Tuesday, 8 September 1925 The Glyn Valley

Post:     Like the ride of two days ago, this was another ‘biggy’ with a similar mileage to the three passes day.    It is difficult to remember that only six months ago Charlie took delivery of his new bike, after a wait of over five years, and boy, has he had his moneys-worth already.  Today we visit one of the highest waterfalls in the British Isles, one Charlie has had on his ‘to do’ list for a few years, so get reading.

Tuesday, September 8                           The Glyn Valley

         Ever since I had heard of it, I had determined at some opportune time, to visit Pistyll Rhaiadr, the highest single leap waterfall in Wales, lying off the beaten track, just four miles from Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant.  I had asked ‘Wayfarer’ of the ‘Cycling’ magazine for the best, but not necessarily the shortest or easiest way, to it from Chirk, and he had sent me, amongst other ‘Over the Top’ routes, the routes via the Glyn Valley to Llantsantffraid – Glyn-Ceiriog, Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, and over the top via Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant etc.  Now I was decided to try it.  as the Rhaiadr is about 80 miles away, I proposed a 6.30am start, visit the falls, then go over the Milltir Cerig if daylight permitted, returning from the Vale of Edeyrnion by night – a round of about 190 miles.  Joe and his friend promised to come, so arrangements were made, and a route via the Cheshire lanes to Ruabon was fixed.  Alas for Pistyll Rhaiadr!

The alarm clock woke me at 5am, but I stopped the infernal racket and got back in bed for a few minutes.  The minutes, in some mysterious and uncontrollable way, developed into two hours!  I made a hurried breakfast, and was just packing some ‘tommy’ up, when Joe and his pal Bert came.  They too had overslept!  So all came off as a joke – it only meant two or three more hours riding in darkness, we thought.  It got 9am when we started, and then we did pretty bad – we could not get into our stride, besides which ‘Blackberry Joe’ further consolidated his title by stopping to pick the fruit on the road to Great Budworth, and beyond Whitegate on the Beeston bylane.  When once Joe gets on the scent, wild horses will not drag him away.  We made our way at little more than a potter from High Legh to a pump near Great Budworth, where I made the alarming discovery that my only remaining brake was almost gone – the cable was going strand by strand and was already half broken.  In all probability the next time I used it with pressure, it would snap altogether, so I turned my wheel round to the fixed sprocket, deciding not to use the brake except lightly.

Our way lay by the well-used bylanes via Comberbach, Hartford, the Chester road to just above Sandiway, then the lanes again through Whitegate, the brief but exquisite Oulton Park, flowery, sleepy Eaton, and then Tiverton Lane Ends, dropping to Beeston Brook with the ever-inspiring view of the castle and Peckforton before us.  Climbing from the Whitchurch road, we came to Beeston Smithy for lunch.  Rain had fallen heavily earlier in the day, and in consequence the lanes were in an awful mess, transferring the sticky, brown mud to our machines and shoes.  We later discovered that we had been for all the morning travelling between rain clouds, though for us the sun had mostly been shining.

The more I traverse that sunken lane at the foot of the ‘old red hills’, the more I realise the supreme beauty of this part of Cheshire.  The wooded slopes, the winding, dirty, rough lane, the slumbering villages and neat ‘black and white’ cottages with their flower-decked gardens hold me entranced with the peaceful nature of everything.  There is no harsh note, no motors – nothing to mar the even tranquillity of this part of the English Wonderland.  Peckforton, then Bickerton, now downhill swiftly across the Chester-Whitchurch road and Malpas, an old Cheshire market town.  As expected, we romped downhill now, for nigh on seven miles through Worthenbury to Bangor-is-y-coed, where we stopped by the old River Dee bridge.  We were all in far better form now.

On the subsequent climb to Ruabon, through not so good scenery, the wind harassed us more than a little, and I, for one began to think that the run was not panning out as I had hoped, but the fact that another few miles would bring us to something worthwhile kept me in good spirits.  After the squalid Cefn Mawr district was passed, and Newbridge, from which the Dee is seen to fine advantage, and from above which one gets a comprehensive view of the beautiful Vale of Llangollen, we came to the Holyhead road and were soon in Chirk, then in a moment we were swooping joyously downhill past the two Aqueducts, and into ever beautiful Vale of Ceiriog.

