Sunday, 27 July 1924 The Roches – Part Two

We had about two miles of this altogether.  We had been going via map to Luds Church, and, as usual, had wandered off the beaten track, although we knew we were still basically right for our objective.  Later, the going got easier, then at length we came to a rough road just below the village of Gradbach.  We left the bikes beneath the inside wall, and climbing over, we crossed a water splash (the third in five miles), and continued through the wood on the other side.  Climbing gradually to the fork roads, we turned left, soon reaching Luds Church.  Having paid the entrance fee (threepence), we entered the narrow defile.  There was only room for one in some places, the ground was rough and uneven, and we had to climb several short flights of steps.  A rough description of it may be given.

It is a long, deep canyon, the walls of which are formed by sheer, and in some places overhanging masses of damp, odorous rock.  The slimy rock and gloomy look that hangs about gives it a depressing air.  It winds continually, twisting tortuously, and in one place breaks away into two, narrow, cliff-bound paths, and the sky is often excluded by the rocks, which meet in more than one place.  I should say it is about 35 feet deep and 150 yards long – at least the traversable part, for the track rises out of it when it become too narrow.  It ends in a deep tortuous chasm.  Near the entrance, facing the head, is a carved figure of a young woman, perched about 15 feet above the ground on a ledge.  The figure is of white, painted wood, and both hands have been broken off at the wrists.  By the style of the dress, I should think it is of some age.  This is where the Protestants used to meet for religious purposes in the days of their persecution, and the story goes that they were discovered and massacred.  The subject of the carving was the daughter of a big gun in the affair, who made (the daughter, I mean) a valiant attempt to warn them of their peril, but suffered the same fate.  The place itself seems to exude tragedy, it oozes out of the very rocks themselves.

Regaining the path, we walked down to the bikes, then uphill to Gradbach, and along by a stream to the Allgreave – Flash road.  Followed a climb uphill to above 1,000 ft, then a drop down to the Congleton – Buxton road, from where we soon reached Allgreave.  Then two miles walking uphill past the New Inn, and we commenced a long, easy, descent towards Macclesfield.  There were some fine views of the hills all the way to Warren.  From Macclesfield, we gained the Alderley road on which it commenced to rain, but we pushed on via Upton and Four Lane ends, reaching Mrs Powell’s in time for tea at 5.40pm.  A large crowd of CTC-ites were in, including Mr Webb, and we spent a pleasant hour with the Manchester DA.  It was raining when we started back, but we only put our capes on at Cheadle, where Tom left me.  I reached home inside my cape.  Another grand run, this time mostly in Staffordshire.                96 miles