Since buying my Land Rover I’ve been looking forward to my first greenlaning trip. Last Saturday I finally had the opportunity to drive down to Salisbury Plain with my caching buddy Bob and some of our geocaching mates. We arrived nice & early and even managed to bag a virtual cache at Stonehenge itself before meeting up with the rest of the party on a nearby byway with a nice view of Stonehenge.
After chatting to the other Land Rover drivers and organising ourselves into several small groups we set off. Our group comprised our leader Jeff in his Disco with the rest of us in 3 Freelanders.
Salisbury Plain is well known as a military training area and of course most of it is closed to the public, luckily Jeff knew the area very well and he kept us on the right tracks.
To start with we drove south on an easy byway, before rejoined the tarmac and looping back past Stonehenge and Shrewton. After that we dropped off the tarmac and drove some lanes, passing through Tilshead before rejoining the Plain and heading Eastwards. The Plain is criss crossed by hundreds of byways and permissive tracks, however the geography of the area means that many of them are too deeply rutted for the Freelander to handle with its limited clearance. Jeff had planned for that and took us along lanes which were suitably non-damaging – naturally none of us wanted to damage the underside or get stuck.
As a result of the recent spell of dry weather, most of the lanes were dry and firm, which of course meant lots of dust. Elsewhere, especially in the deeply rutted areas, there was still a lot of muddy water and we had to be careful not to drop a wheel into a deep hole and get it stuck.
Some of the lanes meandered through woodland like the one pictured above, other byways traversed farmland with sections of wet mud and standing water.
Here I am on a nice dry bit. Luckily there was plenty of mud elsewhere!
We spent some 6 hours (with several stops for tea & coffee as well as a nice picnic lunch) driving the lanes in a generally eastwards direction until at the end of the day we finished up at a narrow, twisty, tree-lined lane which ended up at a ford. When we got there, a couple of cyclists were stood to one side, no doubt hoping to see a 4×4 get stuck in the river. The Disco went first, followed by the first Freelander, then it was our turn. I reckon the ford was about a foot deep which was well within the wading limits of my Freelander so it was simply a case of taking the plunge (as it were) and entering the water slowly so as not to ground the Freelander, before gradually increasing speed to push forward through the deepest section. Great stuff!
After exiting the ford, we continued along the lane which consisted of a series of water-filled holes, each as big as the Freelander, which we dropped into with a lurch and a splash, until at last we exited onto a comparatively dry section of lane where we stopped and took the picture above. Martin, bringing up the rear in his Freelander, took some video of us and I hope to post that in the next few days.
At this point, we had reached the end of the planned route, so we said our farewells and went our separate ways…
Except that there was a cache not 60 metres from where we were parked, so Bob and I headed off on foot to find it. Afterwards, back in the Freelander, we headed back towards Stonehenge, where we grabbed a couple more caches before picking up the A303 and setting course for home.
So, that was my first experience of greenlaning and the first time I’d taken my own Freelander off road. It took me a while to jet-wash the substantial quantities Salisbury Plain off my car but otherwise it hasn’t suffered at all. Now I’m really looking forward to doing it all over again!