OH dear, my first mistake
Did anybody notice the mistake in the last newsletter?. In the third sentence I mentioned about the depth of the heavy snow (oh no theirs that word heavy again) in 10mm, 15mm or 20mm. I meant to use the term cms which would correctly equate to 4, 6 or 8ins. My brother who has spent all his working life in the building trade noticed it straight away whereas I still often think in feet and inches. So, did anybody else see the mistake or are you all too polite not to mention it?
BORG activities in snow
While we are asked to help out in the snow and other instances of bad weather this is always done at the request of the County Council and other official agencies (police/ambulance/nhs etc) and meals on wheels. The response work we do is for the greater good of the community ie, taking nurse to hospitals so that they are fully staffed or helping with meals on wheels so the elderly people living on their own get a hot meal. What we are not (as a club) supposed to be doing is getting involved in pulling people up hills etc. Unfortunately some people still don’t seem to have got the message as a club member was seen pulling people up Tring hill while wearing a BORG Hi Vis. If you fancy having a go at pulling cars/vans/lorries up hills etc by all means do so (I’ve done it myself several times) but you do it off your own back and not while wearing any BORG clothing.
Christmas laning trip
At the end of last year RT asked me if I could lay on a laning trip for the club for the quiet period between Christmas and the new year. Not having organized many green laning trips and hoping to go else where other than Salisbury plain or Wales I ordered some back copies of Total Off Road magazine as they show green laning routes giving details such as distance, duration of route and severity/damage risk etc. I chose the Cotswold route as it’s not an area which we do very often. Jonathon came over one evening and transferred the route from the mag as they use tulip diagrams on to the memory map. Just before Christmas I went over to Andy’s to transfer the route onto another club laptop.
I then got a phone call from Andy on Boxing day evening to say that he had been out to recce the route and that most of the route really wasn’t worth doing as the Fosse Way had been levelled and flattened so much that one could do it easily on an ordinary road bike and after the heavy rains most of the fords were too deep to cross. So he made up a completely new route comprising what he said were some of the best lanes in the Cotswolds.
The meeting point was 3 miles south of J17 of the M4 at a petrol near Kington Langley. There were 7 vehicles including a new member in his Nissan pickup so we split up into 2 groups. What immediately became apparent was that we had ended up in the one part of the country where they had just had a nice dumping of snow. The first lane was just a few miles north of the M4, nothing too challenging but a bit sratchy and a nice covering of snow so was a good start to what was going to be an interesting days laning. As we had a late start and we had met up with the others we decided to stop for our first tea break. I had no idea of the new the route so I was going where my navigator was telling me where to go all the while keeping my speed down due to the snow covered roads and keeping a lookout for the people behind me. At one point we appeared to be heading straight for Kemble Airfield but the route took us round the airfield in a clock wise direction all on snow covered roads and tracks. It soon became obvious that by luck we had ended up in the one part of the country that had just had some more snow so driving on the minor roads (white roads on the maps) was an experience in itself.
Further along the route we drove into a long byway which wound its way along a valley floor across a stream and up the other side (well that was the plan) only to find our way blocked by the other group. The exit to the track was very steep and had tarmac on it. Due to there being a high retaining wall to the right side and an equally high embankment on the other side the snow covered tarmac was still frozen solid and we could barely walk up it. Andy was leading the other group and managed to drive it but only just and with the aid of the Quadrac four wheel drive system on his Jeep Grand Cherokee. The rest of us decided it was not worth trying so all of us had to turn round and head back down the track (oh what a shame we have to do the track again).At the end of the track my navigator decided that if we kept turning right we should eventually end up back on the route.
Those of you who have been to the Cotswolds will know that there are some nice quaint villages tucked away in the hills and valleys and accessible only by the minor roads that connect them. Now here we are driving them with the roads still covered in snow. Not wishing to have an accident I was keeping my speed down and descending the hills in low gear with Mark and new member Paul wisely keeping a safe distance from me.
After driving through another village (no snow this time but very narrow streets) we came onto our next lane. This got narrower and narrower till we came across the other group again. This time they were being blocked by a VW camper which could not get up the steep track. The end of the track was also the drive to a large detached house so as Andy who was in front he had the job of pulling the van up the track.
