1943 Jeep.

1943 Jeep. Reviewing Bures Pit near Luton was my Jeeps first outing. Reproduced courtesy of 4x4 Magazine.

Bures Pit Pay and Play Site.

Words Toby Savage. Pictures Toby Savage and Andrew Norton.

Terry and Karl Weavers have owned Bures pit (pronounced Bew-ers Pit) for less than a year, but it was the realisation of a 25 year dream. This old sand and gravel pit is about 20 miles north of Colchester and is adjacent to their own land. When you visit the Weavers’ yard their interest is blatantly obvious. Between them, the pair have no less than 25 military vehicles! Everything from a Jeep to a Scammell Explorer is represented and a quick look at the images on their web site shows they are not afraid to get any of them dirty. Bures Pit has a long history of 4x4 use and in its heyday hosted many 4x4 Trials and even the ‘Heavy Brigade’ of the All Wheel Drive Club held events here.Having had their own fun Terry and Karl have decided to share the 50 acre site with the rest of us and from October 2008 will be hosting regular Pay and Play days. For a fee of £30, five people per vehicle can have a day to remember and drive this site from 10.00 am until 4.00 pm, or until something breaks! We were able to preview the whole site on a rare sunny day late in the summer in my newly rebuilt 1943 Jeep. With just four miles on the clock it was going to be a baptism of fire! Fortunately the ground is well drained being clay and sand with a good base of flint and stones. This gives excellent grip in the dry and plenty of mud when it has rained. A lake in the centre of the site has proved deep and muddy enough for even their Scammell to get stuck!

We entered the site at the southern edge and took an easy track past an area reserved for parking trailers etc. and came out at the top of a bank giving a good view of most of the site. There is clearly plenty to go at, with room for up to 100 vehicles to play without getting in each others way. We chose to head over to the west first and try some of the hill climbs. There was plenty of choice. Some steep and tight, others more gentle and well suited to beginners. Terry was keen to point out that Bures Pit is suitable for all levels, but urged newcomers not to get carried away and over confident. Driven with care most of the site could be tackled in any smart 4x4 and the pair want everyone to have a lot of fun, without incurring big repair bills.We tackled one steep, rutted, climb and got the Jeep cross axled near the top, but a second attempt with a bit more boot cleared it. From here we returned to the central area via a long easy slope and headed for some of the tracks that meander through the undergrowth. Although deeply rutted, the surface at the bottom of the ruts was hard enough to give plenty of grip and pottering along these was a delight that could be enjoyed by all.Next we headed for the water sections. There is scope here for everything from a Chieftain Tank to my humble Jeep and we opted for a track that had about four water splashes. Nothing too deep and again with plenty of grip under the tyres and no alarming surprises. It was pure fun and christened the Jeep after its 12 month rebuild. Wanting to sample all Bures Pit had to offer we headed east to the more wooded sections that resembled jungle tracks, with dense undergrowth and deep mud holes. After some rain these would challenge the very best of 4x4’s and even in the dry looked to be an area beyond the capabilities of the Jeep, especially with no back up vehicle to tow us out.

We dropped down into the woods by the easiest track visible and drove around bull rushes and through long grass, skirting around the obviously treacherous mud holes. There were quite a few overhanging branches, so to bring a new 4x4 down here would risk damage to paintwork. As with all these situations, always walk the course first if you are unsure.Choosing one of several options to climb out of the dell, I kept the Jeep in low, second and let the 2.5 litre side valve engine chug up, beam axles bouncing around and passenger Andrew hanging on to whatever he could! Having had a lot of fun, we returned to entrance road and concluded it would be a great day out for all enthusiasts, whether in something new, or an old trials veteran. Driven with care it need not cause any damage, but let that enthusiasm overflow and it could end up expensive.

Fact box

Bures Pit is an old quarry situated just to the west of the village of Bures which is on the B1508 about 10 miles northwest of Colchester in Essex.

The GPS waypoint for the site entrance is - N 51º 58’ 06” E 0º 45’ 26”.

All details of forthcoming Pay and Play days are detailed on the Bures Pit web site at: www.bures-pit.co.uk. There is also an email response link for specific enquires. There is no phone number for initial contact.

The rules of the site are also clearly stated on the web site and anyone thinking of going would be well advised to check them out prior to arrival. They may look daunting, but are all part of the insurance package Terry and Karl have in place. Points worth mentioning are that participants should be able to produce a valid driving licence and seat belts must be worn by all vehicle occupants. The cost for a days off road driving utilising the whole 50 acre site is £30, which includes use of one vehicle by up to five eligible people.

For Pay and Play days a hot food van will be on site and the St John’s Ambulance will be in attendance. There will also be marshals to offer advise and assistance.When leaving the site please be considerate to the local residents.There is no camping available on site, but there are two good pubs in the village for a pint afterwards. Try The Swan, or The 8 Bells.

Terry and Karl are keen to promote their site for other use. 4x4 clubs and companies can request days there for a fee to be agreed by negotiation.

Toby Savage,