28th January 2004
The days previous, I'd heard that heavy snow was forcast for Wednesday.
I'd arranged to leave work early and meet Greg so we could go laning
in the Peaks.
Wednesday began with a covering of snow on the ground, but as i
drove into Derby for work, this had all but gone with only a few
smatterings here and there.
The day carried on with snow showers that settled, followed by
rain that melted it. I watched with trepidation from my desk, hoping
it would settle in time for laning.
At last 2.30 arrived, and so did Greg. We set off from my work
with a quick flash of the lights for Becc (Hi Becc!) Straight up
the A52 towards Ashbourne.
On the way, the snow began again...
...And didn't stop. This is the A52, a major road, almost reduced
to a snowy track!
Just as we got into Ashbourne a traffic jam begins. This takes
the best of 20 mins to get through
The plan is to follow the same route as last Sunday, as we know
that we shouldn't have much trouble with these lanes. We
start with a quick blast through Tissington Ford
While my truck attempts to hide behind a tree...
The first lane takes us up a hill and into a field full of cows.
Greg was leading and i notice him struggling up the hill and through
I shout over the CB "Are you in 4wd?" (I have to check
because a time before he wasnt, and just about killed his clutch
going up a rocky section!)
"Yes" comes the reply "The little light is on!"
But still he struggles with both rear wheels spinning. Some time
"Did you lock the hubs?" I enquire
The second lane was blocked by an old fart trying to get his Corsa
up this steep, but frozen, tarmac road leading to a farm. So we
stop and wait... ...and wait... ...and wait. I get out and ask if
hes alright and does he want a hand. All i get back is "Shift
those bloody trucks". Charming! We leave him to it, and move
on to the next lane.
We move on to the final lane near Longcliffe. This lane is further
North and much higher up than the other two, and it shows. The snow
covering is a good 6-8 inches up here, and as its so exposed there
are drifts of 2-3ft!
At the start of this lane we have to put our 'shepherding skills'
into practice. We're coming up tp this gate, but a load of sheep
follow the trucks. As Greg gets out to open the gate, the sheep
make a dash for freedom. Greg 'herds' them back, and I get out to
take over. Greg speeds his truck through the gap while i slam the
gate shut behind, before any of the wooly critters can escape. Greg
does the same for me as i manage to drive through.
We carry in with no trouble at all, blasting through the drifts,
as the pitch black night closes in all around us.
When we get to any section that looks a bit suspect, Greg, In the
lead truck, drives it first while I wait behind to make sure he
can get through OK. No sense us both getting stuck eh?...
The next section of the lane takes us uphill along the edge of
a field. We know this section is rutted, so as a precaution Greg
goes for it first while I wait at the bottom. It takes him three
attempts to get up the first bit of the track as there is a drift
of snow. This should have been our warning to back out while we
At the next attempt Greg breaks through and goes charging up the
hill. All is going well until his truck suddenly belly-flops downwards,
and stops moving. The reverse lights come on, then go out, and come
on again. Next come the inevitable message over the CB; "I'm
I drive the 300yard distance as tentatively as I can, following
Gregs tyre tracks. This is what meets me in the picture below. You
can see from Gregs tracks how his truck has slid sideways and landed
in the ruts. The truck is actually resting on the chassis with all
4 wheels spinning. Thats when it dawns on me that we might be in
We are very badly prepared for the situation. I forgot the spade
and left my gloves and hat at home. I try attaching a tow strap
to Gregs car, but I have no traction and simply cant shift him.
Plus I'm digging a hole with my tryes and risking getting stuck
This is when the panic sets in. It is soo cold, we are on the side
of a hill with fields all around, so it is very exposed. The wind
is blowing so hard and thrashing snow at us. We eventually undo
the shackles holding the strap, they are so cold that my bare skin
sticks to the bare metal! They've only been outside the truck for
a matter of minutes!
I try and move my truck onto a patch of hard compacted snow to
the left of my truck. I reverse a little then try moving to the
left, but as we're on a hill, I cant get moving from a standing
start. I end up reversing 50 yards or so before I can find any grip
to get out of my ruts. I pull up behind Gregs truck and try yanking
him out again, but all this does is pull my front end round towards
It is simply too cold out there to think. There are lots of things
we could have done to assist in getting the truck out, but the driving
wind must have killed my braincells off or something. With us, we
had cardboard, spare floor mats and a dry-stone wall at the side,
that could all have been placed under the wheels to aid traction.
(On the way home, when i was warm again, i formulated several plans
that would probably have gotten us out. Hell, I didnt even think
of lowering the tyre pressures until then! Its amazing how the cold
can stop your ability to think!)
Right where was I? oh yes, we started frantically digging under
Gregs truck to move some of the snow. Greg used a stop-lok and i
had bare hands (yes, i know now, ok!) I tried pulling him out again
but still no luck. We repeated this cycle several more times, all
the while me being conscious of getting myself stuck. I mentioned
to Greg that we should consider abandoning his truck and getting
oursleves to warmth and safety in mine. (This didnt go down too
well as you can imagine!) anyway we persevered, and after over an
HOUR of being up there i dragged Gregs back wheels out the ruts.
He did a 17point turn (to avoid dropping into the ruts) and shot
off down the hill "DON'T STOP" i yelled after him. I followed
suit, and we didnt slow down till we were back on a tarmacked road.
After this we went to Ashbourne to get a hot drink at a pub, before
heading home for a nice long, hot shower!
We learn't a LOT from this trip. Never, EVER go anywhere under
prepared. I had a change of clothes and boots so at least i could
get dry again, but that was about it.
It is true that a tow strap will get you out of most situations,
but NOT ALL OF THEM! let this be a lesson to everyone, learn by
my mistakes, as it could have ended a lot worse up there!