The SUV and 4X4 market is forever growing, with almost every manufacturer bringing their own jacked-up and four-wheel-drive offering to the segment. Most don't ever get the chance to go off-road, but what if you'd like to test the capability of your vehicle while getting a little muddy in the process?
Going off-road in the UK needn't be tricky, and the UK's countryside offers up some of the very best areas to try it. Here are some of the ways.
You can do an off-road driving course
An off-road driving course will help benefit your experience when driving on gravel, snow and mud. A typical course lasts for around two days and it teaches the driver how to control their vehicle in poor conditions.
It's likely that you'll experience rough terrain and steep slopes when driving off-road, which is all covered in the course.
The number of publicly-accessible green-lanes has dropped by more than half since 2006, but there are still unclassified roads around the country which are best suited to off-road driving. Greenlanes are infrequently used public byways, normally used for recreational purposes such as cycling and horse riding. However, cars are often allowed down them – provided they're capable enough at handling the terrain – which makes them ideal for off-roaders.
The byways are open to the general public meaning that off-road users can drive down them, as long as the car is road legal. However, always make sure that you check route maps beforehand, and ensure that you're not causing damage to the local area nor the road itself by driving down it.
Prepare your vehicle
It is no good going off-road in a two-wheel-drive supermini; the best car for the job is a four-wheel-drive off-roader. But the best way to go off-road and be successful with the journey is to prepare your car.
Equipment such as a winch and big chunky tires are the best prevention for getting stuck in mud and snow, while recovery gear and added warm clothing is best packed should the worst happen and the car get properly stuck.
Plan your journey
As well as preparing the car, planning your journey is another crucial point of off-roading. A lot of phones will struggle for signal in the countryside and if the vehicle gets stuck many drivers won't be able to contact others.
However, by planning your journey and knowing the car's limits, it'll mean that any driver going off-road will lower the risk of getting stuck. Portable water, snacks and a first aid kit are also a great way to stay safe and hydrated.