Blowout on Kirkstone Pass

Kristie Thompson
North Carolina, USA

Trouble on Kirkstone Pass

It was the trip of a lifetime. Despite the loudly-voiced concerns of friends and family, I was actually in England, after an impulsive decision to embark on a solo trip around Great Britain for fifteen days.

I had rented a blue Renault and had already been on the road for four days with no problems. I was in a country known for its liquid sunshine, and it hadn’t even rained! The trip was going wonderfully, and I was excited to be visiting England and its breathtaking scenery.

I was in the Lake District on tiny Kirkstone Pass, somewhere between Ullswater and Windemere, when something else breathtaking happened. A loud bang followed by the wheel jerking to the left jolted me from my reverie.

I glanced back in my rearview mirror just in time to watch my hubcap go bouncing behind me. A blowout! It was caused by the low rock wall along the road designed to prevent people from pulling off onto the shoulder. Now, it was preventing me from moving out of the way of traffic as well.

There I was, in the hot July sun, trapped on the tiny road, traffic heavy behind me, and no way to move the car. Cars began slowly passing me, and I got sympathetic looks from many of the drivers. One couple offered to take me to the nearest phone, but I was afraid to leave the rental car abandoned in the middle of the road.

I stood there, dejected, amidst the glorious yellow and brown hues of the pass, barely noticing because I was too busy worrying how the rest of my vacation would turn out when a van pulled up behind me.

The van had bright yellow kayaks on top. Two men jumped out.

“What seems to be the problem?” the older man asked. I told him. He immediately took charge. He opened the trunk, unloaded my massive load of luggage, grabbed my spare tire, and despite the risks inherent in changing a tire on a narrow road at an angle, managed to change my tire in just a few minutes. I offered to pay them, but the older man told me to have a great vacation and drove off.

I managed to get to the Ullswater lake, where my steamer was waiting. As I pulled off the dock, I saw the same two men, kayaking on the lake. They had taken time out of their vacation to help me in a moment of need. The older man saw me and waved.

“You won’t get a flat tire on that!” he yelled, laughing. I smiled and waved back. Although I never got their names, I’ll be forever grateful to them for saving my vacation.

Originally published as HeroicStories #683 on Jan 9, 2006

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