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the Southam Shake-Down

Green Lane Expedition - August 2007 - Southam / Warwickshire

Before we begin, I got the lads to stop so I could take this picture, firstly, because hills, sky and straw bales always make a good back drop, but also because there are poppies in the margins. You may have trouble spotting the flecks of red, but they are there.

And the the poppy signifies remembrance, and the 'Lads', Pete & Steve are both Serving Forces Personnel, so, before we begin I ask you to remember those that fell serving their country.

And more importantly, to remember those still standing; particularly those serving in Iraq, in Afghanistan and the other 'Peace Keeping' actions around the world, so easily forgotten, but where our lads, like the two I was laning with on this expedition, are still getting shot at.

Right, lets get on with it then; Beautiful, isn't it? The Warwickshire country side, county of my birth, the county I still live in AND the county they invented and build Land Rovers in!

This is a 'door-step' adventure, one to show that you DON'T have to travel a hundreds of miles to find 'decent' lanes, and there's more to green-laning than 'doing' the glamour trails in the national parks.

You may have noticed that there is a BIG gap in the run reports; the last one I wrote up was the peaks adventure, in December 2003, nearly three and a half years ago. That was the last bit of green-laning I had the chance to do. Shortly after that, Wheezil was laid up, with a knackered clutch master cylinder, and was to never again play in the mud. Bert, was almost completely rebuilt, and then driven off by my psychotic, now very EX-wife, in a fit of pique. So, it took me a little over a year to get another off-road-worthy 'Rover.

And that was Jaqui. Her inaugural sorte was a road one in February 2006, reported on in 'The 'Axle' Run', and then she too was laid up, while I set about trying to fix and fettle her for an MOT.... and as I have been getting increasingly disabled, that took RATHER a bit longer than anticipated, and JUST over a year after I started, I FINALLY, had her ready for a test...... cutting that story short, that WILL, I am sure go into an update of 'Jumpin'Jack Flash ', Last week of July, she got a set of Insa Turbo Mud Terrain Tyres, and a ticket, so I had HOPED to head to Bala in Wales, with some of the LRBoards crew, to do a whole week-end round North Wales, taking in some of the Wayfarer and other lanes round about those we did three or four years ago.

Trouble was, I had no tax, and couldn't find the log book, so it wasn't until the following Monday, that I could get to the Birmingham DVLA offices to get one. Any way, LRBoards user 'Squaddiefox' real name 'Pete' similarly missed out on Bala, as he was serving in Germany and hadn't got his leave papers. Squaddie is a Stratford lad like myself, and was determined to get some lanes under his Rangie's wheels as soon as he got home.

So, we discussed some ideas over the 'net and contemplated driving some of Offa's Dyke, or maybe heading to Derbyshire and trying to do Stannage. Ultimately, we decided to stick a bit closer to home, and Steve, Pete's cousin, another Stratford lad, and another squaddie, suggested we did some lanes round South Warwickshire particularly Southam, as it's about half way between us, and would make a gentle 'shake down' run for both motors, Squadies 'Beast' having just undergone some major surgery after some rescue work in the floods a month or so back, and mine, having not turned a wheel in anger in over a year.

Now, if you've been following my adventures, you'll know that most of the runs I've done have been with what was the 'North Wales 4x4' crew, who's activities centred around a web forum, now defunct, called North Wales 4x4, major domo of which was Keith, AKA 'Milemaster'. The demise of that forum, and the fragmentation of the people that had used it, sort of coincided with my own cessation of activities, with the melt down of my marriage.

I wont go into the why's and wherefores, but like many 'clique' forums, it eventually disintegrated in dissention of opinions. For a while, there was an attempt to run a commercial 'green-lane' tours business out of it; which I remember Keith and a couple of the others were loosely associated with, and was one of the causes of dissention. Whether Keith is still a part of that operation I don't know, but I did note that he has become a major figure in the 'North Wales Alliance' set up as a voluntary regulatory organisation to manage use of the North Wales lanes along similar lines to the Lakes District National Parks Authority, 'Voluntary Restriction' scheme.

Any way; Keith organised the NW4x4 runs very tightly; the routes were always trail-blazed in advance, and he always had alternative sections for 'on the day' substitutions, should sections he'd elected to drive be too fragile. His runs, then, always had a high percentage of trails, with little black top in between, and all you had to do was play follow my leader. There was no pouring over maps deciding where you needed to go, or where was best to go, worrying about rights of way, or lane closures or anything like that. You turned up, followed his Pejaru, and had a great day out. even on those occasions when I was leading one of Keith's 'split' groups.

With the wife, and kids, that was ideal; because we had no arguments over directions, or complaints that we weren't in the rough stuff, or other grumblings. It was green-laning, package holiday style..... and consequently I always felt there was something missing.........

The 'Christmas Chaos' run, with the lads from the LRLRC, was a BIT more like what I had imagined 'proper' green-laning should be like; heading out, 'exploring' and taking things as you find them; but still, with a couple of experts on hand, they did most of the work.

So, fettling Jaqui up, the notion struck, that relieved of such hefty family commitments, I'd be able to afford to do some more intimate 'laning, where I could afford not to have to entertain passengers so much, and could actually start using maps, and navigating. I have even contemplated putting some of my ample spare time to use visiting county records offices and consulting their 'definitive map' and marking up OS Land Rangers with rights of way, and going and surveying them.... but any way.

This was to be an eager outing, a shake down run, and after getting my Tax disk on the Tuesday, talking about the idea with Steve & Pete on the Wednesday & Thursday; Friday, Pete sent me a message to say he had just got his travel papers, and was flying back from Germany on the next available Army Transport, so we were green to go, and to meet him and Steve at Leamington Railway Station at ten the following morning.

I pondered this for a few minutes; sent him a confirmation message, then 'phoned my lad, Kaine, who no longer lives with either myself or his mum, and asked if he fancied coming along for the ride....... I was half deafened by him yelling at some-one in the back ground, and then through a perforated eardrum, he asked what time I'd be collecting him!

I think he must have liked the notion! So, we discussed arrangements and what he'd like in his sandwiches, and at some unearthly hour of the morning, I went to bed. Saturday morning, I fell out of bed, into some jeans, and thence into Jaqui.

Now, after a year of not driving regularly, and more than three years not having to commute to work, I had forgotten what the morning rush hour was like. All I can say, is if THAT is what it's like at ten past nine on a Saturday morning, I am SO glad I don't have to commute every day! Part of my disabled condition is anxiety, and BOY did driving through that rush hour traffic increase it! I was having apoplexy just WATCHING some of the things other drivers were doing.

Any way, collected my lad at twenty five past nine, having taken twice as long as I had anticipated to get to him; but no dallying, he was eager for the off, and we were straight back on the road, heading for Leamington, which was duel carriageway almost all the way.

Now; in 'the Snowdonia Adventure' I said of travel by Range Rover:-

On the road to Corwen, well, as you'd expect. Range Rover refinement, there is no beating it. V8 softly purring away, 2000rmp on the rev counter and 60mph on the speedo, heater keeping us warm, windscreen wipers letting us see where we were going, and the stereo playing some quiet incidental music in the back-ground.

Where's the clatter of tappets, the frantic waggling of gearstick and overdrive lever, the intense concentration of predicting the traffic pattern through that next roundabout, so that you don't have to change down two more gears and put all your weight on the brake pedal to haul the thing to a halt!

The only thing to detract for enjoying the scenery in a Range Rover is watching that fuel gauge needle as it edges down the scale, so slowly but menacingly, reminding you, you have a thirsty engine under there, and you'd better remember to give it plenty to drink!

That was Bert; 1985 Carburetted 3.5 V8 with Chrysler Torqueflite 3-speed auto. A base model, nice and simple. Wind up windows, no central locking, no sun-roof, no air conditioning, or any of the other 'Vogue' equipment for the 'coyntie set'.

But, I was driving Jaqui; 1991 EFi 3.9 with ZF four speed, and 'Vogue' trim. She has electric windows; electric mirrors; an electric sun-roof; heated seats; and a parcel shelf! Amongst other things. I didn't expect it to be MUCH different, BUT.......

