Wednesday, 1 July 1925 Llanberis to Dolgellau

Post:      Charlie’s arising today was a direct result of the length of yesterday, of that there can be no doubt.  I have to say that the ride today goes through some of the most dramatic and incredibly beautiful scenery in North Wales.  His holiday may well have been on a slender budget, but my goodness the route was well chosen.  And he doesn’t get off lightly, several people who are known to him and hail from Bolton catch up with him !

Wednesday, July 1                  Llanberis, Aberglaslyn and Dolgellau

           It was a glorious morning with the sunlight streaking the straits and warming the rolling land of Anglesey when we awoke.  We had ordered breakfast for 7.30, it was now 8.30, and the meal was waiting for us.  When we asked for the bill, Mrs Perry asked us if 5/- was too much.  Gramercy!  It goes cheaper!  After a little study, we discovered a route to Llanberis which cut Caernarfon out.  Both the road from here to that town, and from there almost to Llanberis are not blessed with scenery, and Caernarfon itself is a dirty, disappointing town (although I’ll allow that the castle is worth a visit), so we welcomed the byways.  And they proved well worthwhile.

As soon as we left Sea View Terrace we came in view of a noble array of peaks – Snowdonia, a jumbled mass of towering crags, with the gap of Llanberis dividing them from the rough group between the two passes.  Farther southwest, the lesser, but very imposing isolated peaks of Y Garn and Carnedd Goch (not to be confused with those about Llyn Ogwen) stood in rugged silhouette, a clean-cut skyline.  The lanes we traversed were scented with woodbine and wild rose, the fields yielding an odour of new mown hay.  Winding and undulating, we came to Bethel, a quiet, stone built place, and then rapidly nearing the rugged contours, we turned at Pen-isar-waen, crossed the river Seiont and the railway, and joined the main road between Caernarfon and Llanberis.  At Cwm-y-glo – ‘The Hollow of Coal’, we reached the shores of Llyn Padarn, and thence our road lay by the shore of the lake, a fascinating, devious road, by banks of coloured rock, with pleasant woods and tinkling rills to keep us interested.

Very soon we dropped down to Llanberis, where we bought some more ‘Judges’ picture postcards, then passed out of the place.  High above us was the Queen peak, the Wyddfa (3,560 ft) situated above a chaos of precipice and boulder-strewn slopes, the little cabin on its summit being visible.  Across the Llyn were the huge quarries that entirely deface the western flanks of Glyder Fawr and Fach, biting 2,000ft into the mountain side, and marring the beauty of the lakes.  We stopped between Llyn Padarn and Peris and paid a visit to that last home of Welsh Independence, Dolbadarn Castle, just a round tower with a flight of steps on the outside, giving a fine view both seawards and into the Pass.

This solitary remnant is all that remains of the only fortress in Snowdonia, and this was not very strong, the inhabitants relying more upon the then impassable mountains.  It was built in the 13th century, and little history of it is known beyond the fact that Owen Goch was imprisoned here for 20 years by his brother, Llewellyn the Great, and later was defeated by Dafydd, brother of the last Llewellyn, against the Earl of Pembroke.

The weather was getting hotter, and a thirst was growing on us which could not be kept away, however often we drank.  Almost without exception all the streams were dried up – and the few that we did see were only mere trickles of warm water.  From the spoiled shores of Llyn Peris we gained the scattered hamlet of Nant Peris, and then we entered the jaws of Llanberis Pass.  This, the wildest valley in Wales, at least equals Nant Ffrancon, and is certainly more hemmed in, being a V-shaped defile, deep-set between black and towering walls of rocks, and almost blocked by boulders and debris.

The impressive aspect of the glen defies even the marring effect of the electric power wires that traverse it from end to end.  Climbing gradually past a group of enormous boulders, one of which has been wrongly called a cromlech, we crossed the bridge Pont-y-Gromlech, and seeing a decent amount of water coming down, we pulled our shoes and stockings off and paddled about for half an hour.  This point gave us the best position for viewing the precincts of the Bwlch.  On the left, (climbing), the precipitous crags of Ersgair Gelin, the ‘Yellow Shank’ of Glyder Fawr, descend in abrupt disorder, while on the right the arms of Crib Goch open to disclose a splendid view of the almost rectangular Cwm Glas, one of the most remarkable glens in Wales, for on the cliffs the marks of glacier action are very distinct, whilst on the west side rises the great rock bastion of Cwm las ‘Grey Horn’, and east is the north ridge of Grib Goch and a spur of Crib-y-Ddysgl with those fantastic turrets, the ‘Crazy Pinnacles’, in view.

The rest of the ascent was made on foot, the gradient being steep and the surface in keeping with the littered rock about us.  The three mile climb ended at the Gorphwyspha Hotel, from where one could look down the Pass and marvel (as Ben especially did) at the huge masses of stone.  The steep descent on the other side round a shoulder of Moel Berfedd to Pen-y-Gwryd was broken by the wonderful views of Crib Goch and Snowdon (Y Wyddfa).

Then, with wondrously clear views of the peaks around, we dropped down the barren Nant Cynnyd by a vile-surfaced road, into that dream valley, the Vale of Gwynant.  It was upon this narrow road that a motorist deliberately tried to run me into a telegraph pole.  It was so obvious – there was plenty of room and the road was clear, that I was blazing with anger and shook my fist after him.  He stopped, and an altercation ensued, during which one of the occupants said: “I am a cyclist, you know!”   “I don’t care what you are, you are a set of fools, I know that!” I answered, and he never retaliated.  He knew it was so.  Next time they passed they gave us plenty of room.  Llyn Gwynant is one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen, the blending and colour of the wood and rock and water completing a rare picture, and the ride by the Wood of the Eagle (Coed Eryr), and the park of Llyndy to that other beautiful sheet of water, Llyn Dinas, provided a perfect entry to Bettws-y-coed’s chief rival, Beddgelert.

Bk 7 -24025


We got a fine lunch at Llewellyn’s Cottage, just across the bridge.  This place, though very obviously set out in the dining room for tourists, is very old, showing a fine open fireplace and inglenook, and across the low roof, on aged oaken beams are hung many ancient knick-knacks, guns, horn and much hunting tackle.  For food in Beddgelert, I recommend Llewellyn’s Cottage, and should anyone care to stay the night, Tan-y-Craig, first house of the first row on the Capel Curig entrance, will supply all their wants satisfactorily.

