I am to meet Tom Idle at Barton at 2.30 this afternoon, for I am spending Saturday night at his place behind Manchester. I arrived just on time, and together we started for Flixton etc. Just beyond here we took a byroad which eventually ended at a derelict bridge over the River Mersey. For a long time we studied to find a means of crossing, but with the machines it was well nigh impossible, so we came away. We were not beaten, however, and we joined a hopeless looking track which joined a private road along the railway embankment. Coming to the Ship Canal we traversed the sides under the railway bridge until we were brought to a full stop by the Mersey, which flows into the Ship Canal here. An all pervading odour from the CWS soap works across, caused us to return by the waters edge until, after passing the locks we reached Flixton ferry. The ferry boat was leaking, and baling out was necessary. On the other side we met a deluge of rain which sent us scurrying into a cosy cabin.
When it slackened a little we started off again with a wonderful clear rainbow forming an arch above us. After passing through Irlam we reached Warburton Bridge and cutting through the bylanes came at length to Millington for tea at 6pm. After tea we inspected the farmyard products, i.e. pigs, poultry, and some odious ferrets. In the semi darkness we rode away, intent on getting lost in the bylanes.
Soon we lit our lamps, the moon came up, throwing a pale mellow light over the countryside, and the trees cast intensely dark shadows on the road. So completely were we lost that our sense of direction failed us totally, but we could, if we wished, find our way, for signposts are fairly numerous. As it was, we refused to look. Crossing a main road which we did not recognise, we plunged again into the lanes. Once we were attracted by a great, dead tree, and close inspection proved it to be a hollow oak of great age. A man could stand comfortably inside. Later I began to gradually recognise this road, and then we found it to be the Warburton-Budworth road near Arley. Turning we soon reached Tabley, Mere and Altrincham, then a lane to Northenden, Palatine Road, Withington, Gorton and supper at 10pm.
52 miles, 8.5 hours