A Morning's Adventure...

When the news hit Harriet at Milner Off Road that I had Mitsubishi’s L200 SVP on loan for a week, she got all excited, and asked if I could pop over so that her guys could crawl around underneath it with tape measures.  Granted, that sounds a bit weird and geekish, but Milner Off Road sell airbag assist kits for a full range of pickups, but they weren’t sure whether their kit would fit the latest L200.  Spoiler alert, it does.

Matlock isn’t just around the corner from Muddy Towers, it’s around 1-1/2 hours away, so a bit of a trek, but I reckoned I could kill a couple of birds with a single stone, so a deal was struck.  Harriet not only offered me a good deal on a new tailpipe for Deux Smurf, but she would also sort out a Milner ‘goody bag’, and, to secure the deal, coffee and biscuits.  How could I resist?  

I can’t take a new 4x4 to the Peak District and not try out a few green lanes. 

So I went on the Derbyshire & Peak District Green Lanes facebook page and asked for some ideas.  I wanted a couple of easy, because I’d be alone, yet picturesque lanes to drive, and Chris, amongst others, suggested two blinders.

I arrived at Milner off Road HQ a little after 9.00am, and the guys set about the L200, tape measures and note pads in hand. They mumbled and grumbled their way underneath whilst I went inside and collect my goody bag and exhaust.

Within 15 minutes we were all sorted, I had my gear, they had their measurements, and it was time to explore a couple of green lanes. 

Leaving Matlock I headed over towards Ringinglow, more specifically the lane that goes over Houndkirk Moor, aptly named, Houndkirk Road (nothing gets past these Yorkshire folk). 

Starting at the southern end, the start is easy to spot within this desolate moorland. I engaged 2nd low with the centre diff locked, though I didn’t need to as 4wd high would have been sufficient, but I wanted to dawdle and admire the views.  Amusingly, I was passed by quite a few walkers and runners who smiled as they ‘sped’ past me - hooligans!

As you can see from the photos, the surface was fairly solid with a few undulations.  Sadly from the start there was evidence of off-piste driving from both groups, bikes and 4x4s, and it’ll be these numpties who’ll continue to ‘enjoy’ themselves when us normal folk are banned altogether.

Houndkirk Road varies in width, from just wide enough for one vehicle to three car widths, and it’s in these places where it appears to have been partly resurfaced, for use of a better word.  During the wider sections you have the option of driving along the smooth bit, or rocky.  As there we’re quite a number of walkers and mountain bikers at these sections I thought it would be irresponsible of me to choose the easy line, besides it was good to give the springs a good stretch.

As I approached the last gate it was at this point the rain appeared, and I’m not talking drizzle, this was proper hardcore rain, the type that when it hits the roof it drowns out the radio!  Fortunately I’d reached the end of Houndkirk Road and I was impressed, not just by the views, but by its condition.  Although it’s rocky in places the road is wide enough for you to avoid the worst of them, especially if you’re in a smaller SUV, like an SEAT Ateca.

From Ringinglow I headed towards Castleton for my last two lanes, Dirtlow Rake and Rowter Lane. Dirtlow Rake begins with a slight incline on lose stone, there’s the odd rut but nothing taxing, especially in the L200, in fact a well driven Ateca or Yeti could manage it easily enough.  Heading up towards a disused quarry on the right I saw more evidence of off-piste driving, but they've now strategically placed boulders to discourage those numpties.

A little further up, there’s a large rut that appears to have been made by the elements, and knowing the L200s ability, with its centre diff engaged, I figured I’d test its flex again.  So far the L200 was proving its worth, even in 4wd high without the diff being locked it was coping really well. On this stretch I engaged the centre diff, and again it drove away without any wheel spin or effort at all.

From here on, the lane is quite wide with large puddles, and although I’m not suggesting anyone tries it, you can drive the rest in the family hatchback. There’s the odd gate to open and shut, but just take your time and enjoys the views.  

Further along there’s a sharp right turn, and from there on to Rowter Lane which is a very well maintained gravel track with even more great views, once the clouds have dispersed.  

That was it, the end of a great morning's adventure, there was no 'man and machine battling against nature' as I fought hard against treacherous ancient byways, nothing like that. I simply trundled my way along our ever decreasing public rights of ways, keeping to the tracks and being polite whilst enjoying the views.

Once home, storm Brian had done its best to clean the Peak District from the L200 whilst on the M60 and it was time to see what was in my goody bag!