To the sticks

February 12, 2009

Out to Oxfordshire today, the first trip to this particular customer this year. While the snow had all gone in London, it was still very evident in the Chilterns (as viewed from the M40), and still a lot of it in the Oxford Plain.

Approaching the Chiltern Escarpment on the M40

On the way back along the M40 (evening, hence the dull image above), the Chiltern escarpment still showing so much snow is evident. This particular point is where the M40 crosses the greensand [rock formation], and approaches the deep cutting in the chalk near Aston Rowant. The cutting starts towards the right hand of the image and moves across to the left.

At one point in the early life of the M40 (1970s), at this point there was a “Crawler lane”, for the lorries and other large vehicles that could could only crawl up the hill. I believe it was the closest such lane to London. These days of turbo-charged diesels and the like, the need has disappeared, as has the lane, and indeed the last time I saw a large crane crawling up the M40 (in fact the slope at the other end of this hill), it did so in the emergency hard shoulder. It clearly was in trouble, if the smoke out of the exhaust was anything to go by, rather than underpowered.

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