Snow in May: Lake District skiers 'giddy' in unseasonal weather

image copyrightPA Media
image captionThe club said members were "giddy with excitement"

Skiers in the Lake District have taken advantage of unseasonal snowfall to head to the slopes for the first time in months.

Covid-19 restrictions forced the 85-year-old Lake District Ski Club to close during the winter.

Snow which started on Tuesday was deep enough by Wednesday to allow the club's tow up Raise, near Helvellyn, to run.

Members were "giddy" at the unusual sight of snow-covered mountains in May, club president Mike Sweeney said.

"I haven't seen snow at this time of year before, but I was speaking to some other members who said there was snow in June in 1963, although that was a very unusual year for weather," he said.

"It was fabulous, people were just giddy with excitement."

image copyrightPA Media
image captionThe club operates a 360-metre button tow to give access to the mountain

Former president of the club and assistant hut warden Gerard Unthank, 80, said there had been "quite a bit of snow this year" which members were previously prevented from enjoying because of lockdown.

"Up here we rely on drifts and have snow fences because we don't get a great depth of snow, but some of the drifts today are as high as the fences," he said.

There are still Covid restrictions in place in the club's hut to ensure social distancing, he added.

image copyrightGraeme Corrighan
image captionSnow on the top of Blencathra on Wednesday

Walkers and climbers have also been enjoying the unusual conditions.

As well as bringing unexpected snow, the weather pattern has bathed some peaks in sunshine while others have been covered in mist or fog.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionAbout 40 people used the tow to get to the top of the slope on Wednesday, with more on Thursday

BBC Weather presenter Simon King said falling snow was not common in May, but was also "not out of the question".

Current conditions were being caused by a northerly wind which was dominating the weather pattern across the UK, he said.

In this set up, cold arctic air flows across the UK and there's been enough moisture to produce showers.

"As the air is cold enough, those showers have been wintry with snow falling to relatively low levels."

image copyrightPA Media
image captionSnow has been falling over winter but skiers had not been allowed on the slopes

Bethany Smith said a hike up Helvellyn on Wednesday was her first since the end of the third lockdown.

"We knew it was white on the tops and I'm always prepared for all weather conditions, but we didn't realise quite how deep the snow was until we got to Grisedale Tarn and noticed people descending from Fairfield Peak on their backsides," she said.

"At some points, the snow drifts were up to our knees."

image copyrightHugh Granger
image captionTaking a breather from her PhD to hike, Bethany Smith said she had not been expecting Helvellyn to be quite this snowy in May

Ms Smith said the route up to Dollywaggon Pike was "a bit gnarly".

"But it was such beautiful weather for hiking; it felt more like we were in the Alps," she said.

image copyrightBethany Smith
image captionA few yards away and the scenery changed dramatically for Bethany

The weather conditions have prompted those closer to ground level to record the effects of the combination of chill and damp.

Frost has been unusually prevalent during April and May.

image copyrightChristine Moorcroft
image captionNature's own art on a roof skylight

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