Adventure Special, part 4: Good Lanes, Great Causes

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Team Cadoux wade into camp in their well-prepped 110 : credit: © Greg Hassall
What’s better than a brilliant 4x4 adventure with like-minded people? Raising money for charity along the way, that’s what

The day that rolled around for our UK 4x4 Fundraisers event was one of those mild, balmy days, the kind on which you regret wearing a jumper, and wish you had bought a vehicle with air conditioning that delivered cold air with more vigour than a sloth’s breath.

Late last year, ten teams met at the Norfolk seaside town of Wells-next-the-Sea ready for the off on a 450-mile journey across the UK in a variety of 4x4s raising money for The CALMZone, a mental health charity. Competitors would navigate from Wells to the tip of the Llŷn Peninsula via as many greenlanes as possible and stopping to complete various challenges to win points, all whilst attempting this year’s fiendishly difficult driving quiz.

The charity event wasn’t restricted to just Land Rovers

The challenges however, started the day before. Whilst awaiting the teams’ arrival at our overnight camp, word came through that team ‘The Return of Flame Red’ in their Jeep Wrangler had blown a radiator hose. After being abandoned by the men in orange, a rescue mission was swiftly mounted and by mid-morning on the day of the event, our event mechanic had them fixed and on their way to join the pack.

We met up bright and early at Wells-next-the-Sea football club, and after the team briefing we were on our way. The route started easy enough, a short meander down typically coastal Norfolk country roads and then off through the endless farmland lanes. We headed inland and picked up a part of the Peddars Way, the flat but feature-rich landscape lazily ambling by. A short run on the A-roads followed by a quick jaunt along the Roman road north of Market Harborough then up to our overnight camp near Leicester, only to find we weren’t alone and would in fact be sharing our pitch with the owner’s dairy cows.

A few hours later, cows milked and gone to bed and the teams all set up; it was time for sleep. And there would be plenty of it, the camp resembling the best camping exhibition hall you have ever seen. With gear, tents, beds and cutlery from all imaginable overland outfitters on show, it was difficult not to be envious of the neighbours especially considering I would be sleeping in the back of the Discovery 3 (affectionately named L3-D3) for this year’s event.

Keeping wheels on the tracks through the Shropshire hills

The next day and an early start. Today would be spent mostly on tarmac as the teams navigated the Midlands cities’ ring roads and minor routes. Luckily competitors had their challenges, plus the now infamous driving quiz, to stay occupied. A long section of the ancient Fosse Way made a welcome change to the main roads; then a quick hop on the M40 and down to the A44 to bring us through the beautiful Malvern Hills.

The fun continues into the evening once camp is set

On arrival at camp in Nash Oakland, teams were immediately given their next challenge. A cup attached to their bonnets filled with water and a small rubber duck. Their task – to drive around the camp’s rugged farm tracks whilst spilling as little of the water as possible, and specially not losing their rubber ducks. Needless to say, some rubber ducks were harmed during the exploits that followed, but the challenge was a great pick-me-up after a long day of mostly on-road driving. As always, our hosts at Nash Oakland made us feel right at home. The camping exhibition unfurled again and teams settled in for an evening under the tarpaulin. While the Welsh rain rolled in we set our thoughts towards food, drinks and tales of adventures old around the campfire.

Some tracks weren’t technical, but offered fantastic scenery

Day three brought more challenges right from the off, followed by our regretful departure from camp and through the stream that separates the two halves of the farm. Our route took us along the back roads of the English Marches before a steep rock crawl brought competitors to what seemed like the very top of the world… Well, the Shropshire Hills at least. The rain was on and off but the wind was constant, yet spirits remained high as the dirty denary pushed on, stopping halfway at a delightful pub situated at the end of a lane for some much-needed warmth and nourishment.

The lanes today were by far some of the best on our trip, with stunning views all the way as we dropped down green valleys and through quaint border hamlets. A short blast up the A5 and we arrived at a very wet camp. Luckily the day’s challenges had prepared our teams for a well-earned good night’s sleep, filled with dreams of driving quizzes and the dread of packing away sopping wet nylon fabrics in the morning.

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Event winners 'The Paper Gentlemen' splash towards the finishing line

The last day dawned, damp and weary. Today would see our teams heading deep in to the mountains on what promised to be a scenic but typically wet Welsh drive. A short trip around Wrexham and we were in to the heart of the valleys. The rocky lanes were thoroughly wet through, but thankfully our competitors needed no assistance as they navigated the deeply rutted forest tracks of Denbighshire before dropping down in to Gwynedd with the Eryri National Park looming from the horizon. The approach towards the Welsh Riviera brought its usual traffic and tight, tourist-laden roads, but we were soon free of the constraints again and heading towards the final destination – Ty Mawr.

D4's luxury makes cross-country travel an effortless affair

We drove mile after mile down single-track lanes under the now blistering afternoon sun. The campsite was situated on a windswept promontory on the northernmost point of the Llŷn Peninsula. We arrived with the sun shining and the wind howling, after some moments to recuperate and battle with our camp stoves for a fresh cup of tea, we gathered to announce the winning team.

​​​​​​This year team The Paper Gentlemen were our top scorers in both competition points and fundraising, having travelled the furthest to reach us in their beautifully prepared 90 from Ireland via the South Coast. Heartfelt farewells followed as the competitors peeled off towards home, with a handful staying to catch up on some sleep and hopefully dry out some gear in the freshening sea breeze. Just hours later our remaining teams would be forced to evacuate amid torrential rain and gale force gusts, running for the relative safety of our previous night’s campsite. Despite the weather, all had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and we raised an astonishing £9019 for The CALMZone.

We are running a social meet-up this year, and then our 2025 event will feature an altered format to previous years. Instead of being based at one location each day, we will head out to explore the surrounding countryside and greenlanes, with plenty of fun challenges and mind-bending quizzes – competitors are sure of a fun-packed weekend.

 

Join the fun

If you would like to find out more about future social and challenge events, please visit our Facebook page – UK 4x4 Fundraiser – or drop us an email to stay updated:
[email protected]

 

See all other five parts of our Adventure Special here.

 

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