Our earlier lethargy – boredom if you want – was forgotten, for six miles we rode in a beautiful Welsh valley, for six miles we trod a fairyland.  Woods, green fields, high, swelling hills of green and red and brown and gold locked us in, a chattering river with shady banks and stony bed wandered across and twisted through this valley.  The road was good, it had apparently been forgotten by the mechanical world – no, a narrow gauge railway line kept us close company, and once we saw a quaint, fussy engine with some equally ancient carriages and wagons panting along proudly – that was all.  As the road is a ‘dead end’ at Llanarmon DC, it is unpopular, and little known, becoming therefore, all the more beautiful for its isolation.  I knew now that it was useless – even foolhardy to attempt to reach Pistyll Rhaiadr that night – it was 5.45pm when we reached Glyn Ceiriog after lingering in this valley (no one can rush the Glyn Valley).  Pistyll Rhaiadr lay about 18 miles away, and most of the distance would be on rough mountain tracks – very dangerous at night, so with reluctance we gave it up.  It needs a weekend – and I shall have it too, if I can help it.

A teas notice attracted us to a cottage garden in Wynne Terrace, so we called.  “Come inside”, said the genial lady of the house, “It is a washing day, and I have nothing in except eggs”,  – then eggs will do with jam and bread and butter, we agreed.  We asked for a wash, then we were given – or offered – brushes and boot polish for our shoes.  Bert used them, but my shoes turn at cleaning, and when I brushed the day’s mud from them, another layer was revealed beneath – so I left it at that.  Lumps of road from eight or nine counties cling tenaciously to my cycling shoes, and then again, the cyclists superstition that if shoes are cleaned it is a sure sign of rain, asserted itself.  Joe has got the same habit too, but Bert, our ‘recruit’ is not learned in these things.  I would like to call on Mrs Robert’s when she has something in the house; as it was, the ‘nothing’ developed into two eggs each, a dish full of tomatoes (I have a weakness for tomatoes), lettuce, a huge lump of sweet cake with icing all over it half an inch thick (Bert is keen on that kind of stuff, while neither Joe nor I exactly disdain it! – Jam (Oh Joe, it was blackberry) and beautiful bread and butter and, of course tea.  We were immensely hungry, but Mrs Robert’s, who kept bringing fresh supplies, stowed us.  Our meal cost 1/6d each – jolly decent considering the thoughtfulness of Mrs Robert’s who made us feel quite at home.

I have sent the place in as a recommended house for inclusion in the CTC Handbook, and also Beeston Smithy.  It was 7.15pm when we walked through Glyn Ceiriog on the Llangollen route.  This road is the one we traversed on March 15, and to all who get the chance, I say, take it.  Quaintly expressed by the Welsh girl that day as a ‘Mile up, mile straight, mile down’, it approaches the category of a track – is steeper than some, un-motorable, and perfectly glorious for views.  Past the church we stopped and sat down on a fence to admire the view that was laid out below us – not very extensive, just the valley and its enclosing hills.

Have you ever lingered in a lane or wood or on a brown hillside on a summer night, when the sun has gone, the sky is of a perfect hue, the hush of evening has fallen, even the birds are silent and all the world is at peace?  Add to that the inimitable charm of a Welsh Valley, and you will get a slight idea of what the Glyn Valley seemed to us on that night.  And on the summit from Rhyd-y-Groes (the cross roads), the same peace and calm was evident.  Had we been able to ride down to Llangollen, I thing we should have preferred to walk, for in the gathering twilight, the Vale and the hillsides were superbly beautiful.  Across, the scattered ruin on Dinas Bran seemed like sharp fangs on the hill top, Creigiau Eglwyseg was a broad white line round the hillside, the brown moors left of the Bwlch Rhiwfelin depression were turning black, and Moel-y-Geraint cast a shadow over Llangollen.  The descent was more of a slide down than a walk, the rock outcropping  on the stony bed that is called a road.  Nearer the town, careful riding was possible, and we halted to look at the neat timber-work of Plas Newydd.  Then Llangollen was reached.  I got some lamp oil, Bert some Judges Little Pictures, then we met on the Dee Bridge and discussed our route for the homeward run.  It was 8.30pm, and quite dark in the town.  Bert wanted to go home by Ruabon, Joe and I rebelled and cast our votes for the Horseshoe Pass, and we won.  It would be an experience over the mountains at night – especially for me with a brake on the last strand and only my pedals to rely upon, but that did not deter me in the least, for there were no particularly severe patches on the route.

