NEWS, REVIEWS & ADVENTURE
THE MUD LIFE
the all new
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NEWS IN THE GARAGE GOODS & GEAR SUZUKI JIMNY MG ZX FB PAGE OF THE MONTH
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NIPPING TO CHIPPING CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE COMPANY PROFILE BACK TRACK PAY & PLAY DIRECTORY ORGANISED TRIPS & TRAINING PAST JALOPIES RETRO SNAPS
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DAMIAN TURNER E d i to r - i n -C h i e f , w r i t e r , p h oto g r a p h e r , r e v i e w e r
KAREN LEE TURNER
(A.K.A. The Muddy Madam) C r e at i v e D i r ec to r , l ayo u t designer, reviewer
F O L LOW U S
C O N T R I B U TO R S
IN THIS ISSUE...
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TURNER’S TORQUE W
elcome to the very first issue of The Mud Life Magazine, a new venture dedicated to bringing you all the best in 4x4 reviews, product reviews, show reviews and anything else we can get our hands on. In short, we drive things, test things and we even eat things so you don’t have to, and the best bit is, it’s FREE! So what do we have on offer for you this month? To kick off this exciting, and frankly nerve-racking venture, we have our review of the long awaited 2019 Suzuki Jimny, which just goes to show that bigger isn’t always better. On the subject of 4x4 reviews we also have the MG ZS (this is actually just a 2 wheel drive, but don't tell anyone). Not only do we have a bunch load of product reviews, but we’ve also interviewed Land Rover parts supremo, Gwyn Lewis for our company bio section, and there’s much,
much more including green lane trips, past and present. As we find our feet in this new world of digital publishing I have no doubt that we’ll make the odd mistake, so please be sparing with your critiques, but if you have some constructive words on how we can improve, or you simply like what you see, please let us know email: email@example.com We have plenty of ideas for new and exciting features that we’d love to share with you in future issues, so don’t forget to subscribe and join us on our journey! So, sit back and enjoy the read, and every month we aim to bring you a new packed issue of The Mud Life Mag with even more reviews, competitions and our latest shenanigans. Editor-in-Chief
UK pricing announced for the new
Jeep Grand Cherokee TrackHawk Pricing and UK specification for the new supercharged Grand Cherokee Trackhawk have recently been announced by Jeep. Only 20 Trackhawks will be available this year, and with a starting price of just £89,999 OTR, the high performance 4x4 represents fantastic value for money apparently.
According to Jeep, the Trackhawk’s ‘modest’ price tag, but whopping power output, means that the cost per horsepower (£/hp) is around £127. This compares favourably with £296 for the Bentley Bentayga and £257 for the Lamborghini Urus. Performance wise, they’re right, but what about the luxury aspect?
The supercharged V8 pumps out a staggering 710hp and equates to some bonkers performance figures. 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds, a top speed of 180mph, and a 62 to zero mph braking distance of 37 metres thanks to its new Brembo braking system. Told you, bonkers!
The standard interior for the UK features Laguna leather seats with an embroidered ‘Trackhawk’ logo. A new premium metal package is also standard and enhances the vehicle's interior with high quality real metal accents. Active Noise Cancellation, leather stitched instrument panel, doors, centre console and armrest, Berber floormats with Trackhawk badge and 825 watt Harman Kardon sound system with 19 speakers including subwoofers are also included as standard. Jeep’s signature seven-slot grille is flanked by adaptive, bi-xenon headlamps that are surrounded by an LED character lamp treatment. The headlamps on the Trackhawk model feature a unique Gloss Black background to accent their jewel-like appearance. New 20-inch titanium finish wheels, revealing distinctive yellow Brembo brake calipers, complete the look, along with a ‘Supercharged’ badge on both front doors and a ‘Trackhawk’ badge on the boot. To find out more information, follow the link the Jeep’s website: www.jeep.co.uk
VW’s Amarok Becomes More Luxurious
he Volkswagen Amarok has always been a cut above the rest when it comes to premium features, comfort and refinement, as it says in the press bumf. And now, thanks to the introduction of a new special edition Aventura model, you have the opportunity to secure the keys to the most distinctive and luxurious Amarok ever. Cue the fanfare. Available to order from today, the Amarok Aventura features the ultimate specification list that combines striking design features with a host of creature comforts and safety systems. The Aventura features 20-inch Talca alloy wheels, body coloured sports bar with Aventura badging and chrome-plated side bars with step and LED spot lighting. Like all Amarok models, the Aventura is built to work and also features styling for under-body cladding, power folding mirrors and a protective coating for the load compartment. Customers can specify their Aventura in a range of colours and can also take advantage of a reduced price for special matt finishes. Available in either Ravenna Blue or Indium Grey, the matt paint can be specified as a £2,335 (ex VAT) option - a saving of 24% over the usual price. Also available are Mountain top roll covers made specifically for the Aventura model. Available in black or silver, they can be specified as an option for £1387.50 (ex VAT). Inside, the Aventura is positively bristling with equipment. ErgoComfort seats with 14-way adjustment are fitted as
standard, and ensure that even the longest of journeys can be completed in total comfort. The seats are faced in soft Nappa leather, while the multi-function steering wheel is also leatherwrapped and is fitted with paddle shifts as standard. Volkswagen’s Discover Media Navigation system dominates the dashboard layout while special Aventura mats further enhance the feeling of exclusivity. To help keep drivers safe and secure in all conditions, the Aventura features a Lights and Vision package (automatic headlights with separate daytime running lights, Coming Home feature and windscreen wiper intermittent control with rain sensor) along with front fog lights with cornering function as standard. Powering the new Amarok Aventura is the Amarok’s most powerful 3.0-litre TDI V6 with 258 PS in normal driving and 272 PS when using the overboost function. The engine generates a thumping 580 Nm of torque between 1,400 and 3,000 rpm, while permanent 4MOTION all-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic gearbox ensure that the Amarok can go where others fear to tread. The special edition Amarok Aventura is available to order through Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Van Centres, priced at £39,960 (OTR exc VAT). For more details on Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ award-winning range of products and services, or to find your nearest Van Centre, please visit www.volkswagen-vans.co.uk.
The New Mitsubishi L200
he new Mitsubishi L200 one-ton pickup truck is the latest version of a model which is celebrating its 40th birthday this year.
It’s certainly bold and created to stand out. Mitsubishi say that the front of the vehicle incorporates the new-generation ‘Dynamic Shield’ front design concept. The high engine bonnet line and beefier-looking lamps, located higher up, give the new model a more powerful and imposing front end. Newly sculpted body curves with contrasting sharp lines, extended wheel flares and bright accents add modernity and embody the strength of a Mitsubishi Motors’ truck. The lighting and bumpers become part of the tough design, framing the front and rear designs and adding visual width. Inside, the restyled cabin expresses a modern and robust
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feeling, with frame surroundings for the switch panel and air outlets. A high quality look is created by soft pad materials and stitching on the floor console, armrests and parking brake. I haven’t seen it yet, so we’ll just have to take their word for it. 4WD models are fitted with either Super-Select 4WD, which delivers optimum traction and handling characteristics for any given surface, or Easy-Select 4WD, which simplifies switching between drive modes for different road surfaces. With the addition of new drive modes, both 4WD systems deliver improved off-road performance. Both Super-Select and Easy-Select 4WD systems use a new Off-road Mode which has GRAVEL, MUD/SNOW, SAND and ROCK (in 4LLc only) settings. When engaged, Off-road Mode integrally controls engine power, transmission and braking to regulate the amount of wheel slip and thereby maximise all-terrain performance and self-extraction performance in
mud or snow. Hill Descent Control electronically controls the speed to allow the driver to negotiate steep or slippery descents more safely and with more assurance.
(UMS) which reduces accidents resulting from improper use of the accelerator when moving off or reversing in car parks and other confined spaces.
They say that it retains the current model’s high-durability, high-reliability ladder-type frame and high impact-safety cabin structure while featuring class-leading advanced active safety and driver assistance systems:
Providing convenient driver assistance are the Multi Around Monitor, which generates a bird’s eye view image of the area around the vehicle, and Parking Sensors.
- Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM), which can detect vehicles and pedestrians ahead - Blind Spot Warning (BSW with LCA), which helps avoid sideswiping another vehicle when changing lanes by detecting vehicles behind or at the rear quarter and alerting the driver with an audible alert and flashing light in their door mirror - Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) which, in the same way, helps avoid collisions when reversing - Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation System
Braking performance and feel are improved with the use of larger front discs and calipers; ride is improved with the use of larger rear dampers which contain more damping oil and switching to a six-speed automatic transmission from the current five-speed auto to allow smoother, more powerful acceleration and improved refinement. Roll-out Plans - Although it’s been available in Thailand since November 17th, UK specs and pricing won’t be announced until nearer the European launch date which is expected to be late summer 2019.
IN THE GARAGE
Every month we go through what’s blown up, seized up, fallen off or simply refused to work. Of course, owning a Toyota means that none of the above is likely to happen, so this space is left for any mods that we can afford to make!
If you’re a regular reader of The Mud Life, either via our website or other social media channels, then you’ll be aware of ‘Deux Smurf’, our 1996 Toyota Surf. If you aren’t, then buckle in, ‘cos here’s a short run down.
ack in January 2016, after my 1996 Discovery lost her battle with rust, I desperately needed to find another 4x4, and quickly too, as Muddy Madam and I had just set up The Mud Life website. At the time, the irony of having a 4x4 and outdoor website and NOT having a 4x4 wasn’t lost on us, so the search commenced. In no particular order my list of basic requirements looked something like this:
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No more than £4,000 Reliable - I need it to work when required Good off road Good on road Parts easily available Not precious like L322 Range Rover Proper 4x4 system with low box
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I wanted to find a 4x4 that could handle the rough stuff, and still be comfortable for long, interminable motorway excursions, as there are plenty of weeks when I’m all over the country on new car launches or at shows, and don’t have access to a press car. Admittedly, this is usually down to poor planning on my part. Cutting a long story short, I discounted Land Rover products as I wanted to The Mud Life to be more generic, not just another green oval appreciation website, although a Discovery 2 was very tempting. Having scoured the internet for a month, searching for a new-to-me 4x4 that made me feel all fuzzy inside, without success, I began losing the will to live. I arrived at the conclusion that I might be better off searching for a set of hens teeth in a bucket of rocking horse poo. Anyway, cutting another long and boring story fairly short, I posted a thread on the UK’s Toyota Hilux Surf forum - www. hiluxsurf.co.uk, bemoaning the fact there was hardly any Surfs for sale anymore.
