Tuesday, 25 August 1925 Jacob’s Ladder

Post:        Sounds more like an apple ‘scrunching’ run than a bike ride, and I have never seen any of these ladders, situated as they must be in a quarry. Lots of rock climbers now frequent this quarry so perhaps they have been moved or the quarry returned to production in the intervening years.

Tuesday, August 25                                        Jacob’s Ladder

Ben came over tonight for a run by Anglezarke Lakes to Jacob’s Ladder, so we started at 7pm.  Before Lostock was reached, the discovery was made that both of us were without lamps, and as lighting-up time was 9.10pm, we hadn’t much time to throw away.  From Horwich we went by Lever Park to Rivington, the along the rough road that runs by the second lake and gives beautiful glimpses of that reservoir.  A drop through woods brought us to the beautiful banks of Anglezarke, around which we rode to the cul-de-sac.  Leaving our bikes behind a wall, we walked up through the woods on which the setting sun poured golden rays.  Many rough steps took us to the foot of the cliff, up which three iron ladders run, separated by convenient ledges on the second of which is a covered well.

As the route is private, and the farmer, whose buildings are just across a field in full sight, is liable to irate eruptions if he sees anyone on his path, some care is needed to keep quiet.  From the top (where we stood hidden by a wall), we watched the sun, a great red orb, slowly dip into the sea, tinting the Ribble estuary in red streaks.  We would have liked to have stopped here for a space to watch the evening coming on, but our lampless conditions forbade it, and we had to make a reluctant return.  We did spend a moment in the already darkening woods, picking raspberries and watching the reflection of trees and sky in the water.  One cannot hurry away from this type of scenery.

Climbing to Upper Anglezarke Reservoir, we discovered it empty, perhaps it has been drained for rebanking purposes.  It is a lot deeper that I thought, and a river runs along the stubbly bed.  For the most part it is not natural, and we fell to speculating what it used to look like once.

From Rivington village it was a race against time along the main park road to Horwich and along Chorley New road, returning via the new Beaumont road to the old – and better – road through ‘New York’ to Deane and home just in time.                                                    22 miles

Sunday, 23 August 1925 Around Peckforton

Post:     Please note that Charlie has left a gap from his previous piece, due to a works accident, I seem to remember that about this time he got a bootful of hot metal at the foundry where he worked.  But he doesn’t complain too much, he just set about trying to make up for lost time.

Sunday, August 23                                          Around Peckforton

‘O to mount again where erst I haunted,

‘Where the old red hills are bird enchanted,

‘And the low green meadows bright with sward.

How absolutely true, word for word are these lines!  A gap will be noticed between the last date and this entered herein, and no-one will, I am sure, accuse me of falling off the dear, great game.  The fact is, that three days after the Lancashire Road Club 12 hour event, I was unfortunate enough to receive the overflow from a ladle of molten metal, which I was carrying, in my left boot, and, of course had to ‘lay off’, with the said foot stuck on a chair for 3 weeks, and another week besides had to be spent in carefully hobbling about.  [Charlie worked all his life in metal foundries].  Ah! how one misses those ultra-alluring weekends when one is unavoidably held away from them.  How the long days dragged!  How the Road tugged and pulled, how I longed to see those ‘old red hills’, how I longed to mount again, on that wonderful little lightweight of mine and roam at will along the bylanes that I so love, and hear the seemingly endless welcome twittering of the birds.  I wanted to feel the pedals gain speed as I dropped over a ridge to the ‘low green meadows’, I wanted to feel the hill in front and know the fierce joy of ‘getting ‘em round’ on some level main road.

What would I not give to be up at some unearthly hour and travel the Road in the gathering light, which makes everything seem mystically beautiful, meeting Tom forty miles away before most people are up and about, and heading for those beloved mountains.  A metal burn as a rule (of the kind I had incurred) takes many weeks to heal, but I lavished every care on it, did the best for it, and owing to that and – here I make no boast for myself, only for the great game – the healthy condition which cycling has given me, it progressed in great strides, and now, after over four weeks the doctor says I “may knock about a bit”.  I saw my chance and wrote to Tom Idle to meet me Sunday dinner time at Beeston Smithy, which, as is well known, lies hard by the ‘old red hills’.

Needless to say, I had a short preliminary run to loosen my joints a bit, and I can hardly say how good it felt to be awheel again.  ‘Joe’ of the Bolton Wheelers promised to come along too, though I gave him warning that as far as I am concerned there would be no ‘blind and stop’.  I know Joe of old!  At 7.30 on this much heralded morning, Joe and I kicked off, I being on a freewheel so as to give the foot an occasional rest.  Although I had sworn to potter, the machine simply wouldn’t, and the result was an ever increasing pace.  At Glazebury we stopped for half an hour whilst Joe chatted with some of his clubmates who were participating or watching the Leigh Clarion ‘50’.

Just across Warburton Bridge, Joe spotted some blackberry bushes.  That tore it!  It took nearly three hours to reach High Legh, twenty miles away.  On the Budworth road we stopped again, and I soon began to see that we were going to have to speed a bit to make time up.  Now for my part, I do not eat blackberries from the bush because I have seen grubs and worms in them, and it has turned me against them, but Joe is a gormandiser when it comes to stuff of that ilk, and I could not tear him away.  At last I saw that he had made his mind up to fill himself so I helped him, giving him many handfuls.  He soon had enough then.  After that we kept steadily going via Great Budworth and Comberbach and on the main road towards Northwich, turning in the valley at the huge works of Brunner, Mond and Co, and joining Chester road at Hartford.  A charabanc came up, and Joe went after it, blinding out of sight behind it.  I let him go, for I knew he would wait, as he did, just at the Whitegate turn.  In these lanes there were no chara’s, so that we managed to keep together.  This route from Warburton is far from being flat, but it is not bad, and I was surprised to hear Joe say that it was hilly and that these bylanes were rough and dirty.  Oh, these Bolton Wheelers make me sick!  They are parasites of the main roads, and can’t see the superior beauty of the byways and paths – indeed they can’t see any beauty at all, all they go for is to get right there, then get home again.

Just beyond Oulton Park we stopped at a pump for a drink, and to our surprise Tom came up.  We carried on then past that lake and whereon is a fine swan.   Tom said he saw a rose-coloured swan, and pointed it out to us, but it was not until after an incredulous search that we discovered the joke.  Roses are often white!  Eaton had not lost any of its charms, neither had the fine ruins of Beeston Castle, seen to much advantage on the descent of Beeston Brook.  Climbing up to the Smithy, we stopped here for lunch, which was had in a shed with five members of the Stretford Wheelers and a host of wasps, three of which we accounted for.