After a few miles we came across the next interesting lane but only after passing the other group going in the wrong direction!. As we were now the lead group I was now the lead vehicle so we were the ones having to cut our way through the fallen trees and be careful not to slide down the snow covered slope to my right. This has to be one of the most memorable lanes I’ve done for a long time as it felt like we were jungle bashing our way through the snow and trees while my navigator was taking pictures of the deer crossing the track right in front of us.
I really don’t know where we were after that other than we went through or near a village called Misserden and after that called it a day. We kept on heading north till we came to the A40 and turned right for home.
Although I was asked to organize this laning trip a big thanks must go to Andy for actually setting the route up. To those of you who could not make it you missed a very entertaining day as just driving on the tarmac roads was an experience it itself. It was just luck that we ended up laning in the one part of the country that had a fresh dumping of snow.
New years day madness
I don’t know what other people do on new years day but this year I thought my wife and I would like to go and see for ourselves an unusual car meet that my brother told me about. Although this is not a four wheel drive event I’m sure like me most club members would appreciate older classic cars and I also like looking at military vehicles. What my brother told me about was an informal car/classic vehicle meet at a pub called The Phoenix Inn, at Hartley Wintney on the A30. What make this meet so unusual is that once the pub car park starts overflowing with classic cars anybody else who turns up has to park with 2 wheels on the pavement and on both sides of the public road and on the chevrons sown the middles of the road. You have to be there to see it, for you will see an Aston Martin parked next to a couple of old model A Ford pickups parked on the chevrons in the middle of the road and towering above all these is an old Scammell lorry parked up on the grass in the middle of the road. There must have been about a 100 vehicles ranging from fully a restored old Rolls Royce to a Mclaren MP4 to a little 3 wheeled van. Then half way through the morning a tractor club drove through obviously out enjoying a new years day run. The landlord was serving coffee and burgers all morning and still more cars turned up. What really interested me was an old wartime GMC 2/5 tonner or “Deuce and a half” as they were called. This had been nicely restored and was a winch equipped model hence all the levers sticking out of the floor. As the owner arrived fairly late he had to park with two wheels on the pavement and nearly 100 yds down the road. It started to rain about one o’clock so some people started to leave while the rest went in the pub, as you can imagine the pub was full to bursting. So if you fancy going somewhere interesting on new years day next year go on the internet and google up The Phoenix Inn Car Meet Years Day. It’s also on you tube as well.
Heavy snow, heavy rain, thundersnow!.
Is it just me or has anybody else noticed that we don’t seem to get snow or rain anymore. As someone who regularly checks the weather forecast I keep hearing the words heavy snow or heavy rain, so it’s snowing/raining; well what do you expect, after all it is winter. Then the weather forecasters talk about the depth of the heavy snow in 10mm, 15mm or 20mm and almost immediately I’m thinking, what’s that in old money, well that’s only 4, 6 or iff we’re very lucky (in Bucks) 8 ins!. What’s the big deal. Give me some real snow, say a foot of snow between my place and Aylesbury and I would be a very happy man and I’m sure a lot of other club members would be too. Just think about it, real 4x4s on the road, no cars and no low slung SUVs/pretend 4x4s. Wouldn’t that be brilliant. The nearest I have got to this is when Roger and myself did the Croisiere Blanche in 2005 and I also did it in 2007. On this event there are up to 200 4x4s with snow chains on driving over the mountain tracks for 3 days stopping only to tighten the chains up, take pictures, dig ourselves out and have lunch French style (red wine with every meal). Brilliant fun.
