Grit box paradox

End of the road: where the grit runs out at Edderston. <div xmlns:cc="" about=""><a rel="cc:attributionURL" property="cc:attributionName" href=
End of the road: where the grit runs out at Edderston.

The news that councils and roads agencies are being told to reduce the amount of salt and grit being used is curious given that we’re being left in no doubt that this is an unusually wintry spell of weather.

“Unprecedented” is the word most frequently heard on the 24-hour news rotation, although that in itself is dubious given that we have had colder and snowier winters within living memory and certainly “since records began”, to use another meteorological catchphrase.

“Unprecedented this past wee while” might be a better way of describing this winter but even accepting that it is pretty damn chilly and slippery out there, why are councils being told to cut back on salt-spreading and suchlike?

The idea appears to be to preserve stocks, but hang on a minute; if the winter is indeed so very severe, isn’t that like rescue services being told to keep a few ambulances in the shed in the immediate aftermath of a major planecrash? Surely if the need is so vital, throw every resource at it, start restocking at the same time, and with luck, if the crisis continues or a new one follows hard on its heels, fresh supplies will arrive in time.

It’s not as though there is an international grit market, in which we trade and for which we need reserves, along the lines of diamonds or Krugerrands. “Grit futures are down 28.2” isn’t something you often hear on Jeff Randall Live. Much more likely is that the recommendations of civic prudence are a smokescreen – or should that be spindriftscreen? – to cover up the pitifully low levels of stockpiled grit in various parts of the country.

As it is, the edict from Grit Tsar (or whatever the person in charge is called) makes them sound like the opposite of Henry Cooper in the days of Brut 33 adverts. “Splash it all over!”, was Our ’Enry’s well-remunerated catchphrase. Not under this regime in this winter, it appears.

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Dave Hewitt has been writing about hills – and the people who climb them – for over 20 years. As befits the editor of The Angry Corrie, he is interested in the offbeat, quirky and occasionally obsessive side of the outdoor world. His own hillgoing hasn’t followed any real pattern. There has been a desultory round of Munros (and of the underrated Donalds), and also – a quarter-century ago – a 12-week walk along the Scottish watershed. These days, based in Stirling, he tends to be Mr Daytrip, enjoying endless local-Ochiling plus meanders over Munros and Corbetts – with a great fondness for, although no great prowess in, winter.