The sky had cleared, and the sun was blazing forth when we made a start at the foot of the ‘old red hills’.  Should we go over Peckforton Gap and through the woods?  It would show Joe that Cheshire has hills to be reckoned with, and can also provide a bit of rough riding.  So we passed through Peckforton and by the old world houses that have such large elaborate chimneys and multi-coloured gardens, with green fields on one hand and brown (or red) sun-bathed slopes on the other.  We also noticed with much righteous indignation that trees were being felled on the hillsides.  Oh, the perfidy of man!  Now we turned into a sandy lane that led into the hills – into the trees.  Joe spotted more blackberry bushes, stopping of course, Tom started to gather sprigs of heather, and I closely examined some whinberry bushes.  I extracted two berries therefrom!

Joe nearly saw red on the climb up the gap.  He said it was a terror for Cheshire.  It certainly is stiff – about one in three and a half.  We rested awhile on the summit, watching the heat-sizzled lowlands and listening to the distant heat-thunder.  Then the ride through the woods of the estate!  Again Joe had words of complaint “If you brought my club along here”, he said, “you would get slaughtered”!   Poor club! what they miss!  We stopped at the other end, laughing and joking over the rough ride and lost in admiration of the:

‘Majestic silence of the deep woods’.

Bk 7 -27028

Back to Beeston Smithy and the old castle walls, pausing first to admire three stags, erect specimens, with their antlers and graceful bearings, then to gaze on the sheer face of Beeston Hill.  When we reached Tarporley, a change had taken place, black clouds were coming over from the north, and thunder barked like cannon.  On the wooded road to Cotebrook we found ourselves in a gloomy, brooding world, queerly silent.  The Delamere lane had barely been embarked on when amidst an extra heavy thunder clap it started to rain – not the common kind either: just one solid mass of water.  The capes came out quick-sticks, we sat on our haunches with capes over our heads, and pressed our bodies against the low wall.  In a few moments the road became a running river, ankle deep.

How we enjoyed it!, we laughed and sang songs and joked over the humorous position we were in, Tom took a photograph under difficulties.  After twenty minutes there was no sign of a decrease and the water was running swiftly over our shoe tops, so we decided that the best course was to mount our bikes.  It was a sight too, to see the steep lane three inches deep in water and to see a cataract pouring out of a side lane, and as we rode along in the deluge to see miserable shuddering motorists.  The thunder reverberated continually, lightening played across the sky and shot down to the road with a noise like the crack of a whip.

At the Abbey Arms on Chester road, it eased, and settled down to a steady drizzle.  Now Delamere and Norley, down to Crowton and Acton Bridge we splashed, then the steep, drenched lane up to Little Leigh and undulating lanes via Comberbach, with a very narrow escape at the Budworth cross-roads.  Whilst crossing the main road after giving a warning at about 16 mph, I saw a motor bearing down upon me travelling at least 20 mph.  The only way was for me to try and get across first, there being no time to stop, and in the race I won by inches, passing in front so near that I felt the splash from his wheel !  We had tea at Great Budworth, where it gave over raining, and returned the same way, ending the ride from Atherton with a party of the Bolton Wheelers.  Thus passed a ride that, after being laid up, demonstrated to me more plainly than ever that the cycle is ‘The Best Way’.          93 miles


Sunday, 19 July 1925 Lancashire Road Club ’12’

Post:      This is Charlie doing his bit for King and Country – well helping anyway.  Although he is not cut out or attired for racing, he certainly does his bit today, and gets himself well tired into the bargain.  He manned just about the furthest checkpoint from the start after his first stint of marshalling in Preston but was well pleased with the outcome.  I do believe I have the finish results which I will attach later, they occur in a separate document.

Sunday, July 19                          Lancashire Road Club ‘12’

Today is to mark that great event amongst Lancashire speedmen, the Lancashire Road Club 12 hour event, a cycle race that only the fittest of the fit can hope to gain a place.  Think of it, twenty-four sturdy Red Rose lads, in tip-top condition, handicapped according to recent form, pitted against each other on over 200 miles of Lancashire and Westmorland roads, for 12 hours on end.  Ah! such a gruelling they’re likely to get before they can cease striving in open, clean competition.  What of the reward!  Those who get beyond 180 miles will receive a medal, commonplace enough to see, perhaps, but a better reward than money can give.  The medal reveals the sport in the man – that he will fight in a way that is beyond all reproach, fight to the very end of his tether on this long feat of endurance, just for the sake of Sport!  No publicity is his, nothing beyond the applaud of the cycle club, small enough, to be sure, but sincere, and if he should fail?  A handshake just as warm and sincere for the man who tried, given by a friend – yes, there is a sport for you!  One that does not get into the papers, one that does not make fame in a way that the boxer or footballer or tennis champion does, but one that is cleaner and straighter than other sports – and is fought just for sport.


In an event of this length, a great amount of help is needed – it can be guessed what help is needed when every fork or cross-roads for 200 miles has to be watched so that there can be little chance of going wrong, every feeding station must have several helpers, checkers must be found for certain turning points, some may have to look over the machines, some to start the competitors and some to ‘run them out’ when their time is nearly ‘up’.  I should think that in the LRC 12 there were a hundred voluntary helpers, each of whom lent their willing aid free and without thought of remuneration – not even a thanks – for the cause of sport.

It so happened that I had announced my willingness to help (being far too much of a potterer for racing myself), and had received a letter, asking me to be at Belmont, 4am to help start the riders, take spare clothing to Barton, then proceed to Lancaster where I can help to ‘run them out’.  This is done as follows:  The competitors pass through Lancaster on their return, this point being about 176 miles.  Here they pick up a cyclist who must follow them, until, at the end of the 12 hours exactly, they must be stopped, and the exact distance determined, so many telegraph poles from the nearest signpost or milestone, the distance is then measured, and the competitor’s mileage (to one furlong) ascertained.  As this race is a handicap, each competitor has a follower, maybe two.

I started at 3am with lamp lit, and proceeding through town, I gained Belmont road, just as dawn was breaking.  The moors were on fire; a thick pungent smoke-pall was hanging over the road making eyes smart and all but choking one.  I picked up a Radcliffe member, then the Hon Sec of the LRC joined us, and we proceeded to Jim Rushton’s together.  Here I was detailed to be at the cross-roads in Preston at 5am, so I started immediately.  The dawn itself was worth the early ‘get-up’, the effect over the shadowy moors, wonderful, the many tinted sky gaining light and the valleys hiding below the morning mist, whilst the higher ridges stood out like an archipelago of islands.  At Hoghton I saw two sailors asleep in the hedge (no doubt the result of a spree).  From Upper Walton, Preston on its misty elevation above the River Ribble looked like a fairy town (though heaven knows it is not!) with its spires and chimneys above the light haze.  Needless to say, as I entered the town it became the usual sordid, squalid place.

