Spring vanishes as Dales farms suffer

The picture was taken near Beaver Dyke Reservoir on Sunday,  March 24. Tough conditions for a young lamb. Taken by Stephen Mobbs from Felliscliffe (S)
The picture was taken near Beaver Dyke Reservoir on Sunday, March 24. Tough conditions for a young lamb. Taken by Stephen Mobbs from Felliscliffe (S)
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Nidderdale’s spring landscapes have disappeared beneath several feet of snow as the area has been hit by unseasonably cold weather.

A heavy snowfall over the weekend followed by string winds causing deep drifts have caused problems on the roads and for schools, as well as for farmers struggling to care for sheep on the high moors.

Pateley Bridge weather forecaster Bill Wade’s records show this month to be the coldest March since his records began years ago, while March 2012 was the warmest.

Schools across the Dale were forced to close on Friday when the worstof the snow fell, but most managed to reoped after the weekend.

However, Dacre Braithwaite primary school faced another closure on Monday when snow blocked the road to the school. Headteacher Catherine Lassey said: “The drifts were six feet deep, even though the fields were clear.

“The council were great and sent four vehicles to plough the road open but outside it’s like going down a toboggan run with snow either side of you.”

Sub zero temperatures and strong winds have meant that some smaller roads have stayed closed, or passable only to 4x4s, especially higher up the Dale.

Studfold Camping and Caravan Park has been forced to delay opening until Easter Monday, owner Anne Challis said, and they have cancelled all caravan bookings for the weekend.

They are hoping the weather will improve after the weekend, and plan to run an Easter egg hunt from Monday through the school holidays.

The Challis’s are also struggling to care for their flock of 700 sheep. many stranded in snow drifts on Middlesmoor and Dallowgill moors.

Like them, farmer Martin Brown is worried for his flock of 940 at his farm near Scar House. The family had to snow plough their way out of the farm on Monday, and Martin has spent every spare hour hunting for stranded sheep.

“We have enough feed for the sheep until Tuesday, but we can’t get wagons in to bring more and nobody is working the bank holiday weekend,” he said.

“I am trying to find someone who can bring some feed up, but any spare lads are on snowploughs for the council.”