On the road to Leamington, Range Rover refinement? Yes, there IS a way to beat it, and that is with Range Rover 'Vogue' refinement, and a 3.9l engine. Wafting along at 65mph, the taco rarely nudged past 2000rpm, the 3.9l engine allowing full advantage of the ZF-4-speeds taller gearing for relaxed cruising. Loudest thing at motorway speeds was the road roar from the tyres. But even THAT was hardly intrusive. 70mph on tractor tyres, and where MOST 4x4's would be letting you KNOW you were on knobblies by resonating through the entire super structure.... Jaqui just gave a feint hum! What can you say? Pretty much anything you like really! AND your passengers will hear every word!

And AS for watching the fuel needle drop!? No! on gas, the thing don't move! OK, so after a while an LED on the gas gauge goes out... actually there are five of them, and one goes out about every 30 miles or so, telling you you have used roughly two gallons of LPG, or just under 4 worth. We thought about it on route, its drinking about a coke can of gas every mile; on the motorway, that's two coke cans a minute! Still frightening, BUT, at 43p/l compared to 96p/l, that drink problem don't dent your wallet so much. Its like doing about 35mpg on Full Price Fuel

Any way, my lad was very impressed; it was his first real ride in Jacqui since I got her, and we wafted into Leamington, and down the Parade, arriving at the Railway Station at about ten past ten. Pete & Steve, literally followed us in, as we were looking for a parking space, and we met up, and made our greetings. I didn't take pictures, though, as it was a busy car park, and we were eager for the 'off'. But here's one I took a little while later, to introduce them to you.

These two fellows are a pair of Her Majesties Finest; Pete, on the right  in the black T-shirt, responsible for pulling tanks out of swamps and things like that, Steve on the right in the red T-shirt, for making sure that landing craft don't leak, and things of that ilk.

Both are keen on sailing, as well as off-roading, and Steve was telling me later that he'd been put forward for a services crew in this years 'Fast-net' yacht race out of Cowes

Steve has a 110 five door, called 'Big Red', which was unfortunately in need of attention, so he was riding shotgun with Pete, in his Rangie, 'Beast', which he hadn't managed to test very hard in the few months he's had it, on those leaves he's had. But she has acquired a 2" lift, a tubular bumper, and numerous decals! As can be seen here.

Back to the plot, we headed out of Leamington towards Cubbington for our first lane of the day, and being back in my old 'stomping grounds' brought back a lot of memories.

I did my A-Levels at Mid Warwickshire College in Leamington, and a lot of my old college mates lived in the villages surrounding.

Any way, Steve was navigating, part by Sat-Nav, part by Ordinance Survey, and leading us round and about all the country lanes round the outskirts of town.

First lane of the day, took us down a farm drive way, and through the farm yard.

Pete hesitated, in the yard, between the machinery shed and the farmhouse, looking at where the trail forked ahead, and contemplating the Farmers wife hanging out washing on a line in the garden.......

But, hey, with those rugged 'action-man' looks, and cheeky grin!? She smiled and waved and pointed to the left hand trail, for us to follow, and Steve stopped waving his hands around in front of the rear view mirror!

THIS is Warwickshire. It's My 'home' county, and I love it.

They used to call it 'leafy' Warwickshire, though the Dutch Elm epidemic of my childhood, and the grubbing up of hedgerows to better suit modern large scale farm machinery has seen a lot of the country side 'opened up'.

But it is still 'leafy'. Its a rolling, friendly landscape, with a lot of colour and variety all in a small space. It might lack the surprises of the Welsh hills and valleys, or the drama of the Lake district, or the ruggedness of the Yorkshire dales, but it still has its 'interest', like this old harrow filling a gate way; and the texture of the changing stands of trees and fields leading away to the horizon  under a large clear sky.

This is the scenery of my childhood, the scenery I took for granted as being, England as I knew it.

I've travelled far and wide since then; and been seduced by the glamour and the glory of other parts of this and other lands, but something has always drawn me back, and these days I appreciate it a little more.

J

Just because its familiar, DOESN'T mean that it is 'ordinary' or that it is 'Boring', as Pete pointed out when he posted the pics he took; ALL of this was within 30 miles of his mum's front door, and I guess he too, is coming to appreciate more what is HIS county too, being able to compare it with the far flung bits of the world his Army Service sends him to.