After the inevitable walk to Bedd Gelert (which is also a good viewpoint for looking up the Vale of Gwynant), we regained our machines, and after a short run found ourselves dropping down that ravishing little defile, the Pass of Aberglaslyn.  Some vandal company has been and built a railway through it; although it has missed the finest part, the entrance has been marred.  I should like to shoot the man who was responsible for it!  Pont Aberglaslyn demanded a stop.  It always does, and I have yet to meet the traveller who has crossed this bridge without stopping.  I have heard of a lady, who, when motoring from Capel Curig to Bangor, never took her eyes off a newspaper, even whilst stopped over Ogwen Falls, but even she, I think, would not do that in this spot.

Here we met a large party of Bolton roadster cyclists, the Victoria Hall CC (I had never heard of them before).  One of them had fallen in the river, we saw his clothes drying on the wall.  They told us to try a drink from the river, stating that it tasted like lemonade, and with visions of unlimited supplies of delicious cordial, we went down to get a drink.  We got a disappointment, but still, there is a different taste with the waters of the Glaslyn, no, I will not say lemonade, I won’t commit myself.  Try it.  Spring water is sold at the hotel, vide notice.  We hung around here for quite a long time, praising this wonderful pass to each other, only tearing ourselves away by sheer will-power.  About a mile further on a notice board in the garden of a cottage attracted our attention; I had seen it before, and ‘Wayfarer’ has a slide of it.  It runs:




I wonder how the last named is served?

I always thought that the narrow winding steep road along the edge of Traeth Mawr to Penrhyndeudraeth was not very good in the matter of scenery, but this time I got an eye opener.  It is simply gorgeous, with its little woods, rocky banks, flowery hedges, and its views which change at every one of the numerous bends.  Across the flats, the bold peaks, Moel Ddu and Moel Hebog stood glistening grey above the wooded lower slopes, behind, in all their rugged grandeur were the vast precipices of Snowdonia, its tentacles Llechog, Y Llynwedd, Grib Goch, Clogwyn etc, making a rugged silhouette with the Wyddfa as the central peak.  On our side were a motley array of sharp points – Moelwyn, Moelwyn Bach, Manod Mawr, but most striking in its clean-cut profile was Cynicht, one that reminded me in a way of conical Tryfan.

After Garreg, Penrhyndeudraeth was the next place, noted only for its steep hill.  We climbed steeply to the Ffestiniog toy railway, then by a very narrow street with a sharp bend in the middle and a reckless gradient all the way to the valley of the Dwyryd.  Halfway down the hill we had to dismount to allow a lorry full of telegraph poles to pass.  It seemed a gigantic struggle for the engine.  At the bottom we turned left and enjoyed a glorious woodland run along the Vale of Ffestiniog to Tan-y-Bwlch and Maentwrog, where we joined the Trawsfynydd road.  Maentwrog is one of the prettiest of Welsh villages, situated as it is on a kind of shelf, with an outlook in both directions, and with a fine river below and glens all around.  I should like to spend a day around Maentwrog.

We now seemed to have got onto a very rough byway, climbing extremely steeply, and long enough to make Ben start ‘conking’.  From the summit however, as expected, an excellent all-round view was enjoyed, the peaks about Ffestiniog being especially striking.  Here we suddenly met a motor-cycling party who lives near us (Mr Broadbent from Pennington Road).  After the usual greetings we asked how the tour was going down.  Then they started to revile the roads.  “The worst roads we have ever seen, river beds, I don’t know why they put such roads on the map” etc.  “The scenery?” oh, beautiful, never seen anything like it in our lives”.  I wanted to know what it mattered about road surfaces so long as the scenery was there, but it seems that with a motor vehicle, roads are of great importance.  After assuring them that they would strike excellent roads beyond Maentwrog, they carried on – and so did we.  Another undulating four miles brought us to Trawsfynydd, where the Highgate Temperance Hotel provided us with an excellent tea.  It also gave us shelter from a very heavy rainstorm accompanied by some thunder.

The rain had gone when we started again, but black clouds hung menacingly over the peaks, hiding altogether the higher ones.  The road now was straight as a die, up and down continually, and surrounded by drab moors, which, were it not because of the line of mountains to the west, would become dreary and monotonous.  The surface was quite good.  Near the large Artillery encampment, a huge gap in the mountains shows to the best advantage.  It is known as the Devil’s Gap to the soldiers in the camp, but the true name is Bwlch Drus Ardudwy, “The Pass of the Gate to Ardudwy”.  A track leads over to the coast road.  After about five miles of moors, we started running into a valley, the valley of the Eden.  I punctured, providing an excuse for a stop by the gurgling waters, and then on to Pont Dolgefelio.

The ride afterwards, dropping all the time deeper and deeper into the wooded glen, could not be rushed, it was far too beautiful.  A little away from the road is one of the finest single-leap falls in Wales, Pystill-y-Cain or Caen, but as former experience had told us, the dry period made it not worth a visit, so we left it over to some future time.  Again, just below lovely Pont-ar-Eden, a short detour can be made to Rhaiadr Du – ‘Black Cataract’, but this, which would have been worthwhile even now, we missed through ignorance.  As we got farther down this dale, the scenery got finer and the crags above higher, until, just beyond where Precipice walk can be seen high up on the eastern hillside, we reached Llanelltyd, and joined the Barmouth-Dolgellau road.  A two mile run along the glorious Mawddach estuary brought us to Dolgellau at 8.20pm, and after a pow-wow, we decided to chuck it for the day, getting ‘digs’ immediately at the Aran House Commercial Hotel.  Before supper we had a walk up the hillside, from where was a fine view of the rocky heights of Cader Idris.

