Snow way it’s nearly summer!

Snow drifts in St Aidan's Close, Billinge - picture taken by Elizabeth Fishwick
Snow drifts in St Aidan's Close, Billinge - picture taken by Elizabeth Fishwick

IT may be just a week until the official start of summer time but Wigan looked like it was in the depths of winter as blizzard conditions once again battered the borough.

Heavy snowfall and fierce, bitterly cold winds created large drifts across Wigan as temperatures plunged below freezing, leading to hazardous driving conditions.

Roads in rural areas of the borough quickly became almost impassable, with access to Haigh Hall having to be shut in order to allow snow clearance teams to make a route safe.

Some residents even took to their skis to get around the white wonderland. Even the emergency services found the conditions tough, with residents having to pick up their shovels to help free a marooned ambulance in Orrell on Friday night.

The vehicle became trapped by the snowfall on Hall Lane while providing emergency care, and only the digging work from local people prevented the mountain rescue team having to be summoned to move the ambulance.

Station assistant operations manager Will Branagh said: “It’s refreshing to see a shining example that the sense of community hasn’t yet been extinguished, and we would like to extend our sincere gratitude.

“As a result of this kind deed we were able to continue delivering emergency care to the people of Wigan.”

A class of primary school pupils and their teachers were forced to have a prolonged visit to the Lake District after they were trapped by the snow overnight in their outdoor pursuit centre.

The 24 youngsters and three teachers from Westleigh Methodist Primary School were supposed to leave Hinning House, near Coniston, on Friday afternoon following a week-long stay, but they had to stay until Saturday afternoon when the ploughs could finally clear the road leading to the centre.

It meant a nervous wait for parents back in Leigh, with one dad so concerned he decided to make a solo expedition to Cumbria to gauge the possibility of rescuing people himself.

Stuart Eatock, from Hindley Green, whose daughter Tegan-Blu was in the group, said: “I drove up and got within four or five miles of the centre, but it was absolutely horrendous. There were drifts two-feet high.

“To be honest I was quite surprised they got back on the Saturday, the centre staff and the mountain rescue did a fantastic job. It was a really emotional reunion back at school in the evening, quite a few of the parents were panicking.”

Mark Bushell, from the Brathay Trust which owns Hinning House, said staff had never known conditions like it, and it was only the second time a group had to stay in the centre for an extra night since it opened in 1983.