“Don’t run over any sheep!” was the parting advice we were given as we gathered our instructions and set off into the wilderness of Yorkshire. Well actually what they really said was, “We don’t want any sheep in the grill”. Righto then…
My gorgeous friend LJ and I had been invited to Jeep‘s 75th anniversary pop-up and range media drive in the beautiful North York Moors and after being wined and dined at the stunning Feversham Arms Hotel, we were ready for a day of off-roading in some seriously suave 4x4s.
First up was the Jeep Cherokee. Too busy setting up the sat nav and getting comfortable in this mansion of a car — compared with my ’53 plate Corsa anyway — we failed to hear a final vital piece of information and turned right at the junction instead of left. Whoops! But it didn’t take long for us wizz kidz to work it out and in no time at all we were driving back past the hotel and all the onlooking staff. Nothing can embarrass us cool chics. No nothing at all (*blushing red by this point!)
I’ve not been to Yorkshire much, but boy is it beautiful. Rugged and rural, sure. But stunning in its ruggedness. And the sheep. They were right — they really are everywhere. Soon as we’d passed over the first cattle grid, they were just ambling along the road strutting their stuff. It was like being in an episode of Shaun the Sheep (or that sheep horror movie — but I’m a too much of a scaredy pants for those kind of things).
I don’t know if you’ve ever driven in the countryside, but they have these kind of roads in rural Wales where my parents live. Pretty much single track, but perfectly smooth, winding for miles and miles through undulating hills and fields of heather. They just gently whisper to you, “Come on, floor it. You know you want to. There’s no one about, just do it.” And we really really wanted to, but before we knew it, a sheep would have run in front of the car and we’d have disobeyed that one rule. No sheep in the grill. So slow and steady it was. Well maybe just a little bit faster than that. Just a little though. After all these cars have oomph!
And in all seriousness, one did jump right in front of the car as we came round a corner. Sheep with a death wish! After an hour of winding country roads we arrived at our first destination: a lovely little farm right on the cliffs overlooking Robin Hood’s Bay. Epic. But the adventure was just about to begin, as the team had set up a lovely off-road course for us to test out our Jeep skills.
We turned left onto a small muddy trail and after a short while stopped to watch the Jeep in front do some complicated manoeuvre. It was pointing up a fairly short but steep hill, while the drivers received some instruction on how to navigate the next section. After a wee while the marshall stepped back, the Jeep pulled forward and then it literally just disappeared down this insanely steep hill. LJ and I looked at each other in utter horror. This is not what I’d signed up for!
But there was no hanging about, as it was our turn next. Gulp. So, hearts racing, I edged the Jeep into the right position and wound the window down. The marshall stuck his head in. “Everything alright ladies? Having fun?” “Aaaaah, yes?” we replied. At this point, all we could see was the sky, no land, no track, nothing — just sky. The marshall pressed a few buttons labelled ‘off-road’ and ‘hill descent’ and said, “Right, you’re all ready to go. Just point the car downhill and let the car do the rest.” “What, so no brakes, nothing?” I asked. “Nope, nothing, just keep your hands on the wheel and enjoy!”
Oh. My. Goodness. I don’t think I’ve ever been so frightened in all my life. Well I probably have, but that was flippin’ scary. As the car tipped forward over the edge, I could still only see sky. Then a little bit of sea — but that wasn’t very comforting either! Eventually it found the ground on the other side and we hurtled down the hill — girly screams and all.
Looking at the descent from the other side, it didn’t look nearly as terrifying as it felt, but we’d conquered it and it felt good! The rest of the track was fairly straightforward, but fun nonetheless. Now it was time to blow the cobwebs out in the breezy sea air, warm up with a quick cuppa coffee and off to our next off-road destination. This time in a Jeep Renegade.
I’ve seen these around a bit and I absolutely love them. In their bright funky colours, these 4x4s are super quirky, fun and adventurous looking. And strangely enough this model was specifically designed to attract a younger female audience. I guess it worked!
On the road again, the next direction was to turn right at the ‘Sheep Bus Stop’. LJ and I mused over what they could possibly mean by the ‘sheep bus stop’. But it was fairly obvious when we got there. In the middle of literally nowhere was this concrete bus stop with a Shaun the Sheep wearing headphones painted on the wall. Classic.
Before leaving Robin Hood’s Bay, we’d been informed that the next off-road section was going to be even hairier than the first one. Oh man, seriously? My stomach was doing that butterfly thing, but at the same time I was excited to see what lay ahead. We soon arrived at the Yorkshire Rubicon Trail and the fun could begin.
I’ve seen crazy pictures of Jeeps literally trying to climb up massive boulders — so this is kinda what I had in mind as we entered the trail. But to my delight, it wasn’t quite so intense. It was pretty bumpy though. Preeetty bumpy. My driving skills were put to the test as I tried to keep LJ and I from getting stuck in a couple of gullies by the side of the ‘road’.
Such fun though. The first section looked like giant steps and this is where the car started slipping and sliding a little — wheel spins and all. In some places I was told one or two wheels were off the ground at once, but if I’m honest, we felt completely safe the whole time. Just a little rattled!
After navigating the first set of steps came the real big challenge. Even bigger giant steps. I didn’t think it was possible, but it was. Now LJ was in her element, jumping out the car with a camera in one hand and a video camera in the other. It’s insane what these cars can do — all you have to do is trust they can do it and it’s done. My Renegade was munching these boulders!
Before I knew it, I’d reached the top of the climb and LJ could jump back in. “I got some amazing shots Margaux!” she said. And sure enough, she had. The rest of the trail was a fairly tame dirt track (for a 4×4) — but probably not for my little Corsa — with a few hairy gullies thrown in to spice things up at the end.
Jeep’s motto is all about having fun and living life to the full and that certainly encapsulates the essence of Outdoor Chics, so it was a real honour to work with them. I think I might just have to put a Renegade on my Christmas list 😉
Note: Jeep hosted us on this overnight trip. All views are my own. All photography by LJM Studio.