On our return, we got talking to a motorcyclist from London, an interesting chap, but one who was so talkative that we could not get a word in edgeways, many prospective arguments were spoiled by the impossibility of us to speak for his tongue!  Then in rolled three Bolton Wheelers who live quite near to me, and with whom we have had many runs.  Greetings, an exchange of experiences, etc, occupied us until it was hinted that bed was a desirable place.                                      56 miles

Tuesday, 30 June 1925 Bettws-y-Coed

Post:     Today has become a fascinating read, starting with his monetary problems and a do or die determination to get away at all costs.  And he does us, the reader, very proud indeed.  Charlie tells us he must travel light, as he is only going to be away for four days, and the list of things he packed in his saddlebag is so brief you might miss it.  And get this.  They started from Bolton at 5 ish in the morning and fetched up at a B & B at 10pm at night.  Now that is what I call cycle touring !

Tuesday, June 30                 Bettws-y-Coed and the Wilds of Ogwen

It is the Bolton ‘Wakes’ Week annual holiday – it has been since Friday night, and by rights I ought to be miles and miles away by now, but I am not.  A simple money calculation has shown me that it is impossible to go away for a whole week, so after much juggling and scraping I might manage four days.  Blackpool ?  No!  Isle of Man ?  No!  Where then? I am asked.  That was the great question – where shall I go?  One thing is absolutely certain – it will not be a resort.

I have a friend – Ben – who cannot do very much cycling, and who, like me, wanted to go somewhere, so we put our heads together and decided that a-touring we will go.  But now we come to the original question – where?  It is really hard to decide where to go when one is in such a country as this is.  There are so many places where we would like to go.  The Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, Derbyshire, the Midlands, Salop, Mid Wales and North Wales, the Dukeries, Sherwood Forest, the Cotswolds, Warwickshire – oh, a hundred and one districts accessible in four days.  At length we fixed on one….  North Wales, and so as to make the most effective break in the holidays we fixed the start for Tuesday morning, 5am.

A long first day would get us right out, and that was all we wanted.  As we were only going for four days, our luggage was light – cape, tools and a handkerchief or two sufficed besides maps.  I took Bartholomew’s half inch to a mile sheets of Cheshire, North Wales and Shropshire; the one map which we might need most I had lent, not expecting to use it at first – the Aberystwyth sheet.  I forgot, there were two more items, which were the most necessary of all that I carried, a towel and a drinking cup.

By the look of things we were in for a beautiful day when Ben called round at 5am, and we immediately got started.  After a bumpy half hour we left the setts of Leigh behind, heading for Lowton, where we entered the bylanes.  Just as we reached Winwick I punctured (back tyre) but it was soon repaired and once more we started, dropping down into dirty Warrington for 6.45am.  Cheshire now, on a quiet main road, really a beautiful main road – and new to Ben.  Daresbury, Sutton Weaver, then the foliage coloured slope of Frodsham Hill, with the red, rocky headland of Helsby before us, giving a remarkable silhouette of a judge’s head from the road.  People were going to work in Helsby – we hardly envied them, then the road became quiet again, and at Mickle Trafford – Mrs Dennisons – we stopped for a snack.

Another four miles brought us into Chester, where we stopped at 9am to see one or two of the ‘Lions’, walking down Bridge Street to the old River Dee bridge.  Ben is a stranger to the City of Legions.  We decided to cut Wrexham road out, entering Eaton Park instead, and enjoying a beautiful run through the woodlands to the Hall, and making a worthy detour to the iron bridge over the Dee.  The river here, with its wooded banks and deep, smooth flow makes a lovely picture.

As we rode through the trees towards Pulford, hundreds of rabbits fled at the sound of the wheels.  The sun had now warmed up to its work, and with a steady breeze behind, we began to get warm too.  From Pulford we entered Wales, coming to Rossett, and turning right, we rode by the tiny river Alyn in the pretty Vale of Gresford.  A sharp ascent brought us above the Vale, giving us a heat-hazed view of the peaceful plains of Cheshire.  Level now to Llai, then with the ruin of Caergwrle Castle before us, we dropped to Cefn-y-Bedd in the Hope Valley.  This road becomes more and more useful to us for getting into Wales – if one is not in a hurry.  The little valley, then the long climb, the drop to the twisty little parapet-less bridge, then the climb out of the glen by Glasfryn, with the tall hedgerows on each side and the foxgloves adding colour to it all.

At the Nant-y-Ffrith entrance we walked down to a vantage point above the gorge so that Ben might see the scene.  He was now getting wildly enthusiastic – I was taking care not to lead him over many dull stretches, for on this tour I wanted both of us to see the very best in the time at our disposal.  We reached the summit at Bwlchgwyn, launching therefrom on to the moors for two miles, until we slipped between the hills, and after another two miles of verdant fields, reached the Crown Inn at Llandegla for lunch.

We were fully started now (so I considered, though Ben avowed that we had really started at Warrington!).  We climbed a little, getting a good view of this valley of the Alyn, and its encircling moors, with now and then a glimpse of the Llangollen road as it climbed over Maes-yr-y-Chain, prior to swooping down the Horseshoe Pass.  From the Llangollen branch, we started switch-backing downhill, between high, flowery hedges, and with a strong breeze behind, we fairly ticked the miles off.  Up a little again, then down to Bryn Eglwys (The Church on the Hill) in the valley of the Morwynion, and with the pleasant green slopes of Llantysilio Mountain across to keep our interest at par.  We were immensely thirsty, but all the wells and streams had dried up or were unfit for drinking.

There being nothing of great interest except the beauty of the surrounding countryside, on this road, we kept a lively pace up, covering the eleven miles to Corwen without a dismount – and without seeing one motor vehicle.  We did not touch Corwen, but joined the Holyhead road about a mile west at Tyn-y-Cefn, and proceeded towards Cerrigydrudion.  Soon we reached the banks of the Alwen, and had a wash – which in itself is a good cure for thirst.  Remounting, we came to Druid, where the new Bala road branches off, and then we entered a paradise.  On the right, the hillside was deeply wooded, whilst on the left was a gorge.  Niches have been built into the wall here and there, and I recommend anybody who traverses that road to get off at each niche and peep over.  All we could see was a dense array of leaves, with just an opening here and there to show us a sheer drop to the river which boiled and foamed over its rocky bed.  It was gorgeous.

