WINTER is gradually waning, and the Diary fears that yet another cold season may pass without a decent snowfall.

Our yearning to sit in our in-tray and sledge down Foss Bridge has intensified witnessing the scenes of whiteout in New York and the Winter Olympics.

As a flake hasn't fallen on York in anger for weeks it was with some surprise that we learned that North Yorkshire is Britain's snowiest area. Even if only in name.

Those map-making masters at Ordnance Survey have done a... well, a survey, and discovered that there are more places starting in "snow" in North Yorkshire than in any other county of England, Scotland or Wales.

They are: Snow Close Farm, Snow Falls, Snowball Plantation, Snowfield Farm, Snowden Carr and Snowden Crags. That is more than ten per cent of the nation's snow-based names.

Ordnance Survey's website has a fun feature which allows you to search its gazetteer for any name you like. Still with the wintry theme, for example, it will pinpoint the grid reference for Freeze Gill Farm on the North York Moors.

Alternatively, it will direct you to the no-doubt handsome Hertfordshire village of Titley.

STILL with all things cold, we note with a slight shiver the creation of the Malton Road bus corridor part II. On the face of it this should be good news to cycling Diarists, as it creates a further stretch of cyclepath off the road.

Unhappily, though, we have noticed that on icy days the road is gritted, but the new cyclepath is not. On more than one occasion we have nearly lost our grip (no surprise there, perhaps), the frosty conditions turning the cycle route into something resembling the Torino luge.

It has got to the point where we would rather cycle on the non-slip road than risk skidding from the cyclepath into the hawthorn beyond.

So should pedal pushers abandon raised cycleways and return to the highway in wintry conditions?

A City of York Council spokesperson told us that their policy "on the gritting of cycle paths is outlined in our winter maintenance manual.

"If a path is remote from the road, we treat it with grit sand. It is retreated as necessary, but not every time we treat the roads because the grit sand will remain in place, providing grip and traction for a number of weeks.

"Cycle paths running alongside roads are coated in grit as the roads are treated."

To which we can only respond: not on Malton Road, they're not.

ON the digital radio station BBC7 at the weekend we heard this from comedian Frankie Howerd: "They have just unveiled a plaque on the house where I was born, in the north. It is a simple message. It says 'Condemned'."

That was from a show broadcast in 1974. Funnily enough, his childhood home in Hartoft Street, York, survives to this day (Howerd was born in the City Hospital in 1917).

But to see a real plaque to the great man, you must go to the Grand Opera House.

Or not. As the great man would say, please yourselves.

Updated: 11:08 Tuesday, February 14, 2006