It didn’t take long for a forum member to link another selling type website that had listed a rather tasty 3rd Gen that was only an hour away. That fuzzy feeling returned. Muddy Madam and I headed over to Ormskirk to have a look, and not only was the Surf genuine, but more importantly for me, so was Paul, its current custodian. He insisted on showing me its service records, and discussed at length what he’d done to it over the 2 years. I was smitten, but more importantly, so was the ever doubtful Muddy Madam, so we bought it, and I was once again a Toyota Surf owner. Because she was our second Surf, and Surf still rhymes with Smurf, she was christened ‘Deux Smurf,’ and straight away was put into Mud Life action. There were blasts to the NEC in Birmingham, trips to Wales and the Lake District and before I knew it we had covered nearly 1000 miles in just a couple of weeks.
Although perfectly road legal, the General Grabber tyres that came with Deux Smurf had sadly past their sell by date when it came to off-roading, so a new set of tyres was required. This of course brings with it a whole new headache. I have to admit that I’m a bit of a closed book when it comes to tyres, as I’ve had BF-Goodrich All-Terrains on my last four 4x4s, and they’ve been exceptional. At time of writing this, my KM2s have been on Deux Smurf now for almost 2 years and 20,000 miles and I love ‘em. I’m not going to go into details here as my review of them is elsewhere in the mag. Not wishing to tempt fate, but the only thing to nearly fall off
The first expenditure came the day after we got her home. Although the windscreen wipers did their job, they did so in anger, they squealed with every single wipe they made, so I invested in a pair of Bosch Aerotwin wipers. I
was her exhaust back box, it rattled when idling, so when I was at Milner Off-Road on an errand I bought a replacement. As it was last November I had quite a lot of work to do, so I wrote a list of jobs I wanted looking at and dropped Deux
also replaced the rear wiper, with a complete unit from Roughtrax. The wiper is attached to the arm with 2 very small screws and is quite a fiddly job to replace. You need to be careful not to thread them as they don’t come with the wiper, so you better not drop them either! Three months on and we’d covered just over 2,600 miles and she was still faultless. Having said that, fuel wise, I’m averaging 310 miles from a brimmed tank. This may seem quite poor, and actually, it is, but she only has a small tank, plus I find it quite difficult to stay at 56mph on the motorway as she’s so quiet and stable. To date, the worst I’ve had is 218 miles per full tank and the best has been 372!
Smurf at my mechanic’s place, Steve Wilson Autos in Bolton. He changed the oil, and everything else you would expect for a winter service, removed the tow bar drop plate, tightened the air con belt and fitted the exhaust. There are many positive things I could tell you about Deux THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK
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Smurf, but one in particular is was how good the heater is. After 3 weeks of not being used during a cold spell, Deux Smurf was blasting out lovely warm air within minutes of driving off. This is better than some of the new cars I drive, and not bad for a 22 year old! Overall I’m incredibly happy with Deux Smurf, but I can’t take all the credit, we were lucky, she’s had 2 very fastidious UK owners who’ve kept her in fabulous condition since being imported into the UK. So what’s next? Not much if I’m being honest, I’m happy keeping her fairly standard but I’ll be making some practical and sensible additions that’ll make her better off-road and more comfortable on it.
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GOODS & GEAR BFG MU D TERRA I N K M 2
When it comes to tyres I’ve always been a closed book, BFG All-Terrains all the way. I fitted to my first Range Rover, a 74 2-door and remained on when it was transformed into V8 90 hybrid. When I bought my 2nd Generation Toyota Surf I again invested in a full set, and again when I bought my old 300Tdi Discovery. In all those years I never had a problem with them, no matter what the weather or terrain. You would surmise then, that the obvious choice for replacing the worn out General Grabber’s on Deux Smurf would be the same, but no, I decided to be a rebel and get some Muds.
The problem I’m having with this write-up is, because there wasn’t another Surf behind me fitted with different tyres, it’s difficult to compare them with anything else. All I can say is that when I’ve come across any type of obstacle on a green-lane, whether that be a rocky section or muddy ruts they’ve found grip, and in mud and snow they’ve self cleaned effortlessly.
ith the announcement of the global release of the allnew B.F.Goodrich KM3 Mud terrain tyre, I thought it apt to write about the set of KM2 Muds that BFG kindly sent me back in 2016.
At the time of writing, my 265-75/16 KM2s have been fitted on Deux Smurf for just under 2 years and clocked up nearly 20,000 miles. I wanted to go to town with this update and give you all manner of pros and cons, but in truth I’m really struggling. It’s like reviewing my favourite boots, the Redbacks from Bushgear, all I can say about them but they comfy, weather resistant, tough and grippy, just what you need from a pair of boots. On road Up to 30mph you can hear a rumble, but anything higher than that they’re quiet, well at least in Deux Smurf they are. Reports from others suggest that the higher the mileage the noisier they become, but I haven’t noticed a difference, yet. During the last two long, wet and cold winters they’ve really surprised me with their level of grip on wet and slippery roads. Only last week whilst travelling at 40mph in the rain I had to perform an emergency stop, and whilst most things in Deux Smurf that weren’t tied down ended up in the footwells, there was no drama, we simply came to a standstill. I say no drama, I was a bit irate! Apart from a plastic box of recovery gear thrown in the back, Deux Smurf is pretty much unladed, and I’ve found that 31psi up front and 33psi at the rear feels stable for the road. However, there is one noticeable drawback to mud terrains, and that’s fuel consumption. I estimate that I’m losing between 20-40miles per full tank of diesel, but this isn’t specific to the KM2s, just mud tyres in general.
ff the beaten track is of course what mud terrains were created for, and so far I have no complaints, though I feel I need to raise my hand up here and make a confession. I’ve not yet found myself axle deep in mud in order to give them a ‘proper’ test. However, all the ‘off-roading’ Ive done has been on legal green-lanes where I’m unlikely to find myself axle deep in the mire.
You can argue that I haven’t really tried, that the Toyota Surf has an exemplary 4wd system or that I’m just a brilliant and talented driver (I’ll go for the latter, obviously). But the fact is that fitted with these tyres I’ve gone anywhere I’ve wanted without drama or damage to the lane in question. On a few occasions I have played around with pressures and gone down to 15psi, but I’ve driven the same lanes recently with normal road going pressures and I still managed it with ease. Though it wasn’t as comfy. After around 20,000 miles of mainly on road driving, what condition are they in now? Wear wise they’re 11mm across the board without any sign of damage. The question I was asked recently is, would I have another set of BFG Muds again or would I return to All Terrains? The simple answer is Muds. Apart from the fuel consumption I’ve found the KM2’s to be excellent in all conditions. I can live with the poorer fuel economy for the sake of pure off-road grip when I’ve needed it the most, as they say, you can’t have enough horsepower, neither can you have enough grip! Although KM2s are still available, they’ve now been superseded with the KM3 which as you would expect are getting some rave reviews. However, I wouldn’t discount the KM2, especially if you can find a set at reduced price.
GOODS & GEAR LIFESAVER JERRYCAN 20000UF
aving access to clean drinking water is obviously important, and something a lot of us take for granted. Here in the UK, for the majority of time we’re never that far away from a tap, be it in a pub, cafe, supermarket and so on. But when we’re camping or green-laning far away from these amenities, how do we have access to clean water? Simple, we fill bottles at home and bring them with us. What happens though when we run out? Well, let me introduce you to the Icon LifeSaver Jerrycan. As you can see, it’s a robust and portable water holder that’s capable of holding 18.5 litres of water at any one time. But what you can’t see is that it has a water filter that’s capable of filtering 20,000 litres of water over it’s lifetime. And when I say lifetime, if I use it to drink 2 litres of water per day, the filter should last me just over 27 years! Getting technical, the LifeSaver Jerrycan 20000UF is a microbiological water filter that uses ultra filtration technology to filter out viruses, bacteria, cysts and parasites from contaminated water sources. LifeSaver technology filters out bacteria to a minimum of Log 6 (99.9999%), viruses to a minimum of Log 4 (99.99%) and cysts to a minimum of Log 3 (99.9%) as specified by NSF Protocol 231,
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based on recommendations of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I’ll be honest, I don’t have a clue what any of that means! During days out, our usual regime here at Muddy Towers is to fill all our water bottles at home which usually end up rolling around the back of Deux Smurf. With the Jerrycan we can either fill it up at home or wait until we arrive at our destination and secure it behind the drivers seat. Being able to collect water from a river, pond, lake and so on when you reach your destination is really quite handy,
not only for drinking, but cooking, cleaning or simply washing your hands. The Jerrycan is also incredibly easy to use, simply unscrew the cap and built in pump and fill with water. When you want water, use the pump for around 20 or so times to build up pressure, and on the opposite side open the cap to release a steady stream of clean water. The LifeSaver Jerrycan measures 36x18x51cm, weighs in at only 4.35kg and manufactured in the UK. Price: £239.99 more at » www.iconlifesaver.com
GOODS & GEAR B L UNDS TONE BOOTS
he request was simple; I wanted a pair of boots that are comfortable to travel in, rugged enough to get dirty and then in the evening, after a quick wipe with a damp cloth, be smart enough not to look out of place with a smart pair of jeans.
The following day was spent walking around the undulating fields at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trails for 8 long hours. Again, no pain, just comfort with a degree of rigidity. The day after that I spent another 3 hours driving, and walked for a further 3 hours in the NEC.
After chatting to Noel from Blundstone UK at a trade show he kindly offered to send me a pair to review. I opted for a pair of Blundstone 1302 Burgundy Rubs from the ‘Dress Series’ range. Not the most imaginative of names, but is a name important?
Then came a proper test, Wednesday afternoon and I took a flight from Manchester for the new Jeep Cherokee launch in Sicily. I wanted slip-on boots so they would be easy to remove and put back on at airport security, and with no metal parts, and premium leather uppers that are fused into the soles, I didn’t even have to remove them, which was handy as I had 6 flights over the following 3 days!
Blundstone have been around for quite a while; they were bought by the current family back in 1932, but can be traced back to the 1840s. Despite having grown into one of the world’s most recognisable boot brands, the company retains its family values. The first time I wore them I took them on a 4 mile round trip walk into town, and of course they were stiff, but not uncomfortably so. There was no rubbing toes and no painful blisters, not even around the top near my ankles.
and I chose burgundy because it’s different. They have a removable footbed, and the polyurethane outsole provides plenty of support with shock absorbing technology (SPS) to ensure my feet are comfortable all day long - which they are. Fast forward 5 months, it’s now November, and my ‘Blundies’, as they’re called in Australia, are just as comfy now as they were when they arrived, and showing very little wear. They are dress boots so their tread pattern isn’t aggressive; I’m not certain what they’ll be like in snow, but if mud and wet grassy slopes are anything to go by, I’ll have to be careful. Do I have any complaints?
