Sunday, October 21 – Arnside

I should have seen Tom at Chester this morning, but a letter arrived late on Saturday (!) cancelling all arrangements because he was not feeling well.  So I decided to carry on alone.  I slightly misjudged ‘getting up’, with the result that I was up at 3.30am!  It had been raining when I started at 5.30, and at Lostock it started again.  Dawn broke at Horwich, and as I neared Chorley the sky looked pretty hopeless and suggested a day inside the cape.  Joining the Wigan-Preston road, I had some trouble with my cranks coming loose, and was considerably delayed.  I reached Preston at 8am, where a heavy storm caught me up and completely wet me through.  At an even pace I pedalled on via Broughton to Brock, for breakfast at 8.30am.  At 9.15 when I started again, it was still raining, but I had an easy run with the wind behind, and skirting the main road I passed the ruined tower of Greenhaulgh Castle, and came into Garstang.  Just past here I sheltered from a particularly nasty shower, but got fed up with sheltering and carried on, in it, to Galgate where it ceased and I put my cape away after four and a half hours of rain.

In Lancaster (10.45) my crank started again, so I resolved to have a new cotter pin fitted.  A garage at Skerton soon put it right, and now, trouble free, I made great headway beneath a brightening sky through Bolton Le Sands.  Before me, half in cloud, half in sunshine, rose the heights of Lakeland, and as I gained higher ground towards Carnforth, I caught a glimpse of the sandy stretches of Morecambe Bay.  Passing through Carnforth, I ran by the steelworks with their ugly accessories (chimneys) and thus on to the tollgate on the Silverwell (careless, Charlie, I am sure you mean Silverdale) road.  The road ran flat for a time, the turfy sandy stretches on one hand, and a rocky wooded hill on the other, then climbing, I left it for a luscious series of bylanes towards Arnside.  Past Hawes Water, [not to be confused with Haweswater in the Lake District], uphill, and I was off the machine looking at an indescribable scene of hilly splendour.

Again the Lakeland mountains, but also the nearer wooded slopes, with here and there some white precipices.  With this tantalising view before me, I rode along with the lonely ruin of Arnside Tower disclosed to me.  A memory of a holiday camp with the Boy Scouts now came back, as I surveyed Arnside Knott – a holiday of over nine years ago [when he would have been ten years of age].    Why, this is the very road we marched from camp to village upon.  Each feature came back then, the old familiar town and promenade, that little shop where I used to buy sweets, the great railway viaduct across the River Kent, the very boats, it seemed, that we used to hire for an hour.  The Albion Hotel provided me with lunch at 12.30, and from out of the room window I got a fine view of Grange-over-Sands, backed by the low hills of Hamps Fell, then rising into a jumbled mass of dark jagged peaks.  Grange was in sunshine, but the River Kent, with its miles of treacherous sandbanks and channels of swirling currents was frowned upon by dark, lowering clouds.

At last I arose, and ‘footing’ the bill, climbed the steep road that runs behind the village.  In the bylanes again, I rode along by the side of the Knott, in a little valley with Arnside Tower on the left.  Climbing a ridge, soon the whole panorama of Morecambe Bay, with Morecambe itself on the far side, and Silverdale at my feet, came into view.  Soon I entered Helmslack, then some sharp corners, downhill, and up again through the village.  Entering a wood where the roadway was covered with fallen leaves, I joined the same road that I came upon, and was again in Carnforth for 2.30pm.  Now I felt a strong headwind which kept me busy all the way through Bolton-Le-Sands to Slyne and Lancaster.  Here I took the undulating Cockerham road, through Stockley and Conder Green to Cockerham.

In places this road is well wooded, and an arch is formed by the trees over the road.  Reaching Churchtown, I turned for St. Michael’s-on-Wyre, and again at this place for Inskip.  I must have got mixed up, and for three miles I had a bad road; in some places it was raised above a slimy marshland, and I saw hordes of rats.  I joined the main road at Catforth, and then through Cottam to Westleigh, then Ashton, and the streets of Preston to Walton-le-Dale for tea.  Restarting at 7.15pm, through Bamber Bridge etc, I caught the rain at Chorley, and had its company home for 9.30pm.

130 miles, 16 hours