We started, singing songs and stanzas to the glories of night riding, kind of imbibing the night air and oozing enthusiasm.  Already darkness had fallen and the roadside dwellings and hillside farms were lit up.  Still we rode lightless, over the canal and onto the heathery, rocky hillside, past the darksome ruins of the Abbey of the Valley of the Cross.  At the Britannia Inn, we lit up, then our road lay beneath a thick, heavy canopy of leaves – beautiful woods even in the dark.  A ‘pit-a-pat’ on the leaves, then a heavy, sudden pattering told us rain, so we put our capes on, and left the shelter of the woods, emerging on the open moors.  Fickle climate!

The rain came down in torrents, the gradient soon got too much for us, so we walked, turning onto the Horseshoe.  Down in the valley were the lights of Pentre Dwr, twinkling lights here and there betrayed lonely farmhouses, someone on the opposite side was wandering about with a bright storm lantern; the difference between hill and sky was black and black – nil, everything was mystical, unreal, even with very real rain coming down.  A long tramp then the ‘turn back’ at Oernant and we simply swept up the hill to the summit.  1,351 ft above the sea, the lights of Llangollen deep down in the valley twinkling in the distance, before us, around us, blackness, pricked here and there by a solitary glimmer.

The rain ceased as suddenly as it came, we packed away our capes, then crept carefully down the open hillside guided by the feeble rays from our oil lamps, tiny, infinitesimal things in this great black world.  Slowly we dropped – I was only holding back by the pedals, I dare not use the brake, where the wind sighed through a belt of trees, where water tinkled musically, where a blacker shadow would rise by our side, until an upward pull, then down and up again, and the lights of the Crown Hotel at Llandegla stayed us.

Bk 7 -30032

In front was darkness except for an upper window which glimmering panes guided us to the Inn.  It was 10pm.  Would they make us a pot of tea?  We knocked, and after a while a voice came from behind the door “Who’s there?’ Joe gave our request, then came a pause, and “I’m sorry, they’ve all gone to bed and the fires out”.  Oh, worn, ancient tale – we’d seen the lights at the rear, from one room came the flicker from a fire!  “Oh alright, sorry to trouble” we answered.  Perhaps they were afraid of robbers – it is a common fear in these quiet parts, for it was so unlike the people at the Crown to refuse cyclists.  We did not blame them, however, for it is a queer request at 10pm.  We got a drink of water at a cottage higher up, then started once more on that rough and tumble road to Chester, 18 miles away.

Rain, a road that was terribly mutilated, a falling gradient and the encumbrance of capes, feeble oil lamps and intense darkness – it sounds undesirable, but to us three mudlarks it was thoroughly enjoyable.  At Tryddyn the rain ceased and away went the capes.  In the deep wooded glen before Pen-y-ffordd we ate our lunch and for drink had an unlimited supply of clear cold water, using a bell dome as a drinking cup.  What more could we wish for?  I had put a couple of eggs in boiling water before I started , but forgot them for nearly 20 minutes.  It was “lend me your jack-knife, Joe!” when I came to eat them.  Then the rain came down again, and Joe had a puncture.  Messy job fiddling with tyres on a dark wet night!  We reached Chester at 1am, beneath a starry sky, seeing the city as a dead, forgotten town, quaintly glamorous.

