Below is an experience review from trusted member of the Product & Marketing Team Ollie. He recently visited Berkshire 4×4 for a morning of off-road driving and here is what he thought!
Whilst loving an extreme adventure at every available opportunity; it’s serious business being tasked with reviewing one of our partner centres – especially one as well established and long standing as Berkshire 4×4… even more so considering I have no 4×4 driving experience! As ever, I was more than up for the challenge – under the tutelage of a professional, and duly obliged in what turned out to be a fantastic day out in the Berkshire mud-bath!
Luckily for me the three days of heavy rainfall prior to my arrival made the off-road course all the more difficult / fun / challenging for me and my fellow off-roaders! With puddles deep enough to swim in and gloopy mud that can only be compared to quick-sand – I was happy to be contained inside the safety of the seemingly indestructible Land Rover I was controlling! However, any nerves and apprehension I had felt toward the course were soon eased and washed away by both the expertise of the professional sat next to me and the durability of the vehicle I was driving.
With 10 inches of ‘jacked-up’ suspension (a lot I am lead to believe), a grunting V8 petrol engine and tyres that looked like nothing would faze them – I and three others took to the course with great vigour and excitement as the instructor enthusiastically pushed us out of our ‘road-driving’ techniques and into the opposing world of off-road-driving!
We started off with the practice circuit and us patient passengers were treated to a sneak peak of some of the more challenging areas of the circuit, such as ‘Jim’s Slope’ and the ‘Shale Slope’ – an incredibly steep, loose and fully-blind descent where the driver cannot see until the entire 3 tonne of Land Rover metal is pointing down and committed to going downhill!
Then when my turn to take the wheel came around we started with a slow, shallow climb onto a plateau before rolling on to the next stage behind the second lake – which it is safe to say could be considered somewhat wet! This easy start built up our confidence and got us acquainted with the different components of our off-road experience. It was around this point that we began to appreciate Paul (our instructor) and his fountain of knowledge regarding every single inch of where the 4×4 vehicle was lying – as his explanations for the ‘best line to take’ and power distribution were truly enlightening.
With 4×4 driving being a slow and technical affair, a sharp understanding of spatial awareness coupled with meticulous knowledge of the vehicle’s attributes are fairly essential – especially with the more challenging circuits – and it is just as well Paul was on hand to help me avoid a few potential banana-skins, such as hidden potholes, ponds posing as puddles and a wall of solid mud that very nearly ended my session early!
After commentating on my peers’ driving throughout the morning (much easier from a passenger’s point of view!) and tackling most of the muddy mounds on-site, the session drew to an unwelcome close with the steepest ascent-to-descent on the entire site, aptly nicknamed ‘Have Faith’. Pumped up on the adrenaline and belief that I had transferred to the world of off-road-driving; I volunteered to go first and prove just how much faith I had! With hindsight, this was probably a little over zealous on my half but luckily I had more than just one attempt!
With Paul’s expertise alongside me once again, I readjusted my sights and tried, tried and tried again until I mastered the slope and made it my own. Again, vital tips like ‘stop at the top’ aided the success of my climb – and the overall enjoyment as the feeling of reward upon completing the slope made all of the prior wheel-spins and roll-backs worth it!
Having mastered Berkshire and their 4×4’s (ok, maybe not mastered…) I cannot wait to get behind the wheel of another 4×4 and enjoy some different terrains! The entire morning from start to finish was professionally run and most enjoyable, keeping four eager drivers entertained and satisfied with ease throughout the entire session.
Thank you Berkshire 4×4!