Recent Trips

Greenlaning in Wales

Words and pictures by Phil Mawdsley

"We met at a local Cafe about 11:20 in the morning. It was supposed to be at 10:00, but some of us can`t look at a watch and drive

at the same time. The day was clear and sunny, albeit bloody freezing! Lee, his missuz and kids in their 110 met me and Peter in my 90

and after the usual pleasantries we set off to find the first lane of the day. It was only two minutes away, but as we went around one of

the bends we were suddenly stopped by a car sitting in the middle of the road. Great start. After speaking to the driver we saw that the

road turned sharply to the left, and it was steep - it was also completely covered in a thick sheet of ice. The car had wisely spotted

the problem and stopped - if it hadn`t it would have simply been unable to turn down the steep lane and would have slid over the

edge to land somewhere in a field - probably upside down! The car turned around and went past us - we went to have a closer look

to see if two `good ole Defenders` could pass.

Now, it says in the different forms of literature that the safest way in unknown circumstances like these is to get out on foot

and walk the track. This may well be safest for the vehicles and its passengers, but was certainly not the case for Lee. Firstly, let

me tell you that Lee is not a lightweight - he`s more of a 130 with a camper van body - and then more. So, needless to say,

there was quite a thump when his legs went from underneath him, another when his arse bounced on the ice, and some scraping and

screaming as he slid towards the field, legs akimbo, flapping for all his life trying to grip onto anything he could. He came to an

abrupt stop as his backside reached the grassy verge, whereupon he flailed his arms and rolled from side to side like a

turned-over-turtle. Peter, god bless him, shouted to see if Lee was okay, whilst I howled in laughter and cursed myself for not

having my camcorder. That would`ve got me £250 quid on "You`ve Been Framed"! Lee was okay, but I can`t

testify to the safety of that side of the hill. We eventually got past (after Lee rubbed his arse for five minutes and I was given oxgen

for my laughing) by using the offside tyres on the verge for grip. The day had started well...


The first major lane we drove was near the Horseshoe Pass. It follows the curve of a very steep hill, with quite a tilt to the driverside,

. Llan02

and a hell of a drop just beyond that chickenwire fence. The first time we drove this track the tilt was more severe - but, being

used as a regular lane by the local farmers, they`ve filled the lower side in a bit more. Still, it makes those new to the lane

still go very pale when they look down to the bottom of that drop. Watching Lees 110 in front was a tad worrying, too.

At certain points the wheels on the higher side would touch a rock and slightly lift off the ground, gently pushing the 110 to even

more of an angle - impressive for those photo opportunities!

This led us, in a-round-about-way, to a nice gentle lane to an old cottage. It was set in a beautiful sunny side of the valley,

where the birds sung in the trees and the sun lit up the cottage in all its derelict glory. We parked the lannies together and had our

sandwiches and coffees whilst Lee showed us inside. A lovely old fireplace could be seen still in good order, and (stepping

over the decomposing sheep at the bottom of the stairs) the structure was surprisingly solid. A beautiful place to live in its hayday.

After lunch, some needing more lunch than others (mentioning no names like Peter for example), we set off on some

seriously long lanes. Some where nice and gentle, the type that could easily be tackled in the wifes Disco without fear

of damage, and some were quite severe, with deep ruts and some serious bouncing over rocks. One of them had obviously not been

driven in a long time. The brambles and branches either side had grown across, with only a gap between them to fit a little Fiat (fine for Simon).

The track itself had been washed away for so long it had formed a deep v-gulley. Lee went first, thankfully taking most of the

offending branches with him, and straddling the gulley either side the way you`re supposed to. I followed, with the remaining

brambles scarring both sides "of my beautiful paintwork"! Lee and Peter got out, taking pictures and guiding me downward

until the 90 was almost on it`s side - well, it made a nice photo!!! Opening my drivers window I could touch the rocks on

the side by only prodding my finger out.


The following lane, which lasted for about five miles, led us to a nice little pond whereupon we stopped again to

have a bite to eat -well, you gotta keep up that cholesterol level! Whilst munching on our butties, we decided to have a

drive around - and through - the pond. It was a lovely little site, with the mist climbing the rock boulders surrounding

the pond. The centre of the pond was wheelarch deep, so not wanting to waste greenlane time winching out, we

carried on with our day.

Another long greenlane led us to a huge forest, and some serious fun. The lanes through and around this forest are

well driven, and are bouncy, muddy and thus give the lannies that nice "I've-been-off-road" coat of mud.

At one point, Lees 110 grounded itself in some deep ruts - winch time. His Husky winch is a great winch, and works

just fine - but his remote didn`t. I couldn`t get around him to winch him out so out came the snatch-blocks and tree

strops, and we found a nice large tree 10metres in front of him. My winch cable was pulled past his 110, to the tree strop

and then to his recovery point. Two minutes later we were bouncing down the tracks again, when I tried to turn

left but the 90 refused. Lee carried on, but we were unable to follow - a log (more like a bloody tree) had wedged itself

between the steering guard and the steering arm, halting any steering. A simple pick-axe-handle movement (ie whack it) and

we were off again, catching Lee up in a little clearing.

The clearing had a steep bank leading to it - another photo opp - and had motorcyclists everywhere. One rider later

said that he was playing about, came down this bank and s**t himself as he looked over his shoulder to see Lees

landrover two meters behind coming after him! The bikers were a laugh, and happy to see other mud-pluggas having

fun, too. After taking a pic or two I was stranded on one side of a foot-deep stream, with the lannies the other side.

Lee simply drove through the stream, I leapt on his bonnet, and he swiftly reversed back to the camp. "Rather him

than me" was the comment from the other lads.


The day was closing, so we decided to aim for home - via a "little place" Lee knew. This little place

had an effing big hill, which was driven down (yeah, lowfirst, feet off - arse munching on undies) whilst I took

more pictures and ignored Lees abuse of "you big Mary!!!". The 110 and 90 came down well, with the rear

wheels almost lifting off the ground due to the sheer angle. At points the wheels slipped, but gentle acceleration

brought them back into play. Lee told Peter to have a go back up the hill - in my pride and joy! Peter was fine with

the idea, after all, if he rolled it it wasn`t his problem! The 90 hurtled up the hill, and almost run out of steam by the

time it reached the top, but made it. Peter was thankful he didn`t have to come down backwards (so was I!)- don`t you

just love those 200Tdi`s?!

Over the hill was another "pond" (read Lake) whereupon an abandoned Vauxhall Nova was sitting in the middle,

window deep in water. Peter and I watched in awe as Lee simply drove into the back of the car and ploughed it through

the lake, up a hill and out of the way so he could have a play before we could even get the camera ready! His laughing

didn`t last long, however, as after a little wading through the ice to clear his underneath (the underneath of the 110!) he

came out with two, yes two, punctures! I only had an alloy as a spare, so his own spare went on as did one of my mud pluggas.

The alloy went on my own lannie - well, I`ve only just bought them off Si and Lisa, I didnt want Lee wrecking it!.

After changing the wheels, and more food, we set off for home. Another day, more tracks, good photos and some good

memories were taken home with us...