Arriving in Sicily, the following 2 days jumping in and out of the Jeep to take photos in 35º heat. They ended up filthy, but after a quick rub down they were factory fresh and fit for a posh evening of dining and celebrations. Out of all the Blundstones, I chose the Dress series because of their classic Chelsea Boot style and chiselled toe, Well, after 4 months of use they’re still quite tight to put on and remove, but once on you don’t want to take them off. Since they arrived I’ve hardly had them off my feet, they are so damn comfortable. I asked for a pair of boots that were comfortable, rugged and smart, and so far they haven’t failed me. I think they look smart and go with pretty much everything. There are many other colours and styles in the Blundstone range to choose from, and if these are anything to go by, you won’t be disappointed with whichever you choose. Price £130.00 more at » www.blundstone.co.uk THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK
GOODS & GEAR AN Y SHARP When you watch someone thinly slice whole tomatoes using both a builders trowel, and an axe, and they make it look like they’re simply using a hot knife through butter, you pay attention. The place was the 2018 Game Fair and the person was Steph, aka The Knife Sharpener Guy. To sharpen his array of tools, Steph was using the AnySharp, a knife sharpener that stands head and shoulders above other knife sharpers. There are many things that make this a rather special piece of kit, and the first is that it has a PowerGrip suction base that can be locked onto pretty much any flat surface, from a kitchen counter, cupboard door or even your car’s panels, I’ll get to that later. Once it’s attached you can sharpen any knife, or axe safely. Secondly, the AnySharp uses tungsten carbide technology to extend the life of almost any knife, even serrated blades as it has a pre-set angle of 20º which gives a perfect edge. When mine arrived I immediately grabbed an old pen knife and, before sharpening, attacked a tomato with it. It wasn’t a pretty sight, it resembled a scene from a horror movie. I then attached the AnySharp to my kitchen counter, ran the knife lightly through it around a dozen times, cleaned
the blade (which is important) and tried again. This time, and without any effort at all, the knife cut through the tomato with ease, in around 3mm slices! Satisfied that the AnySharp was the answer to everything, I proceeded to gather all my knives and give them a good going over. The axe that belonged to my Grandad, and probably his Grandad before him took the longest to sharpen, around 10-minutes, but it was incredibly blunt. Now this piece of history is as sharp as a very sharp thing on sharp tablets and won the sharp thing of the decade - you get the picture, it’s sharp. Another great selling point to the AnySharp is that it’s removable. Simply put it on a flat surface and push the handle down to secure it, then lift again to remove. It really is that versatile. As you will have gleaned from this so far, I have nothing but praise for this knife sharpener. Over the years I’ve discovered that a cheap knife will need to be sharpened more regularly, whereas more expensive knives tend to hold their edge more. The AnySharp will really make you
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ponder why you’d need to buy an expensive knife - spend a fortune on an expensive knife, or alternatively spend £15 on an AnySharp, and get the same results with any bargain knife, time after time, after time. The photos aren’t staged by the way, as well as using the AnySharp at home, it comes with me when I’m out and about as you never know when your axe or knife requires a quick sharpen. Steph is the UK’s sole agent for AnySharp, and quite importantly he only sells them either at shows, or from his own website, so buy from the man himself, and help support a great British business. Plastic bodied & 2yr warranty - £15ff Metal bodied & lifetime warranty - £25 more at »
GOODS & GEAR M O R A C AMP AXE I initially reviewed the Mora Camp Axe around 9 years ago when I wrote for Land Rover World magazine, and up until then I hadn’t realised how much I needed an axe in my life! Made by Mora of Sweden, the Camp Axe comes with over 300 years of experience of knife making in close cooperation with the professional users. According to their website, Mora only use the best steel, combined with good ergonomic design, which makes this axe feel comfortable and secure. The benefit of this axe is its size, as it is small enough to fit nicely in your backpack or glovebox. Being only 322mm in length, you’re not going to be felling any trees with it, but I've found it exceptionally good at killing small to medium saplings and chopping branches for fire wood. It chops wood better than a knife, and does lighter blade work duties much better than a larger axe. I’ve found the ergonomics and grip to be excellent for both chopping up logs, and feathering sticks. Although it isn’t used every weekend, it does get used often, and the Boron steel blade keeps its sharpness and hasn’t chipped like some carbon blades can.
The head is made of black, epoxy coated, boron steel, with a reinforced plastic handle, and it comes with leather sheath. It weighs only 0.5 kg, so it’s easy and comfortable to use, and it’s one of the first things I pack when I’m camping, ‘laning or canoeing. Price: £49.95 more at » www.bushgear.co.uk
GOODS & GEAR T IL L EY TEC -WOOL HA T
’m amazed at the fact that every time I grab my old Tilley Outback hat that it still looks and feels like new, despite all the things I’ve put it through over that last 6 or 7 years, but that’s the thing about Tilley, they make their hats to survive.
It’s a great hat for variable weather. It has a special membrane that behaves much like a pinecone, in that it reacts to temperature change, and opens to let heat and moisture out when outside temperatures rise, and closes again when it gets chilly to keep warmth in, and cold at bay. On the subject of wind, because it isn’t a stiff hat, strong winds can often lift the brim, but that’s a small price to pay for what I’ve concluded is quite a versatile hat. The goodsized brim may not be as stiff as others, but it has kept the sun out of my eyes, and the rain off both my face and neck. Stylish? Well since it arrived at Muddy HQ the views have been varied - I quite like it, Muddy Madam thinks it’s 'OK' and my mum properly dislikes it, so I’ll let you make your own mind up.
However, this isn’t about my old faithful Outback, this is a review of Tilly’s new windproof, and waterproof, Tec-Wool Hat (catchy name) that arrived at Muddy Towers last month. The Tec-Wool has the added benefit of removable ‘tuckaway’ fleece ear warmers for when temperatures dip. Although seemingly thin, they did a fine job of keeping my ears warm in and out of the wind.
It also features Tilley’s lifetime guarantee, an added secret pocket (handy for keeping spare cash or valuables), a Hydrofil headband to wick sweat away and an internal size adjustment device. The Tec-Wool Hat is made by hand in Canada as are all Tilley hats, and their renowned attention to detail and the overall quality is second to none. I’ve worn it pretty much constantly for a month now, both whilst driving (much to Muddy Madam’s dismay), and whilst walking out’n’about, and so far it’s been very comfortable and repelled rain incredibly well. Price: £80 more at » www.tilley.com
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GOODS & GEAR I
VI CTORI N OX SW I SS T O O L SP I RI T XC P L U S
’ve always looked upon my trusty Victorinox Spirit as the Rolls Royce amongst all of my other multitools, but a while back I noticed that Victorinox had discontinued my old Spirit III, and replaced it with the XC PLUS, and after a quick chat about why, they asked if they could send me one to try. Of course I said yes.
The Swisstool, as before, performs all tasks with ease, in fact I’d say it’s the best handling multitool I have. Unlike some, you can’t access any of its tools using just one hand, but because every part of the Spirit is smooth and polished stainless steel, it’s a joy to use, even for long periods of time. The difference from the older version is that the PLUS XC comes with a bit-wrench and a selection of bits that include: torx, phillips, pozidrive and hexagon. All of its tools are on the outside and easily accessed, so there’s no need to open the pliers to gain access, which is handy, and each tool locks securely into place. The bit-wrench is actually quite handy at reaching those awkward, out of the way screws that you can’t reach with the Spirit, with that handy added benefit of having a selection of different bits. The
Tools include: • • •
holder also has extra spaces so you can add your own bits. There’s also a corkscrew and mini flat-head screwdriver, the type you can use on eyeglasses. The corkscrew slots easily into body of the Spirit, and becomes secure enough to open many bottles of wine, or so I’m told - hic…
• • • • • • • • • • •
corkscrew needle-nosed pliers wire cutter for thin and soft wire up to 40 HRC hard wire cutter large blade with wavy edge Phillips screwdriver 1/2 reamer, punch multipurpose hook can opener screwdriver 4 mm bottle opener screwdriver 6 mm wire bender crate opener
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
scissors wood saw metal saw metal file screwdriver 2.5 mm chisel 7 mm wire stripper wire scraper scraper cable cover longitudinal cutter cable cover crossways cutter bit Phillips 0 (Pozidrive) bit Torx 10 bit Torx 15 mini screwdriver
It comes with a choice of pouches. I tried out the leather which has a loop on the back for your belt, and although it’s bigger than normal to accommodate the wrench, it doesn’t feel awkward or too bulky when wearing it. Overall, you can buy more specialised multitools, like the Gerber Centre-Drive or Leatherman Signal, but for me, as an ‘all-round multitool’, the Spirit XC PLUS is amongst the best, as not only does it look incredibly classy, but it handles well, is easy to use and oozes quality. £160 - more at » www.victorinox.com THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK
GOODS & GEAR S TAL WA RT C RAFTS C LASSIC LE AT H E R A PR O N I like cooking, both in the kitchen, and outside on a hot stove or BBQ. A lot of times I’m in my scruffs serving up belly-busting tasty morsels, and I don’t really care if my old clothes get spattered with grease. There are of course times when I do care, and it’s during those occasions that I reach for my classic leather apron that Tim at Stalwart Crafts kindly sent me to review. When it first arrived I tittered to myself and couldn’t resist doing a Texas Chainsaw Massacre pose, and afterwards, if I’m honest, I thought that a leather apron was a tad excessive. However, a few months down the line I reckon it’s proper blokey, and it’s saved many a shirt (not to mention my umentionables) from BBQ sparks and grease many times. Made out of a rich, but soft leather it’s lightweight and easy to clean. The ‘Classic’ has plenty of quality features that make it stand out. There’s an adjustable leather neck strap with padding for extra comfort, an adjustable leather hip strap with buckle which makes it easy to put on and adjust and attached to the side there’s also leather towel holder, to which you can also attach their handy leather pouch (£34.99) designed to attach to all their apron ranges, which is quite a clever idea. When reviewing something I usually find the odd design flaw, but I genuinely can’t here, it fits well and has a quality feel about it; it’s surprisingly light too. On the occasions that it’s been splattered with grease, or I’ve dribbled food down it, I simply wipe it down with a damp cloth and it’s as good as new. As well as selling his wares to the likes of you and I, Tim’s aprons are also popular for professionals, from chefs and baristas, to blacksmiths and butchers, and everyone else in between. I wouldn’t be surprised if Muddy Madam steals it for her craft work, or for pottering around in the garden. Stalwart Crafts don’t just make full leather aprons, they also make waist ones, and denim and cork styles too. There’s also range of ‘manly’ accessories including a roll up cutlery holder and a wallet. You may scoff at the price, and yes, for an apron it is a lot, but like any premium leather product, it will probably last you a lifetime, and as I often say about prices, 'the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten’. Price: £129.99 more at » www.stalwartcrafts.com 22
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GOODS & GEAR ible s x e l pac f
ups c e s a v ing
When you are out’n’about it’s nice to be able to drink out of a cup instead of a bottle, especially with kids, but carting around a bulky cup isn’t exactly the best option. We’ve found a couple of solutions for you, one that is collapsible, and one that is fully squashable, and both are great options
eighing in at just 60g, and holding almost half a litre, the X-Mug is a liwghtweight cup that can hold a good sized drink. The rigid rim keeps it sturdy, and makes it easy to drink out of, whilst the concertinaing body allows the cup to be collapsed into a flat disk that will fit almost anywhere glove box, rucksack, even your pocket. It’s made from food grade silicone, so there are no harmful BPA chemicals to worry about, and it’s heat resistant, so it can hold a lovely hot cuppa too. If you are cooking it is also calibrated as a measuring cup, the 480ml capacity works out at exactly measuring 2 cups, so it’s handy when you have a small camp stove setup. £11 more at » www.seatosummit.co.uk
QUE N CH! Made from food grade silicone, Quench cups can be used for both hot and cold drinks ranging from -40˚C to 230˚C. They’re dishwasher, freezer and microwave safe too. Not only are they great for clumsy and possibly drunk adults, but they’re ideal for kids too, as they are virtually unbreakable, unlike glasses or hard plastic cups. The teardrop shape has a flat bottom, so although they’re incredibly pliable they’re also sturdy,enough that they don’t spill your favourite tipple. The only issue we had was learning not squeeze too hard on picking them up as they are completely flexible. If you fill it a smidgeon too much, and go for a grab, like you would with a fixed shape glass, then you may end up squishing some of your drink out of the top. RRP £8.95 more at » www.amazon.co.uk THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK
SUZUKI JIMNY The ALL NEW Giant Killer Forget the up and coming new Land Rover Defender, when Suzuki announced their new and totally updated Jimny, it was this that suddenly became the most anticipated 4x4 for the year, and for good reason. From the outside it looks like a trendy little 4x4 that cuts a dash through a busy city centre and rural villages, but what it is isn’t as straightforward as you might think. The Jimny is the only authentic off-roader that’s small and lightweight, but still retains the core off-road performance desired by professionals. That’s right, I said professionals. Everything about the new Jimny is built for professional use in mind, from the scratch and stain-resistant instrument panel, to its strong ladder chassis. The Jimny is to many, what the Unimog is to the forestry service, or a Wolf Defender is to the MOD - it’s a working 4x4 that’s uncompromising in its functionality and design. There you have it, the new Jimny is actually more of a working 4x4 than urban trendy cruiser, bet you weren’t expecting that.
