Strata Florida is a great greenlane, if not quite deserving of the praises often heaped upon it at the expense of other, local lanes. An invite from a friend saw me take to the lane with a bunch from the Nissan 4×4 Owners’ Club. My mate Franz had already defected from a (Nissan effectively) Ford Maverick to a Land Rover 90, and now I had followed suit moving from my Maverick to a Land Rover Discovery. However, despite the small-minded nature of some people, not everyone gets utterly blinkered by their own 4x4s and the day involved no petty ‘mine is better than yours’ banter at all. Refreshing.
Of the vehicle present – two Terranos, two Patrols and two Land Rovers – mine was probably the least well prepared. One of the Patrols was pretty much showroom, but did actually appear to have some grip on its tyres. My mis-matched all-terrains could be a struggle today.
And indeed, I almost got stuck within yards of the start of the lane. Strata Florida sees a lot of traffic, due to its iconic reputation, and things got tricky straight away. Not engaging the diff-lock didn’t help, but the Disco still scrambled its way over the obstacle. Just. An embarrassing situation was narrowly avoided.
Overall though, there were no problems other than the occasional loss of traction. Low first was ideal for crawling over rocks and at this, it was much more accomplished than my petrol Maverick. Diesels really are the way to go for a 4×4. Through this tricky section, I reckoned that driving over the rocks was much safer than trying to straddle them and risk diff damage.
However, this low-speed work, over tricky ground, did highlight that at least one of the differentials has a fair degree of backlash in it. This means it clonks as the free-play allows too much movement. That’ll have to go on the To Do list. The Discovery also coped well with the fabled Strata Florida Bombhole.
A quick deviation is required here. I’ve had people express horror at tackling the bombhole before, as they considered it off-piste. For much of the Strata Florida lane, there is evidence of people just going off to the side of the track, making a huge mess. The Bombhole is not clear cut though. The important bit is that the Rights of Way department consider it the actual route. Treadlightly, which presents a responsible image to greenlaners, opted to sign-post people around the Bombhole. This is largely because the Bombhole can and does damage vehicles. Indeed, while my Discovery got away with clouting the substantial tow bar, the Nissans (excepting a much-modified Patrol) all picked up damage here. The greenlaning code of conduct does allow you to deviate from the path to avoid obstacles so Treadlightly recommends that people bypass the Bombhole unless they are sure they know what they are doing.
Anyway, the Disco got through and we continued along the lane, enjoying sunshine and some tricky sections. I spent most of the time in low second of the dual-range gearbox, with our speed rarely high enough to move the speedometer needle from its stop.
Everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves, with some of the drivers very experienced, and others right at the novice level. That makes for a good day out, as you can swap advice. We then took to the sealed surfaces for a drive to Llyn Brianne. This is a man-made lake situated on the Tregaron to Abergwesyn mountain road. Incredibly, I had never been, despite it being less than an hour from home. What a place!
The views were truly jaw-dropping. After some serious gawping and a visit to the dam, we headed off to another favourite lane – Soar y Mynedd. More beautiful scenery, a tricky rock scramble and a few scary side-angles meant fun was never far away, and care had to be taken.
Overall, it was a great day out on the lanes and I’m looking forward to my next outing. The Discovery is firmly in the good books, though I do have an oil leak to try and sort out – oil is seeping from the connectors to the oil cooler in the new radiator. New seals required I think.