Stuck in a gateway
Background information
I have put together some photos following a recent return visit to the site. It has not changed much in the four years since this incident, apart from the fact that the dips/ruts at the entrance to the field are not as pronounced as they were back then. There is also quite a lot more grass in the gateway in comparison. The rut furthest up the hill has now almost disappeared!
Luckily almost straight after this incident, I was able to spend an hour sat in my van writing up my diary account of what happened. I was not expecting to publish it some years later! It was just intended as a reminder to me of the details of a great 'real life' stuck. However, I am now glad that I had a quiet day and bothered to spend the time writing it down!
Please accept my apologies for the attempt to show the position of the Volvo. I appreciate that it sometimes looks to be on a slightly odd angle, but it is actually quite difficult (for me anyway) to find a picture of an appropriate car that is on exactly the right angle, and although I can manipulate both the size and the angle of the vehicle, it does not always look quite right! I did not have a digital camera to carry about with me back then, so this is the best I can manage!



My view as I approached the top of the hill

(double click to expand photo)


Suddenly 'Mrs Volvo' appeared at high spped, racing off to school to get her kids!




She could have reversed back down round the bend, where the road got wider, but luckily she headed into the gateway



Is there enough room for my van to fit through the gap?


Her car was probably slightly further over towards the field, but you hopefully get the idea. My van was 'jammed' between the bank and her car (well that was what I told her!)



Stuck in a gateway
I was driving my van along a narrow single lane towards the top of a hill (see photo 1). As I did so I suddenly saw a car coming in the opposite direction at some speed. It was a Volvo 440, colour green, and was being driven by a lady aged about 45, with blonde hair. She was travelling far too fast for the road, in that she had just come up a hill and round a right hand bend. She would not have been able to see around the bend as she got to the top of the hill and should therefore have been going a bit slower. As it turned out, it was a good job that she had been going so fast, because she had driven right past a gateway on her left, which she could have used to pull into had she been going a bit slower.


We both stopped facing each other in the narrow section of the lane, and I was about to do the honourable thing and reverse my van back up the hill to a passing place about 80 yards behind me. However, before I could start to do so, she looked over her shoulder and obviously saw the gateway about 20 yards behind her. Without giving it another thought she quickly put her car into reverse and at the same time waved to me that she was going to reverse. To begin with I assumed that she was intending to reverse back over the brow and down the hill until she reached a place where the road opened out wide enough for two vehicles to pass.


However, as soon as she started to reach the gateway she slowed down and started to make a turn into it. She did a really great job because she turned the rear of the car into the gateway and then turned the steering wheel the opposite way, so that she in effect parked it almost parallel to the road, but right in the gateway. The back of the car was almost against the hedge behind her and her front bumper was pretty close to the hedge in front of her. The whole of the car was on quite a reasonable slope facing up the hill.


I slowly edged down towards her and made a big deal about seeing whether there was enough room for me to get past her. Luckily her car was not quite parallel to the road, with the rear offside corner sticking out slightly more into the road than the front. This gave me the perfect excuse to stop that I was looking for.


I slowly crept alongside her, with our door mirrors only just passing each other by an inch or so. I then stopped with my drivers’ door immediately opposite hers, and kept looking at the two front corners of my vehicle. I then put my window down and went to speak to her. She put her window down and said: “Have I left you enough room to get by?”


I said: “Almost but not quite. I only need a few more inches, but I don’t want to scratch you car. Can you pull up just a few feet”?


She said: “My front is almost in the bank, I don’t think I can”


I said: “Well perhaps if you turned your steering wheel sharply to the right, on the same angle that you reversed back in on, you should be alright, because you missed the bank when you reversed in. Do you see what I mean? It will only need you to move about two feet”


She replied: “Right yes I see, so I pull forward and then stop and that will allow you to get by, and then I can pull back out onto the road. Is that what you mean?”


