Tuesday, September 25 – A Paved Roman Road

We are having a change today, and our meeting place is at Sudden, near Rochdale at 10.30am.  I started at 9.30, along the Bury Road.  At Breightmet rain started, and at Bury it drove me into my cape.  I was soon in it properly, Heywood and our rendezvous (where Tom was waiting), and Rochdale were passed before we could pack them away.  I punctured near Littleborough but that was a small matter and soon repaired.  Climbing out of Littleborough, we commenced the ascent of Blackstone Edge.  About a mile further on we dodged into a shed from the rain which swept over the moors with renewed velocity.  We now decided to have lunch at an Inn close by.  During lunch we inquired about a Roman Road which runs from near here over Blackstone Edge.  She told us that it was impossible with bicycles!

Starting out again, in capes, we soon found the track, and in a few minutes we were on the paved surface of a famous Roman Road.  The road is about 16 feet in width and possesses kerb stones at the sides.  The whole is paved with irregular setts (cobbles), much the same as in the present day, but down the centre all the way are concave stones, forming a kind of channel.  Some controversy occurred about its use, but we could not reach a definite conclusion, and our explanations are not satisfactory.  The mist spoilt what fine views might have been seen from the top, 1,350ft high.  In one place a drainage river ran across the road, and we had to form stepping stones to get across.

Farther on we came into a bog, and we had much ado to keep dry.  The road gradually faded, and the paved part eventually ended at a broad river.  We got our feet thoroughly wet through in crossing it.  A proper storm now broke, covering all around us with mist, and absolutely drenching us.  When at last we gained a proper road we were like wet rags.  From the White House we had a long drop into Littleborough again, then Rochdale, and the weather cleared as we parted at Sudden.  Home for 5pm.

50 miles, 7.5 hours