A little beyond Y Maerdy we spotted a stream, and allayed the returning thirst.  Through such scenes of wooded beauty we passed, until, gradually climbing, we came upon the open moors and reached Cerrigydrudion ‘The Rock of the Heroes’.  I cannot say anything of the five miles between here and Pentrefoelas.  The wind faced us, and made the straight road almost unbearable, Ben started to feel it.  Once more we were on the lookout for water, obtaining it near Pentre.  From here came another change, from the dullest five miles in North Wales to the beginning of some of the loveliest valley scenery in the world – the descent to Bettws-y-coed.  It started to rain here, but soon gave over, although we had one disappointment.  The mountains were mist covered, and only Moel Siabod and the lesser heights were visible.

As we entered the woods, the wind was screened from us, and riding was at once easier.  The River Conway accompanied us, giving us peeps over the wall or through the foliage of a boulder-strewn bed, of a lightly dancing river, of cataracts, waterfalls, and rapids, whilst on each side the rocky slopes were tree-protected.  Ben was again delighted, and when we came in sight of the Lledr Valley on the left, with the rock-strewn slopes above and the semi-circular precipice of Moel Siabod behind, he raved over it.  Never in his life, he said, had he seen anything half so beautiful.

The descent down Dinas Hill continued until we reached that earthly paradise, Bettws-y-coed.  We crossed Waterloo Bridge, got some postcards (by the way, I commend Judge’s for the very best views), lingered on Pont-y-Parc, then left Bettws behind, climbing uphill for two miles, (which, because of the scenery seemed like two yards) to Miner’s Bridge.  We stopped on the bridge for a little while, watching the boiling Llugwy down the gorge beneath.  Then feeling a hunger, we crossed the road to the cottage of Bryn Hyfryd, where we obtained a decent plain tea for 1/3d.  Thirty five miles since lunch, and 84 from home!

Bk 7 -23024         An hour later we emerged, eager to be getting amongst the mountains properly.  We were in the right country now, what mattered where we went for the night, five miles or fifty?  The road climbed gradually by the side of the high-spirited river, which provided us with many charming pictures.  The sun had gone now, and a heavy gloom and close, still atmosphere pervaded, which, I feared would rob us of the mountain views.  Coming to Pont Cyfyng, we stopped a minute to watch the water madly leaping down a deep, rocky gorge, then pushed on to Capel Curig, where a heavy drizzle came on – and where we just caught the post.

The river was there alright, the view that I was afraid the rain would spoil, the view of three immense peaks.  Snowdon.  Dull, but clearly outlined, and there were the Glyders too.  And Moel Siabod, from here looking like a huge moor, dreary, uninteresting.  “So that is Snowdon”, said Ben, “I never dreamed there were such high mountains in Britain”.  Of course, he has never been on holiday anywhere but the Lancashire coast resorts before, so mountains bigger than the Bolton moors were a surprise to him.  “But wait”, I said, “Before we ‘pack’ for the night you will see the cliffs and masses of rocks different than the Anglezarke quarries!”, and at that we remounted and continued along the Holyhead road.

The drizzle continued as we climbed gradually on to a kind of moor.  The scenery here was nothing to go dotty over, but in front were dim mountains, half obscured precipices, into which we had to go, and through which there seemed no way.  The next three miles brought in the region of these crags, giving us an idea of the rocky nature of the pass in front, but the next mile seemed never to bring us nearer to that for which we were impatient.  On the right were the slopes of Pen Llithrig-y-Wratch and Pen Helyg, with the Carneddau beyond them, whilst to the left successive cwms broke the foothills of the long Glyder range.  Then, as we rounded a cliff called Gallt-y-Gogof, the ‘Cuckoo Cliff’, the whole wild view bursts suddenly before us.

Before us rose that remarkable pyramid Y Tryfan, with the mountains beyond Llyn Ogwen in the background.  Then we crossed the Llugwy, a tarn which lies just below the Long ridge of Carnedd Llewellyn, and we soon reached the highest altitude (1,000 ft) at Llyn Ogwen, by the banks of which we rode to Ogwen Cottage, a habitat of cragsmen and anglers.  To say that Ben was astonished and awed is to put it mildly.  Think of the effect of this lake, grandly set in a deep hollow between the black and rock-strewn slopes of Y Glyder Fawr and Braich Du, the precipitous spur of Carnedd Dafydd to one who has never really seen a natural cliff.  We left the bikes by a wall and took a self-made route by a leaping stream to Llyn Idwal.

There was not a soul about besides ourselves, and we stood in the rain, in a kind of half-light, which, however, did not cap the peaks, but gave them a shadowy, unnatural air.  I could quite believe that anyone with a weak nerve suddenly transported from, say, our home town to this spot would be terror-stricken at the savage, sombre, picture – we were awed to silence – our voices might break the spell.

The Llyn is overhung by the precipice of Glyder Fawr, a very steep scree coming from the base to the lake, chock-full of boulders.  Not a tree, not a sign of life, hardly a blade of grass relieved the wild chaos of rock and the impenetrable blackness of Idwal.

Whichever way we looked, it was the same, the towering precipice of the Glyders with the huge crack of Twll ddu (the Devils Kitchen) scarring the cliffs above the screes at the head of the lake, the line of cliffs which wall Nant Ffrancon on the West, Y Garn, Foel Goch etc, the dreaded impasse of that mighty cone, Tryfan, unclimbable (except to the expert) on all but one place, a scarred jumble of jagged grey rock, Braich Du, (the Black Arm) extending a rugged maw out to enclose Ogwen.  Ah, a scene that, under such conditions could easily unnerve one, even I, who by this time got quite used to the Welsh Mountains, could never have imagined such a thing, could never have dreamt that those piles of rock could possibly assume such a menacing, awful aspect.

“Ye are the things that tower, that shine whose smile

Makes glad – whose frown is terrible – whose forms,

Robed or unrobed do all the impress wear…”

That night they were unrobed – stark, startling, fear impelling.  And this on just a drizzly evening!