I said: “Yes, but obviously you will have to pull forward very slowly to avoid the front swinging out and touching the side of the van”


She said: “Oh god I don’t like this”


I said: “You will be fine, you are obviously a good driver, the way you reversed in there in the first place. It was brilliant”


She said: “Thanks, more luck than judgement though”


She selected first gear and slowly released her handbrake. She turned the wheel hard to the right whilst holding the car on the clutch. She then slowly lifted up her clutch and immediately stalled the car.


She said: “That was a good start”


She took it out of gear and started the engine the engine up and again put it in gear. She slowly let the clutch out using a few more revs this time. The car started to move forwards a few inches put then there seemed to be a sudden increase in resistance and she suddenly did not move any more. She let the clutch up a bit more but then the car stalled again.


She said: “Are you sure than I am not trying to drive actually into the bank. It feels like the car will not move forwards. Can you get out and have a look”


I said: “I can’t get out because I can’t open my door enough, and neither can you. I am sure you are not hitting the bank because you are only trying to move forwards on the same line or place that you reversed back on. It must just be that you are on a steep hill and maybe there is a dip in the grass in the gateway. Just give it a few more revs, but keep the clutch so that it is slipping rather than right out, then as soon as you have moved the few feet you can dip it and stop immediately”


She said: “Ok, so give it more revs but hold it on the clutch”


I said: “Yes, you will do it this time”


She selected first and I had the advantage of being in a van, so I could look down slightly on her. I saw her start to let the clutch up as she released the handbrake. She was giving the engine more revs than before and as her leg raised a bit higher on the pedal I suddenly heard the lovely noise of a wheel starting to spin. As soon as it did so she dipped the clutch again and put on the handbrake.


I said: “Why did you stop?”


She replied: “Because I am not getting anywhere. I let the clutch out but the car will not move. I think I am in the bank and that’s why I can’t move”


I said: “I don’t think you are. There is only one way to find out. Do the same again but give it even more revs this time and let the clutch up more quickly. If you are just touching the bank it will be enough to push you past it, but I still think it just a hump in the grass”.


This time she put it in gear and then revved the engine quite a bit more. Not really loudly or racing, but more than the gentle revs that she had used so far.


Once she had selected first gear again and the handbrake was off, she let the clutch up at some speed. Immediately a nearside wheel started to spin. I could hear it sliding round and round in the mud.


She must have suddenly realised what was happening, as she turned to me whilst it was still spinning with a really worried look on her face and said: “I can’t move because I am spinning. I can feel the vibration and hear the mud flying”


I said: “Keep going, do not stop, but push your accelerator pedal up and down and sort of pump it. You just need to get up over the hump”


She turned back to face to the front and started pressing the accelerator up and down as I had asked. After about 5 or 6 goes, she turned back to me and said: “Is this right, like this?”


I said: “Yes, but you can go it even more if you like. You can push it right down and then let it up. The more the better. You are trying to rock it up over the hump”.


She then proceeded to really go for it. She gripped the steering wheel really tightly and although I could not see her right leg because I was not high enough, I could tell from the speed of the spinning wheel and the high revs from the engine that she really hitting that pedal hard and fast.


Whilst I watched her do this I assumed that it was her front nearside wheel that was spinning and that it was caused by it being on wet grass, whilst the car was on quite an upward slope. I also assumed that the rear nearside wheel was in a small dip, which was adding to her difficulty. The one thing that seemed strange to me was that there was no visible mud being sprayed out from her front nearside wheel. I assumed that with her front wheels turned to the right and on full lock, I would be able to see mud being thrown out the side from the wheel, especially as the spinning wheel appeared to be stuck in quite wet mud, going by the sound it was making.


Whilst I was thinking about this she suddenly stopped and said: “It’s no good, I am completely stuck here now. I can’t get forwards and I have nowhere to reverse and you get can’t forwards either, well not until I move up a bit. What shall we do? Wait a minute, what about you going backwards?”


I had not thought of that and so I had to think quickly, as in reality, there was nothing to stop me going backwards.


