It is almost impossible to believe that we are at the end of March, past the spring equinox and enjoying the sight of new-born lambs. There is more snow here in North Yorkshire than there has yet been this winter and the Met Office "feels like" temperature has not yet topped zero.
A lot of snow fell at the weekend while we were away but the roads have been ploughed and travel is straightforward so I set off on Monday evening for a 12 mile run happy in the knowledge that the whole route was on roads. The last part of my journey was over the moor road behind our house crossing the Watersplash, made famous in the credits of James Herriot, and Surrender Bridge. It's not an easy way to run - there's a lot of ups and downs - but it is an easy way to navigate. I checked sunset time make sure I would be home in the light and set out, a little later than planned maybe, at 4.45pm. The first 9 miles were no problem, along the main roads, enjoying the views and not even minding about the gathering snow shower. I turned up the moor road, noting the sign to my village - 3 miles. I followed a tractor for a while and felt confident that if a tractor could get through then so could I. Then the tractor turned in to a farm and the road turned into a snow-drift. I was running into bad weather, up-hill, with 10 miles of tiredness in my legs, and suddenly realised that no vehicle had been over this road in a good few days. No 4x4 would get up here; I was knee deep in snow in places, walking quite slowly as I picked out signs of my route and getting colder as the dusk drew in. I took out my phone to take a picture of a snow-drift higher than my head and the battery died. Less than two miles from home I was aware that I was in a situation a whole load scarier than I had imagined!
As I plodded on, running when I could see the ground scoured bare by the wind, and trudging through the drifts where there was no road, I wondered if I should be more worried. I did have a rucksack with water, food and and extra jacket; there is a limit to how lost it is possible to get simply trying to get up one side of a hill and down the other; I knew there were a few houses dotted about, including the farm of the tractor driver; and while I could still walk or run, I was heading home.
From the warmth of my living room it became a bit of a story to tell but I am learning a lot about assessing the risks of an "easy run" in this new landscape - I never contemplated having moutain rescue called out on my behalf in Bushy Park!
We're going to head up on the moor after lunch with the children and have another look at the impressive and beautiful snow-drifts: I have never seen so much or so elegantly scuplted snow before. But we'll make sure we're home long before dark with tea and cake in front of the fire.
Pictures to follow...