Another RMS offroad outing was arranged for the 9th of April, and whilst half the country seemed to be headed to a certain VW-based show just down the road, a group of us opted for our favourite location for a bit of mud filled action, North East Adventures (formerly Flagstaff). NE Adventures operate a pay and play type system, which is just as it’s described; pay your vehicle in, the gate is opened, and away you go. Terrain ranges from what could be best described as green-lanes right up to diff busting drop offs, ruts, rocks and deep water splashes.
How harsh the site is on your 4×4 is really dependent on the driver and what you are willing to put your 4×4 through, and with the RMS squad that meant that there were virtually no off-limit areas (except that hectic bit round the back of the mountain with the wall in the middle – maybe next time, eh?).
Needless to say there was plenty of drama. 12 minutes after entering the site a diesel Pajero developed fairly serious rod knock followed by several seconds of running on its own oil. Thankfully while most of us danced around panicking (or maybe that was just me), Nicky was on hand with his hoody and had the intake stuffed & engine killed before something exploded. Fortunately back-up was available in the form of the Cummins Diesel powered Defender so the lads still got a day out 4x4ing.
Other dramas included the Vitara shearing the front diff mount after some enthusiastic recovery efforts, which was repaired with a ratchet strap (obviously). Land Rover Discovery losing the inside rim of a tyre, the Jimny seizing a calliper before we even made it to Banbridge and a water pump pulley shearing on the diesel P38 Range Rover resulting in a recovery home to Fermanagh! Ouch!
Some would wonder why we do it to ourselves; to head into the hills and wreck our machinery. Well the craic is mighty, the scenery amazing, and the terrain challenging, varied and bloody good fun. Of course you can go easy and avoid the rougher bits, keep to the lanes and reduce the chance of serious damage, which is what anyone with any sense would do.
Personal highlights of the day for me were the standard L322 and P38 Range Rovers taking everything in their stride. The technology of the L322 really proving that despite what some of us slightly more ‘seasoned’ 4x4ists say about live axles, articulation and diff lockers, that modern technology (well technology from the past 15 years anyway) really is a marvel and works amazingly well when the going gets tough.
Thanks to the staff at NE Adventures and to everyone that attended and roll on the next one. Will give it a few months while we repair our knackered vehicles.