TRAVELLINGabout this septic isle I have done my share of shivering, been soaked without relief and had holes the size of waste pipes blown through me by coastal gales but for sheer bone-numbing coldness a Yorkshire dale with a north wind funnelled down it takes some beating.
There was rain, gales, snow and hail along with two earthquakes and a mountain lain low all in the first five minutes.
Sheep cried tears of ice and the only satisfied looking folk were locals with complexions of granite making home from the pub.
Needless to say the walking community was out in force and may will be striking a frozen pose upon the hilltops until at least July.
If there is one place to merchant logs and oil it is Arkengarthdale. Our let looked out on the Duke of Norfolk's shooting lodge and of course he is not daft enough to be here much before the Glorious 12th.
So what transport did we need to combat this meteorological hostility. Snowcat? Unimog? Nah, Toyota RAV4 hybrid.
And what of it? Well the latest RAV4 is an improvement indeed but let us say up front that unless you have a pressing business tax reason for a hybrid or really think Upper Freezingdale is globally warmed enough, which I don't, the first choice may be a diesel.
The hybrid was not over thirsty. But then neither was it frugal at 40mpg by the reading on its own computer.
There is the fun and games of keeping the dials in the green and ensuring recharging is maximised rolling downhill and during braking but the first hundred yards are the only milk-float silent ones before the 2.5-litre 150bhp petrol engine kicks in.
However, it is not short on performance at all at a healthy 8.4 seconds to 62mph. This is the most powerful RAV4 version available in Europe with a combined bhp of 194.
In the whole of the cycle the electrickery is jumping in and out which is how fuel is saved. This, by the way, was the AWD automatic Excel version, bringing with it for £33,000, a host of trinkets and clever ideas, like see you home headlights that can be tuned in to stay on for 30 seconds.
Other equipment includes a heater blower customise function. Press fast or soft and get the warming draught of your choice. People in parts of North Yorkshire will need only the fast function.
Everything else is more or less what you would expect; connectivity to all planets, sensing lights and wipers, heated leather seats, parking alarms and rear view cameras. You get my drift.
Or rather you don't. Grip is excellent and while the only off-roading was limited to a bit of moorland track I would take it into a shooting environment.
Not least because this is a classy interior, not always the RAV's strong point, and a refined ride on the road. Bit loud on the M6, however.
Passive safety and driver assist kit covers all needs and even with all those batteries the boot space was ample. Ask the dog.
As with all hybrids there is a pretty sizeable chunk of dosh to part with but if this is the road you want to go down a car to put on the list.
And should you visit the Arklengarthdale area two things are recommended. Thermal knickers and a visit to the Bull in Reeth. It has a huge fire.