I took my stand to direct the competitors, the first of which appeared soon after 5am.  Each had a cheery word to answer our “Good luck, old chap”.  One rider had already found the puncture friend, having had three up to that point.  I was not sorry to quit my post, for standing for over an hour at that time o’day is a chilly task.  Now I carried on to the Fulwood cross-roads and chatted awhile with the checkers there, who were waiting for the competitors on their return from Blackpool.

Then I took the Lancaster road to Barton, where I was asked if I would take charge of the machines whilst the feeding was taking place.  Over an hour of this now, changing tyres, adjusting things etc, and at 8.45 I was free to have breakfast.  Not for long, however, for at 9.15 Mark Haslam (organiser and Hon Sec) came in with the announcement that it was going to be hot and windy, and the competitors would like something to drink.  Would I go to the Mossdale Café and get some tea and a bucket of water for them?  Yes, I would go immediately, so off three of us hiked.

It was 27 miles away and the competitors would pass about 11am, so it meant a blind all the way.  I managed to get in front, and put every ounce of energy into it, having the help of a high wind – Lancaster, Carnforth, the fork-roads, then another four miles, and at 10.40 I reached the café and procured the necessities.  Neither was I too soon, for simultaneously, my two companions and a rider appeared at 10.50.  How the competitors all blessed that cup of tea!  It was a pleasant surprise for them after a gruelling stretch dead against the wind blowing up from the south.

Two of them chucked up here exhausted, and, although we tried to persuade them to carry on, we could not blame them.  One said “What, face this wind again from Kendal, no not likely!  Before the last man came, the first came again on his second circuit, so we were kept busy until 2.30, when all had gone.  We had not had anything to eat so far, and I was feeling the effect of the sun too, but we started back immediately to report for duty at Lancaster.  A long ride dead against the wind to the Lune Bridge did not improve me, and there, being detailed with another to follow J Williams out, I had to wait a long time.

He came, and we followed about 20 yards behind, but it was pretty easy for us, because he was feeling the ride now.  At Galgate I punctured, and had a tidy job mending it, the tube being peppered around one place, and even then it kept going down, but I managed as far as Barton, where I finished the job.  There were so many at Barton that I saw no hope of getting my tea for over an hour, so at length, after waiting until nearly 7pm, I decided to make towards home, and returned by the usual route, tired out.  I had nothing to eat between 9am and 9.30pm except for one slice of bread, so it can be guessed that the work of a helper is not all honey.                                   108 miles

Tuesday, 14 July 1925 Some Tracks

Post:    Charlie makes reference on more than one occasion to emerging onto Chorley Old Road from the Winter Hill moors, near the Leper’s House.  I have mentioned this to all the local history groups in the area (which happens to be where I live), and answer came there none.  So whether Charlie knew more about this than anyone else, we can only ruminate.

Tuesday, July 14                                             Some Tracks

During the heatwave, the moors have been on fire, and not having actual experience of moorland fires, Ben and I decided to have an evening trip that way.  We would go over the Scotsmans Post route, for if any fires were to be seen at all, surely it would be there, where miles and miles of nothing but sun-dried heather and bracken and whinberry bushes stretch.

We started at 7pm, and quickly reached Belmont road, turning just before the drop to the village on to a track that leads past some workings, and climbs along the hillside.  The upward tendency is for about a mile, unrideable and very rough, but not too bad.  On the summit we were surprised to find no fires, but many signs were evident from burnt-out patches here and there.  Just beyond the Murder Post (June 16 this year), we left the main path and joined an ill-defined track hardly perceptible in the heather.  People speak of cigarettes and matches causing the extensive fires, but I don’t think that is the cause.  We could feel the heat contained in the thick roots which were as dry as tinder.  I think that the fires are caused by the heat beaming down on us from the sun.  This road (to give it a name) ran along the edge of a deep drain, and gave us many a heart thump – we were riding – when our wheels slithered off a stone on to the edge.  Our low riding position saved us many times.  We dropped off the edge of the moors eventually, walking now, for we had to slide to keep our feet.  We came out on the old Chorley road, near the Leper’s House, taking another footpath.  Once we stopped to explore a tunnel running into the hillside, then we crossed a farmyard.  The building was obviously very old, and I noticed that some of the windows were still blocked, an obvious reminder of the days when light was taxed and many windows were flagged up to avoid the tax.

Through many farmyards we wandered, eventually coming on to Chorley New Road at Horwich.  Meeting an old cycling friend who I had not seen for many months, we proceeded down the main road together, then hurrying home to avoid the lighting up time.  It is surprising what one can find of interest and beauty so near home.                                         22 miles

Sunday, 12 July 1925 Axe Edge

Post:       For a cycle ride, it seems to involve a lot of walking up the steep sections, or maybe it was to do with the sun being hotter than normal !  And always remember to take a mirror with you when you go exploring caves !

Sunday, July 12                                              Axe Edge

‘Kingsway End’, 6.30am, was our meeting place today.  We intended doing a whole heap of ‘lions’, the ‘Street’, Goyt Dale, Axe Edge, Roaches and Luds church, and the Dane Valley were all on the card.  Alas, we reckoned without the weather!  I was out at 5am, enjoying the cool, misty morning air.  There is nothing in the world like being astride a light bicycle on an early summer morning; the pure air seems to get into one’s heart and make him sing for joy – the joy of a long, care-free day – a day that was to be for me amongst the great, clean moors.  The one and a half hours of suburb riding before I met Tom, put me in form and anticipation for the ride.  The morning was getting warmer, but a summer mist overhung the country.  One cannot fail to interpret what the mist foretold – a warm day – and we therefore got a move on, for it was in our minds to get as far as possible before the sun strengthened.

We soon got into our stride at our usual ding-dong pace that knocks the miles back so effectively – miles that we had no real use for.  Handforth and that undulating byway that takes one through delightfully rural country, and skirting old world Prestbury, drops on to the Macclesfield main road.  We had barely proceeded ten yards on this shiny black highway, when we again hailed the lanes, and very soon were being jolted through the stony, uphill streets of Bollington, and before eight thirty, we were on ‘shanks’, climbing, climbing – and then some climbing, for mile after mile, towards that thread of road up there, whilst the billowy plains of Cheshire lay below us, bathed in the mist of a July morning.  As we rose, we climbed into the mist; at one point, we could barely see five yards before us.  At length we stood on the highest point, over 1,300 ft above the sea, and tumbled down to Blue Boar Farm, where we patronised a lane that has grown quite popular this year with us – the lane that drops quite a lot of feet in an incredibly short time, and contrives to turn as many bends as possible.  I recollect saying that only a fool or maniac would ride down there – I did it, though it was only at the same speed that Tom walked.  (He had more sense!).  From then on we had another walk past Saltersford Chapel and up again for about two miles to the top of the ridge of Cat’s Tor, over 1,400 ft and on to the line of Roman Road known as the ‘Street’.

