Down and dirty.
The Mad on Mud Club in Scotland. I get mud on my boots.
It had been a while since I inhaled the glorious smell of fresh mud baking itself onto a hot exhaust pipe and an invitation from Derek Craigon to join him and the Mad on Mud Club for a ‘Safari’ around the hilltop wilderness of Glentarkie, in Scotland, was irresistible. I arrived at Derek’s house early and we loaded his 90 onto a trailer towed by his brand new Discovery 4 which made light work of towing the rig over to Glentarkie. The 90 N/A 2.5 diesel wears the scars of many sessions up at the club and has been used purely for off-road driving for the last couple of years. Derek has fitted 2 inch lift springs, improved shock absorbers, a very early Warn winch found on ebay for a song, and a good set of tyres.
Luckily we had the chance to get a spot of practice in before the start of the event at 12.00 noon and headed for the steep hill in the centre of the site for Derek to warm up the truck and me to get accustomed to driving his Land Rover. It was great fun exploring the limits of traction on steep rutted and boulder strewn tracks that descend from the summit to some very deep water, that we felt it would be prudent to avoid! The decision proved wise, when a Range Rover was towed out, water having come up to windscreen level and drowned all the electrics!
At 12.00 all drivers gathered for a briefing from Club Chairman, Walter Alexander, who conveniently owns the land. The outline of the event was that Walter would lead the 15 or so, 4x4s around a course that would test both vehicles and drivers. Looking around the assembled collection was rather daunting, with several tricked up Discovery’s, a tuned and chipped 90 TDi, a couple of old, but modified Range Rover’s and, reassuringly, a bog standard Series 2 Diesel!
With big grins all round we set off along farm tracks, then peeled off into the woods. Although there was a vague track there was no requirement to stick to it and a couple of the big Disco’s found their own route through the trees, the sound of revving engines and riotous laughter filtering through the undergrowth. The woodland occupied both sides of a steep valley and at the bottom was the inevitable stream. First through was one of the Disco’s with big tyres. It sank in a foot, sent rooster tails of mud flying everywhere, got stuck, backed off and took the easier option of the adjacent field. This put him in a good position to double back and winch the next truck through. With the muddy ruts now opened up, the third truck, a 90 Tdi with very aggressive tyres, made it through and really opened it up for the rest to follow.
A highlight for spectators was when the most modified of the Discovery’s opted to drive up the stream, rather than across it. He dropped into the stream, turned sharp left and drove up it a short distance, before turning right and out, at the top. With locking diffs and bags of power this was achieved with great style to the applause of the gathered crowd. Once clear of the stream, which had taken a laughter filled half an hour, we all continued up through the woods to the top of a hill from where, inevitably, the only option was down. This particular descent was narrow, muddy, tree lined and very steep.
We all parked at the top to watch a very smart, silver 110 Defender be the first to tackle it. The driver inched it over the brow using engine braking until, about half way down it was so steep that traction was lost. Two tons of Defender became a toboggan for a few metres, before it regained some grip to attempt a sharp left turn on an adverse camber sending the front wheels sliding sideways, and off the track. Several attempts to drive out proved futile and an elaborate winch recovery ensued!
With a healthy spirit of competition, everyone thought they could clear it by various methods and as the winter sun cast long shadows through the trees all the club members watched, laughed, and offered advice to each hapless driver as they slithered down unable to gain any grip. Whatever tricks they employed, all of them had to be winched out to safety, but that was what it was all about.....the chance to enjoy a great day’s off-road driving with a group of mates on a damp, but sunny afternoon. No real damage done and a rosy glow to the cheeks before calling it a day and driving home.
Toby-1776: Derek Craigon’s 2.5 diesel 90 sports raised suspension, a mean set of tyres and a very early Warn winch picked up on ebay for £50. Low cost fun all day long.
Toby-1971: This highly modified Discovery with locking diffs all round chose an unconventional route up through the stream involving two steep banks and some deep water. Easy stuff!
Toby- 2056: Plenty of offers of advise from fellow club members basking in the winter sun. The track came down through the trees, then left on an adverse camber leaving everyone no option, but to slide sideways!
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