Karen Moule

An Eventful Weekend Near Salisbury

When we reached Salisbury two weeks prior to the actual event on 16th and 17th Feb, we had had a very relaxed and uneventful weekend, only interspersed with a little bit of lane clearing, where a few trees had fallen down. The biggest challenge had been map reading through the rain, seeing if I could still do it since my school days and negotiating some very large muddy puddles – which were great fun and good memories.

Black MK 4x4However the actual event was somewhat different and very eventful. To start with the sun shone all weekend, even though it stayed bitterly cold, which allowed you to view the glorious lush landscape which hadn’t been touched for the whole winter and possibly even longer due to the foot and mouth last year. Also made trying to get your bearings a lot easier too.

The ten vehicles all met up at the Swindon truck stop for breakfast and split up into three groups. This was our first time leading a group, so I was keen to impress with good navigation and pointing out things of interest along the way.

Not long after getting off road, Andy had a small engine fire, which was quickly put out, but Steve and Co came to offer assistance which luckily wasn’t needed. A bit further along Andy had a problem with the gear box which he managed to sort after getting himself a bit muddy in the process. Unfortunately this problem returned with a vengeance a little bit later and his vehicle caught fire, which we couldn’t put out as we had no more fire extinguishers. After the firemen put it out, it was towed down the lane and later taken back to his house by the AA.

As if this hadn’t been enough Steve and his team were shouted at by farmers due to a simple navigational error, mainly due to non existing signage(!), and who also tried to have a go at me while I was sipping tea with the firemen!

We started on Sunday hoping for a less eventful day, however this was obviously destined to be one of the most eventful weekends for the club in its history! Rory and his family joined Darren, Spencer, Ashley and I and we set off for Salisbury Plain. Ashley and I had found some nice muddy puddles two weeks previously along with some interesting wooded areas, which we decided to take the other two vehicles through. One puddle in particular looked deceptively normal until we got stuck in it and only after having given a load of wheel spin did I realise there were loads of frogs and frogspawn in the same puddle. A few less now!

A little later we were crossing another part of the plain, when Spencer told us that a helicopter was following us. We thought he was having us on so didn’t think much of it until a Gazelle helicopter flew right round in front of us. As it happened Steve and his team were only 100 yards in front of us so we stopped behind them. The helicopter then landed and two policemen got out and came running over, not looking very happy. They took pictures and details of all the vehicles and the first one started getting all aggressive, but the wind was taken out of his sails when he realised that we were in a group with marked up maps, GPS’ and all knew exactly where we were.

After that we got off the plain quite quickly to just stay out of the way and keep a low profile, because if we had put a foot (or tyre ) wrong they could have confiscated all the vehicles.

Later on we stopped off near Stonehenge for a cuppa before carrying on to a few more lanes and then heading home. Unfortunately the one lane that we really wanted to do had been closed, but why couldn’t they have closed the lane where it met the road rather than nearly a mile along it where it was almost impossible to turn round and hence make even more of a mess of the lane!! I left a message on Wiltshire council’s answering machine to point out their stupidity.

So our first attempt at leading a group was not what we had expected. Jon Anderson must have had quite a relaxed weekend in comparison as he missed most of these events! I’m with him next time! Alternatively, if you want a weekend with a difference, call us!!