We walked back to Ogwen by the slippery path, then climbed over the bridge and looked down the gorge, where the water from Llyn Ogwen forms an impressive waterfall.  Owing to the abnormally dry weather recently, little water was flowing, indeed, of all our tour we never saw a decent fall, and many planned detours to waterfalls were dropped – they were hardly worthwhile.  The run down Nant Ffrancon Pass was punctuated by innumerable stops – we found it impossible to rush it, for the views behind were too fine.  At Ogwen Bank at the foot of the pass, the rain ceased, and we packed our capes away.  Having no watch with us, we had completely lost touch with the time, so we decided to ask at Bethesda, and then decide about lodgings.  Bethesda is a quarrying town, therefore of no especial virtue, and as we found that it was not yet 8.30pm, we decided to push on.  The road, after leaving Bethesda, runs through some very pretty woodland scenery by Afon Ogwen.  There were hordes of flies on the descent too – I caught with my eye, four in ten minutes.  They were an absolute pest; probably a National Fly Week, and judging from the attendance it was a phenomenal success.

We pottered through the woods, obtaining a glimpse of Penrhyn’s turreted castle as we dropped to the main gateway at Llandygai.  When we reached Bangor, we found that the time was 9.20pm, but the crowded aspect of the place and the knowledge that it was a city deterred us from staying there.  The next place listed in the CTC handbook was Port Dinorwic, six miles away.  Could we reach it? (they retire early to bed in Welsh villages).  We decided to chance it, and as Kipling wrote, ‘With our best foot first, and the road a-sliding past’ we made famous headway.  The scenery, as I knew, was nothing to linger over except where it skirts the tree-shaded Vernol Park just on the outskirts of Port Dinorwic, so we, being in form, just ‘blinded’ to Port Dinorwic, which is a place for the shipping of slate and granite from the quarries at Bethesda and Llanberis.

It is a very picturesque village away from the quays, and lies on the Menai Straits.  “Sea view Terrace, right up the hill to the top” came in answer to our enquiries, and we turned left, up a steep hill, climbing for about a mile until below us lay the silvery straits, the broad lands of Anglesey and the blue sea beyond.  It was 10pm when we located Mrs Perry, 5, Sea View Terrace, but we were given a warm welcome, and after a wash we had a hearty supper, turning in at 10.45.  From the window, we enjoyed a fine red sunset, tinting the sea beyond Anglesey with a ruddy glow, and lighting the sky beyond.  After a long, happy day we were tired and slept right away, with a gentle sea breeze blowing over the green fields of Mona into our room.                                                       126 miles



Sunday, 28 June 1925 Trough of Bowland

Post:     Ideal weather for them today, if a little hot, but no rain.  This really is a nice route, but rather busy these days, and it is easy to forget that the vast majority of this route would have been devoid of tarmac or rolled chippings.  That was the fire in Charlie’s belly that drove him on to become the Chairman of the Rough Stuff Fellowship in later years.  Rough Stuff !

Sunday, June 28                                             Trough of Bowland

         We were up at 5.30 this morning, but as usual when we are together, it was 7.30 before we could get away.  Passing through the yet sleeping town, we gained Belmont road, and faced a stiff breeze through the village and over the moors, gaining some relief when we dropped into shelter at Withnell.  The Belmont road is not at all bad, scenically, with the fine moorlands around and little wooded patches here and there, so that one soon finds the 18 miles to Preston’s rough setts covered.  We took the Moor Park route out of the town, gaining the north road at Fulwood.  This road is very beautiful beyond Broughton at this time of year, but is apt, as are all the roads to resorts, to get motorised.  At Brock we stopped for a pot of tea, making a short meal, then with increased pace got through Garstang and Galgate to Lancaster, turning here towards Wyresdale.

We made a slight mistake at one of the turnings here, but our map showed us a correction, and after passing the reservoir at Mt Vernon, we turned left along a poor surfaced byway, but giving us fine views across the Conder Valley to the fells beyond.  About one and a quarter miles further on, we turned right, and swept round a hair raising bend on a steep gradient, down to Lee End in the valley.  Then a few yards to the Temperance Hotel at Quernmore for lunch.  We had to have it in the hedges and were hampered by hordes of flies which contrived to get in the cups and milk-jug.  But the view of park-like wooded hillsides and higher fells and the green valley repaid any such discomfort.

We ‘padded the hoof’ after that for the better part of two miles, and hot work it was too, with the gradient all against us and a loose surface on which walking was a real discomfort.  A backward look when we neared a rideable part showed us that we had not climbed in vain, for a fine view from West to Northeast presented itself to us.  Westwards, the flat Fylde country stretched, with the silver ribbon of the broad River Wyre as it nears Fleetwood streaked across, then the townships of Blackpool (not forgetting Blackpool Tower and the Big Wheel) and Fleetwood with the open sea beyond.  Veering round, we saw Morecambe Bay, its background of hills, which further behind developed into the craggy heights of Lakeland; below us, Lancaster and its grim old castle above the tidal River Lune, with the fine mausoleum of the Williamson memorial on a higher plane to the East of the town.  Then Lunesdale and the hills around, wooded and moorland, rising to a respectable height nearer Kirkby Lonsdale completed a fine prospect, worth the climb above.

Concentrating on the ‘ard ‘igh road’ before us, we reached some fine moorland scenery and experienced some vile road surfaces, until the decrepit Jubilee Tower on the highest point claimed our attention.  A rush downhill now, terminating in an awkward drop to a river, where we lingered, engaged in the classic pursuit of throwing stones at a particularly fine specimen of a trout.  The run that followed along an undulating road through some fine scenery was punctuated by a similar stop at every stream which seemed to be packed with the aforesaid trout, and each of which supplied us with a drink.

At Marshaw, we entered the glen that signals the approach of the Trough itself, and very soon after, the trees were behind us, we had dismounted and were tramping up a wild little pass.  Another stream kept us supplied with cooling beverage, a necessity in this kind of weather, until we neared the summit, where it trailed off into nothing.  From the head of the Trough (1,000 ft), nothing but wild moors, barren defiles, and heathery turf is visible, a wild picture indeed on the sunniest of days.  The breakneck descent on the Lancashire side is amplified by the boulders which lie strewn all over the road.  Alas, the Trough has lost much of its terror to travellers now, for we actually saw a charabanc there.  I still wonder, however, how on earth two pass each other on these roads.

The road after that claimed most of our attention on account of its resemblance to a river bed, but we stopped often before we reached Whitewell, for the surrounding country is too good to be missed.  At Whitewell, we entered that ever beautiful gorge, which took us to the Vale of Chipping, where we stopped at a bridge over that princess of rivers, the Hodder.  Whilst crossing the shingle to get a photographic viewpoint, both of us slipped in, and then, thinking it not worthwhile to hop from stone to stone, splashed through to an island in the middle.

