'Anoraks' at Penny Spring Farm, Detling 27 May 2001

The line-up
The smallest Anorak event ever?

Up until the last minute (ok, a couple of days before) I thought my visit to Penny Spring Farm, Detling, was going to be a solo run. With far more exciting places to go further afield the other Anoraks were giving it a miss. However, as it turns out two newbie Anoraks, John and Mark, turned up in their Range Rovers. As the only requirement of being an Anorak is to turn up to an event discussed on the mailing list, these lurkers were now members. For some reason they recognised us immediately as we arrived! Introductions over they went off to explore on foot, I decided to get stuck in.

Or, at least, try to get stuck in. But I couldn't. The hot, dry weather had removed any chance of mud. The site was also sadly less challenging than others. It's very tippy, with some steep inclines. There are one or two areas unsuitable for LWB vehicles, most of which (but not all, read on) are well signed. I can imagine some of the tippy bits being treacherous in the wet. Each run is classified as White 1, 2, Black 1, 2 or 3, with the higher the number being most extreme. Having tried the white runs, then the black runs, it wasn't long until we were hunting out the Black 3s!

There must be big beavers here As you enter the play area the first black run is a steep slope down. There are lots of trees about to add to the danger and I suspect it would be more exciting in the wet. We pottered around for an hour, enjoying the log bridge (left), which was a steep hollow lined with logs in the bottom. Again, probably fun in the wet. Sadly, Lemming's Leap was closed. Sensibly, I guess, as there seemed to be a large number of people who were without clue around. Then we saw it. Temptation. A steep hill with the sign 'Idiots Run' at the top. Having checked for 'SWB only' signs, we went for it. Our first attempt ended with a textbook failed climb recovery, nicely controlled, boosting my ego to ensure we got up to the top on the second attempt. There we found a tight turn with some real axle twisters. The only way to make it was back up a bit and approach at a different angle. This time wasn't so smooth though, as we our descent became somewhat sideways, closer to chaotic tragedy than control.
I'm not cross but Daisy is I should have taken this as a sign, this was not meant to be. But no, we got up there in the end. And when we did we found out that this was the entrance to 'Cross-axle Creek'. Yes, we got well and truly cross-axled! Despite the valiant efforts of our new Anoraks, we were completely stuck until a passer by came and gave us a tug back. The idea being that we could back up then turn back down the steep slope we had fought so hard to come up. Give us a tug
Which idiot left that there But it didn't go quite to plan. Instead we were pulled into an even worse cross-axle, complete with a barbed wire fence to wrap around the wheel. Cursing the idiot who took down a fence and dumped it there, I attacked it with a hacksaw. Meanwhile our towing saviour went off to find someone who could get us out of this even bigger mess! Fortunately it wasn't long before someone turned up with a hi-lift jack. Having cut away, removed the fence and replaced it with a log we managed to get out and head back down the hill. My thanks to these rescuers, including Craig and his barbed wire eating snips, they were excellent blokes. Free at last
Shunting again A couple more shunts (those trees are too tight) and we made our way back to the entrance. A well earned lunch break. Excellent egg & bacon rolls made by an old friend from Thamesmead. By then it was pretty obvious we had done everything. So, one more loop of tippy stuff and steep climbs before we called it a day. Don't lean over! You can do it, girl
Ouch Not too impressed with calling it a day at one o'clock. The site was too small and lacking in challenge, it wasn't worth spending more than half a day there. I'd managed plenty of damage, a piece of bodywork cut off by the barbed wire fence and a few tree dents. Twenty quid for half a days driving was a bit much. In itself a good morning, but didn't compete with twenty quids worth of Battle!

The guys who helped recover us were incredibly good sports, if they were Kent Pluggers then my compliments to the club. I'm sure the site is more exciting in the wet. It would be a great place to learn the technical stuff too - I learnt my tricks on a similar site.
More Ouch

UPDATE - I've since been contacted by the Kent Pluggers and they assure me that my suspicions are correct - this place is more fun in the wet. Apparently, sometimes it gets so wet they have to restrict the use of part of the site. Just so there aren't too many vehicles to recover! They've even offered to try and organise some rain for my next visit :)

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JAG 12th February 2002

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