Sometimes we push ourselves to do something different or dangerous. For me that normally stretches to putting an extra sugar in my tea or opting for that deluxe bag-for life with the sturdy handles over the normal 5p plastic carrier. But sometimes you do something so ridiculous that any therapist would be left reaching feverishly for the straightjacket.
In petrolhead terms that can only mean taking an old Land Rover for a long, long journey. Across Ireland, for example.
I’ve taken my back-shattering Series III considerable distances before, but this (quite literally) pushed the boat out. I’d been invited by Mark Saville to provide back-up should anything on his Series I go wrong. Ha! Go wrong? Me? The man who bought a P38?
It was impossible to resist. Ireland is the best driving holiday destination in the world, but the only potential issue was taking a former military Land Rover through the heart of Derry and Ballymena en route to our destination. Colleagues assured me there’d be no danger, despite my concerns about taking a vehicle of this type through a once very troubled area.
The journey involved traversing over 400 miles to Stranraer, before catching the ferry to Larne the next morning. About 400 miles at an average of 45mph left me questioning my sanity, but after clattering off the P&O ferry the questions took an intense turn.
There was an air of danger as people stopped to stare at two distinct military-looking Land Rovers swooshing past on Solihull's moreish exhaust burble. The tension lasted the entire run to the border, but it was in Derry where animosity seemed to reach fever pitch.
Cars followed us, attempting to overtake only to peer angrily into the cabin before pulling back again, while stops for petrol – an all too frequent necessity when driving a Series Land Rover – resulted in one man approaching my car to tell me I was in the wrong area with ‘a jeep like that’.
The urge to correct him on the difference between a Land Rover and a Jeep seemed like a very stupid thing to do, but I did it anyway to a stunned look from my potentially belligerent interrogator.
Crossing over into the Republic of Ireland provided yet more stunning scenery, but it also brought some rather prolonged and incredibly steep hills, which caused severe overheating issues. Nevertheless, 29 hours after departing from Peterborough and only one breakdown later (when my Series III wouldn't start form warm), the two time-worn Land Rovers squeaked to a halt in Dunfanaghy for the photoshoot – the result of which was published in the March 2016 issue of Land Rover Owner International.
With time left over, we hit the green lanes. This was worth the stress to get here. The lanes coiled over the hills following an old railway line to dramatic effect, opening up on a natural canvas that took my breath away. As did the cold wind, slicing its way through the gaps in the frayed canvas roof. All was going well until a river crossing appeared on the horizon.
Mark went first in his Series I and struggled across the rocks on the river bed, scrambling up the embankment by the skin of his tyres. In a foolish manner, I reversed for a run up – and entered the river doing roughly 20mph. It was like being in The Poseidon Adventure. There was water everywhere and although the Series III climbed the bank without issue, just about taking off in the process, the engine had flooded and was clearly in a bad way, cutting out, miles from civilisation, with no spare parts.
The thing is, as it turned out, this was the least of my worries. As you will fuly understand in the the second part to this adventure.