MOTHER Nature can be a cruel mistress. The destruction wreaked on our area by Storm Desmond clearly demonstrated that.

And nowhere was her barbarity more keenly felt than along the entire length of the A591, one of Britain’s most picturesque roads.. Eighteen landslides along the ‘backbone’ road that connects the southern Lake District to the north spewed rocks and rubble from the high fells onto the carriageway.

Soldiers from the Royal Engineers did an excellent job earlier this week clearing the detrius and were thanked for their efforts by the local community. But a much greater obstacle to re-opening this main arterial route still exists in the shape of a yawning cavern that opened up between Thirlmere and Dunmail Raise.

Already this chasm, known locally as ‘the gap,’ is having a massive impact on the lives of families, businesses and schools.

A journey between Grasmere and Keswick, which once took just 20 minutes, now takes two hours, and for children living along the affected route the ‘school run’ has become impossible.

And businesses in the Lake District villages are now being badly hit with several reporting a significant drop in takings with visitors and tourists from the north unable to get through and many of those approaching from the south under the impression that places like Grasmere are cut off.

Two petitions have been set up calling for ‘the gap’ to be urgently repaired. They have received widespread support with calls from some for a temporary solution to be found in the form of an army built bridge.

There are fears that the road could take months to repair at a cost of millions. Where the money is coming from has not been identified but the wheels need to be set in motion quickly to find a solution or businesses are going to go to the wall.

And if we want to drive home the message that Cumbria is open for business, the powers that be must get this road open sooner rather than later.