When we reached the pine wood on the summit we were positively leg weary with, in all, about five miles of walking, hard, uphill, tramping.  Then we had a long, steady descent, straight as a die down a very rough road.  About 200 yards from the bottom, Tom announced that he had punctured – his Ivory cord had at long last given way.  We walked then to Goyt Bridge, where we had lunch, mended the puncture, and hung about for an hour, watching the trout in the stream.  When we did start, it was walking again up that Valley of Wonders known as Goyt Dale.  The sun had got properly going now, and was letting us know about it!

Goyt Dale!  As the road climbs higher above this stream, it gave beautiful glimpses through the trees of a silver line, hedged with bushes and coloured rock.  We could not tear ourselves away for a long time, standing at each vantage point, fascinated.  Where the road goes level for a bit, it runs through a field of bracken, and over a rocky gorge.  Then it leaves the trees and runs by the stream which has perceptibly lessened, and both are in a kind of moorland pass not unlike the climb to the Trough of Bowland from Marshaw.  The sun got so powerful that we chucked our jackets off and had a dip in the water.

A cave attracted our attention, out of which came a rushing waterfall, and Tom in a playful moment, flashed his mirror into it.  Ye Gods! what a sight it was!  The dancing point of light showed us glittering green-brown walls, a deep waterway, smooth, from which the reflection rebounded a dozen times at once, until the whole tunnel was a fairyland of glittering blue-green emeralds.  The walls jutted out continually into the distance, where the light had lost its power.  It was an unexpected scene, and, therefore was all the more enjoyable.  The climb continued until we gained sight of the Macclesfield-Buxton road, where, on enquiring the time, found that it was 12 noon.  It had taken us over 3 hours to cover about 10 miles.  Ah, but how enjoyable!

We soon reached the main road, and crossed it, preferring a secondary one which led to an altitude of 1,700 ft on the sun-scorched moors before it landed us, after a wild twist to avoid a deep gully, on Axe Edge.  (The Leek-Buxton road).  Frankly, we were disappointed with it: it would give one the impression of absolute wildness, but instead, we found dwellings clustered here and there and plenty of traffic.  We came to Flash Bar Inn, the third highest in England (1.553 ft), but they told us they could not make a modest pot of tea.  A little further on we turned right into the village of Flash and the New Inn served us.  We carried on downhill then, on a narrow, very stony trackway, with good views across the valley.  Our intention was to find the coolest spot – and stay, and we decided to get away to a secluded part of the Dane, divest our clothing, and bathe.  We reached the river in question in due time, took our bikes along a path, and dumped them behind a wall, afterwards having a long walk by the beautiful little river, and as we could not be absolutely secluded, only divested our shoes and stockings.  Nevertheless, we paddled one and a half hours away in this wise.

We returned bare-footed by the banks of the stream until we gained sight of our bicycles, when we replaced our footgear and rescued the machines.  From Gradbach it was all uphill for a time, until a nasty swoop down took us to Allgreave, at the end of Wildboarclough.  Again we had a long, steady climb on to the roof of Cheshire, on the Buxton-Congleton road, forsaking this highway just beyond the summit for the Macclesfield road.  Hot and dusty, we fled downhill, stopping once on seeing a cider notice, but we were in the ‘off-hours’ and had to be content with lemonade, a poor, gassy substitute.  The tar on the road had boiled up, and was fast ruining our clothes and messing our tyres up.  The Silk Town was crowded with sallow-faced ‘paraders’ when we went through.  The potter across Alderley Edge is always delightful, and an all-too short six miles.  Mrs Powell did us well as usual, then we had a long chat with a couple of Leek CTC-ites, criticising the machines about the farmyard.  Some admiration and many enquiries were directed at my ‘Grubb’, and truth to tell, I had nothing but praise for it as well !

As the hour had got late, we decided that our best policy was to ‘crash through’ on the motorised main road, which we did, to our own discomfort.  It has been a jolly hard day, but a potter, and as usual, it was voted A1                                                                                                                      90 miles


Saturday, 11 July 1925 Winwick

Post:     The area around Winwick now is nothing like Charlie’s description, it is heavily built upon, mostly houses, and is very close to a very busy motorway intersection between the M6 (north and south directions) and the M62 connecting Liverpool and Manchester.  And one of the original cyclists meeting places, the Old Swan is now a busy eatery for motorists.   

Saturday, July 11                                            Winwick

              I thought that it was about time I showed my face with the club, and as today’s run is only very short, I thought that it would not interfere with tomorrow (early start for Derbyshire).  As one of the lady members has said, I am away from the club for months at a time, and everyone thinks it a wonder when I do turn up.  We pottered to Winwick via Glazebury and Culcheth in pleasant, unfrequented lanes, arriving there quite early.  The garden of Honeysuckle Cottage was at its best – and there was some luscious fruit there, too!

The talk at teatime was all about holidays; I found that the majority had been to Wales, then in order of popularity the Lakes and Scotland, and I learned that everywhere had the same wonderfully fine and clear weather conditions.

After a walk around the churchyard to try and locate an old, carved, stone to which a curious legend is attached, we started back behind the main body, and quickly reached Lowton, from where the terrible setts had to be endured on the way home.  Club runs are worthwhile if only for the sociability they create; I think there is nothing like a cycling club for the companionship they engender, and for drawing the best out of one.  Of course, I cannot compare them to the glorious weekend life awheel which Tom and I jointly pursue.                                                      35 miles

Sunday, 5 July 1925 Abbots Moss

Post:       You get a taste of Cheshire in the summer in this pottering day, its innate beauty, the lush vegetation, the flowers at their best, what more could one reasonably wish for.  And the piece de resistance, throwing cinders at fish in a pond.  As they say in dialect in Wigan 2

Sunday, July 5                                      Abbots Moss

I had promised to see Tom at dinner-time, Mrs Wade’s, today.  We have neglected the place lately, and felt that it was up to us to see how they were going on.  I started at 8.30am, determined to potter all the way, but as soon as I left the industrialism behind, I started at the old ding-dong pace across Chat Moss.  From Warburton, however, I did potter, uphill to High Legh, then – in the open country – I could not help it.  It was a beautiful morning, the lane was quiet, the birds overhead were trilling their song, the sun made a leafy pattern through the trees, the scent of flowers, the humming bees – it made one feel a great contentment come over, made one feel as one apart from the sordid bustle of towns – the curse of man.  Here was Great Budworth, quiet and peaceful, here Budworth Mere, a sheet of reflecting silver, Comberbach, drowsy, quaint, the lanes to Little Leigh, and a ‘back road’ that lurches downhill, skirting a shady wood.  Uphill, and Acton Station, downhill – and Mrs Wade’s.