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So, what hasn’t changed? All the best bits! Coils all around, a low ratio gearbox and a ladder chassis. Size wise it’s still small, it has a wheelbase of just over 88” and an overall length of 137”. It’s wider and taller, but 30mm shorter than the previous model, not that you’d notice. On the road Before I begin, let’s reiterate a few things - it’s a proper 4x4 that’s designed for rugged and demanding off-road use, it isn’t a SUV with 4x4 capability that’s only suitable for a gentle green lane, or a sprinkling of snow whilst doing the weekly shop. The Jimny is, was and always will be, an authentic 4x4 off-roader that will handle the harshest of conditions whilst making you look good, so if you’re used to driving 4x4s like Series Land Rovers, Defenders or G-Wagens then you’ll feel right at home. If on the other hand your daily ride is a small hatch or a largish family saloon, then you’re in for a surprise. The new model has a 1.5 litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder
engine which is up from 1.3 litres in the previous car. It won’t set your heart racing, but it’s good enough. Having said that, get it up to 70mph, and the revs rise to 3,500rpm which creates a bit of a din, not from road noise, which is fairly well muted, but rather from the engine and gearbox. I personally believe that Suzuki have dropped the ball here as the new Jimny only comes with a choice of either a 5 speed manual or 4 speed automatic gearbox (sadly I didn’t get to test the latter). It would be such a better ‘car’ if they’d fitted a 6 speed manual box - 5 years in development and no one realised this? It actually makes me a little bit angry as it’s such a cracking 4x4 that’s let down by something so obvious. Don’t get me wrong, the 5 speed unit is smooth to change with good low end ratios, but you will find yourself reacfhing for the gearstick for that higher gear more often that you think. Speed wise, you’re better off sticking to around 50mph, this is where the little Zook appeared to be happiest. Keeping on the negatives, the tyres are tall and skinny which equate to a slightly unsteady drive when faced with wet and twisty corners - wider rubber would transform its on road prowess I reckon. Despite my moans, it drives much better than the previous model, which is no surprise given the amount of development time it’s had. It didn’t wallow too much around corners,
the steering is well balanced and it stopped well too. As I mentioned, stick to between 50-60mph and it will serve you well, but just remember when you’re bombing around corners that it’s on tall skinny tyres! Off-road The Jimny incorporates the four essentials for serious offroading - a ladder frame chassis, 3-link rigid axle suspension with coil springs, a part-time 4WD system with a low range transfer gear and, of course, let’s not forget about Suzuki’s ALLGRIP PRO. There isn’t really much to write about here, if you’ve ever been off-roadin a Jimny you will be acutely aware of how capable they are, whether that’s in standard form or modified. Slotting the transfer box into low box (that’s right, no silly buttons to press, you get a proper gearstick) and edging towards the off-road course at Stoneleigh Show Ground, my main concern was that the course would be safe and nonchallenging. Thankfully I was wrong. Although a short course, it consisted of steep hills, long descents, ruts, mud and tight turns. Honestly, my photos don’t do it justice. Even though the course was challenging, it wasn’t challenging enough to trouble the little Jimny. Another thing I did pick up on, both on and off road, was how good the steering felt. Apparently this is down to a new
steering damper on the front suspension that minimises steering wheel vibration and kickback; it certainly worked well whilst traversing some of the gnarly holes off-road. The ample 37º approach, 28º ramp breakover and 49º departure angles allow the Jimny to climb over obstacles and steep hills without scraping its bumpers or underbody. Of course, I expect new owners to fit larger tyres and suspension lifts pretty much the moment they leave the showroom - I know I would! Keeping the revs to around 2,500 meant that we climbed everything with just the right amount of momentum and power. The occasional time when we lost grip it took less than a second for Suzuki’s ALLGRIP PRO to figure things out and send the power to the right tyres to get us moving again. Interior Even as a 6ft 1”, 19 stone fat bloke, I didn’t find the driving position of the previous model too bad, my only problems were the lack of steering wheel adjustment, and the amount of slippery plastic on which nothing would keep still. I once tackled a 7 hour round trip to south Wales in one, and was mightily impressed by its on-road manners, all things considered. The driving position is pretty much the same as before, though, thankfully, the steering wheel is now adjustable. The
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front seats remain comfortable and supportive, and slide them forward and I can actually get into the rear! The interior of the new Jimny is straightforward, practical and down-to-earth. Although on first look it’s a little busy, what with the 7” screen, but once you’re on the move there is little to distract you from driving. Everything works and is well placed, and being a proper offroad working 4x4, the switches are big so that they can be used whilst the driver, or passenger is wearing gloves. With more upright A-pillars and flat clamshell bonnet, visibility up front is epic, while the dipped driver and passenger window
lines expand visibility from the side windows. Rear seat passenger experience could be improved slightly by offering side opening rear windows, as it can get a bit stuffy in the back, I’m told. Moving to further back, because the rear lamps have moved into the bumper you now get a wider rear door opening. Rear luggage space can be expanded from almost zero to 377 litres of openness by folding the rear seats down, which is 53 litres larger than its predecessor. As you see from the photo, once the rear seats are folded the rear is pretty much flat all the way across. It’s a thing of practical beauty. The quarter trims and seats have been carefully designed to increase storage width, and the backs of the rear seats, as well as the rest of the floor are coated with plastic for easy dirt and stain removal. Look closely, and on each side just under the side windows there are 5 utility screw holes along with four luggage hook screw holes around the floor area for flexible usage of the luggage space.
Safety Stuff and gizmos Although the new Jimmy only comes with a Euro NCAP rating of 3, Suzuki have stuffed it with plenty of safety features and technology that helps the driver avoid accidents. As well as Dual Sensor Brake Support (DSBS), you get Emergency Stop Signal, ESP, impact absorbing body, tyre pressure monitoring system, 6 SRS Airbags and a pedestrian injury mitigation body. There’s also lane departure warning and weaving alert function to help the driver keep alert, and high beam assist which helps night driving by automatically switching the high and low beams. Have I mentioned traffic sign recognition monitors? Those are available to, as well as Hill Hold Control and Hill Decent Control. The new Jimny comes in two flavours, SZ4 and SZ5. With the SZ4 you get CD Tuner, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and front fog lamps. Moving up a level to SZ5 adds 15-inch alloy wheels, LED Headlights, Climate Control, Navigation with Smartphone link, rear privacy glass, heated front seats and body coloured door handles. Engine ’n’ gearbox As I mentioned above, the former 1.3-litre engine has been binned, and replaced by a 1.5-litre engine which delivers stronger torque than its predecessor, and churns out around 98bhp. Manual - 41.5mpg combined - 90mph - C02 = 154 g/km
Automatic - 37.7mpg combined - 87mph - C02 = 170 g/km
One of the more surprising snippets is that there is no diesel version planned, though that shouldn’t come as a surprise as Suzuki have cut all diesel options from their line-up.
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Colours There are six body colours to choose from, including a new colour developed exclusively for the all-new Jimny: a highvisibility ‘Kinetic Yellow’ which is designed to stand out in bad weather or on worksites. If I was going for one it would have to be the blue with blue/black roof. SZ4 & SZ5 colours - Superior White, Silky Silver Metallic, Blueish Black Pearl Metallic SZ5 ONLY colours - Kinetic Yellow, Chiffon Ivory Pearl Metallic, Brisk Blue Metallic - all SZ5 body colours feature a Blueish Black Pearl Metallic roof colour.
Conclusion Despite my frustration about the of the lack of a 6 speed gearbox, I would still have one in a heartbeat. I would fit a roof rack, slightly larger tyres, a mild suspension lift and you wouldn’t see me for dust. I’d be off exploring every green-lane in the UK. Suzuki have done a stirling job, not only does it look great, but it drives well too. Unfortunately they do have quite a significant problem on their hands, and that problem is supply - they can’t make enough of ‘em! The Jimny starts from £15,499 for the entry-level SZ4 rising to £17,999 for the top spec SZ5. If you want the 4 speed automatic, just add an extra £1,000 onto those prices. Website: www.cars.suzuki.co.uk/new-cars/jimny
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MG ZS First things first, it’s a 2wd small SUV.Yes that’s right, 2 wheel drive. I know we’re called The Mud Life and some of you may think that the MG ZS has no right to be within these pages, but hold on, it has a lot of good qualities about it for those who want an SUV styled vehicle, but not the AWD.
Plant your foot firmly down and the 1ltr 3-cylinder lump revs all the way up to 6,000rpm and changes up, and does it again until you ease up. Although it’s more expensive than the 1.5ltr engine, I actually prefer it. It’s an eager and sprightly little thing and suits the ZS well.
On the road Throughout the week we used the ZS for pretty much every journey you can think of, from short commutes to the long and boring, and it didn’t disappoint. MG say that it’s been tuned for UK roads and I have to doff my hat to the engineers for doing a good job.
