The road…

I left after work on Thursday, driving north for the last Silent Eye meeting before the April workshop. The sun was shining, the day was balmy… spring had, it seemed, finally sprung after the torrential rain that had battered the land all night. Six counties, several road closures and five hours later, I had driven through spring and back into a watery world where the rain lashed the windscreen faster than the wipers could clear it.

Yet the sun greeted me again as I drove over the Derbyshire hills and into Yorkshire. Traces of white winter lingered in the lee of stone walls where the shadows preserved the last remnants of snow. Daffodils strained at the leash, wanting only a little warmth to burst forth in all their golden glory… and then I hit a wall of fog and I was glad to reach my destination and dinner.

The next day we headed back across the hills to Greater Manchester for the meeting… and later inched our way home, gripping tight to the wheel, as the fog enclosed us. We could see no more than a couple of yards ahead as we drove across the unlit hills on narrow, twisting roads and were grateful to reach the relative safety of the freezing-cold city. And then, as if that wasn’t enough…the next day, it snowed.

It snowed most of the day while we worked, but did not choose to settle until we had ventured out in search of food. Less than an hour over a late lunch and we found the car covered in a thick layer of the white stuff. And then… it snowed some more, squashing the winter pansies in their pots, covering the city in a silent shroud.

We were pretty much stuck, at the mercy of what the weather was doing, and could only wait for the roads to clear just enough for safety before venturing out the next day. The world was beautiful… but, as we essayed the roads I would have to take to drive south, full of dangers.

Roads which seemed passable were soon snow-bound. Vehicles were abandoned in drifts several feet deep. The few inches of powdery snow that had fallen was being whipped by the wind into great, white plumes that heaped fresh hazards on the road and, overnight, the packed snow and slush turned to ice.

The drive home was not an easy one and I could not predict the way I would have to go, but I was determined to get home for my son’s birthday. As long as I stayed on the main roads, it was not too difficult to drive, but beyond Bakewell, the ‘main’ roads are narrow, winding lanes across exposed moors and fields. There was a point at which I should have turned back, were I being sensible…and were there anywhere to turn. The little car skied and skittered down slopes of packed ice, on roads you could no longer see. I could not take my usual route, but followed the clearest roads, knowing that just a few miles away was a real main road… and that would be clear. Or so I thought.

The main road was clear… except where it wasn’t. Huge drifts of snow, twice as high as the car, bounded the road. Where the wind could blow them, the road was buried. So were the abandoned cars. Such refuge as one would normally find… like the stopping places and pubs… were completely cut off. Once you were on the road, all you could do was drive.

Or stop, when rescue operations blocked the road. There is always a silver lining, if you look for it and there was a bright side to this; parked at the head of a line of waiting traffic, right next to Gib Hill at Arbor Low, was one of the few chances I had to take pictures.

The local farmer hauled the stranded car down from the heap of snow and we set off again. There was little snow on the fields… it all seemed to have congregated in the roadside drifts. This made all the usually-hidden features visible. Standing stones stood out, dark against the white. Old earthworks and medieval ridge-and-furrow fields were easy to see, highlighted by the snow and the rays of the rising sun turned whole swathes of the landscape to silver.

Continue reading at The Silent Eye

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com
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18 Responses to The road…

  1. Pingback: The road… – The Militant Negro™

  2. Michael says:

    Beautifully expressed . what a trip indeed! There were folk stuck on the m62 not far from here for a day and a half.

    Like

  3. Erik says:

    What an ordeal! Even for we, the adventurous, there comes a limit to how tightly a steering wheel can be gripped before it’s no longer fun (though somewhere in the back of our mind, we are already thinking about how much fun it will be to tell the story—once it’s over).

    I got caught out in the last nor’easter we had here, when rain quite suddenly turned to a full-on blizzard. Within minutes, there was six or eight inches of snow on the highway. As with your trip, cars were pulling over … or simply sliding over into the roadside ditches. When a tractor trailer ahead of me jack-knifed sideways across the highway, I though I’d better turn off and try the “relative safety” of side roads. But my first alternate route was blocked by a giant tree, downed across the road; and my second was cut off by a toppled electrical pole with sparking wires. Back on the highway—without a single plow in sight—the only way to know you were still “on the road” was when you fishtailed one way or the other and hit the buried rumble strip underneath. The trip that would normally have taken a half hour wound up taking nearly two full hours. It took a while for the muscles in my hands to believe that they no longer needed to clench—or for my head and body to believe they were no longer swerving back and forth.

    Reading your account put me right back there, gripping my mental steering wheel all over again. So glad you’re safe (and that those pansies will get a break soon!).

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    • Sue Vincent says:

      I think the two worst trips in memory were when I was caught in fog so thick I had to walk in front of the car to guide the driver home, and being caught on a motorway in a storm of freezing torrential rain, pouring the coffee from the flask onto the windscreen to thaw it every few minutes.

      Bad weather is hard enough on the hands that grip the wheel, but the worst part is other drivers in bad weather… who still feel they are on a race track…. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Erik says:

        Oh no! Yes, I’ve been in a couple of those wonder-how-I’ll-make-it-home weather traps myself. It certainly calls upon our resourcefulness.

        And, yes … the other drivers! I don’t care how big your truck is or how great you think you’re tires are—a foot of snow is a foot of snow.

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  4. Widdershins says:

    So, every possible meteorological event, except tsunamis and desert heat. 😀

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  5. It’s snowing here, but how much remains to be seen. We’ve heard everything from an inch or two (or rain) to a foot or more, no rain. I am VERY tired of winter. Nothing against winter, but enough already.

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