I then had to do a bit of ‘acting’. I put the van in reverse and turned the steering wheel hard to the left. I let the clutch up at speed and managed to induce a tiny amount of wheel spin before the van started to move backwards. I immediately dipped the clutch and let it roll forwards and did the same. Each time the front offside of the van came closer to the rear offside of her car. I did it one more time and this time stopped with only a few inches between the bodywork of each vehicle. I then turned to her and said: “I can’t get back either. It must be muddy on my side as well. I am going to hit you if I keep trying. You are going to have to try and move up yourself. It’s the only way out for us both”


She said: “I thought you were going to hit me then, I was watching, but I am stuck myself”


I said: “There is a trick that I know which might help us”


She said: “Oh, what is it, I will try anything. I am supposed to be getting my kids from school. I was a bit late already, and now they will be wondering where I am”


I said “You need to do what you did before, pressing the accelerator up and down, but this time, raise and lower the clutch at the same time”. I gave her a physical demonstration by using my hands, bending them at the wrist whilst the palms were upright facing towards her. I alternated between one going up and down, opposite the other. I explained that the object was to try and rock the car up over the hump by building up some movement and momentum. She told me that she understood what I wanted and finished off by saying: “I hope this works”.


I said: “Start of gently to start with and see what happens. I will tell you to speed up if it needs it”.


She engaged first gear and slowly let up the clutch. As soon as the wheel started to spin she looked at me and said: “Do I start now?”


I said: “Yes or else you will just make the rut deeper”


She began slowly dipping the clutch and pressing the accelerator and then swapping over. She picked it up straight away. Gradually the car did start to rock slowly backwards and forwards, and she even managed to time it right, dipping or raising as she got to the end of each small movement forwards or backwards.


However after 8 or 9 rocks she did not appear to be able to make any further progress, having only been able to rock forwards or backwards a total distance of about 9 inches. She stopped and again looked at me with a worried expression. Before she could say anything I said: “I think it is time to really go for it. Do what you were doing then, but really let the clutch up sharply and bang the accelerator down when you press it. You need to get more momentum than you have. The dip is obviously a bit deeper than I thought”


Without saying anything she did exactly as I asked. She was so aggressive on the first clutch raise with the revs being so much higher, she span her offside wheel even though it was on the tarmac road! The amazing thing was that it was the rear wheel. I had no idea that this car was rear wheel drive. However, it did explain why there was no mud flying out from behind the front nearside wheel. Obviously the bodywork of the car was hiding any mud that she was throwing out behind her spinning rear nearside wheel.


It occurred to me that she was now really in some difficulty, because if it had been her front wheel that was spinning, she only needed it to move it probably four of five feet across towards the road before she would have been able to get some grip on the tarmac. I appreciated that it was probably her rear wheel that was down in a dip, but if she did have enough momentum to get that wheel up over it, she would not have far to move, as her front wheels were on full lock towards her offside anyway.


However, it was her rear nearside wheel that was stuck, obviously in a dip. Even if she could get it to move forwards and up over the hump, she still had most of the rest of the gateway to drive across. The rear wheels could not be turned towards the road, they just had to follow the path of the car as she turned the front towards the.road My reasoning was that if she was in a dip at the left hand side of the gateway, there might well be another one in front of it, towards the right side (probably made by the two sets of wheels of tractors entering the field).


All this was racing through my mind as she continued to rev the car and rock it backwards and forwards in the dip. She managed to build up quite a lot more momentum, and the car was moving almost two feet in total, but she could not quite get it to surmount the top of the hump.


Her face was an absolute picture of both frustration and determination. It’s hard to describe but she held her lips tightly together and screwed up her face so that there were wrinkles across her forehead, whilst her eyes were screwed up. It was a lovely sight.


The wheel continued to spin round in the lovely mud and now, with the extra speed, I could hear the mud hitting the underside of the bodywork. If only I had been able to get out and watch! Mind you the sight of her left leg moving up and down on the clutch and the clear view of the expression on her face was a pretty good substitute!


