Tom spent a night at our place last night, for a run north today. We were up rather later than arranged, this morning, but managed to get on the road soon after 8am. With the idea of ‘crashing through’ industrial parts, we started along Blackburn road. A strong breeze helped us up to the top of the moors, and beyond Dunscar Bridge, through Edgeworth. On the summit of the moors, we met two other cyclists, H. E. and his friend, who were stopped to make an adjustment. We all carried on together, afterwards, rushing down into the streets of Darwen, and over the terrible setts to Blackburn. Taking full advantage of the breeze, we ‘slipped it’ through Wilpshire and Langho, and soon reached Whalley, where we parted company, for they were bound for Malham, and we had the Trough as our objective. A level run brought us to Mitton, and turning right by the church, plunged into a series of delightful byways to Higher Hodder Bridge. The river Hodder hereabouts is very beautiful with crystal clear water and well-wooded banks. Followed a climb up Birdie Brow, near the Co-op dairy, whence we got a glimpse of that fine pile, Stonyhurst College, its blue-green domes standing out clearly. The subsequent run through the bylanes was delightful, the hedgerows being one mass of wild roses, whilst the air was heavy with the scent of honeysuckle.
The road now, running at the foot of Longridge Fell, was little more than third class, and was undulating, continually winding about entrancingly. Turning for Whitewell, we crossed the river Loud by an ancient bridge, then climbing a little, we made a bee-line for the fells, which were partly capped by mist-looking clouds. A thunderstorm sailed past, but the most we got were a few drops of rain not worth mentioning. Soon we entered a valley between the hills. The steep fellsides came down to the waters of the Hodder, sometimes in cliffs, again in steep, densely wooded slopes. The road itself was cut into the slope, at times being on a kind of rocky shelf. It would be very hard to describe the wealth of natural beauty and colouring that crowded this narrow valley, and we rode slowly to take it all in.
Whitewell came, then leaving the village behind, we entered on a kind of flat tableland with the fells all around. We recrossed the river then came to Dunsop Bridge, turning here, and seeming to run into the heart of the fells. The road rapidly deteoriated into a stony track, and climbed and dropped little humps. Many gates blocked the road, and we were surprised to find each one opened for us. “Open Sesame!” We weren’t used to being waited on, on the road! Then we reached the hamlet of Sykes, where a shepherd’s cottage provided us with lunch. Here we discovered the reason for the opening gates. The gates were kept closed to keep the sheep on a certain pasturage, for the land belonged to different farmers. The men who opened the gates were tramps, and these provided a source of revenue amounting to £3 a week. Cyclists don’t give tips [Ed].
After lunch we started again, immediately entering the Trough of Bowland. The road runs uphill, winding around the ridges, but at first keeping to the valley. It was very grand, more of a bleak, moorland pass, and opens out to some wide views of the predominant fells. At the summit, (1,000 ft), one sees a wide expanse of wild, heathery moors towards Lancaster. The road became quite good, and we had a pretty run downhill through the thin woodland belt of Wyresdale to Marshaw, where we turned left suddenly downhill, coming to a ford. I made an attempt to cross it, but stopped in the middle and had to put one foot in. It is fairly wide, and the bottom is pebbly. It must present a formidable obstacle in flood times. After that we had a grand moorland run over a rough road, crossing another lesser ford or water splash. In a field on the roadside, we saw some Highland cattle. From the top, we had a wonderful view of the Fylde, with the River Wyre threading its way across, Fleetwood, Blackpool Tower (of course), and Morecambe Bay with the Cartmell Fells and the lesser hills around. Then came a series of long drops downhill into rural hamlets and along sunken lanes to Bay Horse Station, then the north road at Ellel. A mile nearer Preston, we branched off for Cockerham, facing a hard wind. From Cockerham, we joined the Pilling road, which runs beside the sea, but as the tide was out, we only caught distant glimpses of it.
The sun was now shining hotly, so we spent 20 minutes on a grassy bank. A party of six ducks caused all about much merriment by the way they wobbled in single file by the roadside, the mother leading. It was a tough struggle against the wind to Pilling, where we turned for Nateby. Then Churchtown and the main road to Brock for tea. The Bolton CTC section came in afterwards. Tom and I started back first, taking the main road to Preston, then Belmont road. Although uphill, it was quite easy riding with the wind. From Belmont, we dropped into Bolton, and after a light meal at our place, I accompanied him to Kearsley, coming back home at 9.35pm. 121 miles