Wernie heads for the hills

Theo and his Land Rover Dis­cov­ery take on deep­est York­shire – and win

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Living With Classics - THEO FORDSAGERS CON­TRIB­U­TOR

De­tours off the beaten track are what own­ing a Land Rover is all about, es­pe­cially when you’re faced with an oth­er­wise dull mo­tor­way slog. This solid old Dis­cov­ery 1 is just the ticket for such an ex­cur­sions, some­thing it hap­pily re­minded me of on a re­cent jaunt up the A1 to York­shire.

I bought ‘Wernie’ a cou­ple of years ago from CCW’s sis­ter ti­tle, Land

Rover Owner In­ter­na­tional. Back then, I’d been tasked with re-mould­ing him from a bog-stan­dard beast of bur­den to a more pur­pose­ful an­i­mal that would be more rugged off-road, and adorn­ing him with some ba­sic over­land­ing good­ies. Hence the un­der­body pro­tec­tion, raised air in­takes, axle breathers, awn­ing, a few in­te­rior stor­age ideas, and elec­tri­cal wiz­ardry. At its heart is a nifty splitcharge sys­tem and ‘sine wave’ in­ver­tor for charg­ing del­i­cate electrics such as lap­tops and the like – or, as I later dis­cov­ered, run­ning an an­gle grinder. I can’t say that Wernie has ever had the transcon­ti­nen­tal epic he de­serves, but his huge cargo ca­pac­ity and all-ter­rain gusto have cer­tainly come in handy.

So when I was despatched to York­shire on as­sign­ment for CCW a lit­tle while ago, a stone’s throw from some of the UK’s great­est green­lanes, it was the per­fect out­ing for the Disco. The day’s work done, I headed for the hills near Stokesley. The sun was ter­rific but rain the pre­vi­ous night had made the first off-Tar­mac as­cent a slip­pery one. But in low ra­tio, sec­ond gear, and with the lock­ing cen­tre dif­fer­en­tial en­gaged, Wernie slith­ered up the nar­row track, gorse bushes press­ing in on ei­ther side, his all-ter­rain tyres work­ing hard to find grip. And grip they did, un­til a quag­mire a lit­tle later forced me to back up. At full charge I might have made it through, but not with­out ru­in­ing the ground and dis­gruntling some grumpy-look­ing lo­cals.

Lane two, at­tempted as even­ing set in, was a beauty. A firm track rose through a for­est and out onto a knob­bly sec­tion of big rock

steps. Here, bot­tom gear with the dif­fer­en­tial locked, cou­pled with a gen­tle tick­ling of the throt­tle, were the nec­es­sary in­gre­di­ents to make steady progress. Wernie clam­bered up­wards with­out miss­ing a beat – un­til I was halted by the mes­meris­ing view of rich green fields aflame in a fad­ing golden light.

Then dark­ness came, and Wernie did what Land Rovers do best. They may take you places, but they also get you home again.

’Wernie clam­bered up­wards with­out miss­ing a beat – un­til I was halted by a mes­meris­ing view’

The sort of pic­turesque re­wards that come from own­ing a Land Rover.

The golden rule of off-road­ing: ‘Where we’re go­ing, we don’t need roads.’

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