CCROC President and Rights of Way officer Dick Loveday has recently been researching the “Hekawi Challenge” which was a night navigation exercise on Salisbury Plain. It has not happened yet and I suspect this is because many of us know how just how easy it is to get lost there in broad daylight and with a map in front of you.
But he is not a man to be easily daunted and Dick has lately put his Hekawi route to good use in leading several groups of us around it. I managed to cadge a lift with him on the last trip taking 4 vehicles into some of the more obscure corners of Wiltshire
It’s not a long run down to Pewsey and we were on the Plain by 10.30am. Three 90s and a nice Disco 3 were the vehicles, the latter being newly acquired by returning member Dan, the others being John and Rob H with his son.
It is always interesting to see how the modern LR designs fare on poor terrain and whilst the Plain is largely free of rocks it does have some very rutted routes and “interesting” mud holes.
So off we went. I had a map on my lap and Dicks GPS in front of me but at many points still couldn’t work out where we were or should go. You are spoiled for choice on the Plain with well signed Byways and Permissive Byways but there are so many that it is hard to pick the right one. Dick, however was able to lead us unerringly around, picking the safer routes and finding some fine views into the bargain.
A ford over Nine Mile River was a nice photo opportunity and shortly afterwards we came to a spot I remembered well, where my pickup had drowned in the middle of a large flooded area a few years ago and I had to be recovered by Dean Gore. At least it meant I remembered the shallowest route and we got no deeper than bumper level on the D3. Others clearly had picked less well and bits of a plastic bumper could be seen floating in one hole where somebody’s recovery had gone badly. Mind you, the water was so muddy that for all we knew it was like an iceberg and there was still a Mitsubishi bolted to it.
I had thought we were well equipped until Rob told me his impressive Warn winch was actually now more decorative than useful.
As it turned out we did not need one anyway. The D3 dragged its underbelly in several places but always found traction even on quite well worn road tyres. Clearly either Dan, the driver’s, skills, or the vehicle’s electronics are amazing.
By the onset of dusk we had driven well over 20 miles of lanes and had had a good, if cold, day in the fresh air.
We had seen a calf newly born, lots of military activity and even the tank Dick had promised, although this last item was not as impressive as I had expected (see photo).
So great stuff, but please note that if you do decide to do the Hekawi challenge, it might be best if you had Dick beside you because the rest of us were lost the entire day!