Tom had not arrived, so I waited, wandering in the garden.  Mr Wade has spared no effort here, and now, for a brief period his labour is rewarded.  What can be more beautiful than a garden full of flowers, where can one find the same rest and peace than amongst the tranquillity of flowers, nodding their heads in the mid-day heat, what can one learn if he but take the trouble to watch and think – he will marvel at what he sees, and marvel still more at his own ignorance.

When Tom came we rolled in.  Mrs Wade was pleased to see us; she thought something had happened, so long had we been away.  I showed Tom some photo’s, which set us talking about our beloved Wales, and planning future runs into that delectable land.  We already have decided on something that will prove a great ‘stunt’ if we have the necessary cash – a New Year tour, making Capel Curig as the centre, and doing a bit of climbing for a change.  I long to see those peaks under snow.

We lounged about for a bit – one has to lounge after one of Mrs Wade’s lunches – then Tom suddenly remembered that he would like to take some photos around Beeston, and we bolted by a ‘back way’, that is, a footpath.  In endeavouring to find our way through a maze of lanes to the Tarporley road, we got mixed up as usual, but a map scrutiny took us across the Chester road to a Delamere Forest byway, straight as a die with a rotten surface.  My front tyre gave up the ghost and we invaded a half-built bungalow in search of water.  We found some contaminated with lime, but we failed to detect any leakage, so we put a new piece of valve tubing on and replaced it.  It never troubled me again.

We had got lazy, fooling about on the grassy banks, until we realised that if we went round Beeston we should only have to start ‘blinding’ on the homeward run, and the weather was too hot for that, so we elected to do the very opposite – potter.  As soon as we reached the Tarporley road, one and a half miles from Cotebrook, we turned back towards Cuddington for about a hundred yards, then went through a gate into the wood on the right.

It was only a cart track, and rather awkward for riding, but it took us through wonderful woodlands, across open patches ablaze with gorse and deep in bracken, until, after over a mile of fairyland, we emerged near Whitegate on the Little Budworth road.  So into Whitegate, then by a cinder path to the River Weaver, uphill to Moulton, and through Davenham to Northwich.  We stopped between Witton Flashes, and spent a lazy twenty minutes throwing cinders at fish we saw in the water.  It was but a short run now to Great Budworth, but as the excellent tea-place there was full, we pushed on, entering the beautiful Arley Park to the Village, then by footpath to Arley Green, for tea in the quiet, old-world place there.

It seems strange that we should drop in here just at the end of the Bolton Annual Holidays for the second year in succession!  The homeward run was by Arley Mill and Mere, High Legh, then we chatted the time away at Broomedge.  My way lay once more over Warburton Bridge and across Chat Moss.

For once in a way, we have had a real, short potter, and a very acceptable change it has been too, more so on a day like this.  At Mrs Wade’s I swopped saddles with Tom, for a B 19, and the fourth so far on my 1925 steed.  I’ll get one to suit yet !                                         74 miles

Friday, 3 July 1925 The Vale of Dee

Post:      A brief ending to a marvellous tour in the best of weather.  And no, Charlie’s drawing of the Cromlech in the Llanberis Pass was not on their route, but Charlie added it to his journal to pad out the brevity of his tour !

Friday, July 3                              Bala, the Vale of Dee, Bolton

Bk 7 -26027 We were up early this morning, taking the air before breakfast.  We left at 9am, intent on getting away early – by the way, the ‘Bull Bach’ in High Street is a peach of a place, we paid 5/- for supper, bed and breakfast, with home comforts and thoroughly good food.  Notice the loaves of bread they serve to keep you together whilst breakfast is prepared – they are whoppers!  Bidding our motorist friends goodbye, we left Bala, and entered the beautiful Vale of Penllyn, by the silvery Dee.  Where the road forks, we took the right turn (both go to Corwen, one via Druid being new and easy, and of excellent surface, but devoid of scenery, the other (right) being narrow, rough and hilly, but runs by the Dee through the ‘Sweet Vale of Edeyrnion’).  At Llanderfel, we entered this wooded paradise, this road that never can become weary.  Through leafy dells, with many inspiring glimpses of the ‘Sacred Dyfrdwy’ to Llandrillo, where starts the track over the Berwyns to Pistyll Rhaiadr, and so along to Cynwyd, Llangar, where the valley opens out and the road drops one into Corwen and on to the great Holyhead road, that road of High Romance – Telford’s masterpiece.

A mile beyond the quite ordinary town of Corwen, one finds oneself in the valley of the Dee again amongst unrivalled scenery.  We had long started to potter, stopping here and there, just as the whim took us.  Carrog, Glyndyfrdwy – or to give it full rein Llansantfraidd Glyndyfrdwy, which means ‘The Church of St Bride in the Glen of the Sacred Stream’, Berwyn, and winding round a huge hill we gained a vantage point from where this valley is opened out in its full glory.  Then came a swift rush down to Llangollen, and a halt on the old Dee Bridge.  It was 12 noon but it is highly desirable that we get away from this resort before lunch, so we headed down the Vale of Llangollen.  A sudden storm drove us into capes.  It continued as we climbed away from the Dee at Trevor, entering a squalid mining district at Acrefair.  At Ruabon, where it was fairly pelting down, we found a lunch place after some searching – and it proved unsatisfactory.  We paid 2/- each for bread and butter and some fruit that we could not face, it was so far gone.  Incidentally, this is the only place on our tour that was not up to scratch.

We joined the Bangor road then to miss the industrial area and came in for more storms.  The wind got in front, and the scenery was not much, so that we were glad to cross the Dee once more and run through Bangor Is-y-coed, or Bangor on Dee.  The six mile climb up to Malpas told on Ben, but the improving scenery as we ran along that dear old foothills road to Peckforton and Beeston revived him.  Eaton now, and the winding lanes to Whitegate, where we found a fine tea at Mrs Jones.  Strawberries and cream!  More lanes to Chester road, then down this main road via Northwich, Tabley and Altrincham to Stretford and then home for 9.45pm.