Eventually I told her to stop. She looked crest fallen with disappointment. She turned to me and said: "Was I going that right. It felt like it was working. I could feel it almost get to the top of the hump but I just could not get it up and over. My wheel just keeps spinning and spinning. I really am totally stuck now. I just don’t know what to do”


I said: "You could start by phoning the school to let them know you will be late”


She said: "Actually it’s ok. I have an arrangement with a friend. If either of us does not turn up by a certain time, then we each take the other ones kids home with our own. She will take them back to hers and I can get them from there, when I eventually get out from this bloody gateway. How are we going to get a tow? Neither of us can get out and anyway, look, I haven’t got a mobile signal”


I looked at mine and pretended that I did not have one either.


I then said: "Perhaps I can get out of my passenger side. I will try, then I can have a look to see what is happening”.


I slid across and managed to open the passenger door far enough to get out. I made a big deal out of it as though it was a real struggle, although it was not very easy, as there was a bank and hedge on that side as well.


I walked around to the front of my van and then between the rear of her car and the hedge. I looked down at her rear nearside wheel and oh what a lovely site! It was down in a nice big dip, obviously caused by a tractor tyres entering the field. The side of her tyre had quite a bit of the outer part of the rim covered in mud. I could not see any groves in the tyre at all; they were completely covered in mud. It was like a completely smooth tyre was trying to get some grip in a completely muddy rut with smooth inclines both in front and behind it. It was no wonder that she had not been able to get out from this dip to start with, and now she had turned it into a full-scale rut, with nice deep edges.


I bent down and noticed that the hump was steeper and higher where it was nearer to the field. It occurred to me that if she could reverse with her front wheels turned the opposite way i.e. to the left, she might then be able to straighten up and then she would have a slightly less steep hump to try and get over.


The difficulty was that when turning the wheels to her left, and reversing the foot or so that she actually had between the rear bumper and the hedge/bank, the front offside of her car would be moving closer towards the rear offside of my van! There was a slightly bigger gap between the vehicles here than there was at the front of mine, due to the fact that she had not ended up exactly parallel to the side of the road. It meant that she could probably move the front of her car over about two or maybe three feet, assuming that she could get enough grip to reverse a little. She obviously assumed that she had gone back as far as she could, but from standing by the rear of the car I was able to see that he had a little more room than she thought.


I went to the passenger door and opened it. I told her my plan about reversing and she seemed relieved that there was at least something else that we could try.


I held the door open and told her to try reversing once she had turned the steering wheel round onto full left lock. I told her to reverse very slowly and that I would watch the back of the car, whilst she needed to watch the front offside corner, to make sure that she did not swing round into my van.


I suggested that if she could get back, then she should stop when the two sides of our vehicles were parallel, as then when she went to drive forwards, she would be able to drive straight through the gap between the rear of my van and the corner of the bank and hedge on her nearside.


I said: "It should be easy to reverse because it is down hill. The problem will be whether you can get up over the hump where it is not quite as steep. I reckon you will because you almost made it up and over the steeper hump, so this should be easy!”


She replied: “I hope you are right”


I stood with the passenger door open and watched as she pressed her left leg down on the clutch pedal and selected reverse. I had an uninterrupted view of her legs now that I was stood by the open door. She was wearing a quite tight pair of black jeans along with what looked like black ankle boots. She leant forwards and looked out through her open window at the front of her car. I watched as she slowly lifted her left leg. She was only just touching the accelerator as she obviously only wanted to reverse a few feet and was probably pretty worried about moving back too quickly and bumping my van.


Luckily the rut that she had made with her attempts to drive out was deep enough and muddy enough to make her wheel start to spin, even with such low revs and with the car trying to reverse down the slope. She maintained the same revs and clutch position for about 10 seconds and then turned to face me and seemed surprised when she did move. She said: "Why am I not moving, I’m going downhill. Are you sure I am not already up against the bank at the back?”


I said: "No definitely not, I just walked through the gap and it’s still the same now. It’s just that the wheel is down in a bit of a dip. Give it some more revs”


She slowly pressed the accelerator and gradually increased the revs. The spinning wheel got gradually faster and faster. It started throwing mud along the underside of the car and I had to take a step or two back. As the revs started to reach a peak the car suddenly started to make progress and the wheel started to climb up the slope out of the rut.


I called to her to start to ease off, which she did. The car carried on crawling back and I then watched the rear and called to her to stop when the bumper was almost up against the hedge a foot or so later.


