After Christmas in Manchester with my daughter and friends we set off to cross the Pennines to visit friends in Sheffield. There was no sign of snow in Manchester but as we approached the edge of the city we could see snow on the hills. This short but high journey across the spine of England is one I have the utmost respect for. For England these are high hills( yes, I know) and attract harsh weather conditions. Maybe this is our only experience of isolation although not far from several major northern cities. There are several high road passes and these can be closed in bad weather. Many years ago I traveled across the motorway pass with an American friend in her great big jeep. As to why an enormous American jeep broke down on one of the most remote parts of any English motorway when the snow was setting in for the night, I have no answers for. However, this is why I have a respect for wild places where humans shouldn’t be in the snow, or a fear! We were finally rescued by the local police and taken away from the vehicle. Some may think little ‘ole’ England hasn’t any really high mountains and usually has mild weather. But some of the moorlands can be quite dangerous when the weather takes a turn for the worse. This can happen very quickly and walkers need to beware and take care too.
We headed up and over the Woodhead Pass in steady but slow moving traffic. It was very heavy with fog and there were few good views until we got to the Sheffield side and then there was snow and sun galore over the hills. I hadn’t seen snow like that for a while.
In Sheffield most of the roads were well gritted except the suburban side roads. These were probably the most treacherous with compacted ice. But we had arrived in good time, with the sun shining. So what do you do with a two and half year old. Out we went into the pristine snow of the garden and made footprints and then a snow cat. No, not a snow man, the snow was too soft and attention spans for both of us quite short. Instead we built a snow cat and collected twigs for whiskers.
The following day, in brilliant sunshine we headed out along well gritted country roads and into the Loxley Valley. The village of Bradfield and the reservoirs looked stunning in the snow. I love to come out of Sheffield into the hills as once I lived and taught in this once great city of steel. ( En route we had passed Stocksbridge and saw the sign TATA, now the steel industry that is left is owned by the mighty industrialists of India) The head teacher knew that many of our students never had or took the opportunity of a bus ride into the country and so each year the whole school would be taken out for a sponsored walk around the Ladybower reservoir. The beginnings of environmental education.
We walked around the Bradfield village green. covered with snow men, not cats, and also saw the orange bicycle sculptures. These were left over from the Tour De France….EE by gum, Yorkshire section. The hills round here were supposed to have been the steepest for the cyclists. I know this well, as once years ago…. my dear Ford diesel Escort got stuck going up one of the hills. This really is not a dig at American cars. Maybe I should have had a bicycle instead! Or maybe I need to get on my bike now and work off festive food and carbon foot prints. A resolution for the new year…..
Hoping we all have a prosperous and more sustainable 2015 and so all the new generation, one born today on New Year’s Day, can enjoy the wonders of this planet. Congratulations to the parents, grandparents and Great Grand Mama of the Manchester new year new born babe!