Ben was absolutely wild with enthusiasm with this, his first tour, and now says that touring is the ‘only wear’ for holidays.  And well he might be with what we saw.  We had the best of conditions, the best of food, lodgings, scenery, and no trouble (I had only two punctures).  We covered 337 miles – not bad for four days of hot weather, and for food and lodgings, I spent 26/9d.  Can it be beaten?                                              95 miles

Thursday, 2 July 1925 Tal-y-Llyn to Bwlch-y-Groes

Post:     On this page you will read of Charlie and Ben’s ascent and crossing of the ‘Pass of the Cross’ or Bwlch-y-Groes.  It is a fantastic pass and crossing, and is set down by Charlie in great detail.  I first traversed it in 1956 with two gentlemen, H H Willis and a man who was to become later the Secretary of the Rough Stuff Fellowship, Fred Dunster.  The occasion was the very first AGM of the RSF and a ringing endorsement for travelling on roads that were yet to be tarmaced.

Thursday, July 2                      Tal-y-Llyn to Bwlch-y-Groes

We were all up early this morning, Ben and I going out for a walk. In the street we met four more Boltonians, chatting for a short time, then going in to a fine breakfast.  I had stayed here before in 1923, and as I expected, we found it very reasonable, paying 5/6d.  It is to be recommended.  It got very late – almost 10am before the five of us could get out on the road again, owing to the need for minor adjustments on the part of our friends.  We crossed the bridge, joining the Barmouth road, and having a strong wind behind, made a fast pace.  Rather too fast for the surroundings, I thought, yet as I was one who led, I can’t say anything!  Unfortunately, the sky had assumed a different aspect this morning, one of dull heat, so that the mountains were mostly hidden from view, and there was no distance to admire.  Still, the most befogged atmosphere could scarcely hide the wonders of this estuary road.

This panorama of panoramas is the Wonderland of Wales.  As one draws near to Barmouth one begins to realise fully with how prodigal a hand – with what liberality – things of beauty and amazement and magic have been thrown down here.  The shining river, the half glazed mountains, the trees, the restless sea beyond the bridge, the extensive coast line – the whole range of sights is stunning and overwhelming.  We stopped just by the bridge in Barmouth (Memories!), and had a lengthy talk.  They told us of the atrocious surface of both sides of the Tal-y-Llyn Pass, and asked of our intended route.  We said that we had above half a mind to try two of ‘Wayfarers’ stunts, Bwlch Oerdras and Bwlch-y-Groes, and perhaps Milltir Cerig.  They had only a hazy notion of the route, and as it was off my maps (having but the right one), I could hardly show them, so we let it go at that.  About 10.15 we parted, for they were bound north and we south.

We then got extravagant, spending money with a reckless hand, for 2d each went on the bridge toll.  It is worth 2d of anybody’s money if only for the wonderful views up river it affords.  When I looked at the giant ridge of Cader Idris, I thought of these lines:

‘That rock where the storms heave their dwelling,

The birthplace of phantoms, the home of the cloud,

Around it for ever, deep music is swelling,

The voice of the mountain – wind, solemn and loud’.

Although not nearly so high as Snowdon (being only 2.927 ft, 633 ft lower), Cader Idris ranks second in majesty and finesse of outline, and possibly gives finer views than any of the Snowdonian group, the views to the east stretching right over Shropshire and Cheshire, northward to Snowdonia, westward to the Irish hinterland, and in the south down to the Brecon Beacons.  It is a long railway bridge, Barmouth, the footpath running into deep, dry sands at the southern end.  We must have gone wrong, for we found ourselves in the railway station (Barmouth Junction), and had to cross the line and get over a fence before we managed to reach the road at Fairbourne.

From here the road climbs uphill, giving a beautiful sea-view of a beautiful sea.  The sun was warming up now, and every stream – as on Tuesday – was requisitioned to remove a constantly returning thirst.  After the climb comes a gradual drop to Llwyngwril, which is pronounced by taking a deep breath, and with tongue against your upper teeth, rattle it out ‘Thlooingooril’.  It is advisable to practise in a quiet spot first, otherwise objection might be taken, even then it is impossible to pronounce it as the natives do.  Llw-etc is a very primitive village, and would make a nice little place for a quiet holiday.  More fine coast views to Llangelynin, where we turned inland and caught the wind which blew against us in solid chunks.  At Rhoslefain we obtained more water (which had become so scarce that we shouted ‘Alleluia’ when we discovered some), then ultimately came to Trychiad.

A road led towards the mountains whilst the main road ran round to Tywyn, and with a shrewd suspicion that this byway would cut out a number of dull miles, we enquired and as expected, found that we could get to Tal-y-llyn that way.  So we went on our way rejoicing.  Passing through another primitive village that used the road as a farmyard – Llanegryn – we approached the mountains, the scenery becoming more and more wooded, whilst in front on the right, was a huge bulging rock that overhung the road.  At length we crossed the River Dysynni, and stood beneath the crag which is called Bird’s Rock, in Welsh, Craig-yr-Adeyryn.  It towered overhead very impressively in huge bulges, and the innumerable cracks and ledges on it were alive with birds – it is a very appropriate name.

Gates appeared on the road, the surface was developing into a shambles, and little hills constantly got in the way.  The Dysynni was crossed again at Pont Ystumaner, where we had the pick of four roads, the signpost (half wrecked) pointing straight on for Llanfihangel-y-pennant, left for Bodilan, right for Abergynolwyn, and behind us, Towyn.  It was just here where the map I had lent would have proved a boon, but as it was we had to guess – and we decided to keep straight on.  When we reached the top of the next climb I knew something was amiss, for mountains made a complete cul-de-sac in front.  We swept downhill fiercely on a road that would have made the bed of a respectable mountain torrent.  It ended altogether at the village of Llanfihangel-y-pennant, where was a Temperance Inn that seemed to be just the place to stop a growing hunger.

They did us well in the shape of eggs and jam and beautiful bread and butter and cakes for only one shilling, and they apologised for having nothing in!  We asked if there was a way of any kind over to Tal-y-llyn, but were told that we should have to go back to the cross roads and turn for Abergynolwyn.  Llanfihangel-y-pennant, we learned was a centre for climbing Cader Idris, and so quiet is it that besides the young lady of the Inn, we never saw a soul.  Book that down Ben, it might come in handy!

We turned back by the little stone church and up the hill, dropping swiftly to Pont Ystumaner again, and turning left along a gated road that looked none too promising.  After a short climb it ran through a fine little moorland pass on the slope of Moel Caer Berllan (1,233 ft), with the hurrying Dysynni below, and the steep side of Gamallt across the river.  It was a rare tit-bit.  When we climbed out of the pass, we stood above a deep valley, with Abergynolwyn mapped out below by the Afon (river) Fathew, and lines of gully-rent crags across.  A road led by some cottages on the left, and with an idea that we did not need to take the breakneck route down to Abergynolwyn, we enquired and again got an affirmative reply.