Off road Like its bigger brother, the GS that I reviewed last year, the ZS is only 2wd, but of course, this didn’t stop me from having a little play, and just like its bigger sibling, the ZS managed what I asked of it.
Yeah, the ride can be a bit lumpy at times, but overall it does a great job of brushing off potholes and broken patches of road, whether that’s through town or zooming along winding country lanes. The ZS offers three steering modes - Urban, Normal and Dynamic - which offer varying levels of power steering assistance. To be honest, after trying each one for a few miles I 32
was quite happy to leave it on Normal mode as it does a good all-round job.
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On mud the traction control did a fine job of finding grip where it really shouldn’t have, which does beg the question, does it need 4wd? Of course that all depends on how you’re going to use it, but it is surprising how capable it is without it. Approach, departure and ground clearance angles aren’t bad either, but like any small SUV you just need to keep an eye out, but I doubt any owners will take the ZS down the lanes I did!
Interior Like the GS, the interior in the ZS is rather nice place to be. There are however a couple of niggles, and first are the seats - again. Every MG I’ve sat in has the same issue for me, they’re simply too narrow. Now I appreciate that I’m not the smallest of blokes (6ft 1” & 19 stone), but I end up sitting on both of the side bolsters. They aren't exactly uncomfortable, but when I zoom around corners I feel like I’m about to slide off them. Large drivers, with big feet, will also find the brake and accelerator pedals close together, and on our first outing I kept catching both of them whilst both braking and accelerating. After a few days I’d got used it and became more careful of where I placed my right foot. Anything else? Oh yeah, and the tailgate doesn’t open high enough I kept banging my head on it! Being positive, and there’s lots to be positive about, the driving position is great, the rubberised top dash is better than the SEAT Arona’s cheap feeling plastic dash, and overall the interior is reasonably well equipped. There are three trims to choose from - Explore, Excite and Exclusive. The entry level models have LED day-running-lights, electrically adjustable door mirrors, projector headlights and 15” alloy wheels as standard on the outside. On the inside they get manually adjustable front seats, air conditioning, cruise control and USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Upgrade to Excite and you’ll find a DAB radio, Apple CarPlay, climate control, heated wing mirrors, front fog lights and 17’ alloys, while the range-topping Exclusive model adds a reversing camera, rear parking sensors and leatherette upholstery. In the back long legged passengers have plenty of space to lounge around in and will happily sit behind other long legged front seat passenger and driver. The boot offers 448lts of storage space which MG say is the biggest in class. However, there is deep lip so some may struggle to lift heavy objects out.
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Engine ’n’ transmission There are two engines to choose from, both of them petrol. The 1.5ltr 4 cylinder engine develops 105bhp and is attached to a 5 speed manual gearbox, while the 1.0ltr 3 cylinder turbocharged lump and produces 109bhp and is bolted to a six-speed automatic ‘box.
105bhp - 49.6mpg combined - 112mph - 0-60mph in 10.4 seconds - C02 = 129 g/km
1.0ltr 109bhp - 44.9mpg combined - 109mph - 0-60mph in 12.1 seconds - C02 = 144 g/km
Conclusion As soon as it was delivered I was smitten by it’s looks, and that colour really suits the ZS’s shape - then it hit me, is it me or does it have a slight resemblance to Mazda CX3? I think it does you know, which is why the ZS appealed to me. MG are confident in their cars, and their new ZS comes with a fully transferable 80,000 mile, 7-year warranty, which as you’ll know is creeping into Kia and SsangYong’s territory. When you consider the ZS range starts at just £12,495, you have to conceive that it offers great value for money. OK, there are parts that are cheap, like scratchy plastics on the lower half of the trim, and the steering has no reach adjustment, but these compact SUVs are built to be affordable, so it’s forgivable. Overall, despite a few niggles, I thoroughly enjoyed having the ZS for a week, it was fun, practical and cheap motoring and took me places a 2wd shouldn’t - though I doubt MG would advocate that!
acebook Page of the Month Once, not so long ago, if you wanted to catch up with like minded ???, you’d join a forum. It appears these days however that Facebook has taken over the mantle for the place to go for information. So, in the aptly titled ‘Facebook Page of the Month’ every month I will invest hours of time, effort and energy searching Facebook for interesting and relevant groups so you don’t have to. It’s serious work, or so I tell Muddy Madam!
WHY? As friends we would go out on camping trips, off-road adventures and lots more. Our interest grew in the capability of our vehicles and the ‘outdoorsy’ things we could create. It took a few months for us to get the club off the ground. Designs were created, and we had and discussions about what the name of the club should be, and about how to offer our advice and experience to other people.
www.facebook.com/NorthWestOverlander WHO STARTED THIS? Mathew Thompson writes: I’ve always wanted to show other people what I do in my spare time. A good friend of mine Simon Twitchett, who I met through my dad, bought himself a Land Rover, and had never really experienced the fun he could have with it, or what it was capable of. The fun began after I purchased my very own 4x4, a Suzuki Jimny, through which I met another friend, Josh Stuart. We met on the Facebook Suzuki Jimny page, and have since been on a few different adventures. Although the three of us came from different places, and had different interests with our vehicles, we decided to create the club. WHEN? June 2017 was when the name was created and introduced to Facebook, which is now our main social media platform for all our adventures. After a few discussions, I made the nail-biting decision to promote and expand the club and see how far in the world we could reach. From a few friends, the club began to grow month by month, inviting members of the public to share in our adventures through photos and videos.
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Our aim is to promote green laning and a culture of exploring the unknown
We decided to create a club that was more about the experience of overlanding, as having a Jimny at the time, I felt that no matter what vehicle you have, you can still camp and travel the country how you like. Mainly from the North West of England we love adventuring outdoors, and not just with our 4x4s, but also to find great places to stay and explore. Our aim is to promote green laning and a culture of exploring the unknown, tackling tricky terrain and travelling the country to see the countryside from a different angle, always remembering to respect the countryside code and follow designated lanes. As an informative group, we aim to show how to use teamwork effectively to manoeuvre demanding routes safely. HOW MANY MEMBERS SO FAR? We have between 10 to 15 members, which doesn’t sound a lot but for a club that started from nothing and became popular through word of mouth and exploring. AREA? We are mainly situated around the Lancashire area, but we have members from all over the North West of England.
ARE THERE MEETINGS? We have a monthly meet up at a local pub, the Walton Fox in Bamber Bridge in Preston the first Wednesday of every month. It’s with easy access from the motorway. Stickers and information on upcoming events are discussed on the night, as well as what possible routes people would like to do. Our monthly meet up gives new and existing members a chance to meet and to see everyone’s vehicles. CAN MEMBERS ORGANISE THEIR OWN TRIPS? Yes, other members can organise their own trips, but within the club, mainly myself and a few others lead the day and weekend trips. ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD? I would like to just say to everyone, it doesn’t matter what you drive, whether it’s a Ford Fiesta or a van, you are welcome to join the club. The club promotes new ideas and experiences for everyone. It is important in this new digital world to get out in our countryside, meet new people and find places where vehicles or people have never seen before.
If you, or your group, would like to be featured as FB Page of the Month send us a quick email to:
POTM@themudlife.co.uk The Mud Life is on Facebook too:
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ipping to Chipping
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“Right!” Muddy Madam barked, “I want you out of the way for a few hours, so leave the house, and do what you want.” It isn’t often I get a ‘get out of jail’ free card like this, so without hesitation I grabbed my camera and Ghillie Kettle, jumped into Deux Smurf and set off to drive some greenlanes. Admittedly I didn’t have an actual plan, though I did know of a lane around 35 miles away that I was eager to
From here it’s a 20 minute drive along the M65, M61, M6 and M55 taking the first exit and heading north along A6 towards Catterall. My next lane was Gardners Lane (SD5243-01) which was again quite easy - but as you can see from the photos below, it was fairly dry. I went to drive it last month when I had an Audi Q5 Quattro on test, but the northern end of the lane was so overgrown and very muddy that I decided to give it miss. The next lane was going to be Snape Rake Lane, but by all accounts the Forestry Commission were logging the area and had made a complete mess of it, to the point that it was barely passable, so I figured I’d also give it a miss, this time. My next lane, SD6245-01 is just north of Chipping (hence the title) and the only one that I’d never driven before. Although I’d drawn a rough map I decided to test the ViewRanger App that I’d recently downloaded. Finding the route on the App I pressed Follow, and because I was too far away it asked if I wanted directions to the start, which is great. Acting as a Sat Nav with verbal direction, it took me straight to the beginning of the lane - good stuff. One piece of kit that I keep meaning to find, and keep in Deux Smurf, is a good sized stick which can be used to hold open gates, but today I had my umbrella which performed perfectly.
drive, so that became my plan. I would have to explore a few other lanes on the way, obviously, and the first of these is about 20 minutes away from Muddy Towers and quite easy, in fact a 2wd Skoda Yeti would find it almost boring. It’s just outside a place called Abbey Village, and if you’re a member of GLASS (Green Lane Association), its TrailWise reference is SD6421-01. Starting from Belmont Road the ground is solid enough, and as the lane climbs upwards there’s evidence of off-piste driving (grrr), meaning that some 4x4 owners have driven off the existing track just to get their tyres dirty. Once you’ve reached the top, the trees on your left give way to grassy moorland and you have the attention of the grazing sheep, who just glare at you as you drive past The lane dips down and narrows slightly only to rise again to the right with trees either side. Just as the lane ends at an industrial estate, some work has been done to a dry stone wall which has left the surface fairly chewed up and muddy. I forget what it’s actually called, but it isn’t a long and can be driven in less than 5-minutes, but it’s fun none-the-less.
With varying sized ruts, the lane climbed slightly before plateauing, offering spectacular views across the moors. As it was after a dry spell the going was good, and could easily have been driven in 2wd, but I put Deux Smurf into low box and just followed the ruts whilst enjoying the views.
Glancing at the ViewRanger App on my phone I could see that I had a water crossing approaching, and just then the lane began a sharpish decent, so I figured I’d better get out and have a nosey in case I had to turn round. As you can see from the photos below it was quite shallow, and once through the water the lane climbed upwards with a few obstacles created by water erosion. I had a look and it all seemed quite easy, so I headed back to Deux Smurf, with a mental note that I need to spend more time off my backside, and doing some sort of activity, as I was out of puff, and according to the Muddy Madam, no, walking downstairs to make a brew doesn’t count, apparently!
