TWO Hartlepool couples endured a horrific 10-hour journey home to flee a New Year retreat as 100mph winds battered the Scottish coast.
Dianne and Des Playfor and Gary and Teresa Tebbett enjoyed a festive getaway to West Loch Tarbert, on the west coast of Scotland.
Dianne Playfor pictured
But their dream five-day Hogmanay log-cabin stay turned into a nightmare when they left early to escape the ensuing gale-force winds.
Des, 48, a regional manager for construction chemicals company Resapol, and Gary, a 47-year-old highways worker, twice had to help locals clear roads of fallen trees and the two couples were left fearing their car could be flattened by falling timber.
The couples also lost power on Tuesday morning and their journey home took twice as long as it should have after major sections of Scotland’s M74 motorway was closed.
They had to take the A74 to Carlisle, but were met with further delays when a lorry overturned on the A66 near Bowes.
The ordeal followed similar scenes of widespread disruption across the UK caused by the high winds.
One driver in Tunbridge Wells, in Kent, died after a tree fell on his parked van and in Argyll Forest – close to where Dianne, 47, Des, Gary and Teresa, a 48-year-old Anglian Water worker, from the Park Road area, were staying – three people were hospitalised after their caravans collided.
Dianne, a Hartlepool Mail field sales representative who lives in Hartlepool, said: “We went on the Friday and the weather was absolutely fine.
“But we were woken up by 90mph winds in the early hours of Tuesday.
“It came from nowhere.
“We could hear things being blown across the grounds and it felt as though the roof was lifting off our lodge.
“We were really scared.
“It was horrendous and staff where we stayed said it was best to get away and get out of the area.”
Dianne, who is mum to Mellissa, 22, and 19-year-old Lewis, said, starting their long journey home at 6am in darkness, they noticed the force of the wind had blown a catamaran from the shore to the roadside.
She added that the couples had to stop on the Tarbert to Inverary road as a tree had come down.
But as they were in a Jeep, they easily manoeuvred it.
A mile later, they encountered another two fallen trees and a local lumberjack with around half a dozen locals were helping to clear them.
Des and Gary joined in the effort, and it took an hour for the road to be cleared.
Further along the road, Des and Gary helped to clear another tree, but this took around 15 minutes as locals were well-on with the clearance.
“The trees were just down everywhere along the edges of the roads,” said Dianne.
“We were worried in case more trees could come down on the car.”
She said the journey continued but it started to snow and after finally getting to the A66, they eventually arrived home around 6.30pm.
Dianne added: “I think we were unlucky because we were in the worst part of the country we could have been in for such bad weather.
“We were just pleased to get home in the end!”