This was a grass-grown path, gradually descending, unfurling all the while panoramas of the valleys.  Rock, bracken and heather constituted this slope, making in all as magnificent a run as one could wish for.  We entered a wooded part and came in with the Dysynni again, quite suddenly reaching Tal-y-llyn lake, which is a fine sheet of water, surrounded by pleasant woods and fields, and overshadowed by a ridge of crags on each side.  I commend the Dysynni valley route as we took it, to anyone, as the best approach to Tal-y-llyn from the coast.  And please not to forget Llanfihangel and the Temperance Hotel.Our road ran round the right bank of Tal-y-llyn, then struck across a flat green meadow.

Bk 7 -25026

Here we spoke to an elderly couple from London, who were staying at Aberystwyth, having a very interesting chat with them.  They were wildly enthusiastic about the standard of scenery in Wales, but oh! it was so hard, walking!  At Minffordd we joined the other road that comes down from Corris – a road that I knew, and immediately we found ourselves entering Tal-y-llyn Pass.  Of course we were very soon walking, although the gradient was quite rideable; the heat was getting unbearable.  Ben was feeling it, I yearned for water, every motor that passed threw up a cloud of dust, choking us, and making things generally unpleasant.

I minded that in 1923, two years earlier, I came over this pass on just another such day – a Thursday in the same Wakes Week, a day of boiling heat, dust-laden atmosphere and annoying motors.  I also remembered a certain waterfall half-way along, and in the hope that there may be a drop left for us, we pushed on.  Ah! there it was.  Only a tiny trickle down the rocks, but as this is a very long, fine fall, in several leaps in wet weather, at the bottom of each leap is a deep rock-pool, and today these pools were full of clear, crystal-like water.  We divested our shoes and stockings and jackets, and stood knee-deep in it whilst we had a good wash, submerging our heads in it and letting the sun dry us.  About an hour was spent thus, until the merciless sun crept round and made us perspire freely as we stood there.  The water even got warm.  Had there been a little more water, I, at least, would have thrown all my clothing off, for we were secluded from the road here.

I put my jacket in the saddlebag – that is the advantage of an alpaca – before we started the long tramp to the summit.  A view of Tal-y-llyn lake down the Pass was in part spoiled today by a heat-haze that persisted over the lowlands, but the opposite crags and gullies of Cader Idris were clear and sharp to the eye.  After Llanberis and Nant Ffrancon, I think this ranks very highly for Welsh passes for rocky grandeur, and for a bad road surface, it is an easy first.  The summit was reached at 938 ft (a rise almost from sea level), where is a small lake (almost dried up today) called Llyn Trograieryn, ‘The Lake of Three Pebbles’, (because of three boulders which stood near the edge).  The descent which followed was through open green moors, wild, but except for a fine rock-group (Gau Craig on the western side), not very interesting.  The road surface was the worst that we struck in the whole of Wales – and that is saying something.

Lower down we came by a stream and into a belt of woodlands, in which is situated the Cross Foxes Inn at the Dinas Mawddwy turning.  We stopped, and I asked Ben if he felt up to another pass before tea, pointing to a white thread of road that curled laboriously up a distant hillside.  “Certainly, carry on”, he said, and from those words we became introduced to two of the wildest passes imaginable.  Just by Cross Foxes was another waterway which held enough to dismiss the persistent thirst for the nonce.

If we had forgotten the wind, we suddenly became aware of it now; it did its level best to stop us.  Before long we gave it best and got down to shanks.  All the time we were climbing into a region of wild green uplands, and behind us were magnificent views of the Cader Idris precipices.  Bwlch Oerdrws!  The summit revealed a country of huge green clods of earth with deep narrow valleys cutting in all directions into them.  Charles Lamb once said “I don’t much care if I never see another mountain”.  Can anyone stand on Bwlch Oerdrws and looking towards Dinas Mawddwy, repeat the words!  I think not.

The name, Bwlch Oerdrws may be very apt, for even on a blazing day like this was, the wind was cooling.  It would be the ‘Pass of the Cold Door’ indeed on a January day when the north-easterly gale was driving the sleet across the grassy green mountains.  Ugh!  A bus was coming up behind, and not wanting to get another dust bath, we started – keeping it behind.  As one swoops downhill around many nasty corners into the valley of the Cerist, one realises the immensity of these lumps of earth.  The cwms on the right are so deep and narrow that little sunlight can ever get to the streams below, whilst some points seem in perpetual shadow.  For about three miles we swooped downhill, then the road in one place made a sharp twist to avoid a deep cwm.  A byway kept straight on down into the dumps, and, curious, we followed it.  It was a pretty spot spoiled by a dump of empty tins, ashes, etc.  Crossing a footbridge, we climbed back to the road, and then entered Dinas Mawddwy.

The first consideration now of course, was tea, and again in luck’s way, we struck a peach of a place, ‘Brynmair’, opposite the Post Office.  Tea, eggs, fruit (pears), and bread and butter, and cake, for 1/3d.  Ben, it goes better!  Dinas Mawddwy is set amidst beautiful surroundings in the narrow, deep valley of the Dovey; here an infant river.

‘Heddycol ddyffryn tlws’

Which George Borrow, who was enamoured of the valley, translated to ‘Peaceful, pretty vale’.

One thing that was very conspicuous from the Bwlch Oerdrws road was a mansion, the roof and inside of which has been entirely burned out, leaving just the bare walls.  It is situated in the centre of the little town. A signpost says: ‘To Bala, 28 miles.  To Bala, 18 miles.  Motorists are advised to take the longer route, as the short one via Bwlch-y-Groes is unsafe’.  The short one was ours.

As soon as we left Dinas, we found ourselves on a beautiful winding, hilly road which very soon brought us to Aber Cowarch, where Borrow, on discovering that this was the place where Ellis Wyn composed his immortal ‘Sleeping Bard’, in his own words “Sprung half a yard into the air”.  “No wonder the ‘Sleeping Bard’ is a wild and wondrous work, seeing that it was composed amidst the wild and wonderful scenes I here behold”, he ended.  We thought so too!

The valley got deeper and narrower and more beautiful at every mile, whilst we, high spirited with the type of country, composed words to fit popular music, sang snatches of Cumraeg verse, and sang such songs as fitted in with the land we were passing through:

‘My heart is in the mountains,

In the mountains, in the mountains;

My heart is in the mountains

My cycle as well!’

I am sure that if anyone heard us they must have thought us a trifle silly!  Llanymawddwy!  That reminded me of those fierce, bloodthirsty hillmen who one time roamed these hills, putting fear into the hearts of travellers and natives too, and were called ‘The Red Robbers of Mawddwy’.  The one and only shop was closed (I was after cigarettes), so we had to carry on, I with a fear that I should soon be cigarette-less until morning, a gloomy outlook, a calamity indeed!  Ah! the valley was narrower, the green hills steeper, hemming us in, then running through a wood, we got our first sight of Bwlch-y-Groes.

