An Un-Magical Mystery Tour

On Sunday I was taking Nel down to stay in Chester for a week and as I was returning the same day, we left fairly early. We had a smooth run down, though the weather was rather wet and we were aquaplaning along the M6 in the Lake District! We arrived in good time for lunch which mum cooked for us and then after a couple of hours rest, I set off again. I stopped at B&Q on the way since it’s conveniently located, unlike the DIY shops at home, and then I left Chester at 3pm. It was still very wet and rainy but I was relaxed and looking forward to a smooth drive.

The M6 was pretty busy though it usually quietens down north of Preston so I wasn’t concerned, but after only a short time I started seeing occasional overhead signs saying that the M6 was closed between junctions 25-26. There was no further information or suggestions of what to do so I just had to hope that it would become clear at the time.

Then suddenly there were tailbacks and I spent the next hour in first gear, moving a car length forward, then handbrake on and out of gear. I had no idea what was going on and the queue behind was getting longer and longer with the queue ahead disappearing into the distance with no hint of it clearing. Along the way there were a few cars which had to pull over onto the hard shoulder (presumably overheated) and at one point I was stationary in the first lane alongside one of these vehicles. I then heard sirens and caught a glimpse of blue lights in my rear view mirror and when I looked, there were two police cars coming up the hard shoulder. I hoped that I would have moved past the broken down car before they got to me, but as it didn’t look likely, I had no choice but to indicate to move into the second lane and let them through that way. It took an awful long time for the cars in the second lane to cotton on to what was happening, and the police cars had come to halt behind me before anyone let me out. I hoped that the police would be able to clear whatever the problem ahead was, but also thought it might take a while so I wasn’t likely to be out of there fast.

Eventually I got to junction 25 – with more signs saying that the M6 was closed beyond it, so I (and most of the rest of the traffic) got off at that junction – with continuing long tailbacks and stop-start queues. Where the rest of the traffic that stayed on the motorway, went, I have no idea. None of us knew where we were going I don’t think, and it was now raining quite heavily and pretty dark. To make matters worse, the A road we were all following had major roadworks with many lane closures and traffic lights – and the very nature of the crawling traffic meant that it was difficult to avoid being stranded across a junction, which further held up traffic in all directions.

I’d remained calm up to this point and refused to get impatient as only that morning I had a read a very upsetting message on a message board from someone who had just lost his wife and daughter in a motorway accident and was left with a toddler in intensive care and another young baby at home to care for. I might be held up and late home, but I was alive and uninjured for which I was grateful.

After a series of roundabouts and one way systems, the traffic had thinned – as had street lighting, so that I eventually had no idea where I was going and was simply taking pot luck each time I had to make a decision. I did start to panic a little now as my sense of direction is appalling, I had no idea where I was or which direction I needed to be heading and with the rain and dark, was having trouble reading (poor) signage whilst driving. Then I spotted signs to the M6 and eagerly followed them for a while before it occurred to me that I could well have done a loop and be heading back to where I’d left the motorway earlier. I prayed this wasn’t the case and carried on. Then at last, I was at a large roundabout which led to the M6 in both directions so I followed the northbound signs and hoped.

There was nothing preventing me getting onto the slip road and HALLELUJAH, I was on the motorway headed home at last! I soon discovered that I’d got on at junction 27 and I’ve never been so pleased to see a motorway in all my life! By now I was desperately in need of the loo, a breather and a snack, so I stopped at the services which were very close. It usually takes me one hour to get to them from mum’s house. It had taken me three!

I called mum and Billy to let them know what had happened, reassure them I as safe, if a little fraught, and that I was having a break before continuing. After which I had a normal easy drive and the weather even improved too. By the time I arrived home at around 9.30pm, I was fit for nothing but a drink and then bed – but I had made it and was safe and well, for which I was thankful.

Map of the area of my mystery tour here.

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