Following the London to Brighton LR run, when Jon M0JAO won the Prize for Best Series One. Contact was made with a Photographic Journalist, who was to produce a magazine article about Jon’s vehicle. This contact led to an invitation to join a small group on an organised drive across the Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA).
Defender 110 Tithonus belonging to G8DXU alongside Mastiff
(With kind permission of the British Army)
Use of Salisbury Plain by the military dates back to 1897 when the army first started to purchase land in the area. Today SPTA covers 38,000 hectares stretching 25 miles long by 10 miles wide. This includes the largest area of chalk grassland in northwest Europe. With 20,000 hectares of grassland being designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area Conservation. These grasslands are an important habitat to many species of wildlife, including the Adonis blue butterfly, Roe Deer and recently reintroduced Bustard.
The expedition was carefully organized and included a support vehicle with recovery equipment. Like Dartmoor access to the ranges by the public is permitted outside the times that areas are closed for firing. During firing times Red flags are flown with Red lights displayed at night. Access roads often have barriers that will be closed as required to prevent unauthorised access.
Most of the access roads were built and maintained by the MOD with the primary purpose being ease of access for military personnel. Fortunately many of these roads are Byways Open to All Traffic (BOAT) permitting access by motorised vehicles.
Off road expeditions in this country require a responsible approach by those taking part. The general guidelines for Green Laning must be followed, together with an adherence to the Bylaws for the area. On this occasion we were fortunate that one of our guides was ex forces with a detailed knowledge of the area. The lead vehicle was also equipped with GPS connected to a PC using the Memory Map system to accurately follow previously planned routes.
One of the many warning notices on the Salisbury Plain training area. The MOD use large areas for firing small and large calibre weapons plus Mortars etc. Live firing takes place on about 340 days of the year. Some areas within the ranges are fenced off due to unexploded shells, awaiting disposal. The notices are certainly to be taken seriously!
This is an enclosed and unoccupied area used for Close Quarter Battle and Urban warfare training etc.
Jon M0JAO in his Land Rover Series One (1949) with Petrol engine, coping well with the very wet conditions.
Non Military Defender 110 300Tdi support vehicle
British Army Land Rover Wolf. Fully fitted with Bowman VHF & HF Radios.
On a chance encounter with a small military troop of young soldiers, we were fortunate to be made welcome. This is unusual as the military normally have better things to do, than to spend time talking to civvies! This may have been due to the authentic appearance of some of our ex-military vehicles. Albeit museum pieces in the case of the Series One and outdated Clansman! We were exceedingly fortunate to be treated to an overview of some of their Bowman equipment. And yes the manpacks are much heavier than the Clansman units they replace! Details of the Bowman radio system will be covered on these pages in the near future.
Despite the inclement weather our weekend on SPTA was entirely enjoyable. The Land Rovers performed impeccably easily coping with the wet and muddy conditions. On this occasion we only covered a small portion of this huge area and cannot wait to return.
We gratefully acknowledge the understanding and assistance received from Army personnel during the photographic assignments. Photographs shown above are just a sample and are not intended to be representative of the professional images used in resulting magazine articles.
SEE LAND ROVER MONTHLY Winter 2016 Edition No. 212
Barry G8DXU Photographs Copyright G8DXU 2015