The Bolton section of the Club wends its way today to Tanhouse Farm, where the annual gorge takes place. Its distance from Bolton is just about 37 miles – not a great distance in which to work up an appetite for the occasion, although many had the fixed intention of going without breakfast! I hadn’t – I could trust myself to work up a decent appetite, and eat a decent breakfast too, without travelling so far! Well, I had to meet Tom at Kingsway End 9.30, so I could not very well wait with the section. I therefore ambled off to Walkden on my own, where I passed several members waiting. I speeded up through Barton and Stretford, to get this stage over, and was glad when I got to the rendezvous, just inside time. At the moment I jumped off my bike, Tom and Bill came up, and so we made a start.
Following Wilmslow road to Handforth, we turned left opposite the Greyhound into a byway, which led up to Dean Row, from where we branched off to Prestbury. It was a beautiful morning, a trifle nippy and breezy, but grand riding on dry roads. Soon we entered Prestbury, a reputed ‘prettiest Cheshire village’. Leaving the bikes outside the gates, we entered the old churchyard, viewing several interesting graves, and noting a Norman chapel. We went inside this, but beside some stone coffins and lids and a little old timberwork, there is not much to see. On the front exterior however, there are some excellent examples of Norman architecture. Opposite the church, is a fine, half timbered building, now a bank, but once a residence of a bishop. We bought some picture postcards at the village post office, then rode off on the Gawsworth road. The gradient soon brought us to a standstill, and whilst walking we had plenty of time to note the extensive views towards Derbyshire. From Bollington to Macclesfield, from Stockport to Congleton, the ridge of hills presented many of the colour effects, broken in places by the darker cloughs. Soon, after remounting, we came to Broken Cross, and a short run of a mile or so brought us to Warren and the Macclesfield – Congleton road.
As time was getting on, we decided not to make the detour by Gawsworth, carrying on straight along the main road instead. Although we had been on this road but a short time, we began to get fed up with it. Just then some of the Boltonians came out of a bylane. We turned down a steep lane. They told us that we were going the worst road, and our answer was that we knew! Crossing the Dane at Havannah, we started along a lane that rapidly changed into a river, and for a few hundred yards we had to pedal through it. We at length got beyond it, and eventually came on the main road just above Buglawton. A little further on we caught the club up, and joined them, and in a few moments we all reached Tanhouse Farm. There was a huge crowd, 46 all told, but meals had only been ordered for 30. This was not fair to the 30, but I won’t complain, I did not order in advance! Then we had a long, long wait. I was on the point of dying of hunger when the first course came in. This was soon put away, I had two plates of vegetables. Came the pudding. My helping was in danger of getting lost between the plate and the cream! Again I had two helpings. Came mince tarts. I had two. Cake, I had one – it was like lead – and a cup of tea finished it. It was not like last time, then we gorged until we could not stand up. We hadn’t the chance this time! Some of us decided to climb The Cloud, Tom, Bill and I included. Whilst climbing, I discovered that the dinner was not so small after all.
There was no view from the summit, as the air was misty. I tried to climb a few precipices on the edge, failed in some, succeeding in others. The rock, millstone grit, is rotten and breaks away in the hand. About 30 of us had climbed the hill, and from a point of vantage I saw them all running down the slope. It reminded me of an attack, such as we used to practise in the Church Lads Brigade years ago. On our way back to Tanhouse Farm, we played football – or rather played at kicking it over the walls. Tom, Bill and I started back together, making our way to Buglawton, then taking a byway across the Dane on to the Macclesfield road. Another byway led us on to the Alderley road. As the time was yet only 4pm, we entered more byways towards Somerford. My chain jumped off but luckily no damage was done. After wandering on a ‘blank’, we regained the main road, traversing it in the gathering darkness to Alderley Cross. Tom and Bill did not feel hungry, so they decided to go home, and so, after seasonal greetings, we left each other. I entered Mrs Powell’s where was a noisy crowd of about 50. I ate very little tea. It was a grand night when I joined the road, after wishing Mrs Powell the compliments of the season, and I had an idea to take a roundabout way. No one would join me, so I went off on my own.
Traversing many bylanes, I came to the Chelford road, which I joined to the latter place, and then joined Knutsford road. This highway was pitch dark, and I had many embarrassing moments owing to fierce headlights. At length I reached Knutsford, then passed through the ancient streets to the old road, which leads round Tatton Park to Mere. Then Altrincham, and the usual road home at 9.30, completing a fine day. 92 miles