Chester road, and the miles sliding by as we blinded along for all we were worth.  At Helsby the rain reasserted itself and swept down with grim determination to wash us off the map.  Surely the solitary policeman in Frodsham thought us mad to see us singing and joking and laughing as our shoes became filled and the water found its way ‘in’ via the back of our necks?  Perhaps he smiled and said ‘Cyclists!’  But when we reached Warrington, we saw a change coming over.  The novelty, the glamour, was wearing off, Bert was yawning, I did not feel like singing, noisy Joe had gone quiet.  Another 18 miles, during which my eyes constantly tried to close, and during which Joe and I had a startling experience, then we reached home, tired out, but happy in the memory of a ride worthwhile, at 5am.                                  148 miles

Sunday, 6 September 1925 Three Wonderful Passes

Post:     This is a classic example of how not to run a website and publish books at the same time !   By any standard this story should have been included in one of my books, but it is the old story that one cannot include everything, so I have failed the test.  However, read this page below and you will be back in the position I would have had you had I been more diligent.  There were quite a few out on this ‘run’ and I don’t know if it is me or not, but I feel that Charlie has really excelled himself today, both in his descriptive language and his travels, the views he records and the days mileage !  Well done Charlie, and thanks for a very interesting day ! 

Sunday, September 6                  A Welsh Mountain and Three Passes

 There was Joe and Bert, his friend, the brothers Pearson and myself – oh and another acquaintance of Joe’s, and we all met just after 4am on St. Helen’s Road, just above where I live.  Tom and his pal Bill were to meet us at Mrs Dennison’s at Mickle Trafford, four miles from Chester, at 7.30am, for today, we had great ambitions on that blunt, ruin topped peak, Moel Famau, the guardian sentinel of Ruthin, the highest peak of the range, the oft seen and twice (by me) climbed ‘Hill of Mothers’.  Pray the Lord it may be a clear day, for twice before have the rain mists relentlessly laid their impenetrable blanket over the land, repenting only to give us an alluring peep at the broad, fertile Vale of Clwyd and the high jumble of moors around.  That momentary glimpse of ‘What Might Be’, had served to make us register a vow that again and again would we scale the shaggy sides until the ‘Reward’ came.

That was Tom Idle and I, and now there were others who knew little of the wonders of northeast Wales, but were well prepared to sacrifice a few hours of bed to see what a long, hard day made possible to see.  Cyclists they are to their finger-tips, real cyclists and lads who can ride a hundred and fifty miles, can scramble with their lightweights anywhere, and are unafraid of any inclement weather conditions that may prevail.  Those are the lads that have become part of the Greatest Game – and the lads we want for an adventure – a rough and tumble hard-riding jaunt of this description.


We made a start.  It was quite dark, a slight breeze blew very chilly, and Joe and his two mates sprinted off in front.  We caught them up on Squire’s Brow; one of them had had an accident.  His front fork lamp bracket had dropped into the wheel, ripping four spokes out and badly buckling the wheel.  We helped him find the scattered bits of lamp, and then examined the wheel, finding that it was hopeless for the day, so he turned back, and we proceeded more steadily through Atherton and Leigh and on to the Winwick road from Lowton.

The dawn of a new day.  A light streak across the dark, eastern sky, the darkness giving way to a grey, cold light.  Beyond Warrington we found the Chester road, rain-soaked, although it was fine.  Near Frodsham the sun rose mistily, but as it mounted higher it broke into a golden blaze, too bright to last.  We were all agreed that it was well worth it to get up so soon, if only for the pleasure of the sweet morning air and the beautiful, fresh greenery all around.  We got to Mickle Trafford for 7.15am, and later Tom and Bill joined us, all of us sitting down to a merry breakfast.  Bill had to return, so we bade him ‘Good morning’, and then started, six of us, for Chester.  Just after 9am we had passed through the fair City of Legions and were turning on to the Holywell road, the first five miles of which are straight and flat and monotonous.

We rushed it, turning at Broughton for Mold, and climbed slowly uphill for over two miles, amongst improving scenery.  Three of us stood in dire need of cigarettes, but Wales on a Sunday is a desolate land for smokers, and after Pen-y-ffordd was passed, our only hope was Mold.  A strong wind was growing and pushing us along, but what gladdened our hearts was that fine mountain view and clear blue skies.  The day for Moel Famau.  The peak on which we were targeted came into sight more than once, each time in a different posture as is its wont.

