A week next Sunday, I lead a clubrun to Peckforton, so I arranged to meet Tom Idle at Northwich swing bridge, 10.30 this morning for the purpose of scouting the route over, for I intend to make it (it is a joint run) a ‘bumper’.
I was up at 6.30am, disturbing the household with my blundering about. There is one thing that those at home cannot understand about me. They say that they have a terrible job to get me up for work, at 6.30, but if I am going out on the bike, I can be up at any time! That is easily explained, for is there not a vast difference between cycling and one’s mundane daily occupation? Each Sunday there is something to look forward to! Well, to get on with the washing. At 7.45am I managed to get out, and reaching Four Lane Ends, I made for Atherton, and the lanes to Butts Bridge. I was in open country now, although it was like Chat Moss. Crossing this marshy stretch, I ran through Glazebrook to Liverpool road at Rixton, then over the Warburton Bridge to Heatley. As I had plenty of time, I walked most of the climb to Broomedge, then continued up to High Legh, and joined the Great Budworth Road.
Then followed a pleasant meander for six winding miles to the wonderful old world village of Great Budworth. A drop to the ‘running pump’, then a climb until I stood above lovely Budworth Mere. The sky was cloudy, but the rising sun tinted the grey clouds with a delicate pink that entirely altered their aspect. From Comberbach, the Northwich road dropped me to Winnington, and passing between the huge chemical works, I soon reached the rendezvous, where Tom was waiting. I received a shock. He was not continuing, having contracted ‘flu’ yesterday, and spending a bad night last night. He started out on the off chance that it would blow away, but it didn’t. After a few moments together, he departed for home, and I decided to continue the run. The short stretch of Chester road was enough, I was only too glad to get off it, and on the quieter Whitegate road. Running through a well-wooded district with Pettypool Park on the right, I soon came to Whitegate in Vale Royal. Set in pretty surroundings, the little village, a few quaint black and white houses, and a church on a little knoll, is certainly very picturesque. From here came a quiet potter by rural bylanes, eventually coming to just above Little Budworth. I followed on unrideable farm tracks to another road which came out in the village. I could not find the ‘Shrewsbury Arms’, so, after a glance round the churchyard, I made enquiries which led me round the grounds of Oulton Park, and up a private road to the Hall itself. Of course I was not calling there for lunch, as I had other pressing engagements! I returned for a mile or two, made further enquiries, and started across Little Budworth common. At times I had to do some ‘stunt’ riding on sandy tracks, coming out at length on the Northwich-Winsford road, a few yards from the elusive Inn. Here I had lunch, but owing to the price, refrained from ordering for the club next week.
After studying the map to devise a new route, I joined another track which took me, after much scrambling, right across Budworth Common, and across a watersplash to Cotebrook. The Beeston road now led me through pretty lanes, by old world cottages to Eaton, and at length, with picturesque Beeston before me, I dropped down to the railway station. A climb uphill brought me to Beeston Castle village, from where I joined the Peckforton road.
I paused once to look around, first at the famous ruin then at the castellated towers of Peckforton and the trail of beautiful hills. The undulating road led me through the village, and along the foot of the hills for about a mile. A sandy track led into a gap amid the heathery bracken. I followed this for about a quarter mile into the woods, where it ducked uphill sharply at a gradient of about 1 in 3. Owing to poor visibility, the views which would, on a clear day, be very extensive on both sides, now were very poor, hardly extending beyond the range. The day however, though cold, was calm and sunny.
A pleasant lane now led me to Burwardsley, from where I struck another rutty path into the beautiful woods of the Peckforton Estate. A mile of glorious woodlands followed to a road which brought me round to Beeston Smithy. The lane round Beeston Hill led me to a point from where I could note the old ruin perched on its rocky summit. I also, as is my custom, looked over the wall to do homage to the discarded tyre of October 19 memory.
With many a backward glance at Beeston, I carried on to Horton’s Mill, then a host of winding lanes (I had now deserted the scouting) through Huxley and skirting Hargreave, to Waverton, where I joined the Chester-Whitchurch road. Just beyond Rowton (where was fought the battle of Rowton Moor in 1645) I turned to Christleton, then through Littleton and across Watling Street to Guilden Sutton, then the Frodsham road at Mickle Trafford as dusk fell. A few yards brought me to Dennison’s for tea before a warm fire.
It was dark and rather cold when I made a start back. I was delayed some time with my lamp, which wouldn’t function properly. A supply of water cured it. It was grand riding, and I soon got warm as I sped through Dunham on the Hill to Helsby. The moon made a spectacular appearance, red as blood from behind the headlands, near Frodsham. Sutton Weaver, Daresbury and Walton were soon passed, and I neared Warrington. The rough setts conveyed me to Padgate, then the now quiet main road via Culcheth to Glazebury, Butts Bridge and Atherton, and thus home at 9.15pm. On the last Sunday of last year, I covered a century, and on this, my first Sunday ride of the New Year, I have managed another in the same district. 105 miles
I know not where the white road runs,
Or what the blue hills are;
But man can have the sun for friend
And for his guide, a star.
And there’s no end of voyaging
When once the voice is heard
For the road calls, the river calls,
And, oh, the call of a bird!