A snowy day in March

Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009, under , , ,

On Thursday 5th March 2009 I woke to find a significant amount of snow on the ground, I left home at about 6.45am, realising that the later I leave it the more cars will be on the road. I drive a four wheel drive Audi Q7 and would probably be OK in most conditions but others? The later I leave the more people there will be on the road, in unsuitable cars and perhaps without the ability to drive in those conditions – and then there’s more chance of me getting stuck behind them!

The snow was quite wet and slushy as I left home, but as I continued onto the Dorchester Sherborne road it changed and as I increased altitude the snow was and was less slushy and more compacted, packed powder.

The first abandoned car was at the end of the straight road, (past Forston Higher Farm towards East Hill) obviously couldn’t get up the hill. The main road was down to a single lane only a mile or two along the road but was perfectly passable. There was a bit of traffic and it didn’t take long to get ‘stuck’ behind a group of cars following a Fiesta that was clearly struggling, at one point it pulled over and let the cars behind go past – yippee! But then pulled out again before we had all got past!

There was no traffic coming from the other direction, conditions must be bad on Revels hill leading up from Cosmore, it’s steep and given these conditions it’s no surprise no one has made it.

As we reached the highest point by Gales Hill the going was really slow, the tree’s were white, covered in snow clinging to the branches, hedgerows were covered and only two ‘clear’ wheel tracks were on the road.

Slower and slower we went, and then we came to a stop as we get ready to turn off towards Buckland Newton. Men with high vis jackets are at the junction, a few cars ‘dumped’ at the side of the road. People stopping to ask and then veering off towards Buckland Newton, Revels hill must be blocked.

For a while going in this direction all seemed good, but not for long, just before the steep twisty bit all stopped. I sat, a few got out to look, but nothing moved…. After ten minutes or so I got out and went to look and shortly afterwards some of the cars on the twisty hill by the reservoir started to move off, but it was obviously bad and very slippery. I’d be OK though, I got back to my car and drove past the van and couple of cars in front of me – I didn’t want to be held up any more!

We don't get this much snow in Dorset!

It was bad, very slippery, I wish the car wasn’t automatic (or that I had thought about switching to the semi-manual gearbox option!), but I had four wheel drive…… Over 2 tonnes of Audi Q7 started sliding down the twisty hill, I had virtually no control, I turned the wheel, I tried the brakes, I turned again. The banks were high, I used them to bounce off, to slow the car and point it in roughly the right direction, at one point I felt myself going sideways across the road from side to side, I could be jammed in, but I managed to get it going back down the hill. And then I got to a bit just before the entrance to Knapps Hill Farm that appeared to have been gritted and I got some traction and was able to stop.

It had taken me about an hour and a quarter to get here, it would usually take me ten minutes! Enough, at every turn, every slight incline I was stopped and held up by others. I have no doubt that had the road been clear I could have easily made it, but enough’s enough and I turned off toward Buckland Newton to pick up the Piddlehinton/ Piddletrenthide road back towards Dorchester.

Beautiful - if you didn't have to drive to work through it!

I now understand why at times such as this the announcement if often made "Don't go out unless you absolutely have to" - if those people in front of me had heeded this advice and stayed at home then I would have got to work!

As a footnote, later that day I went the same way to go to Wincanton races, the roads were clear and there were no problems. In Wincanton it was completely clear of snow, the sun was shining and although breezy it was a lovely day!

2 Reply to "A snowy day in March"

  • Rob-bear on 20 March 2009 at 08:41

    A very average sort of snowy day in Canada. Dreadful pity you had so much trouble with it. Did you pack your shovel, sleeping bag, blanket, sand, candles, and matches, just in case? ;)


    Mark Macdonald on 20 March 2009 at 10:09

    I guess because here in the UK we're not so used to it my answer is NO! We haven't had snow like this for about 30 years here in Dorset (Southern England). And for the last week we've been basking in good warm weather (15 deg C) with sunny skies! WEATHER!!

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