A WHITE Christmas has always been a fairly rare event - especially with the effects of global warming - but a good helping of snow in South Cumbria before the end of December has been a feature in past years.

Today's pictures from The Mail archive feature people having fun in the last few days of December 2000 and the first couple of month of 2001 when almost every part of the British Isles experience some heavy snowfalls.

The Mail, on, Tuesday, January 2 in 2001, noted: "Tranquil Birkrigg Common became the area's Cresta Run following the recent heavy snowfalls which turned the ideally contoured beauty spot into an exciting racing ground.

"Sledges of all shapes and sizes - and anything else that slid - were pressed into use as hundreds of youngsters took to the slopes to enjoy the excitement, while the snow lasts.

"The surface on the main runs quickly hardened and became polished for record-breaking performances to be displayed.

"The popular metallic scooters, all the rage this Christmas, took a back seat while the more traditional fun got under way.

"People took the snow-covered hill all over the area, with Asda, Barrow, selling out of sledges at one point."

Other places which proved to be popular with sledgers included the cenotaph hill in Barrow Public Park, the amphitheatre at Furness Abbey and the former ironworks slagbank at Millom.

There was enough of the white stuff for Peter Fallows and Jonathan Cotton to build a snowman on the top of the ATS garage, in Ainslie Street, Barrow.

December 27 in 2000 had seen 19cm of snow at Lough Neagh - the worst conditions seen in Northern Ireland for 18 years.

By December 31 the A66 had been closed across the Pennines.

The conditions had a bad effect on sporting fixtures and Barrow AFC director Phil Cowing was pictured throwing snowballs across a white Holker street pitch in January.

The snow returned on February 4 to 6, leaving 20,000 homes without power in parts of Yorkshire and Northumberland.

Shetland's main supermarkets were running out of food after being cut off for two days.

There was another blanket of snow across Northern England and Scotland from February 26 to 27.

Seventy passengers spent the night at Carlisle after a cross-border sleeper train was stranded in the snow.

Virgin cancelled all services between Cumbria and Scotland as wind and snow affected power lines.

Company spokesman Jim Rowe said: "We've had reports that snow reached the actual level of the platform in certain areas."