Last night the clocks were put back, the end of ‘summer time’, and, as if opposing the act, a terrific gale swept through the land. When we awoke at 5.40 this morning, and heard the howling wind, we decided that we were ‘in for it’. We started before 7am, against a dead face wind, which contested us for right of progress every inch of the way along Chorley New Road. Such had been its power during the night, that a large sheet of lead had been torn off a roof and hurled into the road. Many chimney pots had gone west, and one spectacle that was not without its humour was a garage. The roof had been blown completely off, and lay a little distance away, almost intact, one side had gone, the three remaining sides, housing several cars, looked decidedly singular. The proprietor stood there in puzzled amazement. Evidently he had not seen the humorous side! From Chorley, we veered round, and escaped the worst, but along the road to Preston the scenes that met our gaze were unbelievable. Large trees had been torn up, one pulling a lump of footpath with it. Big branches, leaves, twigs and all kinds of debris lay strewn across the road, making it all but impassable.
Just before Bamber Bridge, a tree had crashed through the stone wall on the left, and lay across the road. Workmen were busy with saws, for it was too big to move without the aid of cranes. Reaching Preston, we joined the Lancaster road, and for some miles we had a tough struggle. A little further along, however, it is somewhat protected, and the going became easier from Broughton. This road presented the same scenes of carnage, though the most dangerous obstacles had been cleared away. Telegraph wires were on the floor in a hopeless entanglement everywhere. At Brock, a large crowd had gathered for the Preston Road Club’s ‘25’, which was then in progress, and, as we entered Nicholson’s, the first man came by. I’ll bet it was a ‘stiff un’. We had breakfast here, and before 10am left after having a chat with the Boltonians present and old Tom Hughes. It was nice outside, and the wind was not troubling us, so we had a pleasant run. About a mile outside of Garstang, I punctured, and not being able to find a hole, we turned into a byway for an inspection via water. (It was on this bylane that we discovered the signpost illustrated here – Regrettably, no picture available – Ed).
I mended the puncture by aid of the canal, with a rear view of the remains of Greenhaulgh Castle, a square fragment of a tower perched on a little knoll. Its history is entirely unknown to me, nor can I find it out. I think that it was of little importance, and that the part it played is forgotten. [Greenhaulgh Castle was actually besieged for 12 months, so was obviously considered pivotal in Cromwell’s time – Ed]. Then we started again, soon reaching Garstang, and with the wind giving us little, if any trouble, we made a good pace, noting the immense havoc caused by the gale. In one place, a telegraph pole was holding up a massive tree, in another, the branches, torn from the trees, were swaying perilously over the road, on the wires, and in many places were heaps of entangled wires on the footpaths. Galgate, Scotforth, then Lancaster, where we made for the castle. We stood before the massive gateway, we walked round the immense walls, we saw the place where nine men were strung up in a row, and where prisoners were hanged. The great, strong pile, more prison than defensive fortress, brought the words forcibly in our minds:
“John O’ Gaunt, time honoured Lancaster!”
From this eminence was a grand view of the Williamson Memorial, the fells and Ingleborough, and Tom’s glasses brought them quite distinct. From Lancaster, we joined the Morecambe road, and then, tiring of this first terribly rough, then terribly smooth and wide road, we made for Heysham.
A terrific struggle against the wind now ensued, until we reached the Strawberry Gardens, from where Heysham Village was soon reached. From the shore was a wonderful view across Morecambe Bay, of Grange, Cartmell, the lower fells, then a high jumble of rocky peaks, marking the Lakeland Mountains. We stood for some time, trying to pick out the individual mountains, then, after a long search found a lunch place of sorts. Afterwards we had a ramble round St Patrick’s churchyard, and amongst the accessible ruins of the old edifice; then a stiff run across wet sands and rough beach to Morecambe. Traversing the promenade to Bare, we struck off for Torrisholme, then Lancaster again, and the main road to Galgate, where we had tea (unsuitable). Came a fast run (the wind had suddenly dropped) via Garstang, Brock and Preston and the Chorley road home. Tom stopped for a little supper at our place, then I went as far as Kearsley with him. 107 miles