I came back up to the passenger door and before I closed it I said: "We need to close this or you will not be able to fit through the gap. I will put the window down so that you can hear me if I call out any instructions. I did not tell her that it would also enable me to carry on looking at her legs, should she not be able to drive straight out from the gateway!


I reminded her to straighten up the steering wheel, as she was now stopped almost exactly parallel with my van.


She said: "Are you sure there is enough room for me to drive straight out”.


I said: "I will go and check”.


I walked round the front nearside of her car past the hedge and out into the road. There was enough room for her to get past the corner of the hedge, provided that she kept absolutely straight from where she was. She would also miss my van, as she was stopped nearly parallel to it.


I came back to the passenger window and said: "Right lets try it then. I suggest that you start off slowly. I expect you will spin, but it might suddenly get up and over the hump and you will need to be ready for it. Make sure you steer exactly straight as you are now, then it is impossible for you to hit anything, so there is no need for you to worry about that. Concentrate on starting slowly and if you do not drive straight out, start the rocking motion like you did before. The hump is smaller so you will be able to get it out if you use that way”


She said: "Oh I do hope so. Would it be better if you drove, I could get out that side and swap over”


I said: "No, you know your car better than I do and in any case if you don’t make it at least I will be able to give you a push. I don’t think you would even be able to stand up in those boots, never mind be able to push. The heels would sink in. I have got my heavy duty work boots on, so they are much better”.


She said: "Ok but I am really worried about driving through that small gap”


I said: " Once you get moving you will be through it before you can blink and you will be free from the mud”


She said: "Ok so I start slowly?”


I said: "Yes, you might find that even that is enough and that there is no need to dip the clutch up and down. Try it and I will tell you what to do”


She selected first and gradually released the handbrake as she gave the car some gentle revs. She slowly lifted her leg on the clutch pedal and soon the wheel was starting to turn round and round. I was pretty surprised, as I had expected her to be able to at least drive forwards enough to get back down into the rut that she had just reversed out of. The wheel was on what was almost virgin grass, but the tyre was so caked in mud, it just could not get any grip, even though it was now on grass instead of mud. It was a lovely sight because it was all so controlled, no racing of the engine or bashing of the accelerator or clutch pedal. Just a slow spinning of the wheel, round and round.


I realised that if I did ever want her to get out, that I could not let her churn up this piece of grass for too long. I needed this for her to be able to get some grip whilst she tried to get a ‘run’ at the dip in front of the wheel. I called to her to start rocking on the pedals and to give the car a few more revs.


I turned and looked at her legs and saw her start to lift the clutch pedal up and down in time to her pressing of the accelerator pedal. Almost immediately the car started to rock backwards and forwards. The grass immediately behind where she has been slowly spinning was a fraction longer and not as wet. Therefore when she started rolling back onto that slightly, it gave her a bit of grip to propel her forwards. She then lost traction when she got onto the mud as she approached the start of the rut, but at least she was moving.


She was continually looking straight ahead of her, as though she was still worried about hitting my van or the bank. However, she started talking to me saying: “It’s starting to work, I can feel it moving backwards and forwards”.


I tried to encourage her by saying: “You are doing a great job. Keep doing that but give it a little more revs”


Again, she did exactly as I asked and soon the car was rocking backwards and forwards quite a distance. Each rock seemed to increase the distance she travelled. However after about six or seven movements her wheel actually reached the dip and went down in. This immediately stopped her gaining any further forward movement, but her quick reactions by immediately selecting reverse and giving the car even more revs enabled her to back out and roll back for another attempt. This time she increased the revs even more and the car slithered forward and down into the rut. However this time she had enough momentum to start to climb up the other side. Unfortunately for her she lost so much traction and therefore momentum whilst the tyre travelled through the extra mud in the bottom of the rut, that she was not able to make it up to the top of the other side. She realised this and immediately went into reverse and rocked right back to the longer grass and tried again. She seemed to let her clutch up even more sharply this time and really went for it by pressing the accelerator much more. The car engine revved and the wheel span round much faster. The effect was that the car accelerated off of the longer grass at a slightly higher speed and this was maintained as her high speed spinning wheel approached the rut.


