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Sat Nav Mystery Tour STUCK in Rosemary Lane! – STROAT + FoD:. 


Pensioners in sat-nav mystery tour

The route


By Richard Savill

12:01AM BST 26 Aug 2006



Modern technology has failed a group of pensioners who were stranded for almost four hours when a satellite navigation system directed their coach down an impassable country lane.

The group of 30 pensioners, some of them in wheelchairs, missed out on a pub lunch after their coach became stuck between steep grass banks on a sharp bend.

A farmer gave them tea and biscuits and allowed them to use his lavatory as the driver tried to find a way out of the single-track lane.

Eventually the only solution was to drive the coach across three recently harvested fields to rejoin the main road.

”When the coach first got stuck it was impossible for anyone to get out because it was jammed against high embankments on either side,” said Ian McDonald, 70, a retired transport manager, who lives nearby. ”It had to be reversed to the entrance to the farmhouse just so the passengers could get off and be looked after.

”There was all sorts of shunting and shoving until it was finally in a position where it could turn into the fields and drive across the straw stubble to the main road.”

Residents said that the episode was the latest in a series of satellite navigation blunders on the unclassified road near the village of Stroat in the Forest of Dean, Glos. Cars towing caravans and trailers have also been stuck.

The satellite navigation system recognises Rosemary Lane as a short cut between the main Coleford road through the Forest of Dean and the A48 Gloucester to Chepstow road. “The lane is totally unsuitable for big vehicles,” said Mr McDonald. ”The lady driver was using a handheld sat-nav. As you enter the lane from the top it is quite deceptive. It seems fairly open and straight and two cars could just about squeeze past each other. But within 100 yards or so it suddenly becomes very steep and narrow. It looks like she just must have panicked and tried to carry on.”

Patricia Whitehead, 69, who lives at the bottom of the lane, said: “People just seem to blindly believe the sat-nav. It just goes to show that technology does not always know best.”

The pensioners, from Bristol, had chartered the coach to take them for lunch at the Miner’s Arms in Sling, Glos. Instead they ate later in the day at a garden centre cafe. A senior driver for the Buglers coach company in Bristol, who went to assist in the rescue, said his younger colleague had “simply missed her turn” and let her “inexperience get the better of her”.

He said: “She put her destination into the sat-nav to bring up an alternative route and it sent her down the lane. As she made her way down the lane she began to realise she may be in a spot of bother but instead of stopping when she should, she tried to press on. We all make mistakes.”

• Whittingham parish council in Lancashire has asked satellite navigation manufacturers to update their systems because HGV drivers are turning round in three lanes to avoid getting stuck.

Householders have complained that lorries are attempting three-point turns in their drives.


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