4×4 Response work
There was heavy snow forecast for Sunday 10th (see theirs that word heavy again) for the midlands coming down to Northampton and maybe a bit beyond. Next morning I looked out to see a nice covering of the lovely white stuff. I thought nothing of it till I got a txt message asking for volunteers to help with meals on wheels in Aylesbury. Yippee! time to get my toy out of the garage and do what it does best. Where I live I can either go via the main road all the way to Aylesbury (boring) or I can go by the scenic route. This means when leaving Ickford I go via Shabbington, Long Crendon, Chearsley and Cuddington and then join the Thame to Aylesbury road. At least I can get a feel for what the roads would be like before I even reach Aylesbury. I even managed to do a quick tow job towing a car up the hill to Chearsley. There was quite a bit of snow about and as happened some years ago some cars were struggling to get up the slight gradient to the railway bridge between Aylesbury College and the TA Centre. Eight of us turned up to help. It was generally agreed that the snow had come done further south than forecast so some members where asking why there was so many people out on the roads when it’s only a Sunday and were warned about the heavy snow.
After JCC had gone round putting the towing eyes in all the vans it was then decided that we would deliver the meals using our vehicles. I was given the Slough route and after reassuring my passenger that my RR could get up narrow lanes etc we set off. The drive out of Aylesbury was interesting as we were driving over compacted snow while we were still in the town which I thought was unusual and my RR even did a little slide from side to side but I managed to correct it. The route was going to take us to Amersham and then turn right up to Beaconsfield and then towards Slough via Burnham. It really was very scenic with a good covering of snow everywhere. Due to the volume of traffic and that people tend to drive nearer to the centre of the road when it’s covered in snow it was just a case of convoy driving till we got just beyond the junction for Chesham on the Missenden bypass. It was here I noticed a lot of brake lights coming on and what looked like the trailer from an artic blocking the road. People were having to take it in turns to drive round the trailer. Then a 101 Land Rover appeared from the other direction and the occupants appeared to want to tow the lorry. As people seemed to be faffing about looking for somewhere to fix the tow rope I joined in and immediately found where the screw in towing eye goes. Even artics have screw in tow points. Although the 101 was in front of me I was doing all the work as even Karen from Apetito noticed that the tow rope between us was slack most of the time. After we (or rather me) towed the lorry to the top of the slight gradient we unhitched him turned round and went on our way.
The rest of the route was more convoy driving till we got to the top of the hill where we slowed down to a crawl so something had happened further ahead. We decided to bypass the holdup by heading to Coleshill and eventually we got back onto the main road. The rest of the route really wasn’t too bad with most of main roads being slushy as we got towards the area between Burnham and Slough. It was only the side roads and cul de sacs that had any real snow still left on them due to the lack of traffic. On the way back the Missenden bypass where we pulled the Tesco lorry earlier on was now clear due to the volume of traffic helping to clear the snow. The only problem we had now was a slow over cautious driver in a red Honda who thought it was a good idea to put his hazard warning lights on everytime he came to a “hazard” on the road (a few lumps of snow near a junction etc). This was so irritating even a Volvo driver behind decided he’d had enough and decided to overtake the Honda driver. I got back to Aylesbury just after 4pm and didn’t get home till 5pm. Just as I turned the corner into the village I got a txt message asking for more volunteers that evening. After being out all day and not having had much to eat I decided I’d had enough for one day but I did go out Monday evening taking two social workers to the other side of Aylesbury and even going out on Tuesday evening to take a palliative nurse from Stone up to Walters Ash.
I later heard that there were 20 of us out in all and that BCC had sent out a message thanking us for all what we did during the brief spell of heavy snow (there’s that word heavy again). I believe we even got a mention on the local radio.
Days Laning in Wilts, Berks & Oxon
Sunday dawned bright and clear with a hint of frost , a precursor to a nice, clear day ahead.
Most of the group met up accidentally on the A338 between Frilford and Hungerford, meaning 5 of us turned up in convoy at Burbage shortly before 09.00am.
The first group of 3, Pat, myself Andy (leading) left by 09.30am, with the second group, lead by Paul Stockford 10 minutes later. This gap remained constant all day with the two groups meeting for elevenses and lunch.
We were soon on the first lanes heading down to the northern edge of Salisbury Plain. We had not done most of the lanes for many years. Andy had done some of them only once or twice in his long career of trail biking and 4×4 driving. They were all easy, and not that wet. It was noticeable that many of them were covered in grass in areas where there was a sea of mud some years ago. The only issue was the scratching from the overgrown hedges. This made the theme for the day.