So, moving along..... yup, I DID say 'Leafy'!

This summer, if that is what it be, has been a peculiar one of monsoon storms and baking hot sun.

The lanes, then have then been burgeoning with undergrowth....

Makes sense really, given the rain forest weather we've been having!

But, also a lot of standing water on the ground.

This means MUD.

BUT; an old saying for you "Fools leap in where Angels fear to tread"

The lane, was as you can see, getting tight; So tight in fact, that my lad had to climb out of Jaqui through the sun-roof!

Mud always brings with it the risk of getting stuck, and if the lane is tight and over grown with restricted access, this CAN give problems getting yourself UN-STUCK.

So, we 'pre-walked' the section. NEVER be afraid to get out and survey ground conditions, far better to spend a few minutes having a poke about before, than a couple of hours wallowing about in recovery ops AFTER!

And this is where a little trailsmenship is useful, because its all well and good looking, but unless you know what you are looking for, not that helpful.

The lane was rutted, so vehicles had passed before; the water in the ruts though, was pretty clear, so they hadn't been driven since at least the last rain fall.

So, it wasn't churned up, and it wasn't drained. This meant that beneath the water, was mud. And, driving into it, we would break the surface of the mud, and churn the fresh water into it, making it a lot gloopier than it already was, and we didn't know how far down it went.

Doesn't look too bad, does it? And many an unwary and over enthusiastic off-roader, would consider that they had Mud Terrains and four wheel drive and blast straight in.....

We didn't..... KAIN'E did! he ran up the lane to find out what Pete & Steve were gawking at, and fell in!

Oh-Ka-ay! That answers THAT one. No, that TWO! How deep is it, and WHO's going to find out!

It came up to about two inches above his ankles, as the lads hauled him upright, so we might be ploughing a furrow with the diff-pans, but SHOULDN'T be sinking to the chassis rails

And at this point, I HAVE to mention a little bit about trail condition. Driving muddy trails and breaking the surface, ISN'T damage, it is 'Disturbance'.

The bobble hat brigade often make a big song and dance about us 'churning the tracks' and turning them into some recreation of the battle ground of the Somme.... BUT, a little considerate driving, breaking the surface, and allowing the water to drain, is actually 'helpful', and by picking your path, you can actually even the ruts out a little bit, too.

So, I set up the cammy-corder on a tripod in the shrubs in order to capture a pair of 'considerate' green-laner's traversing a mud-hole in an approved an contentious manner.....

I'd have posted it up on you-tube and inserted the frame about here, BUT, unfortunately, a small technical glitch prevented me from capturing any useable action footage........ No, Pete DIDN'T drive over the camera! Think that water must have got into the tape or something; probably off the trees!

So after retrieving it, we carried on, the surface getting harder as we went until it was a nice graded gravel track, and we came to an old railway bridge over a disused line, where I managed to convince the ever reluctant Pete to pose for a few pickies.

Quite charming bridge it was; all iron, big rivets, flaking paint and rust; bit like a Land Rover!

Looked out over a narrow cutting, with quad-bike ruts where the rails used to be.

Steve was navigating and had the maps; so I enquired if he knew anything about it, or the track it went over; you know, was it a famous route, did the Flying Scotsmen pass under this very bridge on one of its record breaking runs or anything like that?

"Dunno!" Said Steve. So I looked at Pete.

He shrugged, but spotted a sign, and wandered over to have a look.

"What can you tell us?" I called to him.

"Weight Limit 2 Tonnes" He replied

"Oh!" Said Steve, "Nothing interesting then"

Followed by a pause, "err, how HEAVY is a Range Rover?"

"About 2 tonnes" I Said.......

"Do you think they mean 2 tonnes per vehicle, or.... err... 2 tonnes, total?" Said Steve

I looked at Pete.

Pete Looked at Steve

Steve looked back at me.

We all looked at the floor..... wondering if any cracks were going to appear!

Shrugged...... and decided we'd better get a move on!

Was interesting looking at how much higher 'Beast' rode to Jaqui, though.