I assumed that with this extra speed across the approach, she would be able to get up the slope on the far side of the rut and over the rest of the grass in the gateway and out onto the road.


I turned and had what I thought would be my last look at her inside the car as she sped towards the rut. Her left leg was almost right off of the clutch and I assumed by the noise of the engine that she was pressing the accelerator quite along way down towards the floor!


The spinning wheel dropped into the rut and because of her extra speed this time, it made the car jolt and bobble down and then up. I saw her immediately dip the clutch as thought she was worried that it was somehow going to throw her off course. I called to her to keep going and she immediately lifted the clutch up again and the spinning wheel speeded up. However, her action had taken the power from the wheel for a few seconds and the fact that she was trying to drive up a hill and get that particular wheel up a slope as well, caused her to loose quite a lot of momentum. Although she engaged the clutch again very quickly when I called to her, the result was a huge slowing of her overall speed. The wheel span like mad as it climbed up the slope out of the rut but she only just made it over the top, slithering and sliding as she went.


I was then not sure what she would do. The obvious thing was to keep the accelerator pressed down and the clutch pedal up and ‘gun it’ all the way to the road. However, the front of the car was now starting to pass through what she deemed to be the small gap between my van and the hedge.


Something made her panic for a moment. I am not sure if it was the smallness of the gap or the jolting of the car as she went down into the rut. Whatever it was that caused her to do it, what she did next was a big mistake! She lifted off of the accelerator and momentarily put it on the brake!


The car immediately almost came to a stop just a few feet in front of the top of the hump. I shouted at her in a not too pleasant way to “Keep going, don’t stop now”


She immediately pressed the accelerator again, but nearly all her momentum was lost and her wheel span and span. Within about two feet she span to a halt. She kept trying to press the accelerator up and down but the car did not move forwards. She continued to sit there pumping just the accelerator for about half a minute.


She turned to me and looked really sad. I thought I could almost see tears in her eyes. I let her carry on for a few more seconds and then said: "You had better stop, you are not getting anywhere. Why did you brake, you would have got out if you had not slowed yourself down”.


She said: "I know that now, but I felt like I was going too fast to get through that gap with the car jolting up and down. I feel such a fool, because I have got it completely stuck now haven’t I? I can’t go backwards or else I will be back down in that big dip that I have just taken ages to get out of, but I can’t go forwards either because there is too much mud or something. My leg is really hurting as well but I suppose I deserve that for slowing down. I am such a silly cow. Oh god I hate being stuck, its so frustrating. I just want to be able to drive off up the lane. Just one wheel is stopping me. Why can’t I get enough grip on this bit. I am out of the dip you told me about”.


I said: "I will have a look to see what is going on”


I knelt down by the rear nearside wheel and looked under the car. The problem was immediately obvious. There was another dip in front of the hump and although there was hardly any hump to drive up to get out from it, obviously water had collected in it and made it very wet and muddy. The wheel had churned up the grass and turned it into another muddy rut. The one advantage this time was that the major hump was behind the rut rather than in front of it!


I wondered if she might be able to rock for one last time and get back far enough up the slope of the hump, to then give herself a chance of getting driving down it and through the wet mud in the second dip, and out onto the road.


I stood up and explained all this to her. I suggested that she try rocking backwards to try and get as far up the hump as possible. I assured her that I would not allow her to pass the wheel over the top so that she had to climb out of the deep rut again. I told her that she should then have enough forward momentum going down the hump to get her across the couple of feet of wet mud in the dip before she reached the safety of the road.


She said: "Ok I will try again, but my leg is hardly working. It feels like the muscle is seizing up. It’s really hurting”


I said: "Hopefully you will only have to do it once, but please don’t brake as you start to go forwards”


She said: "Oh, no way. I don’t even care if I scratch the car on the hedge. I am so desperate to just get out of this fucking gateway”. She then said: "Sorry about swearing, its not your fault, you have been really kind. I just hope I can do it”


I said: "Lets get you back first”


She selected reverse and started slowly by letting up the clutch very gently. Her wheel span immediately as she was stopped right in the middle of the rut. She gradually started to try rocking the car as before, but this time in reverse. Slowly she started to build up some movement and momentum. Each time she managed to get a slightly further up the slope and then to use the fall of it to allow the car to rock forwards. Eventually she almost made it so that the wheel was close to the top of the hump, but still on the downward slope.