Mold for cigarettes!  I asked once and was refused, at another place they said they dare not, but there was a Woodbine machine outside!  It jammed after two packets, but I managed to buy another, so the three of us ‘whacked’ them.  The Cilcain road took us uphill and down dale to Waen, where we called a halt.  Our first intention had been to ascend the mountain by a fresh route, the Cilcain track, but it was 10am and we wanted to make Llandegla for lunch, so it was decided to go via the old Bwlch and climb from the Loggerheads side, and, as a side line, we would take the path from here by Cefn Mawr Hall for the sake of the picturesque view of the Leete from the crags.  Strangely, we found ourselves on quite a decent road, and then were suddenly on the Ruthin road, just above Loggerheads.  We had gone wrong.

From the beautiful Leete valley we climbed uphill to where the old Ruthin road branches off, taking this one now.  The road was rough and steep with gates across, but ran between moorland slopes red with heather.  Bwlch Pen Barras.  About halfway through the pass, we turned along that rough path on the right, and soon the six of us were perspiring up a stony, muddy track.  It was beautiful though, with the many shades of heather covering the swelling rippling moorlands.  A hard struggle to the top it is; one of our number who is yet a recruit, did not know how to carry his bike to the best advantage, and on the last precipitous stretch just before the junction with the Ruthin route, he fell backwards with it !  No damage was done.  Then leaving our bikes by a wall, we scrambled up to the ruined tower.  The view was almost perfect, the outlook amazing – it was something to rave over.

Below us stretched the broad Vale of Clwyd, a sweeping patchwork quilt of green fields dotted with tiny-looking farms, hamlets and villages, Ruthin looking for all the world like a toy town.  At our feet was a red and brown and gold colour scheme – the autumn moors, sloping in graceful curves and sweeps to the Vale below.  Northwards, the Clwydian range of which ours was the loftiest, were in the same variable colours, sunlit, each rounded summit, one behind the other, in an almost even line to the end of the Vale, where was the plain of Morfa Rhuddlan, across which the winding river Clwyd ran, running to the sea, 20 miles away.  North by East, the sandy Dee estuary could be traced to Connah’s Quay and Queensferry with their many chimneys, and the Wirral coast.  So clear was it that we could see the waves breaking in glistening crescents around Hilbre Island, at least 26 miles distant.  The sea beyond was deep blue, with touches of scintillating sunlight playing on the waters and one or two steamships, tiny, infinitesimal objects.

A huge smoke pall over the Mersey coast proclaimed Liverpool and hid from us the Lancashire coast.  Chester to the East, the huge wood-dotted green plains with a smoke pall here and there denoting towns – the plain of Cheshire, and the Derbyshire Hills, seventy miles or so away.  Nearer, a steadily growing jumble of ground culminated below our peak, where several large pools, reservoirs and llyns appeared like sheets of glass below us.  Turning towards the South, the country stretched right away through Shropshire into a haze that might be Worcestershire or Warwickshire, and directly South, the bold moors broke from a jumble to high ridges and were lost to sight.

But it was Westwards where the best was.  From the coast to the gradually increasing highs, the more northern eminences being the Carnddau peaks, which were capped by mist.  The Glyders were in ragged profile, Snowdon was there, but its topmost peak was hidden, but we got the clean-cut silhouette of some of its spurs.  To the left of Snowdonia, in what would be the Ffestiniog district, the very shapely head of Cynicht was reared in the sky, and travelling westwards, our eyes ran along the ragged line that runs south from Trawsfynydd – Llawr Llech, etc, with the Devils Gap clearly outlined.  Next came Cader Idris, rather like a table mountain from here, with a cloud bank just clearing the summit ridge.  Then moors, high, level ground, behind which peeped out the ‘hump’ of Plinlimmon.  It was not by any means a perfect day – Lakeland, the Isle of Man, Anglesey, Ireland and the Black Mountains in South Wales are all visible from here on exceptional days, but it was very clear, and the view that we got more than repaid the climb.

