BBC Top Gear 2015

Land Rover put to the test against the height and gradient of the mighty Claerwen Dam

Challenge screened on BBC Top Gear programme in February

Spiderman could do it and no doubt a rock climber would manage it with ease, but who would have thought that a 1940s Land Rover would be brave enough to attempt to scale the wall of the Claerwen Dam at Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water’s Elan Valley Estate.

That is what happened one sunny day last September when the crew of BBC Two’s popular Top Gear programme descended on the Estate to attempt the daring challenge.

But not content with just sending a vehicle up the dam, the crew decided to put presenter Richard Hammond behind the wheel to add some drama to the occasion.

The item was filmed as part of a tribute to the hardy vehicle which will see the last ever model roll off the production line later this year. The trusty 4x4 has been a common sight on land and on road across the world for decades and the programme felt it only right to pay tribute to the vehicle in its own unique way.

To showcase the true versatility of the vehicle, the Top Gear Team approached Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water to see if they could attempt to scale the wall of the dam in the Land Rover. Standing at a magnificent 56 metres high and with an eye watering gradient of 72° the dam was seen as the perfect place to really put the vehicle to test.

To ensure the safety of Richard and the integrity of the dam and the water, every stage of the challenge was planned in detail. Everyone’s priority was to ensure nothing was overlooked.

After months of careful planning the day finally came for the Top Gear crew to arrive. Due to the magnitude of the challenge, the crew had to bring a host of equipment which included cameras, a crane and of course the essential tea trolley. Experts in managing such events were also on site at all times carefully monitoring the challenge.

Ed Parsons, Dŵr Cymru’s Area Lands Manager said: “We were naturally delighted when we were approached by Top Gear about filming this exciting challenge. The dam is spectacular and the scenery of the Estate also offers the perfect backdrop to film a tribute to this special vehicle.

“It was a great for the Estate to be part of the filming and by being involved in the planning we were able to ensure that the filming could be done safely while keeping the Estate open for the enjoyment of visitors. 

“I think we were all a little nervous watching Richard scaling the wall in the vehicle but knowing how much work had gone into the planning it was clear he was safe at all times. Hopefully though he will come back here one day soon and enjoy a slightly more relaxed day at the Estate.”

Watch the episode on the BBC iPlayer

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