We covered some of the wide open tracks on Salisbury Plain itself, passing (but not challenging) the ‘Tank Wash’. It was a pleasant change to drive these roads in the absence of dust. The surface was also slightly soft, so the bumps seemed less harsh.
We continued East towards the Wayfarers track down some pleasantly wooded tracks, where we stopped for lunch in a sheltered spot, before starting the Wayfarers traversing a ridge with magnificent views.
We continued east as far as Newbury, where we turned North to lane parallel to the A34 on its west side. Here Andy, Pat and I were able to reminisce about our days with BUX 4×4 about 15 years ago, when this area was our regular ‘go to’. This was pre NERC and some of those lanes are now closed. We drove down ‘memory lane’, remembering where the ‘bomb holes’ and impassable muddy ruts used to be. These lanes are now graded and where it took us only a few minutes to drive a lane, it used to take an hour or more. Those were the days when a winch was the province of only the very richest, and ‘waffle boards’ were a distant, expensive luxury. The only way to make progress was by continually ‘throwing’ the most capable vehicle at the obstacle, digging with mattock and spade, and pushing it through. That vehicle then pulled the next vehicle through (with a recovery rope), and so on. Those were the days! The problem now, however, is one of speed. As the surface is now improved, most of the lanes are driven in high box – 1st or 2nd. If you do hit a bump or jump out of a rut, it would be at a (relatively) high speed and things would go wrong very badly, very quickly.
After threading our way through the trees on ‘Wibbly Wobbly’ lane, we emerged just outside Ilsley at the A34, just as it was getting dark. This was our last lane, so we cleaned our lights, reset our mirrors and said our goodbyes before heading North on the A34.
Thanks, Andy, for a great day’s laning and returning to some lanes after a long absence.
That’s it for now, sorry I didn’t put in any pictures showing what we had done throughout the year but as we got involved in response work and managed to get a good picture out of it I thought that would be better for the December newsletter.
Also I would like to thank Jonathon in helping me to compile this newsletter as he is the reason there isthe picture and Rogers account of the laning trip which we did in late November.
Here I go again, my second attempt at doing the newsletter (with a little help from Jonathon). I thought I would send out this out as we have had some interesting events on just lately and some more coming up.
8th October, Newton Longville
Roger and Jon with a little help from Mark Harrison (I think that’s correct) laid out 5 interesting/devious sections on the Experience the Country site south of Milton Keynes. In the drivers briefing Jon said that it was going to be muddy in places but with the weather being dry it was just right. Unfortunately due to a clash of dates with Maddys birthday bash the numbers were down but those that did come all enjoyed some well thought out and devious sections. One section in particular had us starting with the front wheels just touching a log which was laid across the start gate/gate 10 and on a slight slope. This log was pegged to the ground so it was not supposed to move and Jon was adamant that we started with our handbrake on ie; a hillstart. This proved to be entertaining for those watching with one person even managing to stall his Landie and getting a 9 or 10 despite him having the biggest tyres in the club. We were all watching you JS!. Andy turned up in his Jeep Grand Cherokee after a long absence and Matt impressed us with his skillful driving in his Series 2a SWB Station Wagon on what looked like road tyres.
LRM driving day
The second LRM Off Road driving day was held the following weekend (14th Oct) at the same place. This event is organized by LRM magazine so that people can come and drive their Land Rovers from Series ones to D3s/Range Rover Sport around an off road course laid out by Mark Stoppes who runs the site. We provide the marshals and any recovery that is needed. The number of vehicles was well up on last years (75 I think it was). The weather was fine and there was no need for any recovery apart from some people having a bit of difficulty on the elephants feet which are alternate humps and dips to really test the axle articulation and/or traction control. The people that really seem to experience some difficulty here are the ones whose centre diff lock does not operate or will not engage. The vehicles that do make it have nice supple suspension or traction control or a gung ho attitude to attack the course. Either way everybody seemed to enjoy themselves with a lot a positive feedback coming from the punters. The only breakdown we had was when a D3 got a puncture but was soon re inflated using the air compressor on Marks ex army Leyland Daf 4×4 truck.
