Gritting and snow clearance

We have a fleet of 16 gritters equipped with snow ploughs and 3 snow blowers. In the hills to the east, local farmers help clear the roads when snow is heavy and prolonged.

Winter gritting route map

You can view our gritting routes using our interactive map: winter treatment network. The black lines show our gritting routes. 

We have recently changed our winter gritting routes. You can find out more about the changes by visiting our Well Managed Highway Infrastructure page.  We will consider any comments or requests for roads to be included in the 2022/23 period as part of the annual review at the end of the season in May 2022.

Gritting and snow clearance actions

When there is a risk of ice (usually this is where the temperature is forecast to fall below 1 degree centigrade), we aim to grit roads before ice forms. 

When snow is forecast we aim to grit main roads and routes to accident and emergency hospitals before the snow falls. 

After snow has fallen, we work to clear the roads. We start with main roads and designated routes to accident and emergency hospitals, then major commuter routes, busy bus routes and routes to secondary schools.  We may have to return to these routes even after starting to clear other roads if they start to freeze again or if new snow falls.

To assess the likelihood of snow or ice and decide when to grit, we use a computerised system that takes road surface temperatures and other information from sensor sites around Cheshire East, plus Met Office weather forecasts.

It is never safe to assume a road is free from ice, because:

  • we only grit the roads included in our winter treatment network, so many roads are never gritted
  • sometimes ice forms even if it was not forecast 
  • when the forecast changes at short notice, we may not have time to cover all the roads on our gritting routes (it takes 4 hours to get round them all)
  • rain can wash salt away (so we don't grit when it is raining)
  • in the evenings, we normally grit after the rush hour - if rain turns to snow during the rush hour, we may not be able to treat roads because of the traffic
  • even salt does not stop ice forming when the temperature is below -8 degrees centigrade
  • salt does not instantly remove snow or ice - the action of traffic is essential to break down the salt granules to form a saline solution which lowers the freezing point of water

For winter driving advice, see Cheshire Fire Service winter road safety tips.

We treat pavements only when snow or ice is already present and is likely to stay for some time and where we have resources available after treating roads. We give priority to busy pedestrian areas and to pavements where the gradient is steeper than 10%.

If your road is not located on a gritting route, there may be a salt bin nearby. 

We assess the provision of grit bins on a variety of factors including the gradient, proximity to bends and junctions, number of properties, and whether the road was previously included on a gritting route.

We will consider any comments or requests for salt bins in the 2022/23 period as part of the annual review at the end of the season in May 2022.

You can use the salt in the bins on public roads and pavements. You cannot use it to grit your own property.

We stock the bins at the start of each winter. You can ask us to re-stock, fix or replace a damaged bin by reporting it online.

For advice on what you can do to clear paths, driveways and the pavement outside your property, see the  Met Office Snow Code. There is no law stopping you from clearing pavements. It is unlikely you would be legally responsible for any injuries on the path if you have cleared it carefully.


Contact us

Report a problem online

If you consider a highways issue to be dangerous, or an emergency, please call us on:

0300 123 5020
(8:30am – 5:00pm)

0300 123 5025
(after 5pm and before 8:30am, including weekends)

Floor 6
Delamere House

Delamere Street Crewe

Gritting updates

For gritting updates, follow @CEC Highways or use the map to track our gritting fleet.

Page last reviewed: 06 April 2022