Mountain Rescue 4x4 Training
Four members of CMRT attended some basic off-road driving training down at Laggan with Ian at Highland All Terrain. Utilising the tracks and trails around the Ardverikie Estate, the team were shown how to drive effectively over rough surfaces, both in ascent and descent, as well as being introduced to the ‘Diff Lock’ and both when to use it and how to get it off again afterwards (this provided quite a challenge over the day!).
The weather was stunning, as it has been in Scotland for quite a while, with bright sunshine and a gentle breeze to keep the tiny biters away. Unfortunately the bigger biters, locally referred to as Clegs or Horseflies, laughed in the face of the breeze and fed to their hearts content mostly on us. As Gill, Steve, Chris and Martyn began getting their heads around the technical side of the driving including selecting an appropriate gear, choosing a line and holding on through the bouncy bits, the added challenge of swatting away Clegs whilst doing all this has surely made some highly adaptable drivers.
Fording the Loch in the Land Rover Defenders
After lunch Ian took the team over to a training area he uses that incorporated steep slopes, rutted ground and off-camber traverses. The ground was dry enough that the team Landrovers managed to get around everything in the area without out much difficulty which highlighted the capability of the vehicles.
The finale of the day was a drive around the extensive beach at the head of Loch Laggan which, in this dry weather, was particularly large. The team had a go at steep sandy descents, sandy climbs and driving through water with the stunning backdrop of the West Highlands.
A great day with some useful learning for all involved. Many thanks to Ian for his patient instruction and for sharing some of his extensive knowledge about all things mechanical.
Some footage from the days training
We started with a scenic drive out to the shores of Lochan na h-Earba where we explored the potentially common problem of getting the Landrovers out of a ditch which could easily happen in snowy conditions. Many hands and ingenuity offered the best options for extracting the vehicle.
This was followed by the ‘mud-hunt’ in the Can-Am. Ian was disappointed that even one of his most reliable muddy patches was pretty much dried up and the Can-Am made light work of it. In fact, in the current conditions it seemed that the Can-Am was more than capable of cruising through anything that was thrown at it.
Can Am hill climb
In the afternoon we explored some more smaller tracks that challenged the Landrovers to a greater extent as the Can-Am cruised around all the obstacles. As everyone took turns navigating a technical loop in the Can-Am, the rest of the team explored winching the Landrovers out of a hole using ground anchors. In the soft, peaty ground, we had a good opportunity to test our kit and identify the bits that worked well and those that didn’t which allows us to review what we carry and how we use it.
We ended the day back on the beach with the Can-Am excelling in gloopy ground, wet ground and steep sandy banks whilst the Landrovers had to work a little harder (Andy confused the Landrover with a aeroplane as he tried to take off exiting the river bed!).
Can Am Commander fording the Loch
Another great day was had by all with Ian working hard to find suitable locations for a very capable Can-Am and some useful discussions were had that allow us to think problems through in a relaxed manner rather than in a ‘Hooley’ in the pitch black.
Martyn - Training Officer