Just nipping to Chipping...

“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 green-lanes.  Admittedly I didn’t have an actual plan, though I did know of a lane around 35 miles away that I was eager to 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.

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 Square Umbrella that I got from Muddy Madam's brolly shop - www.hellobrolly.co.uk - (a shameless plug!) which performed perfectly.

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 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!