As it was very cold up here, after perspiring freely, we stayed just long enough to take it all in, then returned to the bikes and the Ruthin track.  The tower on the summit was formerly 150 ft high, and 60 ft in diameter at the base, but so utterly have gales destroyed it, that the highest point now is not 20 ft high.  When it was built to commemorate the Jubilee of George the third, the mountain was thought to be 1,850 ft high, so the tower brought it up to the 2,000 ft mark.  Subsequent measurements revealed the exact height at 1,821 ft.  The summit is also the spot where two counties and four parishes meet.  The tower was built in 1810.

The run down on the Ruthin track – a ‘shelf’ on the hillside, was more exciting than ever.  I had a freewheel on for a change, and two calliper brakes, but even they were hardly sufficient for the wet, slippery grass.  I, who was in front, turned my head once to see how the others were faring, and found myself over the edge.  As I was going very slowly, I fell off and soon regained the path without accident.  Another had a similar fall, but on the Bwlch-y-Pane road, I did a really ‘star’ turn.  Reaching the end of the path, I stood at the end of the Bwlch, watching them come down.  It is very spectacular to see cyclists riding on what seems the steep mountainside.  Then as they all arrived safely, I started down the steep, grassy road towards Ruthin, admiring the view along the Vale of Clwyd.  I had my front brake on, and in pulling it harder, the wheel stopped and skidded on the grass.  I came over the bars and went sliding down the road on my shoulder, suddenly coming to rest in a bed of prickly gorse.  I regained my feet – with a speed that did me credit – even if it was a little ungraceful.  I was unhurt and the machine undamaged, so we roared with laughter at the undignified dismount.

As soon as I started again, I used the safer rear brake, but all at once the cable snapped, and again I had to resort to the front brake – with more care this time, but not without skidding the wheel.  One punctured just on a bend, and I must say that we heartily congratulated him for puncturing in such a delightful spot.  I couldn’t have done better myself, and I’ve changed the air in my tyres at a few pretty places in my time – and I suppose I shall do so again.  I did my share of assistance by sitting on a gate watching the sun chasing clouds across the brown and red and gold hillsides and picking out the Caernarvonshire and Merioneth peaks.  Then another grassy descent, with the front brake making the wheel jazz sideways, and my heart in my mouth.  It would have been quite easy to walk – but I would ride.  Very soon we reached the main road , and swept down into the valley.

A consultation of the watch told us that it was after 12 noon, but hunger had not assailed us seriously, so we scanned the map, found a way to cut Ruthin out, and climb Nant-y-Garth before dinner.  Which was just what we had hoped to do in order to get through Nant-y-Ffrith, for only I had seen this glorious glen, and wanted to do so again.  Besides, I had a keen delight in showing others what I have seen.  So we took a pleasant meandering lane beneath the slopes of Moel Gyw, through Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd, a singularly picturesque name, typical of Wales, meaning the ‘Church at the Ford in the Vale of Clwyd’.  We passed the bylane that we had taken in July 1924, and which led us a merry dance, then beneath a canopy of trees, climbed and dropped jerkily to the hamlet of Pentre Celyn, the ‘Village by the River Bank’, soon afterwards reaching the Ruthin-Llangollen road, just below Ty-isaf, and at the entrance to Nant-y-Garth.

I have explained this sweet sylvan glen before, with its rushing, wandering stream and its tree-clad slopes and mossy banks.  The pass is about three miles long, but the wooded portion is less than one and a half miles.  It climbs from the Ruthin side, gradually – perhaps a drag – but that is alleviated by the exquisite beauty of everything contained in it.  Higher up, the road winds around bare – no, gold and brown and red moors, and leaves one on the Llandegla moors.  The name Nant-y-Garth is short, but means much, implying the Valley below the Hill that bends round the Buttress.  A series of swoops and climbs brought us to the Crown Hotel at Llandegla, where a wash and lunch was forthcoming.

The time was 2.45pm when we left Llandegla, and with the wind behind climbed up the cwm between Moel Gareggog and Moel-y-brain, to the open moors, where we caught a glimpse behind of the Arenig peak also of Moel Famau again.  At Bwlchgwyn we stopped, to admire the fine panoramic view of Cheshire from the ‘shelf’ road.  Beeston and the hills of Peckforton looked like molehills from this elevation, the Wrekin and the Shropshire heights east of Church Stretton were visible, whilst the whole of Cheshire lay below us.  Then the ‘Dangerous beyond Glascoed’ road soon brought us to our objective, the afternoons ‘piece de resistance’, Nant-y-Ffrith.