Until he wandered over to look at the sign, Pete had been telling us how he'd fitted a set of 235/85's, Steve had taken of 'Big Red' to fit something even larger, and added some 3" over-length coils. Difference is a bit magnified by Jaqui's soggy springs!

A bit of black top, and a few reversing manoeuvres, saw us heading off into the wilds again, down the farm track, where I got the lads to stop so I could take that pic with the poppies in it.

Steve was grateful; he'd tried to convince our camera shy Pete to stop so he could take a few pics, but he wouldn't, so he had to do his best shooting through the windscreen.

The trail meandered on for a while, a typical farm track; but as we got to a section Steve had described as being a bit tighter, we discovered that Severn Trent had dug it up to put in new pipes, the trail re-routed to follow the pipe trench, neatly graded with road stone.

So we found the 'old' route through the trees, for a little bit of bumpity fun!

That side step is a pain. Previous owners missus clobbered a brick wall with it, bending the brackets so it's not much use for anything and flops about; I wanted to take it off altogether, but, as usual the bolts were rusted solid....... some deft angle grinder work was called for, BUT, given that the ends of the gas tank are about 1/2" from the heads........?

Thought I'd leave it to 'natural wastage', but no, refused to budge even when it tangled with this tree!

So, onward, and a little way up we stopped for lunch and a gossip, and were passed by a quad bike..... Err.... I am NOT a fan of quad-bikes; in pretty much the same way I'm not really a fan of Motorcycle & Side-car 'combinations' or 'Trikes'.

Dint of logic here; BUT, motorcycles, are light, nimble, fit through tight gaps, and lean round corners; But, you get wet when it rains and it hurts when you fall off, and you cant carry much by way of passengers or luggage. Cars; big box on wheels; keeps the rain out, lets you carry passengers and luggage more readily, and with a metal shell around you, doesn't hurt so much if you have an accident.

So, a motorcycle 'Combination'.... OK, has a bit more luggage and passenger space than a bike; takes up as much space as a car on the road though, wont fit through gaps, and you still get wet when it rains. They aren't so inclined to fall over, BUT, the handling on them is err.... wierd! All the disadvantages of a motorbike, the disadvantages of a car, a few of their own, and not many plus points to counter balance them! About the ONLY thing I can give a 'combination', merit for, is that the weird handling DOES make riding one a bit of a challenge. I'd do it for fun, occasionally.... perhaps!

Trikes? Well, they are pretty much the same, but without so many handling quirks by dint of the asymmetric placement of the driven wheel. Don't have QUITE the challenge to driving them that an outfit does, but the attraction I can grant is being that they are a bit different, and the merit to them mainly comes from the fact that they are almost all enthusiast built 'Custom' vehicles, in which the fun is in the making as much as the riding.

But Quads? Err..... I think my Auntie put her finger on it; "They're like 'motorbikes' for people who cant ride one, aren't they?"

The attraction is lost on me, while the vogue of using them on the road, astounds me. And I think my low opinion of them isn't helped much by the people I tend to find on them. They aren't 'Bikers' and they aren't off-road enthusiasts; they tend to be the sort of thrill seeking idiots that also like jet-skis and tend to cause a lot of hassle wherever they go, pursuing whatever 'life-style' pursuit has grabbed their imagination this season!

This one seemed pretty typical of the breed. Came tearing down the trail towards us, kicking up a huge dust cloud. Probably been told the old nugget that most Green-Lanes are 'Unclassified Roads' and consequently, the 'unrestricted' 60mph blanket speed limit applies; rather than warned of the 'Tread-Lightly' code! Sort of phased him, tearing towards us, to be confronted by two very large and unyielding chunks of Range Rover.

We watched the rig dip, lifting more dust; this time from the front wheels; sort of shimmy left and right as the thing tried to do a pirouette and gambol at the same time, then come trundling past at a more sedate pace, before tumbling over the hump-back bridge behind us! I just shook my head and munched my sandwich, Pete laughed. Strange darn things.

So we pondered how much of our military interference in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and elsewhere was simply a means of keeping our serving forces occupied; with many references to Tsu Sun's 'Art of War', Hypocrites and Machiavelli!

Pete's not a fan of officers; "Beware Princes & Generals who may leave you to perish and plead expediency"  Food, and food for thought! And so onto some more trails!

