Farmer clearing snow from roadLibrary photo © Ashley Cooper/Splashdown Direct/Rex/Shutterstock

Farmers played a crucial role keeping roads open and villages accessible following a weekend of widespread heavy snow across the UK.

Snowploughs were hitched to tractors as farmers up and down the country cleared roads so people could travel and beat the worst of the winter weather.

See also: 15 frustrating things about snow on the farm

A snowplough driving through the village was a welcome sight in Shifnal, Shropshire.

Farmers were also drafted in to clear snow in Rhondda-Cynon-Taf, south Wales.

Joe Stanley, who farms 400ha of mixed enterprises in Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, suggested clearing snow should be considered a “public good”.

Farmers are a vital part of rural communities, with many operating council snowploughs on a 24-hour basis as needed, he said.

This helped reduce local authority expenditure, said Mr Stanley.

Agronomist Tim Bullock said local farmers in Gloucestershire had cleared country lanes but main roads that were the responsibility of the council remained blocked.

He tweeted: “Round here the farmers are the only people who have snow ploughed, minor roads clear, main roads blocked.”

Local police in Worcestershire used social media to thank farmers publicly for their efforts in keeping the highways clear.

They tweeted: “Big shout out to the local farmers we have met who are ploughing roads and transporting district nurses to their patients.”

Essex farmers Ed Ford and Harry Mouland spent the day helping Essex Highways keep the road network and dual carriageways open near the M25 on the outskirts of London.

Mr Ford tweeted a video showing the snow being cleared.

By Monday morning, the snowploughs were back in the workshop for maintenance, although still on hand should they be needed later.