‘Nightmare’ as snow hits Peaktime trade

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Easter should be the busiest time of year for artisan chocolate makers Dave Golubows and Bridget Joyce. But for the last week they have been holed up in their Castleton home, cut off from the world by snow.

“It’s a complete nightmare,” said Dave, who runs Cocoadance at the foot of Mam Tor. “We’ve been snowed in since Thursday night. It’s up to your waist along the road from Odin Mine.

Pictured  at Mam  Farm, at the foot of Mam Tor, Castleton home of the Cocoadance luxury chocolate factory. Seen is Bridget Joyce who runs the project with her partner David Golubows they are seen at work.

Pictured at Mam Farm, at the foot of Mam Tor, Castleton home of the Cocoadance luxury chocolate factory. Seen is Bridget Joyce who runs the project with her partner David Golubows they are seen at work.

“We’ve been working hard for the last two weeks, getting things ready for Easter and we’ve got a couple of thousand pounds worth of stuff piled up. It’s soul destroying.

“We had to cancel a kids’ party last weekend and a Chocolate Experience day – people just couldn’t get here.”

The prolonged freeze and high winds have led to drifts of ten feet or more in parts of the Peak District, closing many roads, including the main A621 Sheffield Road to Baslow.

While the cold snap is an inconvenience to many, for some the consequences are more serious.

Snow drifts nine feet deep have cut off the Strines Inn, between the A57 and Bradfield. And as fast as snow ploughs cleared the road, high winds covered them up again.

“They’re ploughing three or four times a day, but it’s hopeless. I’ve been here 14 years and this is the worst I’ve experienced,” said landlord Bruce Howarth.

“We had no customers at all on Sunday or Monday and only four struggled in on Tuesday. I wouldn’t mind if it was January or February, but this is spring – it’s ridiculous.”

The farming community is among the worst hit by the unseasonal weather.

Tankers have struggled to reach remote dairy farms and some have resorted to pouring milk down the drain.

Sheep farms are having to bear the cost of additional hay and silage to keep ewes and lambs indoors.

Bob Payne, of Carr Head Laithe near Stocksbridge, said: “Farmers are very resilient and we will get over this, but it has put an extraordinary strain on the industry after 12 months of extreme weather.

“If anybody wants to help, my advice is to buy British lamb for Easter.”

Sheffield Honey Company director Jez Daughtry has nearly 300 beehives on the moors around Sheffield. He has spent the week digging them out and feeding his bees a sugar-based fondant to keep them from starving to death.

“It’s been dramatic; I’ve never seen drifts this deep before,” he said. “Even the snowdrops and crocuses are covered up so there’s no pollen.

“You expect some winter loss, but I’m hearing stories of up to 40% in some cases. On the bright side, it will strengthen the colonies.”

Much of the Peak economy is dependent on the tourist industry and hopes are pinned on a rise in temperatures before the season gets under way this weekend.

Staff at medieval Haddon Hall spent days clearing the car park in time for today’s reopening. They hope their reward will be a bumper number of visitors, eager to see the spectacular snowscape.

Cocoadance too is hoping for an Easter thaw: “It’s very stressful, especially when you’re self-employed,” said Dave. “We’re just keeping our fingers crossed that things will improve in time for our Easter egg-making days on Friday and Saturday.”