This page was penned just before Charlie’s 20th birthday, and I can (just) remember my own thrill at his age of having the ability to enjoy the countryside under my own steam.
He speaks of the view from up here overlooking the River Ribble estuary, and I can also tell you that on rare days of exceptionally clear weather the Isle of Man can be seen, with binoculars of course.
This short run, carried out in the depth of night, mostly on unlit roads and tracks on a very dark and scary landscaped hillside all combined with poor bicycle lights made a perfect time to have a puncture 1200 feet above sea level. The bungalow referred to was built by Lord Leverhulme, (a native of Bolton) some years earlier when he developed the gardens on the east side of the reservoir – all can be seen from my bedroom window.
Despite being permanently staffed by servants this very large and luxury bungalow (at which dances were held) burnt to the ground one winters night some years later. The grounds have been open to the public for free for many years, and are a very popular leisure rendezvous. Incidentally, Lord Leverhulme’s great wealth came from the family business, Lever Brothers, makers in those days of Fairy Soap amongst other products.
The route taken today is one of the most scenic in Lancashire, and has many attractions. The paper mill weir at Roach Bridge is mentioned and deserves a comment. The paper mill had been on this isolated site for many years (rumoured to have been a cotton mill even earlier), and it only ceased trading in 2001, 78 years after being mentioned in despatches by Charlie. It is now an industrial estate.
I can also commend the village of Chipping to any tourists, it also has one of the narrowest of streets, how the bus gets through I do not know. A terrific café caters for cyclists and walkers, and is highly recommended also.
The reference to Pendle Hill brings to mind the memories of the Lancashire Witches who lived in the small villages to the East of Pendle Hill, and who were tried at the Assizes held at Lancaster Castle from where they were publicly hanged after being found guilty. The last public hanging of witches in Britain. ‘The Lancashire Witches’, by William Harrison Ainsworth is the most definitive account and has been in continuous print since originally published many years ago.
So, you start out for a gentle Saturday afternoon run, and it rains all the way. Typical, but I don’t think today’s attendance had anything to do with it ! I cannot decide whether Charlie is telling us that there were 13 persons out with the club that day – or because there were 13 out that day that it rained so. Readers may be interested to know that the Warburton High Level Bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal, is a toll bridge still in use to this day, probably because the toll charges are very modest.
And again, we see what a piano can do to raise the enjoyment levels of a day out – what a change from today’s electronic entertainment.
Charlie is at his most descriptive in this wet expedition to the Derbyshire Dales. He never seems to run out of adjectives no matter what the challenge is to his literary skills.
His enthusiastic friends of the ‘We.R.7.’ hard riding fraternity certainly supplied all the energy one needed for a hard and wet day. Charlie was very privileged to meet up with and cultivate these very special chums who loved to get the miles in regardless of the weather, and apparently in 1927 the rain was one long downpour.