I called to her to stop and then leant almost in through the window and said: "This is it then. This is your chance to get out without me having to walk miles to find someone to give you a tow. You really must go for it with full revs and then let up your clutch really quickly. You have got to get speed up whilst the wheel travels the foot or so down the slope on the side of the hump. You must keep that speed ‘full on’ or else you will not get across the muddy section in the second rut. Once you are onto the road, keep going for a cars length, to make sure you are well onto the tarmac. Are you alright to give it a go?” She said: "Ok, I will try, but I wish you would drive. I have never been completely stuck like this before. It's a horrid feeling”


Boy did she ‘go for it’! The accelerator went almost to the floor and stayed there for a few seconds, whilst she took the handbrake off and then she let the clutch up by almost taking her foot straight off of the pedal (well that’s what it looked like!).


The rear wheel started to spin at high speed but instead of propelling her forwards like I had expected it to, it seemed to just start to dig down into the hump. I was amazed that it could not get enough grip to propel her forwards, being that the wheel was almost at the top of a downward slope. Obviously that side of the hump was wetter than I had expected. The wheel just cut a rut straight into the side of the hump and slowly started to lower itself down into a new rut, whilst the wheel was still spinning like mad.


She realised something was wrong as she looked at me and said: "Why am I not moving, I am doing what you told me”


I called back: “Start pumping the clutch up and down like before and ease off with the revs”


She did as I asked but her wheel was still spinning too fast so I told her again to ease off the accelerator. She replied: “Why I thought you wanted me to go fast”


I said: "You are making a new rut by going so fast, so ease off a bit more and do more rocking like before. Its your only hope”


She said: "Oh God I don’t like this I am getting really stuck again” as she started trying her best at rocking the car.


The spinning wheel gradually started to make a little forward progress towards the main part of the smaller rut. She gradually got back into the habit of rocking using her clutch and accelerator and the more she did so, the more the car started to rock backwards and forwards in the gradually extending rut that now reached from the middle of what had been the hump forward into the centre of what had been the new dip. The wheel continually span but she could obviously feel that she was making some progress as she said: "I am getting some movement, shall I keep trying?”


I said: "Yes, don’t stop now whatever you do, you have got to make this work”


I alternately watched her left leg moving up and down on the clutch pedal and the rear wheel spinning in the muddy rut. I am not sure which was best! I was desperately trying to remember the view of both as it was obvious that this was going to continue for a while, as she still had quite a long way to go for the wheel to reach the far side of the dip and therefore safety (well tarmac!).


After a about half a minute she said: "My leg is really hurting now. I am going to have to stop very soon”


I shouted: “No, you can’t stop now, you must keep going and use this momentum that you have built up. If you stop now you will be here all afternoon waiting for a tow”


She was obviously starting to be in a quite a bit of pain as she said: "Oooh, please hurry up and get me out, I am hurting so much now I can hardly press the pedal down. It’s my thigh muscle, it’s killing me, it's like having cramp, but worse. I can’t keep going for much longer”.


I looked at her face for a moment (instead of her legs) and realised that she was almost crying and was obviously torn between trying to keep going and stopping because of the pain.


I did feel sorry for her and so I said: "Try using your left hand to press down on your left thigh each time, as you don’t need both hands to steer, and I will go behind and push to help you get out that bit quicker”


She cried out “Please do, please help me I am almost stopping. Oh I hate being stuck like this. I never want this to happen ever again”


I said: "Press your thigh with your hand for a moment whilst I push”


I then saw her start to do this whilst I walked off. She was using the palm of her left hand to press down onto her thigh, just above her knee.


