Sat Nav Woes on Icy Roads
3rd January saw me drive to the local Vauxhall dealership in Morpeth from Amble. It was a beautiful morning but icy. Driving to Morpeth, not being fully confident on my directions I used Google maps on my in car navigation. It started off fine, a drive on gritted roads through such places as Pegswood , Ashington and Wriddington Station, a simple 30 minute drive. On the way I was treated to the beauty of the morning sky waking up over the coast as both a barn owl and a kingfisher crossed through my headlights. The problem was towards the end of the journey, instead of keeping on the main roads through Morpeth sat nav directed me along a rural road that bypassed the town to the garage I was heading to. Blindly I followed the route that became narrower and steeper until I rounded a corner on a 1 in 6 slope and hit sheet ice caused by frozen off run of water across the road. I ground to a halt, then to my horror with my brakes and my hand brake on started to slide backwards. I only halted my descent by sinking my near side rear wheel into the verge. Now I was stuck a mere mile from my destination.
At the side of the road were piles of salt dumped. So I got out the car and started chucking salt on the road ahead and behind me and under my wheels. A lady drove by me in her Volvo successfully only to get stuck 20 yards ahead of me on the next corner. Coming up the hill behind us a highway worker pulled over in his truck to help. He got the lady free and then tried helping me with a bag of sand under the wheels. It helped only for me to proceed 5 yards and slide to the edge of the road stuck again. He had to get off to a job, but would drive by later in case I was still stuck. Another passing car stopped and tried to give me a push to no avail. I was getting tired and my clutch was starting to smell.
After a bit a Land Rover discovery coming down hill pulled over and the occupants, a man and a lady got out to help. We put even more salt down. I feared another vehicle might slide into us. He then gave me a push and was rewarded with a face full of mud which I apologized for. Again to no avail. I put an old shopping bag under the wheel, but no result. The lady suggested I try using the car mats, so I took one up and put under the wheel. The gent then guided me to drive forward and I was able to rise like a Phoenix out of the mud and ice onto the now salted and thawing tarmac sliding away to the freedom of a flatter road and the main road into Morpeth industrial estate.
Once at the garage I realised both the inside and outside of the car were plastered with salt and mud. So in addition to the planned service I asked them to check for damage and clean and valet the car.
First of all I must thank all those unknown folk that helped me. Secondly a lesson for me and others, Google maps is only as good as the fool using it and takes no account of road suitability, safety or weather conditions. I have no doubt it suggests many unsuitable routes but the onus is on us not to follow them.
Check the Northumbrian gritting routes here: