Snow & tell – by David Sharrod

January 15, 2010

Clapham, where YDMT offices are based, in December

New Year has brought the sort of proper winter that I still associate with the Dales. It’s not quite 1962, but certainly like others in the 60s and 70s.

Now I know it has caused problems for many, not least the farmers. The snow and ice has shown yet again that they have a lifestyle which very few people in our society would put up with these days. No chance of sneaking a day off from the office or school for them. Sheep in particular struggle to move around in snow, and even with daily feeding farmers in the village say that they can only wait for the thaw to find out how many of their stock have survived.

However, it has also been marvellous. Like living in an Alpine village. Day after day of crisp sunshine and blue skies over a stunning white landscape, with the hills pink in the sunsets. That soft quiet you only get after snow; helped by the lack of vehicles. A real sense of community as well, one of those times when people all talk to each other as they slither and slide up the road, or huddle by the fire in the pub. Sights to be seen and remembered as well. Stalactite–like icicles on the roof of the tunnels in Clapham, hares standing stock still in white fields thinking you can’t see them, and most bizarrely for me a Little Owl falling down our chimney! Presumably looking for a warm roost site, it looked as surprised as we felt, but flew off happily enough once rescued.

YDMT staff have done us proud; a Dunkirk–like spirit to carry on. Particular praise to our receptionist Tracy who has got in every day from Settle by bus – indeed the buses have been a lifeline to local villages. Also to Sue who has driven over the top from Richmond every day, snow chains at the ready. Others were not so lucky; Tanya and Rima stuck in Wensleydale a long way from any snow plough. The wonders of technology mean there is no escape from work via the dreaded emails. Our fundraising manager Anne had the opposite problem and didn’t make it home for nearly a week; but then Malham Moor where she lives had several feet of drifting snow. Christa, our new Hay Time officer, must wonder where these supposed flowery meadows are! An unsolicited plug for our two Daihatsu Terrios vehicles as well, sponsored by Nicholas Smiths of Skipton. They have been fantastic and never let us down, when many others have been slipping and sliding around the roads.