Just before I eased Deux Smurf into the water I engaged the centre diff-lock, I probably didn’t need it but it saved me from scrambling up the hill and making a mess. As I continued up the hill, the embankments on either side became taller and closer, the left hand side of the lane that had been eroded by water gave Deux Smurf quite a lean, but still in low-box and centre diff locked, the BFG Mud Terrains didn’t lose grip once. As the lane levelled out so did the banking and I was free to enjoy the scenery again, until I arrived upon another water section. This time it was just a flooded section of the lane, but being by myself I wanted to double check that it was wasn’t deeper and muddier than it looked, the last thing I’d want is to get stuck. Having said that, in the back I always carry some
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sort of recovery gear, and today I had a set of waffle boards, amongst other bits. After checking the depth on both sides with my faithful brolly (so many uses), I concluded that it was only around 6 inches deep at the most, so I continued. A little further along I began a long descent towards the finish, there were a couple of ‘steps’ to negotiate, but nothing Deux Smurf couldn’t handle, and within 1/2 a mile or so we were done. The final lane was SD6543-02 & 03 which, as you leave the
last lane, is on the other side of the Bowland Wild Boar Park, not far from Whitewell. The first time I drove this lane was in a Kia Sportage, then a Skoda Octavia Scout, and both times were just after it had rained which left the lane quite mushy (a highly technical term), but today I could have easily have driven Muddy Madam’s Skoda Fabia down it. I stopped half way to admire the views and watched as the frolicking lambs annoyed their mothers. As I made a quick brew using my ever dependable Ghillie Kettle, I noticed the farmer was out in his equally sturdy and dependable HiLux. From there, after filling my Contigo mug with fresh coffee, I headed home via Whalley, Accrington and the M65. Overall it was a pleasant afternoon jaunt, spoilt only by the amount of tarmac I had to drive for the return journey home!
THE MUD LIFE Christmas Gift Guide 2018 Weâ€™ve had a look around for useful, interesting, and even comfy gifts for devotees of living the Mud Life. All budgets are catered for from fun little Stocking Fillers to a full on Pizza Oven, and allsorts in between. Enjoy...
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BEEP EGG CLASSIC
eepEgg Classic is a funky egg-timer, which is boiled alongside with the real eggs, then at different timings, which indicate 3 different levels of hardness, the BeepEgg plays three amusingly related tunes - eg. Killing Me Softly for soft boiled more at » www.amazon.co.uk
REDBACK BOOT WAX
egular waxing will greatly extend the lifespan of your Redback boots, or any leather boots, as it helps to maintain the natural moisture resistance of the leather, in turn helping to keep your feet dry and warm, so it’s a no-brainer. The perfect gift for anyone who like to gead to the outdoors. £6.95 - more at » www.bushgear.co.uk
STORACELL BATTERY HOLDERS
irline passengers can carry most consumer batteries and portable battery-powered devices in carry-on baggage, but spare batteries must be protected from damage and short circuit. Which essentially means that you can no longer have spare batteries floating around in your bags, so just by keeping your spare batteries secure, these little plastic battery holders will save you the annoyance of having your spares confiscated at the airport, and they are great in the home too, for those batteries that are always rolling round your drawers. more at » www.wilderness121store.uk
STORMSURE FLEXIBLE ADHESIVE
ncredibly strong yet flexible when cured, highly resistant to abrasion making it the essential item in any repair kit for hikers, campers, caravaners, mountaineers, water sports enthusiasts, the list is endless, and it is an essential stocking filler. more at » www.firstascent.co.uk
ade of natural materials including iron powder, water, salt, activated charcoal and wood fibre. Once removed from the specially designed outer package the exposure to air activates the ingredients and the warmer begins to build heat from 37.8ºC – 82.2ºC for up to 10 hours. Great for those cold winter nights. more at » www.firstascent.co.uk
Clothing for Chrimbo SUEME TREE TRUNKS Manufactured from Beech Tree pulp, these Tree Trunks are super soft, comfortable, fast drying and naturally antibacterial. Since coming across them 5 years ago, Damian, writer of this mag has nevr had them off his backside. Available in Black, Coloured & Patterned these are the perfect gift to yourself, or for the one you love. Single - £20, 3 pack - £46 more at » www.sueme.com
TILLEY WOODLAND CADET CAP Tilley’s Woodland Cadet Cap is the perfect headgear for the outdoor activist who is looking for functionality, versatility and style. With a durable waterrepellent finish, breathable insulated membrane and adjustable ear flaps, it’s designed to keep you warm and comfortable during all your outdoor pursuits. RRP £80 - more at » www.tilley.com
BUFF HATS & NECKWARMERS Buff are specialists at neck and headwear, and they have become popular with millions of outdoor enthusiasts who benefit from their expertise. These toastie warm hats and neckwarmers can be bought individually or as a set, and there are plenty of style and designs to choose from. Neckwarmers & Hats from £29.26 each more at » www.buffwear.co.uk
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Gleeful Gift Ideas MILLICAN JOE THE IPAD COVER The Joe uses the wool from its namesake, Lakeland farmer Joe’s Herwick Sheep as an inner padding, the outer is then wrapped in organic weatherproof canvas to make a durable and natural cover. With a protective flap closure, and a back pocket for headphones or a notebook, the Joe is the perfect blend of classic looks with modern functionality. Spend a little more for quality, and you’ll never regret it. RRP: £50 more at » www.homeofmillican.com
COCOON AIR-CORE PILLOW A lightweight, compact travel pillow with an inflatable core underneath a layer of synthetic filling and a microfibre/nylon outer. It folds to a tiny 11x8cm size, so is perfect pressie for travelling and camping. £18.95 more at » www.firstascent.co.uk.
SCARAMOUCHE & FANDANGO
The kit includes 50ml tubes of shower gel, shampoo, shaving cream and hydrator all in a handy clear plastic travel pouch which is perfect for stuffing in your hand luggage when you’re flying off to recover from your Christmas festivities. £15 more at » www.scaramoucheandfandango.com
Gadget Gifts LUCI PRO OUTDOOR SOLAR LANTERN/CHARGER
he Luci Pro Outdoor is a super versatile solar light that is bright, lasts for ages and comes with a USB port for charging in both directions. With a good amount of light and simple charging concept it is a great lantern everyday use. The solar recharging and features on the light make this practical and easy to use. £34.99 - more at » www.firstascent.co.uk
BOOMBAR+ BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
craking portable wireless speaker that packs a punch; with high fidelity drivers, and a passive bass radiator for impressive depth and sound wherever you go, and up to 20 hours of play time and a 3 hour recharge, so the party only stops when you want it to. Available in 6 great colours £39.99 - more at » www.kitsound.co.uk
SILVERPOINT GUIDE XL165 HEAD TORCH
ith 165 Lumens of evenly distributed light, and a number of light settings and smart features, the Guide provides great illumination for different situations. It is IPX5 rated making it sufficiently waterproof, ready to be used in rainy or wet conditions. more at » www.silverpointoutdoor.com
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Ron Swanson style
Man Gifts GERBER FREESCAPE CAMP SAW Lightweight, compact and easy to use, Gerber’s Freescape Camp Saw is a must have accessory for any 4x4 owner who ventures from the beaten track. It unfolds in seconds into a sturdy saw that makes light work of cutting errant branches that threaten to damage bodywork or for fire wood later. (A full review is coming in Issue 2.) £51 more at » www.gerber-store.co.uk
BEAR GRYLLS SURVIVAL FIRE STARTER Made by Gerber, this small and compact, Fire Starter offers years of use. Watertight construction keeps tinder safe and dry, so when you need it, you can trust it. It also has an emergency whistle integrated into lthe anyard cord and a pocket guide of Bear's survival essentials £18.99 more at » www.gerber-store.co.uk
BUCK 104 COMPADRE CAMP KNIFE Designed and engineered with the outdoor enthusiast in mind, the Camp Knife offers full tang construction and a heavy-duty, stylish Heritage Walnut handle. The red blade & leather knife sheath add style to your collection of tools. A 'manly' must have. £93.95 more at » www.buck-store.co.uk
NOTE: if you don't know who Ron Swanson is watch this: https://youtu.be/SrLZgP-OR6s THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK
Festive Foodies COBB COMPACT BBQ/OVEN - SET 4 (INC COMPACT EXTENSION)
Perhaps the ultimate BBQ – it’s lightweight, versatile, efficient and easy to use. You can grill, fry, roast, bake and even smoke with it. It is so sociable, being able to put the Cobb on the table and sit round with a drink and let the food cook. Whilst camping, meals can be totally transformed from just the boring packet or pot meals to full on barbeques, roasts, curries, risottos, casseroles and even fresh baked bread. The only limit is your imagination. £130 www.cobb-bbq.co.uk
FIREPOD PIZZA OVEN & GRIDDLE The Firepod is the world’s first truly portable stone baked Pizza Oven and Grill, using BBQ gas for hassle-free cooking. Pizzas, BBQ, Hot Rock Cooking, the Firepod does it all. Simply interchange the cooking sets for whichever meal you want. Standard Firepod - £399 BBQ & Griddle Set - £125.00 www.thefirepod.com
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Drink’n’Dine PRIMUS TRAILBREAK VACUUM MUG
njoy a favourite cuppa on the go with this sleek and stylish, double-walled vacuum mug from Scandinavian stove expert Primus. Features an enhanced grip for easy handling and a double walled lid doubles as a cup, meaning you can pour your drink out and it’ll stay hotter for longer. Alternatively, If you want to sip from the flask on the move, the Trailbreak Vacuum Mug also has a click-close stopper. RRP: £26 www.primus.eu
STANLEY ADVENTURE STACKING PINT Nothing finishes off a hard day better than a well-earned beer! Its 18/8 stainless steel construction and unique vacuum insulated design keeps your delicious beer deliciously cold for hours. Stackable to save space when packing or storing! RRP: £18.99 www.leisureoutlet.com
GHILLIE KETTLE THE ADVENTURER SILVER ANODISED
The silver anodized aluminium provides all of the same great characteristics of a Ghillie Kettle with added protection and durability. In addition to being scratch resistant the kettle is easier to clean and has all of the benefits of stainless steel, but is much lighter. It also has a smooth non-stick, non-reactive surface and is quicker to boil, heat food and clean. £55.95 (Silver Anodised Adventurer Kit) www.ghilliekettle.co.uk
COMPANY PROFILE There are many amazing companies out there that either create stuff, fix stuff or sell us stuff, and we think that a lot of them are worth a mention.
GWYN LEWIS 4X4 PRODUCTS A
lthough these days I drive a Toyota, I still have hankerings for Land Rovers, I grew up with them, and if all the planets line up, along with finances, I hope soon to have myself a ’67 Series IIa, or a Lightweight, or a 101, or a… Ahem, anyway, after all my years in Land Rover circles, there’s one name that has always stuck with me that’s synonymous for producing innovative Land Rover modifications, and it’s Gwyn Lewis A couple of years ago I visited Gwyn at his workshop over in Powys and interviewed him for the AWDC magazine Although Gwyn established his business back in 1984 when he was just 16 years old, it was evident at a much younger age that he had a talent for modifying and improving most things mechanical.
