Charlie starts the day by extolling the virtues of the Aberglaslyn Pass, and he does not overstate it, but it is best visited by bike as there is little parking for anything bigger.
I should tell you that there is a fantastic narrow gauge railway from Porthmadoc to Carnarfon called the Welsh Highland Line, staffed by volunteers, and it takes 2.5 hours to travel between the two stations. Every journey except in the depth of winter is steam hauled. And in the opposite direction you can steam to Blaenau Ffestiniog on the Ffestiniog railway from Porthmadoc.
Back to cycling and Charlie. Heading almost due south now, they scurried along at a decent pace, reaching Barmouth for 3pm. Why the rush ? Well would you believe his parents were on holiday there, meaning B & B accommodation could be had by courtesy of the bank of Mum and Dad. (There is nothing new in this world is there ?)
This day must rank as one of Charlie’s most adventurous ever, leaving not a stone of excitement unturned. And that quite apart from, as Charlie describes, a ‘terrific’ row. How three people, on holiday, can fall out so vehemently is difficult to understand, and given the alternatives it is all hot air. But common sense eventually prevailed and all was peace once more.
Then they get into the mountains….
Making a good start today, many of the pre-planned sites were visited, including the white marble church at Bodelwyddan. This church is just by the main road and very visible, and to my regret never visited by me. So we should savour Charlie’s description.
His reference to the deserted Kinmel Camp brings to mind the Riot there in March 1919, when Canadian soldiers returning from the trenches in France, and angry over delays in getting them repatriated to Canade, rioted and unfortunately five men died. Who shot them is another story, but it led to the complete closure of the camp. When Charlie passed by in 1923 the events would be fresh in their minds.
Much excitement today as three of them meet up to start their first ever ‘proper’ cycle tour during the Bolton Wakes Week. A lot of planning has been put into this holiday and I think that even Charlie appreciates the problems of trying to cover all the highlighted ‘must do’ locations.
However, off they go, we shall see how far they get before they run out of time, money or energy. What it is like to be young. The description of their first bed and breakfast establishment in Chester is enough to make your hair curl.
The next nine pages to be released over the coming few weeks describe his 9 day tour of North Wales, with companions. As a result the entries are longer and more interesting, as Charlie’s literary skills continue to accumulate.
This was a run in two parts to allow Charlie to ride over to Darwen in the morning, and find a suitable café for tea for the afternoon run. The mission being successful, 17 of them had a great time in Sunnyhurst Woods, the municipal park in Darwen. This short run enabled them to plan their strategy for the following Friday, when three of them would start a week long tour of North Wales, with much planning and lots of cycling.
As you will subsequently read, in reality it became a discarded plan and less of the cycling as well. But they were to have a great time.
Bit like a history lesson today, or it could have been if everywhere they went was open, instead of being closed. I’ll bet not many of you knew anything about the old church at Stydd, just outside Ribchester. Neither did I. Its full title, according to the Ribchester local history society, is St Saviour’s Church and it is dated around 1200 AD. It stands in the middle of a field, and a writeup of its history suggests that it is in that location because the old Roman roads emanating from the local Roman camp were still in use 800 years ago as medieval roads. It is a very small building and some authorities think the excavations carried out a 100 years ago may indicate it was built on the site of a Roman temple.
The old bridge over the River Hodder at Mytton, referred to by Charlie as being closed to the public because of its dangerous state, was an earlier pack horse bridge with stone parapets, built to facilitate parishioners wishing to worship at Mitton Church. The stone parapets on the bridge were smashed down to allow Cromwell to take his cannon over the River Hodder.
Charlie has never written anything about drinking alcohol, but todays ride, which started after an aborted arrangement to meet a friend at the Three Pigeons pub on Blackburn road in Bolton, seems to reflect some imbibing between 2.30 and 4pm in order to explain what followed. He talks of following a field path for some ten miles with allsorts of obstacles – stiles etc – but still able to regain the highway at the other end in 45 minutes. Yeh, right Charlie !
The mysterious Castle he refers to is a ‘folly’ built near Rivington village by Lord Leverhulme, the then landowner, to replicate the layout and design of the earlier castle at Liverpool. What forms a millionaire’s expenditure can take !
I have to smile when I read Charlie’s accounts of CTC runs, through which a common thread runs. That is Charlie’s rank lack of sympathy for the poor runs leader, by charging ahead whenever he can – with co-conspirators – and messing up the runs, then getting lost etc etc. In my time as a CTC member things weren’t much different as regards all staying together on runs, but in Charlie’s day much emphasis was placed on all staying together and obeying the leader and suchlike regimentation, as can be gathered by reading about the discussions that took place at the AGM’s. I have to say that in regard to runs discipline, Charlie was an out and out rebel.
But how about the cycling vicar ? And Charlie gets back to his boating habits, just a week later than ignoring rowing boats at Southport.
I must confess to never having heard of Halton Castle before Charlie’s journals came into my possession, so I have had to revert to Google for more information. It seems to be even more neglected now than it was in 1923, hardly a surprise. Halton Castle is in a commanding position though, and no doubt well placed for those times of yore.