One evening last week, myself & my buddy Sam, joined Nick from Torbay 4x4 Club on a green lane trip around south Devon.
It was the Discovery's first proper green lane outing, and Nick decided to show me & Sam some lanes in the South Hams which I hadn't explored before.
Nick has got a fully prepared 200tdi Discovery. It has a 3 inch lift, huge mud terrain tyres, front & rear winches and a roll cage - so we knew we weren't going to get into any trouble whilst out in the lanes - yeah right!!
In at the deep end!
The first lane Nick took us too was just outside of Totnes. It started off pretty nice as it winded it's way up a steep hill, but soon we came across some concrete steps and rut's. I was really surprised how well my Discovery was keeping up with Nick's machine, and I was on small 205 road biased tyres.
The concrete step's got progressively worse as we went up the hill. If i hadn't have modified the front bumper on the Discovery earlier in the week, then it would have been catching by now, so I am pretty glad i did it.
The last step in the sequence at the top of the hill is where I started to struggle. Nick's Disco sailed over the large concrete step and ruts, but I came to a grinding halt. So it was time to back it up a little, and try again with a bit more momentum.
But to no avail, I just couldn't get the front wheels over the step. Backing up for a second time, I travelled a bit further down the lane to get a little more speed. This time it worked - just.
The front wheels rode up the step, the nearside front wheel was hanging in mid-air, then it levelled out and both wheels had made it over the step. Now the front axle had full grip again, it was easy to get the back end over. We were both pretty stoked to make it over in a standard Discovery, and Nick congratulated us over the CB, saying we had done a bloody good job to make it! Get in!!
Suitably fired up, we continued onwards, taking in a number of really nice lanes, some of them a few miles long, and a great little river crossing.
At one entrance to a lane, we passed a "road ahead closed" sign. Strange. We continued on regardless, but soon found out why. There had been tree and hedge cutting taking place, and the cut logs were being stored to one side of the lane, making it almost impassable for 4x4's.
We all stopped, got out and eyed up the gap. Too small. So we pushed some of the log's over, and cut a few that wouldn't move with a pruning saw, and managed to make enough room to get the Disco's through - or so we thought.
Nick managed to get his car through, but smacked in the rear quarter panel and bumper. He also put a small slit in a tyre valve, so would have to take it easy for the rest of the evening. Then it was my turn.
I took a similar approach to Nick, but my first attempt came to a rapid halt as I slid into a log and damaged the same rear quarter panel and rear bumper as Nick. I reversed and attempted it again, this time with success, but still the log had a go at the Disco, and bent the panel some more.
At the top of the hill we got out to survey the damage. It wasn't too bad. I will admit to being a little pissed off at the time, but I had bought the Discovery for £600 to use it like this and not worry about little dents and scrapes, so I soon accepted the damage and moved on - it just adds to the character of the vehicle!
We carried on through some awesome lanes, some of them a couple of miles long. It was pitch black, with just our headlights to illuminate the way ahead. Nick then decided to take us down some muddy lanes with water - yay!
On one watery lane, the water ended up being higher than the river crossing we had done 30 minutes earlier. The lane was plunged into darkness ahead of us as the headlights disappeared under the muddy water for a second or two - wow, this was deeper than I expected. There was no turning back though, and we made it out the other side covered in muddy water. Damn, this is going to take some time to clean.
A few more lanes to end the evening saw us return in a big loop back to Totnes, and then back to the outskirts of Torbay.
We had been laning for about 3 hours in total, and i was stoked that the Disco made it round without getting stuck once - we had some hairy moment's but it made it through - all on road biased tyres.
I also came to accept the panel damage, scratches and mud that plastered the side of the Disco, and realised I would have been a lot more pissed off had it all happened to my old Discovery 2.
Owning a cheap Discovery does have it's benefits!