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When he was 11 years old, Gwyn told me that his dad bought a tipper lorry, this he said got his creative his juices flowing. From then on Gwyn was obsessed with trucks, he could name the exact make of a lorry by just hearing it and he would spend almost every weekend either modifying or mending something on the lorry. Gwyn was hooked. When he was at school, Gwyn told me that he would modify the families lawn mower to go faster. He also customised a rotovator with a straight through exhaust and modified it so that he could fit an array of different attachments. When Gwyn left school he had no time to find a job as people kept bringing machinery to be repaired, so it was no surprise that this passion and fascination for all things mechanical continued and flourished into his own business repairing and maintaining many types of vehicles alongside designing and manufacturing custom parts.
GWYN LEWIS 4X4 PRODUCTS Gwyn’s first 4×4 was of course a Land Rover, a Series 2a to be precise, and by all accounts it was in a bit of a state when he got it. The venerable Land Rover was stripped and totally rebuilt, Gwyn also replaced the original petrol engine with a 2.2 BMC diesel lump which was much better. Later, in 1989 Gwyn bought a 1 year old Toyota HiLux which he of course modified by making a 3” roll bar, bumper, sill bars and all manner of add on’s that adorned 4x4‘s in the late 80’s. Inevitably, Gwyn started off roading the HiLux, and he told
me that everyone around him thought he was mad for taking such a vehicle off road! “It’s a shame.” He said, “that I hadn’t joined AWDC by then as it wouldn’t have been a good vehicle to compete in. I sold it in 1992 and bought a newer HiLux as I wanted to fit a turbo and intercooler to the engine, I did and what a hell of a difference that made!” Like his previous HiLux, Gwyn fabricated and fitted the usual roll bars and bigger rubber. After he a rebuilt and modified a badly damaged Land Rover 90, Gwyn’s off roading became quite serious, and he began visiting Dave Mitchell’s LandCraft which is fairly local. He then began competing in winch challenge events, like the Optima Series which was run by Paul Peete and Paul Massey. This is where most of Gwyn’s ideas started life, driven by
the need to improve his own Land Rover in off road winch challenge competitions. “That’s where I made a name for myself.” He told me. “Others saw what I had created to improve my 90‘s off road performance, the more I modified it, the more interest it attracted, and that’s when ‘Gwyn Lewis 4x4’ began to take shape.” Since then, Gwyn has been constantly developing new and
innovate ideas for Land Rover enthusiasts to use on their own vehicles, both on and off road. Most of the items are designed and made in house, so quality is always assured. As well as his heavy duty rear coil spring retainers, Gwyn has recently created a quick release rear mudflap mounting kit and front mudflap extensions for Defender’s. He then designed the Gwyn Lewis Challenge Suspension Kit using Toyota Land Cruiser 11” travel pin/pin shocks all round. He admitted that he lost a lot of sleep trying to get all the components to work, adjustments where continuously made before it was perfected. The uniqueness with Gwyn is that once he has an idea in his head, he then has to set about creating the tools that makes THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK
COMPANY PROFILE the product, and that takes time and effort. Of course, if the end product isn’t up to his standards, then the process of rebuilding the tool starts over again, it’s all trial and error. His rear spring re-locator was one idea that took a long time for him to find the right length to hook the spring at the right time. Gwyn was visibly deflated when he found that another company had taken his idea and copied it. Now there are quite a few companies selling ‘bootleg’ versions, but they do say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. Gwyn also sells Sumo Bars, in fact, when Ian Sykes of 4allfours decided to sell up and move to Iceland, as his biggest customer at the time, Gwyn bought the name and rights. He now supplies these heavy duty replacement steering bar for the Defender, Discovery 1, Discovery 2, Range Rover Classics, as well as the Series range. There are 3 types of bars available, the original 29mm Heavy Duty Hollowbar that is accepted by the ALRC and AWDC as replacements and the 32mm EXT Solid Bar for those wanting more strength. However he now sells SUMO-SS which will soon replace the SUMO-EXT as they are much stronger.
harshest competitions in the world. It isn’t often that you hear about companies that don’t advertise, but Gwyn is a case in fact, he finds himself in wonderful position that a lot of customers find him from word of mouth, which is the best kind of advertising. However he is now on Facebook and Instagram to show customers the products he is selling and designing.
He prides himself and his team on always willing to advise and treat customers like he would like to be treated himself as a customer. “These days,” He told me, “It’s getting difficult to find a retailer who wants to help or has the knowledge to advise on products. Some companies just want to make money and aren’t bothered if you buy the right item or not.”
Meanwhile, whilst his team are busy servicing and MOT’ing, Gwyn is happy in the background these days inventing and creating new products, he can’t help it, it’s what he does best!
He’s aware that he’s lost a lot of sales over the years by not selling items to customers. When a customer phones and wants to purchase something which Gwyn knows is wrong and won’t work, he’ll tell them. He would rather lose business than have an unhappy customer.
His latest design is a twin alternator mount for the TD5 engine, he already sells plenty for the 200/300Tdi and V8. This mount allows a second alternator to be fitted to charge auxiliary batteries and is arguably better than a split charge system. Gwyn’s the type of person who very rarely switches off, wherever he goes he’ll notice something and an idea of how to improve it will pop into his head. You get the impression that no matter what his passion is, he will always find ways to improve on the norm. He’s quite proud of the fact that his products are not only found all around the globe, but are also used in many of the
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If the day comes that I buy a Defender, then a trip to Gwyn’s will be high on the ‘to-do’ list.
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< < < < BAC K T R AC K It’s great to look back at older articles that are just gagging to be read again…
Laning in Wales This tale of adventure took place back in 2010 and if I remember correctly, not only was it featured in the now defunct Land Rover World magazine (April 2011) but was probably my first proper outing in the new-to-me 1996 Discovery, and it went something like this… One of the main reasons why I’d decided to buy a Discovery had finally arrived last year when a 300 mile round trip to Wales was organised driving what we’d hoped would be some cracking lanes whilst enjoying the beautiful Welsh countryside. I had wanted (and still do!), a Series I or II, but the reality of spending a whole day ‘laning with my dodgy back on cart springs wouldn’t do, so the Discovery was chosen for her comfort, speed with decent economy.
we made our way to the meeting place which was the visitors centre over the dam at Lake Vyrnwry.
Our vehicles and drivers comprised of Simon in his Toyota Surf as lead vehicle, and Ged as navigator. There was Graham and Nugget in a Discovery, Mick in his Discovery, Colin in his Jimny, Stu in his Discovery and of course Barny and myself in my Discovery. After the essential loo trip, we made our way out of the car park heading south and straight to our first lane which as far as I can remember was nice and gentle. As we gently trundled past an elderly couple, I watched with disappointment as the gent read out our registration numbers to someone on his mobile phone. I nodded and smiled as we drove slowly past, he blanked me. Oh dear, I hoped it wasn’t going to be one of those days!
Our day out was arranged by Ged, though he actually prefers to be called Gedi due to his love of the Star Wars franchise (kidding, he actually hates it!) As far as I can remember our jaunt was offered up to the members of the northwest4x4 forum, which was a friendly and generic internet forum that sadly disappeared. Speaking to a member of CRAG (Countryside Recreational Access Group), which again no longer exists, Ged made sure that all the lanes we were to drive were still legal and that our six vehicle convoy was within line with CRAG’s guidelines. Everything checked out, and our chosen day arrived. It was a truly spectacular morning, the sun was breaking through the early morning mist, it was quite beautiful and inspiring, and I hope I never have to get up that early on a Sunday ever again! After loading the Disco with various recovery equipment, essential butties and Barny,
As we drove past Moel Achles we stopped and queued behind Simon and Ged as they opened the first gate of
many. It was a sharp left that dropped you into a stream then up to what was a narrow and rocky track. I had a dilemma, even though I wanted to drive I also wanted to take photos for the magazine, so just before Simon and Ged set off I jumped out of the Discovery, camera in hand, and let Barny drive my Discovery.
be running ahead of the vehicles to bring you these pictures, I was told to stop panting, we were only 800ft above sea level… As we continued upwards towards Blean-Dyfnant I realised I wasn’t as fit as I used to be and quickly jumped into the passenger seat of my Discovery whilst Barny continued to drive. We were now on Forestry Commission land and the road was wide and incredibly dusty. Even though we slowed right down, with the plumes of dust in our wake resembled something from a Camel trophy video. From Ffridd Tyn-y-Llwyn we headed south west towards Coed Pando and along relatively easy and picturesque lane that offered us spectacular views. Constable Lane as it’s known, skirts around an ancient fort before leading us onto the A458. We continued bravely on and eventually found ourselves back driving the same wide and dusty Forestry Commission road as before, and over the CB’s we all agreed that this would be a good time to stop for lunch, so Ged led us to a pleasant spot in the shade not far from an old look-out tower. After an enjoyable natter and general banter we continued on the trail and passed a group of bikers, the only other motorised vehicles we’d seen on the lanes all day. I don’t know what we’d done to upset them, but they didn’t half seem to sulk as we trundled past.
As we turned into our next lane I’m quite sure that Barny was happy that we’d swapped over driving as the ruts were deep, but to our left were the most evil of all Gorse bushes. They lined the ruts and attacked the paintwork of every vehicle that passed. The noise they made still makes me shiver inside, do you know when you accidentally scratch your knife or fork on a plate? Shudder!
Slowly, each vehicle dropped into the stream and made their way up the narrow rock strewn track lurching from side to side with the occasional tyre scrambling for grip. All vehicles and drivers took it in their stride as they continued upwards slowly and gently. I on the other hand was foolish enough to
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Emerging from the damp and partly flooded forest we made our way over a hillside and back down towards the B4395 stopping occasionally to help rescue the odd lamb that had become entangled in the fences, at least that’s what Ged told us! We turned off the B4395 after a few miles and joined a pleasant lane which I was reliably informed at the time was named Rhino’s run. I’m led to believe that some poor soul who has a forum name as XRhino was the only person to get stuck on this lane, I’m led to believe that all his mates stood by and laughed... a lot! Next was Greens lane that led to a ford. Not just any ford, we were to drive through River Vyrnwy. Though quite shallow it was my first river crossing and therefore quite exciting. On leaving the river, the embankment was quite steep, and even with wet tyres most of us managed to escape in one go,
though whilst writing this Ged did remind me that Graham did require around three or four attempts in his Discovery! Llanfihangel-yng-ngwynfahis was our destination for a ‘splash and dash’ before we continued on to what was supposed to be our last lane of the day, however, as it was still light we decided to explore two more lanes. My favourite lane was at Penisarllen, which was narrow, muddy and rutted and would’ve been quite challenging to drive up, but as we were heading down it was a case of 1st low and enjoy the ride. Unfortunately with high banks on either side it was too narrow to get out and take photos, so you’re going to have to trust me. A short drive on tarmac took us to our last lane of the day. Drifty Lane begins with a steep ascent which was easily negotiated due to the dry surface, once wet though it’s supposed to be very challenging. Soon the lane levelled off and we again found
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ourselves slotted into deep ruts as we trundle along minding our own business enjoying the banter over the CB’s. And that was the end for us as we took the steep tarmac road back down to the A490 and pulled over for a group discussion before heading off for home. My ‘new’ Discovery took everything this Welsh jaunt had to offer in it’s stride, but then the lanes weren’t chosen for their difficulty, rather for their enjoyment and the only challenging part about this trip is making sure I’ve spelt all the Welsh names correctly! As we cruised the 100 miles or so back home, Barny and I acknowledged that the Series 1 Discovery makes an impressive and cheap vehicle for this kind of venture. The only modification I’d made to the Disco was to fit 245 -75-16 BFG AT tyres and installed a CB.
