When Monday’s blizzard drove a gritter into a ditch, blocking all vehicle traffic from Penrith to Alston, I was lucky to be on foot, as I managed to do the whole journey from Alston to Castle Carrock.
It was extraordinary to come up onto Hartside and see the lights of the police car, shimmering in the blizzard. A long line of cars was beginning to snake slowly back down the road to Alston, having been forced to abandon their journey. One of the drivers of the gritting lorry told me that his pleas to keep his old vehicle, a good 4×4 had been ignored by his bosses. Instead, they had been forced to take on a new vehicle which he knew would be unsuitable and which had crashed. This is a prime example of why we should learn to listen to the people who have been doing these jobs for decades instead of imposing alien theories from above.
I continued through knee-deep snow off-road to Renwick, where I was greeted by Mr.Dixon, a local farmer. ‘Hello, I’m the conservative candidate’ I said. ‘Monster Raving Loony candidate more like walking on a day like this,’ Dixon replied, ‘still – I’ll give you this, you must be keen.’
Having crossed Afghanistan by foot in temperatures of minus 40, shortly after the fall of the Taliban, and having climbed from my home in Dufton over Great Dun Fell through heavy snow the previous day, I was able to put the weather into some perspective. I arrived in Castle Carrock, about two hours after dark. It was a slow walk, because people kept coming out of their houses to offer me mince-pies – my only regret is that although I entered Croglin at dusk, I did not see the vampire.