For three years I have read, marked, learned and inwardly digested anything pertaining to this region.  ‘Wayfarer’ has exhorted all and sundry to see it, guide books speak of it in awed terms, road books warn people of the rashness in taking four wheels over, contour books show a gigantic hump and tell cyclists not to ride over it after dark, even signposts denounce it as unsafe, all adding to a growing wish to go over it – and now, here we are, on the threshold of this ‘Pass of the Cross’.  And if I expected something uncommon, I got more than I expected.

At Aber Rhiwlech, where a deep, rocky nant bites into the craggy hillside on the left, behind which is a rugged peak showing to fine effect, the road gives a sudden, sickening lurch upwards, immediately skewing completely round at a gradient of about 1 in 5 and a half.  “Death trap No. 1”, I said (for anything coming down), and we started.  The road was rough and very narrow, the gradient easing off after the first bend, to about 1 in 9 – dangerous even at that.  Across lay a line of steep precipice, at the end of which was a black, gloomy chasm, down which the Dyfi (Dovey) came.  The road is cut on a shelf out of the side of the hill, sometimes being overhung by crags of various forms, whilst on the outside edge there is often no protection, nothing to stay the unwary traveller from going over the edge and exploring the foot of the steep slope unwillingly.

Over the edge of the cliffs across, could be seen a very thin streak of dampness, that would make a fine single-leap waterfall of at least 200 ft in wet weather.  After some climbing of the gradient quoted above, the road again tilted upwards at a fiercer gradient than ever, climbing over a thousand feet in less than a mile, turning nasty bends and cambering towards the precipitous edge.  Here and there was a gate across the road.  As we sweated slowly uphill, with the road high (but not far) above us, we saw a whirl of dust sweeping round the bend on the road, and go fluttering across the ravine, to be followed by yet another.  The light was beginning to deteriorate too – it was only about 7.30pm, whilst looking back towards Dinas Mawddwy, expecting to get a fine view, we were rewarded with a distant view of misty rounded summits, one or two craggy peaks, the glen of the Dyfi below, and a mass of black clouds overhanging all, a wild, sombre, desolate picture that was little relieved by the tree-clad vale below.  The puffs of dust beyond the bend, the brooding sky, foretold a coming storm – and our jackets were replaced (the first time since Tal-y-llyn), though one might as well be without as with mine, an alpaca.

A figure appeared, coming towards us downhill, and as he stopped we asked him how much further to the top.  He was a tramp to judge from his clothing and talked as if he was a professional one too, though he never tried to beg from us, and was quite nice, though once or twice I thought he was slightly ‘off his rocker’.  It was an excuse for a stop.  Once more we sweated uphill, with the atmosphere stiflingly close, and a heavy pall hanging over us.  Then we heard distant, rolling thunder, the sky got blacker and blacker, whilst I, knowing the properties of Welsh rain on shelter-less moors, opened my bag and put my cape within easy reach.  Turning a bend, the road ran more level, and another road – of sorts – a narrow, grass-grown track led away to the right; beside it was a notice, ‘To Lake Vyrnwy’, and in big unmistakable print ‘Impractical for Motors’.  It is bad enough with a bike, and apparently steeper than Bwlch-y-Groes.   The photograph below, taken by me in 1956, during a crossing of Bwlch-y-Groes, shows clearly the surface, probably little changed from 1925.  The gentleman at the front, Vic Ginger, followed by H H Willis and a very good friend of mine John Barrow, were all attending the RSF Inaugural meet at Easter 1956.  Ed]










A moment later we reached the summit of the Pass of the Cross, the highest carriage road in Wales, 1,790 ft above the sea at Tywyn.  Gad, wild!  Bare swelling moors, a rocky peak, a white ribbon of road that followed the contour, not a building, not a soul, a heaving black sky that seemed very near, and distant thunder which found a rolling, reverberating echo in every peak, and shook the ground beneath us.  I prayed for a real storm, I was willing to get wet through for the experience of thunder and lightening at this altitude, I was willing to take what risk there might be, but after a few large drops of rain, the sky brightened up a little.  The heat had gone, and though the wind had dropped to a breeze, we shivered with the chill.

We restarted carefully, for the road was rough, the gradient was not very steep however, and we were able to look around at the wide bare moors and rocky outcrops, and a deep valley that was just opening out on our left.  Views, there were none, though for what I hear there is a mighty fine view to be had from the summit; George Borrow, who came over in about 1850 stated that he had a fine view of the Lake and Vale of Bala, the lake looking like an immense sheet of steel.  We were unfortunate in the weather in this respect.  About a mile further down, the road turned and ran across a precipice.

We stopped.  Above, on the right, the cliff towered fifty feet or more, on the left we looked down into the valley.  There was no protection, the road simply crumbled over the edge and dropped perfectly sheer into the valley.  What an adventure in a mist!  Farther down a gate appeared, then the two or three houses of Ty-nant, and we came along a sunken, winding lane, with the high banks ablaze with flowers, and the still, close atmosphere heavy with their scent.  The view opened out later from the edge of Bala lake to an extraordinary jumble of mountains terminating in the rocky Cader ridge to the west, and the fine rock peak of Rhobell Fawr, and the sharp hump of Arenig farther north.

Some time later we reached the shore of Bala Lake, keeping to the south side.  It is the largest sheet of water that Ben has seen – and is the largest natural lake in Wales, being eleven miles in circumference.  (Lake Vyrnwy, the property of Liverpool Corporation Waterworks is the largest, but is artificial).  Flies again were in much evidence, and once more my eyes suffered.  With grand sunset views over the Arenigs, we reached Bala Bridge, where is a fine full-length view of the lake (Llyn Tegid), then entered Bala, just in time to get some cigarettes (9.20pm).  We had a confab as to whether we should carry on or not, and scanned the CTC handbook but as there was nothing short of Cynwyd, ten miles away, we decided to pack up, and repaired to the Bull Bach where I had been before, receiving an immediate welcome.  We met a couple of motorists (man and fiancée) who were on holiday.  He was a humorist of the first water, a fine, interesting talker, and so was his girl.  Of course we had the usual red rear light argument, but no malice was shown, and we got on together fine.  We talked on many subjects from hills to Socialism – I learned that he was a Labour Agent for the Middlewich Parliamentary Division of Cheshire.  I told them of Llanberis Pass and Nant Ffrancon and Idwal and Twll Ddu – and then I heard that she had been brought up at Bethesda!  I shut up then!  It was well after 11pm when we ‘chucked the guff’ and went to bed – the last night away on our wonderful little tourlet, dreaming of the Mawddach, Tal-y-llyn, Cold Door Pass and the latest thrill, Bwlch-y-Groes.             60 miles