Working on the East Dartmoor NNR often means that we need to get to remote parts of the reserve that would take ages by foot and sometimes we are carrying awkward and heavy equipment. Few of the tracks are accessible by car which is why the land rovers and other 4×4’s are so useful.
However before we can jump into one of these vehicles we need to know how to drive them off road. So a few of us have recently been on some 4×4 training.
We went along to SR Training just outside Plymouth and the day started with a overview of car mechanics and how 4×4’s differ from standard vehicles and how different 4×4’s work. This was really interesting and as a car driver of 20 plus years I learnt a bit about how cars work too!
After the theory came the practice as we learn how to drive up and downhill on rough terrain and over wet, rut ridden paths. After lunch came the challenge of driving through a quarry. With heart racing I had a go, concentrating not to use the clutch, not to over accelerate, not to go to quickly but in essence to trust the vehicle and to look ahead working out the route and where you are going to go. A subtly different way of driving. Then we purposefully got one of the land rovers stuck in order to practice getting this out. With skill and expertise from our instructor we managed to do this without getting the rescue vehicle stuck too (but it was close at times)!! Finally we went for a drive across the fields of the training centre and along a boulder strewn green lane.
It was a very informative day and I now feel able to tackle the tracks around East Dartmoor NNR when needed in the future.