Would it surprise anyone if I said that I spent yesterday crawling around in the thick Chiltern mud? I don’t suppose so as any regular readers will know that I’m always up to my knees in the stuff.
But the main aim of yesterday was not to get too muddy, but rather bump and splosh around at an elegant ride height at least a couple of feet above the ground. Courtesy of the Land Rover Experience. The function of this truly excellent centre is to demonstrate to potential buyers the ability of this most English of Chelsea Tractor. In extremis.
I can tell you first hand that the streets of Kensington & Chelsea are cared for in a way that puts other councils to shame, with perfectly paved, level sidewalks, motorway standard tarmacking and regularly cleaned gutters. Outside of the garden squares and patio pots, mud does not feature widely.
This centre, by comparison, has an awful lot of the stuff. Deep, slippery ruts and complex cross-cuts, tracks submerged in watery mud, teflon-coated muddy grass, steep muddy inclines and dizzying drops, tree-lined forest tracks with mud mixed with roots… you name it, they have it!
I know from ice-driving in Sweden how much difference tyres make to safety so I was stunned to find out what kind they proposed to use to cope with this dictionary of muddiness: standard road tyres on all but one fairly old, green Defender. Moreover, all but the aforementioned were completely standard vehicles in every aspect.
During the day I got to drive the green Defender through the very worst of the mud and deep water, a Range Rover down through the forest trail (avoiding all but three of the myriad tennis balls suspended strategically from the trees), a new silver Defender round a typical time trial section with awkward gates, tricky changes in camber and surface and the very worst of the ruts and cross-cuts (Penny and Pete will know what I mean) and a Range Rover Sport out on the road.
To prove how truly amazing these vehicles are, we persuaded the team to let us drive the final vehicle, an £80k Range Rover Vogue TDSE, not out on the road as planned, but over some extreme bumps and at some fairly radical angles both sideways and endways. I’m pretty comfortable driving most anything, but we were at such an angle sideways at one point that I thought I was going to fall out of my seat!
I was so enthralled that I completely forgot to take any pictures, but late in the day I caught a short video. Watch the horizon very carefully to get a sense of what we were doing in a perfectly controlled way, in beautifully appointed comfort. the-drop.mp4
All-in-all a totally mud-tastic day!