THIS, is the LAST thing you want to come across when you are out Green-Laning....... It's a TRO.

That is a 'Temporary Restriction Order' issued by the local council, allowing them to temporarily remove rights of way, and THE thing that has been such a bone of contention for so long, when Councils have abused their rights to impose TRO's in order to prevent vehicular access.

We came across one; but in this case, it seemed fairly 'reasonable'; it was clearly posted and time bounded; and only applied to half of the trail. So we went round the other side, and drove it from that end instead!

Actually, a TRO possibly isn't QUITE the 'Last' thing you want to come across on a green-lane; I can think of a few worse things; like militant farmers, wielding pike-axes and claiming privileges granted by Norman Kings; Tyre spike 'booby-traps' intent on wrecking your MT's, set by the Ramblers (YES! They DO happen!), or my ex-wife in her PJ...... PJ? Pejaru? or Pejamas? Take your pick; They are EQUALLY Terrifying notions!

This next section caused a few moments of consternation, and some considered review of the OS Map and the signs 'on the ground'.

Trail as shown on the OS map, was ambiguous; it took us for about two miles, but about 300yds before it emerged onto black top, the double dotted lines were broken by a field boundary.

It wasn't clear on the map whether the trail continued through the field, or if we had two dead end rights of way leading into this field.

When we got there, Pete jumped out, and read the sign on the fence. It was a large 'tourist' notice, and proclaimed the 'Field' was a Nature Reserve, and expounded the virtues of the meadowland fauna and fauna it was set aside to provide a habitat for.

We were perturbed, and pondered whether we ought to drive through it, not wanting to disturb any breeding butterflies or anything like that!

But then we spotted a disclaimer at the bottom of the notice; it read: "Please Keep Dogs on a Lead - All cars Parked at Owners Risk"

The 'Field' was the Car-Park, NOT the actual nature preserve! We had driven the 'Long' trail through the park itself, and come to the car-park where most visitors left their vehicles! We decided, by a dint of reasoning, that a car-park PROBABLY had rights of vehicular access.......... and so drove through it!

The next section was a broken farm track. Deep ruts were baked hard, and the pot holes and rocks gave us a bit of a hard time.

Beast's diff-pans were doing a bit of ploughing in front of me, and they were an inch and a half higher off the ground than mine thanks to those 285 tyres!

Mine were grumbling, the odd stone strike sounding like a dinner gong being hit by an angry chef!

Diff-Guards are DEFINITELY on the Christmas 'wish-list'!

Then one ditch caught Pete a bit by surprise, and even on his lifted suspension, managed to cut a groove with his tow bar, as both back wheels dropped into it.

I had to follow through, and tried to take a little more of an angle, to traverse the ditch one wheel at a time, and preserve my ground clearance; No; got it crossed up, and the tow bar came crashing down on a rock with a clang!

Jaqui faltered a moment, one wheel turning in free space, then I felt the viscous unit 'hook up' and the front wheels hauled us out, with a horrible scraping noise as that tow bar supported the weight on the rock!

THAT is what you have four wheel drive for!

Mind you; I'm still not sure about that centre visco-unit; It obviously did it's 'thing', but I DEFINITELY felt the lag before it did it.

Had it been the LT230 with manual diff-lock, I'd probably NOT have had it locked in these conditions, and the lag for me to manually engage Diff-Lock, would probably have been greater; BUT, in other circumstances, like the mud we encountered in Leicestershire on the chaos run, I would have had the diff-lock engaged to begin with, and that would have meant that there would have been NO lag when a wheel lost traction, which in such circumstances COULD mean the difference between maintaining and loosing forward momentum....... Probably pro's and cons to it.

We ventured into the Somerset Marshes, a couple of weeks later, and encountered a trail that was just; well, a marsh! I mean, standing water, over probably six or eight inches of mud. I REALLY didn't want to get stuck in it, and I was perturbed that the ONLY way to get through it was to preserve forward momentum; IF we slowed or stopped, we'd sink! And the idea that if a wheel 'let go' we'd have a moments hesitation, letting it spin and dig in before the 'locker' took effect, worried me. Getting through that 'lane then gave me a bit more confidence, but think its going to take a bit more 'getting used to'!