The most interesting part of the whole day for me was when the editor of LRM (Patrick Cruywagen) come over to where I was and opened the bonnet of his South African spec 2.8i 110 Defender. So here I was looking at a straight 6 BMW petrol engine in a Land Rover. Patrick must be a much happier man now unlike last year when he was telling me how much he regretted selling his 2.8i 90 before he left South Africa to come to England.
On the 12th of this month we had a training day kindly laid on by James and his helpers. Not knowing what to expect I went over there in my Rangie without my winch and any recovery gear. After the usual talk on ropes by Roger we over to the where the ground drops away down to a sunken track only to see a dead car which had been pushed down there by James. Now this was starting to look more interesting!. The scenario that James was trying to recreate was if you came across such an incident, what would be the first thing you would do. When I did my first aid course we were always told to establish how many people were in the vehicle and then look for those that were not making any noises.
We then decided to do the actual recovery bit after we had secured the car. It was decided to pull the front of the car round so that the front wheels were facing up the track and then JCC proceeded to winch the car up the track and eventually up the bank.
This was fairly straightforward as the wheels were still rolling so not a great deal of resistance so it was decided to push the car back into the ditch and have the car land on its roof. As the car was on its roof one would have thought it would slide without much difficulty but as Simon Prebble was about to find out it took some good hard pulls from his ARB equipped Disco to pull it up to the top. Not sure if that was the most professional way to do it but it was certainly entertaining.
After lunch we went over to the far corner to see where James had placed a car about 10ft up a tree. After using Rogers 90 as a step ladder to get a snatch block onto a branch higher than the car Keith pulled it up a little so we could release the safety chains and then we let it down slowly. We attached another winch cable to the front to pull the car level so it came down on its wheels.
Thank you James or Maddy for providing the dead car as this made it much more realistic than pulling each others vehicles. I shall definitely be bringing my winch next time.
That’s it for now, hopefully the next newsletter will come out nearer the middle of December and there might even be some pictures in it to show what we’ve done throughout the year.
Some of our members are now fully trained to help deploy the high volume water pumps that will help keep Aylesbury’s “Willows” area above water in future flood events.
BORG and AFLC RTV at Brickhill 5th March
Brickhill is a great RTV site. There is a variety of different types of terrain and ground surfaces to include in the courses.
The weather was not great – not a total down poor of rain but enough first thing in the morning to make the surface damp. Soil just stuck to the tyres, even those with serious mud treads struggled.
Four courses were laid out.
The first down an open area slope with a few dead leaves on top of dead grass and soil. Put on the brakes and lock all four wheels and just slide on down missing the gates. This was amazing to see as the slope is not that steep; something on a dry day perhaps a regular car would drive up OK. If you didn’t lock the wheels and kept the engine braking to allow you to steer into the gates and through the trees, a turn at the bottom up through another pair of tree. Again, it is thinking in advance on this. You need speed where you lack traction and this ground was giving anything away. Big turn at the bottom of the slope and a sprint up the hill to get to the top for the half way marker. Those hoping to accelerate whilst going up the hill – didn’t get to the top!
Most people lost momentum in the hole and couldn’t make the final gates.
The second was down a similar slope as the first but forcing you to cut right past the first tree before hitting the next. A deep hole at the tree actually helped twist the car around. Some people got creative, taking large loops out away and back – all still within the rules so long as you don’t cross any existing tracks you make. This helped some but not others.
Crossing ruts through the gates was not for the faint hearted.
The third was near the entrance, a few well established trees with undulating sandy ground. Turning tight around a tree and getting caught – with mud tyres, rapidly just digging in – producing a pile of sand soil behind each tyre.
This was a thinking game – you needed to plan you route as the final gates played on the ability to get a front hub through the gate since there was no room for the whole car.
The last was in the open grassy area with the water – although we were intending to avoid the water.
Loop around a tree and the slope meant you slide sideways more than you make progress in a forward direction.
A really good day and the weather was fairly kind during the event.
