddon Training Weekend

As a new member of MK 4×4 I was pleased to be able to take part in the event albeit only on the Saturday.

The previous Bank Holiday Monday found me at Silverstone where as a Christmas present my family had arranged a 4×4 driving day. Here I was given some instruction and had 45 minutes of driving a Defender around the purpose built off road course and was amazed at how capable the vehicle is.

On my normal excursions off road, farm land and rough tracks, I try to avoid getting stuck as I’m usually on my own. This means I’ve never really explored my Daihatsu’s (or my own) capability, so I was looking forward to my first visit to Barn Hill Farm in the company of other more experienced Off Roaders.

At Whaddon , Ian Mckean gave me some further tuition on a circuit of the Bike track which was most welcome and helping Ian to set out the first two courses to be driven gave me an idea of what was in store.

The event started with a warm up lap of the Bike track which we drove as a group before moving on to the first course which was over some ruts, long grass with holes. Here I stood to watch a Defender clear the course easily, followed by a Series Landy which got stuck and required assistance to get through. I thought if that gets stuck maybe I might not through either. Several more vehicles went through without too much drama then it was my turn with some assistance from Chris Watt as a passenger. His help was much appreciated and I got through ! . Later it was revealed that one of the Landy’s hubs was not locked hence the lack of traction.

We then drove back in the opposite direction, which I did on my own, everybody getting through ok. The next course comprised of long grass with a few hidden obstacles, ruts and for those so inclined, a large log which could be avoided if necessary. Along with everybody else I cleared this also (not over the log though), the only casualty being Phil Rubini who got stuck on the log necessitating the use of a High lift jack to get him off it. A reverse run followed without any problems. Now it was time for lunch.

After lunch, a trip across to the next course was required and the terrain was a bit sticky in places and due to the mud and rut depth I stalled, but fortunately was able to get going again. I gather a Disco also came to grief and bent a front bumper.

A steep drop with deep ruts greeted the start of the next course followed by grassy, marshy ground with ruts and odd holes and an uphill climb across ruts back to the steep starting point. This was driven successfully by all those who went round, experience certainly helps. I chickened out on this one, as after watching others ploughing with their tow bars over the deep rut my low slung bar would be sure to dig in and halt progress.

However, a ride round with Phil Benson in his new Defender was a treat as was watching Andy Gollings in his Special which went round so effortlessly. The next event was fairly straight forward, downhill through a very deep pair of ruts the round and back up hill to the gate. Everybody got round ok, I didn’t take my Daihatsu round as I wouldn’t clear the ruts, however a drive of a 90 (thanks Ian) got me round after stalling at said ruts !

Over to the corner of the site gave a course over ruts, between trees and into a water filled bowl with a difficult entry and steep exit up the bank only to loop round and come back into the water down the slope which necessitated a sharp right turn to get out and up the bank. Long wheel bases were offered an alternative with the sharp right turn.

This needed careful negotiation of the ruts, most entries to the water ploughed away the bank of mud to some extent, the main excitement being a Disco (Martin I believe) getting caught up by his tow bar on said bank and loosing all traction. A bit of spadework and a pull by Phil Benson soon got things moving.

Another moment of excellence was when Chris Watt successfully negotiated the tight turn into the water in his LWB, making it look very easy. Of course Andy Gollings wafted through sending mud and water everywhere with ease !. I got a ride round in a Series. (Thanks Alan). The final course started with a small climb and left turn to the top of a bank followed by a steepish fall down to some bumps and ridges and to loop round onto grass with ruts, and back uphill to the finishing gate. This was fairly straight forward for all, I managed it with no problems. A reverse run was then done by most .

A journey then back to the camping area followed at the end of the driving bit. I had to leave shortly after, others were staying for the barbecue and camping.

All in all, a good day out.