The next item was a steep, stony scramble to the summit of Jeffrey Hill, whence was an extensive vista of the Vale of Chipping – and a well full of gloriously cool water.  Down now, on the other side with another fine view of the serpentine River Ribble, to Ribchester, then Miss Bolton’s for tea.

Crossing the Ribble, we climbed uphill to the Whalley-Preston road, patronising it to Mellor Brook, where we turned towards Blackburn, but dodged that industrial brick-heap by means of a footpath which led us to Cherry Tree.  The Tockholes road of atrocious surface and many hills brought us at length to Belmont, then down to Bolton and home.  Some supper, then we started again to Moses Gate and Kearsley, where Tom and I talked until 10.10pm, then Tom carried on home and I did a ‘blind’ to get back before lighting up time.                                      108 miles


Saturday, 27 June 1925 Great Budworth

Post:         Charlie and his finances !   As ever living on the edge, hours to go to the Bolton Holiday Wakes Week and it is all doom and gloom – for now !

Long discussions with Tom Idle did little to lift the financial gloom, so we must be patient as to the outcome.  (You will not be disappointed!).

Saturday, June 27                                           Great Budworth

 This is the first day of the Bolton Holiday Wakes Week, but owing to financial strains, I find it impossible to tour all week  I may, however, manage three or four days later in the week.  Tom is coming over for the night to enjoy Home Rule with me, and for a run north tomorrow, so I had arranged to meet him at Great Budworth, tea-time.  I started at 3pm, with a helping wind behind, via Butts Bridge and across Chat Moss to Warburton.  Just beyond Heatley, I met three Boltonians and one of them, an active CTC-ite, was helping the other two to start a tour.  As they were going my way, I joined in with them, and so we proceeded along the lanes via High Legh together.  Two got behind, and we had to search for them, finding them with a broken thermos flask.  (They were starting their tour with an all-night run).  After that we made good progress to Great Budworth, where they decided to stop for tea.  Tea was ordered, then Tom came up, and after a wash we tucked in.  We spent quite a long time here, chatting, then bidding the others goodbye – and a fine tour – (Wye Valley), we started back.  TShe same road was good enough, for who can beat that winding, shady lane to High Legh?  With the wind behind it did not take us long to cross Chat Moss and get into the smoky regions again.  We got home and to bed early, following the maxim ‘Early to bed and early to rise’.            55 miles

Sunday, 21 June 1925 Nant-y-Ffrith

Post:     This long ride, without a single mention of saddles, seems to have pleased all on the run today.  And I am reminded of how we used to communicate on those long runs, when we somehow missed each other, many of us carried a stick of chalk and we would leave messages at likely stopping points for those missing, that they could catch us up.  Try telling stories like that to the ‘Youff’ of today !

Sunday, June 21                                   Nant-y-Ffrith   CTC run leader

The fine spell of weather is still continuing, and I expect great possibilities of my run today.  At 6.15am, I started for Four Lane Ends, arriving to find that I was not the first.  Whilst trying to open the display case at the cross-roads, we nearly pulled the hut down and succeeded in breaking the glass, but for all our struggling, we did not open it.  At 6.45am, there were nine of us, so, not having much time to throw away, we made a start.  Once clear of the industrial areas to Glazebury, it did not take long to get into our stride, with the result that we went hurtling along, covering the 18 miles to Warrington in one hour and eight minutes.  Without delay, we got the sordid streets behind us, and gained the cleaner Chester road.  We were in form, it was clear, and we had a vivacious girl of sixteen years leading, and so well did we do that in two hours and twenty minutes, we were in Chester.  We stopped at the Castle to watch the troops drilling in the yard and hear the band, which was very impressive.  ‘Billy’, our humorist, made light of the officers’ bawls and soon had everyone around grinning.  Meanwhile, I left a chalk mark near the road edge to let Tom know our time of passing.

Wrexham road accommodated us now; we swung along at a fine pace, by the grounds of Eaton Hall to Rossett, where we turned left into the pretty Vale of Gresford, climbing to a higher plane where we could look down upon the rich plains of Cheshire.  A level run brought us past the Llay Main Pit, the scene of a recent disaster, then a switchback to Cefn-y-Bedd, ‘the Ridge of the Grave’.  The little valley to Ffrwd was admired by all, and the subsequent climb on shanks started to open views out that were blocked by mist in the distance.  I did not mistake the Ffrith turn this time, and we dropped down cautiously past a notice which glared out in bold lettering ‘Danger, Landslide’.  However, the obstruction had been removed, and only the rotten surface and the clay hillside told us where the problem had been.  At Ffrith I enquired for the footpath to Nant, for it was a long time since I was along there, and soon we were walking up a rough little lane under a railway viaduct.  Several barred gates and stiles had to be negotiated, causing much amusement, and it was getting hot too.  Then past a farmyard and we entered Nant-y-Ffrith, by a very narrow walk between high, thick hedges that we had to brush past.
The walk then lay through the most beautiful woods, and by bushes ablaze with bloom, with a glimpse here and there of the stream where,

‘The young river gods in maddest play,

Come laughing silvery laughter, lightly leaping adown the cliffs’.

And here and there the dense growth on the opposite side of the valley would give way to a sheer white crag, not unlike those in the Derbyshire Dales.  Sometimes we would be running through the wood, where the roots of trees spread across the paths, then a little open space where we would walk on deliciously springy grass which made it just like the carpet of some Eastern mosque, then we would wind round a tumbled mass of rocks all covered with creepers and moss and set amidst the everlasting trees.  For about two miles this continued until we found ourselves climbing steeply, a gate got in the way, and lifting the bikes over iron railings, we found ourselves on a drive, each side of which was a riot of rhododendrons.  From this drive, which is private, leading to Nant-y-Ffrith Hall, we got a bird’s eye view of the steep valley.  Everyone was absolutely carried away with this beautiful valley, some said they had never seen anything like it before.

