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The White Rose 4x4 Club trip to The Isle of Mull, Inner Hebrides.

(otherwise known as Ibex Owners On Tour)

On May 23rd, a convoy of 8 vehicles, 2 Land Rovers, 1 Range Rover, and 5 Foers Ibex set forth from various compass points for a long weekend on the scenic Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland. In fact, it should have been 9 vehicles and 6 Ibex, but sadly, Richard "Man of Mud" Alexander's awesome blue and yellow machine seized it's engine on the way up from Newbury. It was recovered to the Maddison Ibex Repairery but, being Mazda powered, could not be fixed from "off-the-shelf" components, thus Richard and Linda arrived at Gretna Green very late that evening and in the Maddison Ibex. The loss of chassis 23 was to prove a real body blow.

[4WD: picture of Ibex 4x4 Scotland, jpeg] After breakfast next day the journey started in earnest. We arrived at the ferry in Oban with half an hour to spare and met up with the two Land Rovers and Brian's silver Ibex 250. Embarking the ferry brought many curious stares, as did disembarking, only now more so. A 45 minute drive and we were at our hotel in the tiny village of Dervaig.

For those not familiar with the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides, it may be summarised thus:-

  1. Mull is hard to get to, and larger than you might think.
  2. It is wholly composed of two differing materials: solid rock and bottomless peat bog.
  3. Nobody lives there.
  4. Those that do seem to be mostly Yorkshiremen.
  5. The sheep live on the roadside, which is the safest place to stand.
  6. Draught beer is scarce.
  7. Shops are scarcer.
  8. Fuel stations are almost non-existent.

The first evening, Friday, brought us all together in the bar. Refreshments were consumed in bulk, which lead to some unusual high jinx. I will say no more on this subject except that the evidence is on video, officer.

4x4: picture of 4x4 Ibex, jpg] On Saturday morning we set off to have a run-around on some land owned by a local farmer. He had a very daunting looking bog-pool (quite big), and he was determined that one of us would drive through it, as it had never been driven (I'm not sure that anyone had even been daft enough to attempt it). As it was long, but not very wide, I decided to try it crossways, and thence up a steepish bank at the other side. No problem with the bog, (I must admit, I chose a drier bit to start with), or the bank, so we turned, and came back down the hill to re-cross the bog. Suddenly, cries of "whoa!" I had bent the track rod, I don't know how, I never felt a thing, but it was bent in a BIG way. Fortunately, Brian had a spare with him. Well, the Ibex is all Land Rover running gear, and we all know how well screwed together they are. So we popped that on until we got back to the farmhouse. Many blows with a large hammer against a proper boulder and the bent rod was straight(ish). Well, it got me home and it hasn't been replaced yet.

[4WD: picture of Foers Ibex 4x4, jpeg] Wally was now volunteered to attempt the pool length ways, and he crawled along rather cautiously. This was to be his downfall when he hit the soft bit. He obviously missed the "more momentum" lectures when he was at the University of Four-Wheeling.

In the afternoon we split into two groups, the girls went off to the island capital, Tobermory, while the boys decided to tackle a particularly ominous looking track, which went across the top of the highest peak, Ben More. In fact, it was very easy going until the track suddenly disappeared. Hemmed in by mountains, it was obvious that the route climbed the side of one of them. Steve had a quick look through the binoculars, then a comparison with the map revealed little more than a dangerous footpath leading up to a shallow saddle in the hills. One thing was clear, it was too late in the day to even consider attempting this one. It would have to wait.

Later that day my motor started to make a funny chirping rattle. It did not manifest itself when stationary, and so I was puzzled. Anyway, it was late in the day and the bar was open, so I thought no more of it.

The highlight of the weekend was to be driving a private forest to which we had access (thanks, Dave), but on arriving there on Sunday, we decided to give it a miss. Lumber operations had left the newly cut access track strewn with 2 foot high tree stumps, so progress would, at best, have been painfully slow, and at worst, terminally damaging. So we opted for an area of softish ground, interspersed with rock. As we were soon to find out, the softish ground was in fact a peat bog, as was the whole island.

I was volunteered to go first, and promptly got stuck. Wally came to rescue me, and got stuck only half way. Brian came in with the twin-lockered 250 II, and got stuck between Wally and me. Now this is unheard of - 3 Ibex stuck in 10 minutes. Having recovered everybody we re- grouped on dryer ground.

[4WD: picture of Foers Ibex 4x4, jpg] It was then decided that I should try a new "section" (the wide tyred 240 was best suited to the peaty boggy terrain). This "section" was peat marsh, then out, and up and over a steep rock outcrop. I picked my line. It was not a good one. It seems that Mull peat bog and Mull swamp look identical from the drivers seat of an Ibex. One minute I was bounding along, the next I was nose down and sinking fast. It is not every day that you sit in stationary vehicle, and still have the sensation that you are moving! This particular swamp wanted an Ibex of it's own. Unfortunately, the one it had singled out was mine.

Wally and the peat bog worked a great double act all afternoon, with the bog trapping him about once every five minutes. Even a few locals turned up to watch the proceedings, such was the entertainment factor.

A little later, we decided to move on down the road to the "Genesis Estate". Well now, the peat bog, and the associated riving and KERR snatching, must have put a not inconsiderable amount of strain on the ailing part of my motor, because when we hit tarmac again, the most horrendous vibrations, growlings, and grumblings were evident from the nether regions. I called up the Chief Ibexocologist on the C.B. "We are sick and dying" said I. And we were.

Dr. Maddison quickly diagnosed a terminal Spicer Bearing (whatever one of those is), and advised speedy amputation of the front propshaft. I gave my consent, I didn't have a lot of choice. The emergency operation was carried out in situ, and was a complete success.

[4WD: pictures of 4x4's, jpg] Now even with my limited mechanical knowledge, I know you cannot go out to play with only rear wheel drive, even if you can drive both rear wheels at the same time. This was very disappointing, as the Genesis Estate was vast. But soon after, we discovered that Wally had a spare with him. Well it is a Land Rover after all. And so it came to pass, that at the top of a mountain in Mull, my vehicle was made whole yet again.

[4WD: picture of 4x4's jpeg] On Monday we drove some of the old island roads, where washed out bridges were the main feature. Wally managed to misjudge the track twice, ending up both times in a bog, which entertained everyone greatly.

Tuesday morning saw us boarding the tiny Fishnish to Lochaline ferry for the long trip back, and although the weather that day was terrible, it did provide one memorable sight - four Ibex in a line on an almost empty ferry.

[4WD: picture of Foers Ibex 4x4's on Ferry, jpg]
Many thanks to the residents of Mull for lending us their beautiful island, and for putting up with such a motley band for 3 days, and particularly to Dave and the other land owners .... cheers! Special thanks to the staff of the Kinloch Hotel, Pennyghael for providing us with a proper meal and some draught ales; we know where to stay next time. Team Spirit Award goes jointly to Steve and Richard, for continuously repairing my Ibex in the field, and Wally and Brian, for providing a never ending stream of spare parts. Golden Ground Anchor Award (for getting stuck most often) also goes to Wally, who surely must have set a new Commonwealth Record!

Members present (by vehicle):-

[Link to I.B.Exhibitions 4x4 and Outdoor Shows]

Steve and Wendy (Ibex 250)
Matt and Dave (LR)
Peter, Karen, and Nicola (Ibex 240)
Wally and Em (Ibex 240)
John and Christine (Ibex 250)
Mark and Sandra (LR)
Richard and Linda (Ibex 250-less)
Patrick and Gillian (RR)
Brian and Tom (Ibex 250)

- Peter Bradley [wwweb] 1997 -->

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