P ay & P lay D irectory Fancy an off-road challenge? Wanna get your 4x4 filthy? Don’t ruin our ancient byways, try out your local P&P site instead…
A few pointers…It’s important that you check the site’s requirements before you visit, such as: Does your 4x4 need to be road legal? Do you need to show proof of age, vehicle MOT and insurance documents? Are your recovery points secure? Do you even have any recovery points? To avoid disappointment, always check with the individual site before you set off. Also remember that, as well as a good quality tow rope, it’s always useful to bring along some rags and a bottle of water to clean your lights and reg plates so you can stay legal whilst driving home!
Cowm Leisure Whitworth, Rochdale Activities: 4x4, enduro, trials, mini bikes www.cowmleisure.com
SOUTH 4×4 Driving Slindon Safari, West Sussex Activities: 4x4, shooting, archery www.4x4driving.co.uk
Frickley 4x4 Off-Road Centre South Elmsall, West Yorkshire Activities: 4x4, quads www.frickley4x4.co.uk
Devils Pit Barton Le Clay, Bedfordshire Activities: 4x4 www.devilspit.co.uk
Parkwood 4×4 Off-Road Centre Tong, Nr Bradford Activities: 4x4, enduro, tuition, trials, corporate days www.parkwood4x4.co.uk
Essex Rochford & District 4x4 Canewdon, Essex Activities: 4x4 www.www.4x4er.co.uk
Hill ’n’ Ditch Mouldsworth, Cheshire Activities: 4x4 www.hillnditch4x4.com Kirton Off Road Centre Hibaldstow, Gainsborough Activities: 4x4, quads, bikes, mountain bikes, corporate days www.korc.co.uk Explore Off-Road Silverdale, Stoke-on-Trent Activities: 4x4, tuition, ATV www.exploreoffroad.co.uk/pay--play
4x4 Without A Club Harbour Hill, Aldermaston Activities: 4x4 www.4x4-withoutaclub.co.uk Piccadilly Wood 4x4 Bolney, West Sussex Activities: 4x4 www.piccadillywood4x4.co.uk Mud Rutz Purfleet, Essex Activities: 4x4 www.facebook.com/mud.rutz
ead this bit too… All details here were correct during the whole day I spent collating them, and you can imagine how boring that was. If you notice any errors in these listings, or we’re missing your favourite pay & play site, please contact the Mud Life team at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get straight onto it.
emember, motorsport is dangerous, and it can also be a lot of fun, so be sensible out there.
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Future 4x4 Avon Dassett Quarry, Banbury Activities: 4x4 www.future4x4.co.uk Muddy Bottoms Off-Road Minstead, Lyndhurst Activities: 4x4 www.muddybottomoffroad.co.uk WildTracks Off-Road Newmarket, Suffolk Activities: 4x4, bikes, karting, Corporate, parties, archeryw www.wildtracksltd.co.uk WALES Bala 4×4 Bala, Gwynedd Activities: 4x4, quads, tuition, corporate days www.bala4x4.co.uk Red Valley Motorsport Cwm Coch Farm Carmarthen Activities: 4x4, motorcross www.facebook.com/ redvalleymotorsport
O rganised T rips & T raining NATIONWIDE 1st Overland Nationwide Activities: Escorted Adventures www.1stoverland.co.uk All terrain Services Nationwide Activities: Tuition, Escorted Adventures, Corporate Events www.allterrainservices.co.uk Beyond 4×4 Nationwide Activities: Tuition www.beyond4x4.co.uk OneLife Adventure UK and Worldwide Activities: Tuition, Guided Self Drive Tours www.onelifeadventure.co.uk Protrax Overland Adventures UK and Worldwide Activities: P&P days, Tuition, Guided Self Drive Tours www.protraxoverlandadventures.co.uk ENGLAND Ash 4x4 w Hawkstone Park Follies, Shropshire Activities: Tuition, Escorted Adventures, Corporate Events, Shooting www.ash4x4.com Avalanche Adventure Market Harborough, Leicestershire Activities: Tuition, Escorted Adventures, Corporate Events, Shooting, Buggies… www.avalancheadventure.co.uk True Grip Off Road Ashford, Kent Activities: Tuition www.truegrip-offroad.co.uk
Wild Tracks Newmarket, Suffolk Activities: Tuition, Karting, Corporate, Parties, Quads www.wildtracksltd.co.uk Yorkshire Outdoors Thirsk, North Yorkshire Activities: Tuition www.yorkshire-outdoors.co.uk Whitecliff Off Road Centre Coleford, Gloucestershire Activities: Tuition, Corporate Events www.whitecliff4x4.co.uk SCOTLAND Cambrian Way Llandovery, Carmarthenshire Activities: Tuition www.cambrianway.com/activities/4x4driving-experience/ FarxFour Winton Castle, Scotland Activities: Tuition, 4x4 experiences www.farxfour.com
The Scottish Off-Road Driving Centre Glentarkie Estate, Fife, Scotland, Activities: Tuition www.scotoffroad.co.uk Highland All terrain Scotland Activities: Guided self drive tours www.highlandscenicsafari.co.uk WALES LandCraft North Wales Activities: Tuition, Guided Self Drive Tours www.landcraft4x4.co.uk/off-roaddriving-events Wood Park Off-Road Pembrokeshire Activities: Tuition www.woodpark-offroad.com Tuff Terrains Radnorshire, Mid Wales Activities: Tuition, Shooting, Fishing www.tuffterrains.co.uk
Tink, The Series 1 Before I begin, I want to apologise if some of you have read this before as Tink’s story has been in a number of magazines over the years, Difflock, 4x4 Mart, Land Rover World, and I gave permission for Paddock Spares to use it in their blog.
ou know how it is, you’re out shopping and you start talking to a stranger and inevitably the conversation turns to Land Rovers. This happened the other day when I was casually checking out The Mud Life's website in the Apple Store at the Trauma Centre (Trafford), Manchester. Out of the corner of my eye I could see one of the Apple guys glancing at it as he was talking to another customer. A few moments later I heard a voice over my shoulder, "Why aren't there any Series 1's on there?". So this is for you Mr Apple guy (sorry, I forgot your name), and everyone else who has a 'thing' for Series 1 Land Rovers. Going back to 2005 I was enjoying the delights of my first Toyota Surf, and although she was a revelation, I was Land Rover-less, which obviously isn't good for the soul, maybe beneficial to the wallet, but not the soul. The story began at the Northern MG owners rally at Scarsbrick Hall, near Southport and a chance look at a MG ZT revealed a piece of paper in the window that read, ‘1955 Land Rover Series 1 for sale, 37,000 miles, 2 owners from new, original registration and excellent condition, £1,500.’ Well, what was I supposed to do? Within ½ hour we had arrived at Joe's house where I was taken aback, I honestly expected to see an ex-trials motor with SATs, and not a straight panel in sight, but instead I was gawping at a very straight and original Series 1, albeit with faded and peeling paintwork that gave an overall disheveled look. She was stripped to her waist and looked perfect for summer. Joe had fitted a set of very early Discovery rims shod with bald 205s; he did however have a set of original rims if I was interested.
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As I gave her the once over I was getting those tingly feelings; rear cross member - solid, chassis and bulkhead - solid. She looked original and sounded just right as Joe started her up. I was beginning to let my guard down. TKF’s history was straight forward he explained, her first owner was a farmer who owned her for 35 years; he used her to deliver milk on a small housing estate next to his farm. Joe had used her to collect wood from a nearby forest for 15 years, but for the last 5 years she hadn’t moved at all. He said that the only reason he bought TKF all those years ago was for the registration, but once he got her MOT’d, he became hooked by her charm and decided to keep her. Joe also mentioned that he had MOT certificates that went back to the early eighties that showed 22,000 miles proving her incredibly low miles. Well that was it, she was like a Siren hypnotising me with her brummie accent, but just as I was about to throw my watch at him as a deposit, Muddy Madam grabbed my arm and dragged me away muttering something about not making rash decisions. If I'm being honest I didn't understand what she was talking about, but, being the sensible type, she knew exactly what to do in a situation like this, she took me to the nearest Italian restaurant and ordered pizza and wine.
PAST JALOPIES noise. On opening the bonnet I saw water bubbling on the manifold, a closer inspection saw that the top hose had split and was spitting out water. The following day I would be in Tyldsley, therefore passing Land Ranger Services, so I ordered a replacement hose and headlamp.
The following day we dragged our friend Chris along to have a look at TKF, or Tink as I'd already christened her, what he doesn't know about Land Rovers frankly isn't worth knowing. I wanted to know if I was seeing her through green oval tinted glasses, or was she a real gem of a Series 1. Chris spent a good half an hour of tapping, scraping and muttering things, Karen Lee and I prepared ourselves by being ‘real’. As Chris emerged from the underside of Tink he muttered to Karen Lee,
‘If he doesn’t buy it, I will!’
Whilst fitting the hose, I decided to drain, flush, and refill the water system, which was straight forward, as was changing the headlamp. I then set about replacing the Discovery wheels for the date stamped originals that came with it, mainly because they looked better and had better tyres, even though they were crossplys. By this time, booking her in for the MOT seemed like a good idea, I was under no illusion that she would pass, but at least it would start the ball rolling. Before I did that, I thought that I’d better inflate the tyres, so I drove the Surf around the back so I could use my compressor. I drove Tink out of my backyard onto the back street, and inflated the two off side tyres. In the middle of a five point turn, so I could inflate the near side tyres, disaster struck, I heard a heart sinking metallic ping, then the steering wheel went all loose and came off in my hands!
A deal was done, and I was a Land Rover owner again. Once home I'd towed her home to Muddy Towers, I poured half a jerry can of unleaded into her fuel tank, and ran her for a while whilst I made a list of things she'd require for her MOT. There wasn't that much, if I'm honest, the near side headlamp wasn't working, neither was the off side rear light. Her windscreen wiper wasn't connected, and one of her rear axle straps had snapped, on top of that she needed a service as she began to splutter. Maybe being moved after five years of standing still had disturbed muck in the fuel tank. Then, as I switched off the engine, I could heard a faint sizzling
A close inspection found that the steering box had broken in two - oh how I laughed! Using my hi lift jack, I raised and pushed her until she was able to be reversed straight into the yard again, and I went to find solace in a bottle of red and a huge pizza! Part 2 in next months issue…
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RETRO SNAPS Can you spot yourself in these photos from bygone mud adventures? THEMUDLIFE.CO.UK
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