The drive climbed for about a quarter of a mile, winding round all the time between the rhododendron bushes, and higher up, the trees form a leafy canopy overhead.  Then we joined the Pass road, and in a moment stood at the shelf at Bwlch Gwyn.  Much of the Cheshire plains were visible, but it cannot be said that the views were in any way good – at least to what they might be.  All the time a wordy warfare had been raging as to what constitutes a Pass.  One said that a pass is a way over the hills, I contended that it was either over or through the hills, to which the reply came that a way through was a valley, it finally ended by the remark that every road is a pass!  The run across the moors was fast and furious, whilst good views could be had towards the Clwyds, Moel Famau standing out especially clearly.  Soon the moors gave way to rippling, verdant country, and then the lunch place, the far-famed ‘The Crown at Llandegla’ was reached.   A wash, then lunch, and an hour in the cool parlour.  The sun was blazing down now, and a high wind was sweeping away the last vestige of mist which clung to the hillsides.  I asked which road they would like to take, the Horseshoe Pass or Nant-y-Garth, and they settled on the former.

The strong wind helped us along the Corwen road, and swept us along from the Ruthin-Llangollen turn, downhill, with fine views of the beautiful country around, chequered fields and shady lanes and brown moors.  Except for a short bit near the Travellers Rest Inn, the majority rode to the summit of Bwlch Rhiwfelin, but two or three of us preferred to walk because of the views around.  The whole club run was surprised when the clustered peaks of Caernarfon came into sight.  Clear and grey and well defined, they rose sublime behind the green and brown country that stretched away towards them.  There were the Carneddiau and their satellites, and as we reached the summit at 1,353 ft, the whole range of them appeared, and, with the poet, I said:                     “Behold Cryri !”

There was Snowdon and the Glyders, Cynicht and the bold Ffestiniog peaks, the Merioneth Moels, Arran and Arenig, Rhobell Fawr, Pen Llithrig – a host of them.  Turning about, we looked down the Horseshoe to the Valley of the Cross, and Llangollen in the Vale of Dee, backed by the brown Berwyns.  Dinas Bran on its conical peak, the Eglwyseg Rocks and the winding roads.  We spent half an hour here, then one went off to take the direct road, and the rest of us slid cautiously down the Pass.  In one place a motor car had come to grief and was hanging over the precipice.  So well was it balanced that it seemed as if a touch would send it rolling down the steep scree to a certain smash up at the bottom.

Bk 7 -22023

Then came pretty woods, and passing Eliseg’s Pillar and Valle Crucis Abbey, we made good headway until a puncture occurred on the canal bridge near Llangollen.  Whilst it was being repaired three of us paddled in the canal regardless of passers-by.  A moment on the Dee Bridge, then along the Vale to Trevor and Acrefair, from where we had a headwind and an awful, industrialised, run to Wrexham.  Then the Farndon road, in the ‘Part of Flint’ to Holt, and another halt on the old Dee Bridge there.  A winding lane now led us to Aldford, and the beautiful grounds of Eaton with still another halt on that Dee Bridge, and at the Hall.

A swinging run to Chester, and Mickle Trafford for tea which proved unsatisfactory.  As six of the ten of us on the run today were training for the Lancashire Road Club ‘12’, the pace home was furious.  The run has been an absolute success – some of them have had their eyes opened as to what Wales really is.                                                   135 miles

Saturday, 20 June 1925 Northenden

Post:       Well I did say that we had not heard all about Charlie’s saddle on the new bike and now it has proved to be.  He is not at all happy with the substitute.  In fact it has taken over his life, well at least for today.  And another thing, tandems don’t help the easy flow of the run, seemingly!

Saturday, June 20                                 Northenden    CTC run

Thought I would back up my club run tomorrow by turning out with the club today, so at 2.30 I pottered along to Four Lane Ends.  At 3pm there were only seven of us, and two of those went off on an errand, saying that they would see us at teatime.  I had swopped my B10 saddle for a B17 narrow, because I could not get used to it, and now I found the B17 very unsympathetic.  However, we made a start via Little Hulton, and a fresh route to Walkden and Worsley.  A tandem was with us, keeping us going (I never did care for a tandem on club runs).  Meanwhile the B17 was giving me a rough time – they are as hard as iron.  At Stretford we joined Chester road for Sale, where we turned for Northenden.  There was a carnival on or something here to judge by the streamers, confetti, etc flying about, and the crowds where a nuisance.  About a mile of tramcar lines and crowds, then a short run through partly wooded country and Northenden was reached.

We had tea overlooking the street, where we saw the other two rounding a bend.  Our leader went flying after them, only bringing them back after a long search, thus bringing our total back up to seven again.

We went down to the river afterwards, where we met three more, who had had tea elsewhere, being unable to find the correct venue.  We had thought of an hour boating on the Mersey, but refused to pay 1/6d and a two shilling deposit for a single boat, so after a walk round we started back.  That B17 saddle was specially made for my torture, I am convinced of that!  It was terrible on the homeward journey, which happened to be the same route, so that it was no wonder that I jumped at the chance of another ‘swop’ – for a B70 this time.  I changed it as soon as I got home, finding complete comfort for the moment.                           37 miles


Tuesday, 16 June 2017 Scotsmans Post

Post:       This is an interesting evening excursion from Charlie’s home, with plenty of history.  The local legend is that the unwary Scot was followed from the Cock Tavern in Blackrod, where he had been imbibing, to the desolate moor – now known as Winter Hill – after he had been boasting of his full wallet and his good fortune.  So much for the residents of Blackrod.

Tuesday, June 16                                            Scotsmans Post

 ‘Ben’ a friend, and I had decided to try a little stunt tonight, and ‘Joe’ hearing of it, promised to accompany us.  This is a footpath which runs over Winter Hill between Belmont and Bob’s Smithy, and which climbs to an altitude of 1,300 ft.  We started at 7.15pm, picking up Joe at the ‘Three Pigeons’ pub.  Just before dropping down into Belmont, we passed through a gate on the left, and there it started.  The route was uphill, and exceedingly rough, being in the nature of a riverbed – only more so.  After a hard climb, we reached the summit, but the views (which from here are normally very fine), were spoiled by mists.  On the top, at 1,300 ft, we were able to ride a little until we came to the Scotsmans Post, an iron pillar, on which are the words;

‘In memory of George Henderson, traveller, native of Annan, Dumfrieshire who was barbarously murdered on Horwich Moor, on Monday, November 9th, 1838, in the 20th year of his life’.

