Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Simply stunning

After the snow we've had over the past few weeks, and the subsequent thaws, Monday night proved to be the best for dumping lovely stuff all over - I woke up to the loveliest winter wonderland I've seen in years. The downside? I was due to be in Ashton for an appointment and then in to work where I was training staff before getting some management training for myself.

Getting dressed I shoved on my walking boots again - they've been worn for weeks on end now - and wrapped up warm, plodded downstairs, opened the door to find lovely deep powdery snow. Stepping out of my door I sunk to my knees in it and knew it'd be a great day regardless of what happens. As there's a severe lack of grit in my borough (Tameside) only the really important main roads were gritted - I live on one such road and there was not an ounce of salt, grit or any other substance on the roads except for the snow. Cars were stupidly trying to drive through it, lorries were just abouts coping with the depth but not with the braking capabilities required. I knew no buses would be running as First always suspend services early, an Arriva driver who was walking home told me his fleet had been suspended, so I knew it was only a matter of time before Stagecoach did the same. I checked the travel info on my phone and it was saying expect severe delays and disruption - blatantly obvious given the conditions. By the time I walked across the road to the bus stop, this had changed to all bus services calling in any fleet that had managed to get out of the depot.

Mere moments later a colleague rang to say don't bother coming into work as the boss was snowed in (she lives halfway up a steep hill in Oldham) and other staff couldn't get in. One down, one to go. Phoned regarding my appointment and, again, was told to not bother.

Play day for me then!

After getting changed I set off on a mission. Armed with my camera and prepared for deep, deep snow I retraced my footsteps from New years Eve knowing that it'd be hard going due to the snow frequently covering my knees (I'm over 6ft tall, with long legs, so it gives you an idea of how deep it was).

I made my down to Berry Brow (a valley with one very steep side and one slightly less steep side) and found car, after abandoned car on the road side. Further down the hill and men in flouro jackets with tractors and vans were towing cars, vans and even people up the hill in the direction I came from. A couple of buses were stuck in the valley bottom awaiting their own tow trucks with a line of haphazardly dumped vehicles smeared all over the hillside ahead of them.

I plodded on relishing the effort I was putting in to get where I wanted to be, knowing it to be an amazing workout. Arriving at the fishing pond where I'd been on NYE, I was grinning from ear to ear to see it totally snow covered and every tree looking like it should be on a Christmas card. Simply stunning!
The little green sign in the photo is usually standing proud about 2 maybe 3ft above the water line, as you can see it's almost covered.

Wading through the magical scenery, drinking in the breathtaking views I arrived at the field by Medlock Vale farm. The proud trees in the centre of the field looked awesome and the lane to the side was just so inviting. Walking down it I crossed the river and saw that my island had disappeared under the snow and the river was frozen over in many places - it's not a particularly slow flowing river either, so proof that it was very cold and we'd have an extreme amount of snow.
The valleys were amazing to walk through, with me working ever harder to get through the snow, steps were invisible so it's lucky I know the area and where they are. Upon reaching the Oldham Way at the top of the valley I was finally seeing other people - although only a few of them. They'd made their way to the golf course to sledge the hills and slide on the frozen river, with some stupidly deciding to sledge down the sheer drop to my side.

I made my way to Daisy Nook to find the cafe only just opening up after the owner had taken forever to get there - he'd been told a road was closed when it wasn't. I carried on past the cafe and scrambled up past the old lock flights to reach Sammy's Basin which I knew would be frozen over and then further over to Crime Lake (which doesn't always freeze over). Past the Basin and I heard ducks having a bit of a strop. Not really surprising considering their habitat had totally frozen over leaving only a patch of water 12ft across for them all to swim in and feed. All too soon I saw some huge webbed footprints in the snow on the ice-covered water, followed them and found a very handsome huge swan having the biggest paddy I've ever seen a creature have and dishing out dirty looks to everyone he saw. He was really slamming his feet down hard and giving the odd honk. Poor thing.

Over at Crime Lake the scene was just something we rarely get here with deep snow smothering everything, leaving trees looking like they've cotton wool draped all over them and the snow on the water easily reaching 3 or 4 foot deep.

The only colour in this white and brown world was that of Crime Farm on the far bank perched on the hillside, surveying it's surroundings.

Heading back from the lake I noticed the swan had changed direction, followed his footprints and found him bullying a mallard to get out of the 'bird bath' so he could get in. The mallard didn't give much resistance - can't blame him really - and he plodded off to his harem of females.

My journey home was done by road as by now the trails I'd come along were swarming with kids and big kids alike all wanting to take advantage of the freak snow and play.

Arriving home to the seriously deep stuff I decided I wasn't yet tired enough, so set about building a snowman (instead of a penguin like I did before Christmas). After building him, I made him an igloo/snow dome type thing.

Before I knew it I'd clocked up a stonking 8 hrs of playing in the snow. I hadn't really thought I'd been out in the snow that long. Looking at my camera it's a different story though as I have over 200 photos to mull over. All depicting the best snowy day I've had in years!

Miles - approximately 20


  1. Beautiful photos and lovely words. But I'm mostly looking forward to pictures of the snowman and igloo. :)

  2. Lovely pictures...I had to work at home :-(

    But at least it was at home!

  3. Phill: Thank you. Just wait til I upload all the photos onto my new photo site, which should be up and running soonish. The snowman and igloo will follow shortly too :oD

    John: The joys of office type work eh, you can never get out of it! I work in retail at the moment, so if the manager can't get there, it's pointless any of us lot getting in ;oD

  4. A beautiful post, loved the pics and the words. Maybe you're a poet and you don't know it...Sorry. :-)