Today I lead the club run to Peckforton. The morning is rainy when I get out the old jigger, and in company with a friend, ride away to Four Lanes End. A goodly crowd awaited me, and before we left at 8.20am, there were about 17 of us. Passing through Atherton, we took the old lane route to Butts Bridge, and soon reached the open country on Chat Moss. Long before this, our capes had been packed away, for now the sky was brighter. A rather fast pace was set, bringing us to Warburton quickly, but beyond Heatley, the gradient slowed us all down. High Legh, now, and the wondrous Cheshire bylanes. Indeed they were wondrous, on this autumn morning, the rain-washed foliage being a riot of colour that could not fail to please the most critical or unlovely eye. Eventually, a mile from Gt. Budworth, we turned downhill, between ‘Llyn-y-Pick’, and Budworth Mere, and after a short run, crossed Witton Flashes to the dirty streets of Northwich. A house here detained us for a moment, the doorway being all awry with the windows and roof. This is caused by land subsiding, an increasing danger in the salt town.
We rode Castle Hill, then Chester road conveyed us through Hartford, until, just above Sandiway, we turned left on to quieter roads. Whitegate, in Vale Royal, an exquisite picture, was passed, and then came a cross-country run of several miles, until we entered Oulton Park. Everyone rode slowly here, for it was sacrilege to ‘rush’ such a beautiful picture of autumn woodlands, as this glorious ‘bit’ offered us. Only too soon was it behind us, and now, riding just by a placid mere, on which was a beautiful white swan, we climbed uphill, whilst many were the enquiries about our lunch place. Eaton was reached, then a fine run through pleasant lanes, until we started dropping down to Beeston Brook. On that descent, I captured a wonderful view of the castle hill, arrayed in gorgeous colours. Came a climb uphill, towards the castle, and very soon the chimneys of our lunch place came in sight. Just then my rear tyre expired with a loud complaint, and on investigation, I discovered a bad tyre burst. I walked the few yards to the lunch place, and the tyre burst was repaired in the shed at the extreme right hand corner.
Lunch, in the room on the right of the house, was a merry affair. Tom came up and after admiring the fine old castle, we all joined the Peckforton road. Running by the side of the estate, we had got within half a mile of Peckforton village, when my tyre once more exploded. It was in such a bad state, that I gave up all hope of effecting a repair, but whilst I went back to the Beeston Smithy for an old tyre, the others tried to repair it. I returned with a Magnum, but we broke the wire in trying to force it on, so I took it back. When I returned, I discovered that they had made an excellent job of it, but soon it went flat again, it was still punctured. However, the next three miles involved all walking, so I let it stay down.
Turning up a rutty lane, we climbed steeply along the ‘gap’ road – if such it (road) may be called. The dense foliage was very beautiful, and from the summit was a wonderful view of the Welsh mountains, topped by old Moel Fammau, ‘The Hill of Mothers’. A short run down followed (I walked), then we walked along a muddy, rutty, impossible road, through the beautiful woods of Peckforton Castle estate. The party was a jolly one, and I was the victim of much leg-pulling. A tandem, which was with us, had promised to go to Tarporley in search of a new tyre and tube, when we regained the road, but, as my wheel was a very awkward size, 28 x one and three eighths inches, I knew that the chances of getting one were very small. Tom had had to order this one in Manchester, so what hopes had I in getting one in a country town?
Reaching the road again, the tandem departed on its almost hopeless errand, and I prevailed on the club to go on to the tea place. Tom, who is ever there when needed, stayed with me. The ‘puncture’ proved to be a loose valve nut, and once again we were riding for Tarporley. We stopped a moment to look up at the old ruin, perched on its rocky shelf, and just as we were about to start again, up came the tandem with a new tyre and tube! After all, a false alarm. It took very little time to replace it, and then, with great speed, we dived along through Tarporley to Cotebrooke, and Warrington road led us to Bartington at dusk, where we were greeted by the club. After tea, a sing-song with Wigan Wheelers, and then a fine run home via Warrington, Culcheth etc. Had it not been for tyre trouble, I could have made this run a living memory for all, as it was, it was well appreciated. 96 miles