This tragedy is one of the instances where murder did not out, the culprit was never discovered.  From the Watermans cottages, the going became bad again, necessitating carrying the machines in places,  We struggled on down a steep little dell, across a stream several times, and over huge boulders, coming in sight of the sugarloaf, a perfectly shaped hill of graceful outline standing isolated from the rest of the moors.  Then we were able to ride a little until Joe fell off his bike and broke a gate.  Chuckling over the humour of it, we reached the Bob’s Smithy road.  I thought of the ‘63 steps’ footpath, and asked “What about it”?  It met with approval, so we followed another track until we reached the famous flight of steps, where we hoisted the bikes on our shoulders and walked down.  There is some local controversy about these steps, some say that there are 66, others say 61 etc.  I forgot to count them.

Barrow Bridge would be quite a pretty spot if it had never become popular, but it is a notorious picnic place, and is therefore full of refreshment huts, swings, a boating lake, and host of chocolate machines or catch-pennies.  From Barrow Bridge we rode along a ‘No Cycles Allowed’ road past Dobson’s chimney, supposed to be the highest yet in England, even though several feet have been taken off the top.  Then a lot of streets, Halliwell road, and we returned to Bolton.  If people only knew what fine scenery can be found around their native town, they would never grumble about ‘being cooped up’ all their lives in a town.             16 miles


Sunday, 14 June 2017 Bwlch Rhiwfelin

Post:        A very business like day today, straight to the point (if you don’t get lost en route!) and a 133 miles clocked up in the day.  Very creditable. What new pastures are opened up with a lightweight under your bottom!  We should all be proud that Charlie is now sitting on a lightweight !

Sunday, June 14                                             Bwlch Rhiwfelyn

 As Tom would not be out this weekend, I decided to scout my clubrun for next Sunday, so at 6.15am, I made a start.  I pottered down via Leigh and Winwick to Warrington, then along Chester road, being in poor form for anything else.  From Chester, I joined Wrexham road to Rossett, then turned into the hills, climbing from the Vale of Gresford, then switch-backing to Cefn-y-Bedd.  The pretty little vale now led me to Ffrwd, then the climb towards Bwlch Gwyn.  I mistook the Ffrith turn, dropping, instead down a vile-surfaced road to a river.  There was a footbridge, but the road led into the river, a rather wide one too, so I mounted the bike and tried to cross.  It was at once pebbly, sandy, and boulder strewn, and I had to put one foot down when I stopped in the middle.  It was knee deep too!  The road proved a dead end after all, so I had to return (via the bridge) to the Bwlch Gwyn road.  Then the long grind uphill, the drop into that pretty vale and the ‘S’ bend over the bridge where the parapet is partly missing and a slip would mean at least a few weeks cessation of activities, and the other long climb up to the ‘shelf’ at Bwlch Gwyn.  With the beautiful sweep of Maes Maelor on my right, I faced an argumentative wind across the exposed moors until the road ran into a nant and gave me shelter.

Yes, they would make lunch at the Crown – they always welcome cyclists, and soon I was tucking in with great gusto.  A Liverpudlian entered, and we chatted together, leaving together, for we found that both of us were on the same errand – bound for the Horseshoe Pass.  It is not a very stiff climb to the summit – so that except for a short steep pitch by the Travellers Rest Inn, we rode it.  What a view from the top!  We were fortunate to get such a perfectly clear day, the principal peaks of Snowdonia being visible, besides the Glyders, the gap of Nant Ffrancon, the bulky Carneddau, and a whole parcel of peaks round Ffestiniog.  We lingered here, then carried on until another fine view, this time of the deep hollow, the beautiful setting in which Llangollen is placed, and steep-sided Dinas Bran with Eglwyseg Rocks backing the scene and the blunt  Berwyns behind the Vale of Llangollen, presented itself to our expectant eye.  Then a long downhill rush down the Pass. (Bwlch Rhiwfelyn, or Bwlch Oernant in Welsh).  Through pleasant woods, past the Abbey of Valle Crucis, and so to Llangollen.  The usual linger on the Dee Bridge, then along to Trevor, Acrefair, and pits and tram lines to dirty Wrexham.  We were not sorry to get to Chester, where my friend left me, and I carried on to Mickle Trafford for tea.  I returned home the usual way then.    133 miles

Saturday, 13 June 1925 Parbold

Post:   I should just mention that for a very long time we have heard nothing about rowing, a subject which certainly is near to Charlie’s heart in normal times.  He doesn’t sound as though he went rowing today either, although he has been critical of the facilities !

Saturday, June 13                                           Parbold    CTC run

Turned out for the club run, Four Lane Ends for 2.30pm.  By 3.0 there were only nine of us, and we started together along Westhoughton road, via Chequerbent etc, to Blackrod, where we slid off the hills and rattled down into Adlington.  After a 20 minute dawdle on the grass by the wayside, we got along many lanes, eventually finding ourselves at Standish.  A pretty run followed via the fishponds to Parbold.  The rather excellent view from here was hopeless today (it looked like rain, and I had discarded mudguards and cape owing to the heat wave).  Came the sudden descent to Newburgh, then a mile or so further on, we reached our tea place, the Delph tea gardens.  It was full up with a chara party, but they soon shifted, and we were able to have tea in peace and comfort.

Ben and I tried to scale some cliffs then, but they were mostly too sheer for our poor abilities, and what we did climb was not worthwhile.  Then we joined the club and proceeded to the boating lake.  Ye Gods! It is all island, and I think that we should soon all go dizzy with twirling round and round, or at least the dull monotony of that ‘vicious circle’ would soon pall.  The afore mentioned chara parties were busy on the field playing ‘in and out the window cricket’, and I think that some were racing for prizes.  Anyway, as we passed we heard a young woman of about 23 summers say “I want something when I run, I’m not racing for a box of paints, not I”.

After a ramble round, we made a move, pottering up Parbold Hill to Wrightington Fishponds, near where the club turned off, presumably with the intention of returning partly the same way as our earlier route, but Ben and I carried on ourselves via Shevington Moor to Standish, and by the same route then as last week, arriving home quite early.          46 miles