End of an eight-day lock-in at the Lion

it's still bitterly cold outside North Yorkshire's Lion Inn pub – and more snow and ice could be on its way – but staff and guests finally had something to smile about yesterday.

They were raising a glass last night after rescuers finally managed to dig through the snow and put an end to an eight-day lock-in.

A Sheffield couple, believed to be in their 50s, four staff and two dogs, had been trapped inside the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge, near Kirbymoorside on the North York Moors, one of Britain's highest pubs since Friday last week, as 20ft (6.1m) of snow drifted against the pub.

A plough managed to clear the road in one direction by Saturday night allowing the couple to leave and the pub to reopen.

But yesterday bar worker 18-year-old Katie Underwood was still unable to get home as the route to her nearby village of Castleton was still blocked.

She said: "I'm feeling a bit stir crazy now and am looking forward to getting home to my own bed. We have been keeping busy, doing lots of work and digging through the snow and a bit of drinking as well.

"We played Monopoly for two-nights as well and the guests read their books.

"I got snowed in here for a few days here earlier this year, twice in 12 months is just unlucky."

The Lion Inn, which stands at 1,325ft above sea level, is also a bed and breakfast and during their eight days inside the pub the couple and staff were able to stay in its bedrooms.

Chef Daniel Butterworth, who was also trapped, said during the day the couple and staff managed to get out onto the snow on improvised sledges made from beer trays.

The beer did not run out and there was also plenty of food at the inn.

Gaynor Dent, manager of the inn, said: "There has been four staff and the two guests here, nobody else has been able to get anywhere near it until they broke through this weekend.

"Everyone is very relieved and it is nice to be getting back to normal.

"I think by the end of it, everybody was getting a bit bored, but thankfully they had electricity and plenty of coal.

"They kept the place very clean as well but I'm sure there has been a few drinks."

In January, some 30 New Year revellers were trapped inside North Yorkshire's Tan Hill Inn, England's highest pub, for three days following heavy snow.

As the big freeze continued this weekend, firefighters were called to Reeth, near to the Tan Hill Inn, to remove dangerous icicles on the sides of several buildings.

In South Yorkshire travellers on the M1 and M18 faced delays yesterday after Highways Agency workers spent most of the day repairing a barrier at the junction of the two motorways which was damaged when a lorry overturned on Friday.

Robin Hood Airport near Doncaster also began serving passengers again from 2pm yesterday, but staff said they were struggling not only with the weather, but also with the after-effects of strikes by Spanish air traffic control workers.

Across Yorkshire many households had to manage without gas.

British Gas said it was struggling to deal with an extremely high number of calls because engineers were finding it hard to get around.

Phillip Boom, 58, and wife Anne, 54, of Cromwell Mount in Burmantofts, Leeds, have been without gas since Friday morning, despite several promises from British Gas during around 10 telephone calls and being kept on hold for up to an hour.

Last night a BG spokeswoman apologised, saying the severe weather had affected its response times and meant that incidents had to be prioritised.

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