A baby had to be plucked to safety when his parents' car was caught in a blizzard on a remote North-East hilltop.

Mountain rescuers carried the eight-week-old baby out of a snowdrift in Upper Wear-dale, County Durham, before leading his mother to safety.

The young family was in one of four vehicles that became stranded on the B6278 between Castleside and Stanhope, on Saturday night.

Sudden high winds had swept snow from the dale across the road, causing 3ft drifts.

One motorist used a mobile phone to call 999, but police had to contact Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team for help.

Seven rescue volunteers split up into two teams and approached the blocked stretch of road from the north and south to get as close as possible.

One vehicle managed to get within 200m of the stranded cars and rescuers waded through the drift to reach the occupants.

As soon as they discovered the baby, they wrapped him in a blanket and carried him to safety.

Team leader Dave Bartles-Smith said: "It was dark at the time with mist and a strong wind which was causing the snow to drift.

"Several drivers were caught out by the conditions, which were very localised so difficult to predict.

"We decided that the family would be safer if we carried the baby back to our Land Rover and took the family to lower ground near Stanhope, where they were left in the hands of the police.

"Everyone else was kept warm, safe and calm until their cars were freed and they were all home by 10.30pm."

The other nine passengers stayed in their vehicles until a snow plough arrived to dig them out.

Police closed the road to motorists for the rest of the weekend and rescuers warned drivers to take extra precautions and prepare for the worst when travelling on remote roads in bad weather.

ä On the slopes - Page 7