Gritting the county's roads

Our aim is to make Northamptonshire's roads as safe as is practical and ensure that you can travel with a minimum of delay and disruption during severe winter weather.

Winter service 2020 to 2021

For detailed information on processes, actions and preparations, including information on the precautionary and adverse gritting routes, see the 'Winter Service Plan' document.

An up to date Winter Service Plan will be uploaded soon

Which roads are gritted and when?

The roads we are responsible for gritting are split into two categories:

  • The precautionary network (P1) - salting action will take place on the precautionary network whenever there is a potential hazard with forecast temperature of +0.5 or below in the 24 hour forecast period (midday to midday).
  • The adverse network (P2) - pre-treated during daytime hours in advance of high confidence of forecasted snow or when the forecast temperatures are not to rise above zero for 48 hours.

Motorways and trunk roads (e.g. M1, A14, M45, A45 east of Northampton, A5 and A43 south of Northampton) are gritted by Highways England.


Occasionally, gritting arrangements do not go to plan. You should never assume that a road has been treated but should drive in accordance with the prevailing conditions.

Please remember that the majority of minor roads will receive no treatment at all.

See gritting routes on a map

Keep up to date

We update our @NNHighways Twitter Gritter daily throughout winter to let you know whether we will be gritting.

You can also view information regarding weather warnings on the Met Office website.

Further information

​The county council has a finite gritting resource which needs to be applied in the most effective way across the county.

It is also very hard to predict how long a winter period will last for, which again makes resource allocation difficult.

Therefore a precautionary gritting network comprising the busiest roads and those linking communities are gritted as a priority.

Roads can be reclassified but not for the sole purpose of being added to a gritting route as this will affect other aspects of the maintenance regime of that particular road.​

​Yes - when a path or road is adopted it is considered at the time of the annual review of the gritting networks.

The County Council, as with the Highway Authority, will only grit the public highway. These are roads that are adopted. An unadopted road is a private road in the ownership of the land owner who is responsible, and liable, for the upkeep and safety of that road.

The grit is a combination of grit salt and molasses which gives a higher resistance to being washed away by rain or blown away by the wind.

Salt dissolves into the water and lowers its freezing point so it will remain liquid at temperatures below 0°C. This process does not work when the ice is already completely solid as salt can only dissolve into a liquid.

The lower the ambient road temperature the less effective is the salt until at about -10°C it does not work at all.​

Yes, you can submit your request to and it will be included in the yearly review of the network.

However, please be aware that requests to include a road on the precautionary gritting route must be submitted prior to September each year to be considered for the coming winter.  ​

​In severe weather conditions snow or ice may remain for some days. Consideration is given, in priority order, to the treatment of pedestrian and cycle routes, in particular the routes in the main shopping and pedestrian areas of a town.

We aim to clear roads in priority order as soon as conditions permit, and clearance work will continue as necessary.

In certain extreme conditions it may be necessary to spread a mixture of salt and grit to achieve traction, particularly in the case of compacted snow.

Ploughing of snow is carried out to prevent accumulation or to clear snow. We have sufficient snow ploughs to equip every gritter that we use.

Snow clearance involves extensive emergency plans and includes using all resources aimed at clearing roads affected in the shortest time possible.

If snow falls are particularly heavy it is likely that the services of a number of farmers, agricultural contractors and plant hire companies may be called upon to assist.

  • ​Start early - it’s much easier to clear fresh, loose snow than compacted ice that has been compressed by people walking on it.
  • Don’t use hot water - this will melt the snow, but may replace it with black ice, increasing the risk of injury.
  • Be a good neighbour - some people may be unable to clear snow and ice on paths from their property.
  • If you are shovelling snow, think where you are going to put it so that it doesn’t block people’s paths or drainage channels.
  • Make a pathway down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on.
  • Spreading some salt on the area you have cleared will help stop ice forming - table salt or dishwasher salt will work, but avoid spreading on plants or grass as they may be damaged.
  • Pay particular care and attention to steps and steep gradients.
  • Use the sun to your advantage - removing the top layer of snow will allow the sun to melt any ice beneath; however you will need to cover any ice with salt to stop it refreezing overnight.
  • If there’s no salt available, sand or ash are good alternatives.

We have reciprocal agreements with some adjacent Highway Authorities where they will carry out precautionary treatment on certain roads in Northamptonshire and vice versa.

These roads are treated on the decision of that particular Highway Authority, so there may be a difference in the timing of the treatment. This arrangement has made the winter service operation more efficient and means we can treat more roads.