- Liam Challis, BORG, 9 points but in a LWB, D2
- Mike Dun, AFLC, 9 points but in a SWB 90
- Paul Davies, BORG, 10 points in a SWB 90
- James Stevens, BORG, 20 points in LWB D2
- William Piers, AFLC, 21 points in LWB D2
- H Sousa, BORG, 25 points in LWB D2
- Paul Stockford, BORG, 16 points in SWB 90
- Steve Page, AFLC, 25 points in SWB 90
- Matt Elkins, BORG, 27 points in SWB 90
The rest of the people taking part scored points ranging from 26 to 35.
Thoroughly enjoyed by all, both the people taking part and the spectators who were similar in number.
Our RTVs are run under the auspices of the MSA. The MSA publish the rules we operate under, and also insure us during the event.
We apply to the MSA for a permit for each RTV. All sorts of motor sports events are run on similar permits, which the MSA have been issuing since 2000. In 17 years they have now passed the 100,000 mark! The 100,000th such event was an Autotest run by Bridgend Auto Club in October last year.
Please remember we get a club discount at Thunderpole. Thunderpole are also very knowledgeable and helpful on all things CB (also PMR and other radio clobber!) The discount will remain in place and maybe even get bigger if people actually use it. SO please consider buying your CB kit from Thunderpole and when you do, remember to tell them you’re a member of BORG4x4
Well here we are, on our annual BORG Christmas run, granted it is 0600 at Tesco’s car park in Bicester, but there is no denying, I’m really excited about the next three days. I know I’m not alone, the little cluster of BORG members are all full of chat and expectation about weather, routes, cars, preparation and well, put another way ‘come on let’s get going’.
Seven cars gathered in convoy, with James, Becky, Ellie, Olly, Paul, Bev, Simon, Roger, Andy, Matt, Julie and me and Devon here we come. the journey actually went by really quickly, initially cold and foggy, but by the time we took our breakfast stop, the sun was shining and it was warming up nicely. Here we’re joined by Jonathan, so now eight cars head off to the first lane. Of course we divide the group in to two, so four in each. The first group Matt & Julie, Andy, Jonathan and myself and the second group James, Becky, Ellie, Olly, Paul, Bev, Simon and Roger.
Sun still with us the conditions couldn’t have been better, the lanes were every bit as entertaining as I recall from the reconnaissance trip earlier in the year, and the extras added in the finally planning were excellent. The trip was already a brilliant success by the time we reached the Travelodge, which turned out to be a great choice with nice coffee shop and nearby pub with good food and a warm welcome.
Day two began with frost and sunshine, the latter staying with us most of the day, so after a hearty breakfast, we headed out in the same groups. The route today was a seriously long route with loads of lanes, it is fair to say there was something for everyone, slippy climbs, axle twisters, narrow and even narrower lanes.
We also had proper river crossings and tidal fords, open moors and muddy ruts and a stop for cider.
The river in question was none other than the Tamar, so deep and a current to deal with, not to mention my TD5’s occasional resistance to getting a little damp, but all went well and over we waded and lunch in the woods.
Later we would toy with another river and complete an interesting and particularly beautiful ford at Lopwell dam. We did miss closing time at Fingles Bridge after an interesting descent and a seriously narrow bridge, so consoled ourselves with more lovely lanes, as we moved through dusk into darkness and then returning to Widdon Down and the Post Inn for dinner.
Day three, our last day and the need to head east, but not before some more fantastic lanes. The weather was once again brilliant sunshine, clear cloudless sky’s, crisp frost and when crossing the high ground between valleys, low lying wispy clouds that gave some beautiful and spectacular views across Devon.
These lanes had not been driven by BORG before and the route picked out by Jonathan turned out to have some lovely lanes, again a range of conditions to deal with, tests of traction, judgment and width. Both groups met up at Collumpton services before beginning the real homeward bound journey.
We did have a fantastic trip, the weather was a big help but mostly this was the best of laning in Devon, interesting, varied, challenging and above all none damaging, driver induced errors except-ed.
Having two small groups allowed us to cover the ground easily but not ever feeling rushed, so this felt like a proper holiday trip. The good news is that we barely touched the Cornish element of the researched lanes, so a excellent reason to return in the near future, and we will, so watch this space.
[Thanks Paul, for providing the laning report and photos.]