Any way, that 'moment' cast aside, we came out under a bridge to find this ramp running next to the trail, with lots and lots of wheel tracks running up it. We stopped to look at the map; it was a disused railway.

We pondered this for a few moments; It's an offence to trespass on a USED railway; but they ARE public rights of way, by dint of the acts of parliament that were used in order for them to be built in the first place. Disused Railways then, are a LITTLE bit of an anomaly; they are a 'public right of way', and by historical precedence, were used by wheeled vehicles, and motorised ones, so it CAN (and occasionally HAS, normally where Councils try turning them into 'country side walks or cycle-tracks) be argued that they MUST carry vehicular rights........

Any way, the tyre tracks were compelling; shouldn't give them TOO much credence, they could be legitimate 'works' vehicles that made them, or 'rebel-drivers'; but looking at the map, the track would bring us out on the hard top about a mile up from where the trail we had been following ended; so we thought we'd have a recce.

We got about 500yds,before a missing canal bridge halted our progress! See, That's a barge in the back-ground! Camera Shy Pete in the fore-ground!

We reckoned that Pete & Steve SHOULD have been able to put their REME training to good use to abate the obstruction, with three Halfrauds two ropes, a high-lift jack, and four conifer trunks. We did a quick inventory check, but turned out to be one Halfrauds tow rope short. Pah! What's the world coming to; when my Granddad was out in Burma................

 And here, even MORE Camera-Shy, showing off his wheel articulation! It was quite impressive until we discovered that the axles were hanging off the brake lines! Extended hoses needed... urgently!

When he found out, he contemplated throwing himself in the cut! Steve took a pic and egged him on!

The 'Rear View'; we stuck Jaqui & Beast head to head on the step of the bridge parapit to compare their 'twist'

I got a little more lean out of Jaqui from the angle I put her on at, its not Beast's lift kit making it look like he's not trying so hard. Pete was a bit more cautious after almost stretching his brake lines off! That was a goof two foot high" step I had Jaquis front nearside wheel up on; and it certainly gave her some twisting to do; that off-side rear wheel is right up in the arch! But hey, all four wheels were still in contact with the ground, and remember, Jaqui is fitted with articulation limiting anti-roll bars! Impressive these Range Rovers, aren't they?

But that just about wraps it up for the photo's. We turned around and went back down the ramp, but I'd had a fiddle with the gas regulator while Pete was posing, as she had seemed to be getting a bit hot. Coming down the ramp, there was a large boggy section, and when I dipped into it, suddenly found I had no power! I switched to petrol, and instantly got a LOT of it, and immediately sent a rooster tail up from the MT's!

So, I had to stop, hoik the bonnet, and have another twiddle. Took a lot of twiddling actually, and I didn't get it set up sweetly until after getting back from Summerset; basically regulator was set too low, restricting enrichment for acceleration and limiting power at speed.

On the shake down though, the centre box exhaust clamp working its way loose was wreaking havoc with the mixture any way; especially as the compression joint was twisting in the union, restricting flow, but I didn't discover that until the end of the day when I went to fill up with LPG. She had died on me a couple of times later on the last stretch of the trip; and I had put it down to the mixture and the heat; it turned into a VERY hot day towards the end.

Which was how we wound up the run; some gentle lanes around field boundaries, enjoying the scenery, then back onto the black top, and home.

But, Pete, asked me first if I still wanted some spare wheels; his mum was threatening to take them to the tip if he didn't shift them, and I had mentioned that I wanted a set of rims to put some road tyres on to save the MT's for 'laning. So, we drove in convoy back to Stratford, and Pete & Steve helped me load the wheels into Jaqui's boot, and Kaine & I rounded the day off, by dropping in to see my Auntie.

In all, yet another great adventure; and my thanks again to Steve & Pete for it. Just ONE thing, Those wheels.......

SOME BUGGER NICKED'EM'

Left the MT's on for Summerset; Didn't expect to see much mud, but notion of trying to haul a caravan off a soggy pitch, given the uncertain weather we'd been having, thought it the wiser choice. Got back intending to swap them over, and some thieving toe rag had nicked them while I was away! Sorry lads!

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