Now we get taken back in time, not just the hundred years Charlie refers to, but the further eighty years since he penned his words ! It is interesting to learn the close detail of farming and family life almost a century ago then, the conditions that pertained and the rural life that was in no way exceptional. How on earth would those solid farming families relate to the world events they were listening to on the new wireless set. Would we welcome back those days ? I think not.
This story ‘Across the Dales’ is taken from the very first Charlie Chadwick book and is reproduced here in full, over four entries, but as our website is of more international appeal, its title has been amended slightly to properly reflect its location, so please enjoy ‘Across the Yorkshire Dales’.
This Winter story starts with a comparison of Upper Ribblesdale (the Yorkshire end of Lancashire’s biggest river, the River Ribble) in the Spring and in the Winter, a comparison well made. But that is Charlie, he does everything well ! Written in February 1930, it is an evocative account of a weekend on his bike.
His description of the winter desolation he and his companion Fred experienced bring vividly to mind my own winter wanderings in that same area in my long past youth.
Charlie is obviously not gainfully employed at this time, too many weekdays spent awheel to be in work. We can also divine that he gets under his Mother’s feet when it is washing day, which in those times involved using scrubbing boards and mangles.
So off he goes, and has a nice day by all accounts, although we are told nothing about the weather. But… at the end of the day he is nicked and has his name and address taken by the custodians of the law for a lighting offence. Whilst he writes rather dismissively of the ‘offence’, if you scroll down to the footnote of the linked page, you will see that it was still preying on his mind in the April of the following year !
It doesn’t need much imagination to figure out how Wildboarclough got its name. It sounds such a difficult isolated spot to reach that you could be excused for believing that Wild Boars still live there. I must say our intrepid friends on that day covered miles and miles of really steep hills and poor cycling conditions. At one point on a high distant peak he spots the outline of the Cat and Fiddle Inn, which is the second highest pub in England, Tan Hill pub in Yorkshire being the highest. He cannot have been too tired at the end of it all, because the day afterwards Charlie went out and rode another 78 miles, although on much more obliging roads.
Tom Idle, Charlie’s friend, having cycled from the other side of Manchester in the rain, was at his parent’s door by 8.15am, but owing to, as Charlie puts it, ‘parental persuasion’ they hung about until they could stand it no longer, and escaped at 11.15am. (Charlie’s parents never did like to give him permission to go out in the rain, goodness knows he was more than capable of looking after himself). Miss Bolton, who ran a tea place in Ribchester saw fit to give them something of a history lesson about the River Ribble, and they obviously took note of her stories, for they spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the south eastern bank, a side that has always been difficult to access.
For one Saturday afternoon run, this day has almost everything. A very old rusting bicycle provides a history lesson of sorts, followed by an impromptu football match, Charlie’s team losing handsomely. Then a long ramble at dusk, a singsong at the teaplace and later a chance to play the role of a chivalrous knight with a troublesome lady cyclist’s bike. Getting home very late at night in February is not something cyclists do these days – or ever did ?