The compelling relief of access, or egress . . .

There are some exciting sections on our 500m track

When you live far up in the high fellsides, half a kilometre from the nearest road, you do feel properly isolated. That’s lovely, and we’ve loved the sense of living in a remote location for the past decades, of course. But there are challenges to this sort of lifestyle, and perhaps the most salient one is that of access.

Never more compelling than when it’s urgent, when logistics dictate that such-and-so must be completed by this-or-that time, and we simply have to get up or down to get about our business. This was the case yesterday afternoon, a cold Sunday, when we had to get our beloved Harry Hymer down from his parking spot behind the house and out to the garage for his annual vehicle inspection. But the track had iced up in the preceding days, and I wasn’t that keen on risking the 3 tonne vehicle to an inadvertent slip-slide down into the syke below.

Several years ago our neighbour made a purchase of a pallet of rock salt bags, grit, for dealing with just such a contingency. I managed to distribute the contents of three of these 15kg bags in strategic places along the worst. of the ice, hoping thereby to gain some traction on at least one side. A few hours later and the ice was gone! Old Harry Hymer eased gently down the track and we twirled out of the farm gate at the bottom and away to the garage.

To be very honest, I didn’t breathe a real sigh of relief until I actually dropped the keys through the letterbox of Station Garage with an accompanying note. We’d made it in one piece!

Our little Fiat Panda 4×4 sprints up or down the track like a mountain goat in all weathers (save for deep snow drifts), of course, so after divesting ourselves of another assortment of junk at the dump, we skipped home. Our logistics plan was still in play.

Nevertheless, recognising that the weather could turn desperately inclement over our moving schedule, a fortnight after Christmas, we sat ourselves down and resolved a serious contingency plan. We might have to camp out in Harry Hymer, at the bottom of the track, if heavy snow falls, for example, until the track is safe enough for a big 7.5tonne lorry to gather up all the furniture, or on the other hand to divest its load for the next occupants. That will be fun too, and if there’s a respite of higher temperatures between now and then, as there usually is, we’ll be able to get old Harry packed up and ready for our winter adventure.

Meanwhile, relief at our successful egress (thanks to P.T. Barnum for pointing the way to that ‘egress’!) is the order of the day.

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