I got to the rear corner and realised that to be able to push I had to get behind her, but that the rear wheel right by me was throwing out mud. I decided that I could not get her to stop as she would never be able to build up this much momentum again. She was continuing to rock the car forwards and backwards but she seemed to have reached a point where she was moving backwards and forwards about a foot, but could not get any further forwards.


I decided I had to step across in front of the mud, which then promptly splattered all over my trousers, even though I tried to time it with roll back, but she started forwards again before I was clear!


I put my back against the boot and tried to dig my heels in as she started on another roll forwards. With my help she seemed to manage a little more forward movement but then she allowed the car to roll back yet again. As she let up the clutch this time I started to push as hard as I could. I called out “Go for it now and don’t stop. Accelerate as hard as you can”


She did! The wheel speeded up and the engine revs went as high as I had heard them. I pushed as hard as I could and the car kept slithering forwards. I kept thinking that the wheel must have reached the tarmac by now, but still it span. I carried on trying to push but it was muddy under my feet when suddenly the car shot forward. It caught me totally by surprise and where I had been pushing so hard, when the car suddenly sprinted forwards, I could not keep my balance and I fell over! She drove a couple of cars lengths up the road and stopped. I was just turning over to start to get up when I looked at the back of the car. Her drivers door opened and she got out. She came running back to me, but it was obvious that she was still in pain as she had quite a bad limp as she tried to run. As she got to me she said: "What happened, are you alright, I didn’t run you over did I?”


I said: "No, I just lost my balance and fell over when you shot off up the road”


She said: "I felt the car grip and realised that I had escaped. I shouted out in relief and then looked in my interior mirror and you weren’t there. I looked in the drivers’ door mirror and saw you in the road. My heart stopped as I thought I had run over your leg or something. My God, look at your trousers, they are all splattered in mud, was that me as well”


I said: "Yes, that was getting round the back to push. I could not get you to stop, so I had to make a run for it, but you started off forwards before I made it and so I got covered”


She watched me get up and said: "Are you sure you are alright?”


I said: "Yes, it's only hurt pride”


She stepped forward and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. She stepped back and said: "That is to say thank you and to make you better. I would have never been able to get out of the gateway if you had not been here to help me”


I said: "You would not have been in the gateway if I had not been here in the lane in my van, interrupting your journey to school”


She said: "No that is true. I have never met anyone on that hill in three years of collecting my kids from school. It must have been fate that meant I was lucky enough to meet someone who knew how to drive in mud. I have never been stuck like that before. I once span my wheel reversing out of my driveway in the snow, but I made it and I was not stuck like that. I really thought I was never going to get out. I am not even sure I can drive now. My leg is killing me. I think I night have to go all the rest of the way to school in second gear. Will my car be safe to drive?”


I said: "Yes, just take it easy for a few miles until the mud has been flung off of the tyres”


She then looked at my van and asked: “Will you be alright to get out. I have been so worried about me and my car, I have forgotten about yours”


I said: "I will be fine, now that you car is not there to block me moving it”


She said: "Are you sure, I could stay and make sure you are ok”


I said: " No it's fine, you go and get your skids. What are you going to tell them as your reason for being late”


She replied: “I will tell them the truth, that I got my car completely stuck in a gateway, and that a strange man was wonderful and he helped me to eventually get it out”


I replied: ”Not too ‘strange’ I hope?”


She said: "Strange as in a stranger, but actually I now feel like I have known you for years even though we only just met”


I said: "That’s nice, thank you. Shall we meet here at the same time tomorrow then?”


She replied: “I don’t think so, I will probably go a different way from now on. I never want to meet another car on this hill ever again. I will probably have nightmares about being completely stuck here in this gateway. Well I had better go now and thanks again for rescuing me”


She walked off, still with a bit of a limp and got into her car. She waved as she drove off, and guess what? She pulled away too smartly and her rear nearside wheel span on the tarmac for a few feet as the mud on the tyre was obviously too slippery for her to keep her grip!


Needless to say it was dead easy to move my van. All I had to do was to turn the wheels to the right and drive off down the lane. If only she knew that I could have done that at any time I liked, I don’t think she would have had such a high opinion of me!