Salisbury Plain, April 2016

jes and I spent a Sunday offroading on Salisbury Plain recently. We went in my car, which is a 1.8L 2001 Shogun Pinin that I love very much:

We started off just outside Stourhead, an estate part owned by the National Trust in Wiltshire. It was my first time going green laning in a few months, and definitely my most extensive bit of 4x4 driving since I bought the Shogun; there just aren’t very many opportunities to go off-road in southern England if you don’t own a farm. Wiltshire is probably one of the most permissive counties when it comes to green laning, and we were able to travel a good distance almost entirely off-road (we started off on the bottom-left of the map below, travelling east).

I was slightly wary about how the day was going to go: the Pinin is pretty tiny compared to serious 4x4s, my tyres are barely satisfactory for use on tarmac and Salisbury Plain is probably the place you’d lose your 4x4 if you don’t know what you were doing (I didn’t). Which is why it was pretty good to be sandwiched between a massive LWB Shogun and a Defender.

And all in all the day was quite a lot of fun! We startled a lot of cows:

jes thought he could tune my car radio but turned it into one giant catastrophe:

which meant that we had to listen to hours of classical music:

while tackling standing water that was probably deeper than anything my car is technically supposed to handle:

I didn’t get stuck once, and found the Plain to be far more accomodating than I was expecting, with loads of different tracks to take depending on how confident you were feeling.

We returned to Bath in the evening, respectably muddy:

If you’re thinking of heading out to Salisbury Plain, I would really recommend it. This map of Wiltshire rights of way is quite useful, and there is also plenty of advice online about how to take your 4x4 offroad without upsetting either landowners or the army, which is worth Googling for.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a 4x4 and don’t have very much experience, I would recommend starting off with either a Pinin like mine or a Suzuki Jimny (which is marginally more popular, and potentailly more moddable). You can get some really good examples of either in the £1000-£2000 price range. The Pinin comes with high and low range 4WD and a locking centre diff, so they are quite capable with the right tyres, even if they do lack the clearance of bigger 4x4s.

Roof mounted video footage in this post was captured on a Garmin Virb X, while the in-cab footage was taken by a Garmin Virb. The first and fourth photos were taken by Matt Foster, and all the others were taken by me with a Sony RX100 II or a OnePlus X.