The drive that leads down to it is exquisite, first lined with rhododendrons, then with tall old trees, and then giving entrancing glimpses of the lower limestone crags, twisted, cracked, potted with caves, and the river below, first leaping little falls, then flowing into an almost still basin, the clear water giving an almost perfect reflection of rock and trees and sky.  On the footpath in the glen proper, it was easy enough to ride in places, but no one attempted to do so; sacrilege is it to pass by such scenery with no more than a cursory glance.  Trees gnarled and bent, young saplings, fleeting views of shimmering water, glimpses of limestone bastions, tumbled brown rocks overgrown with satin-like moss, bracken in a dozen shades, sunlight weaving a leafy pattern on the footpath, the voices of the woods – and peace, soothing, strangely contrasting with the harsh town-world, that is Nant-y-Ffrith the Beautiful, as we saw it.  From a joking, noisy cycling party, we became silent, wondering, nature worshippers; we go not to churches on Sunday, perhaps, but roam about under a greater dome than that of St Pauls – not in a man-made edifice, but in one that was made and consecrated by God for man, under the greatest Dome and in the cleanest Church.  Vagabond cyclists we may be, we are not, as some think, ‘beyond the Pale’, for –

‘Neath cloistered boughs each floral bell that swingeth

And tolls its perfume on the passing air,

Makes Sabbath in the fields, and ever ringeth

A call to prayer.’

At the end of the ravine of the Ffrith, Joe suddenly became alive to more earthly matters and attacked some blackberry bushes on which grew the most luscious fruit, just right for Joe.  After trying in vain to stop him, we showed him one with a little white, worm-like grub on – quite common on blackberries, but he just flicked it off and ate the berry with the comment “All I can say is that they are sensible grubs!”

At length we got him away, and traversed many gated lanes to Ffrith, then to Cefn-y-Bedd and so to Rossett.  To avoid the motorised main road, we entered Eaton Park, riding swiftly through this wooded paradise, past the Hall, and so to Chester, with tea in old Newgate.  Tom left us here, bound for his home in Manchester, and we joined our outward route, now for home.  The sun was setting in a blaze of glory behind blunt Moel Famau as we headed for Helsby, singing that well-known verse:  “This is the end of a perfect day-“.    And a perfect day it was too, as one and all acclaimed.  We reached home making odes to Joe – one of which is set down here.                      145 miles

A Limerick to ‘Blackberry Joe’



There was a young cyclist named Joe,

Never fed-up with blackberries you know:

When he got on the scent,

To those bushes he went –

He’d show ‘em the way they should go!


Now this here young cyclist named Joe,

Inside him the blackberries could stow:

Till you’d reckon at first,

That he’d jolly soon burst,

If he didn’t cease making them flow.


But a marvellous fellow was Joe,

He always knew where they would grow:

And before you got there

He’d have picked the bush bare,

And would be on to another, I trow!


But disaster was coming on Joe,

His breath came laboriously slow,

He’d packed himself tight –

He ‘clocked off’ that night –

And we buried him near where they grow.


So take heed all ye who would go,

To equal the feats of poor Joe,

In the fruit there’s a grub –

If it gets in your tub –

You’ll hand in your checks and join Joe!


Friday, 4 September 1925 Great Hill

Post:      We’ve all been there a grassy track which turns out wetter and wetter and eventually one begins to wonder what on earth am I doing here ?   And for the benefit of Mr David Miller, the work to create the reservoir at Belmont is found to be a work in progress.   Now used for dinghy sailing.

Friday, September 4                                        Great Hill

Having a leisurely half-day, I bethought myself of an ‘over the top’ route, so I started via Belmont road against a high wind.  At Belmont I watched the workmen engaged on the new big reservoir for a while, then with the main road almost to myself, sped along to a gate opposite a pub.  Passing through this gate, I got onto a rough track which entirely petered out at another gate.  I continued however, over the gate, and got on to the moors.  It was a job, carrying the bike mostly, sinking into a bog, just missing stagnant pools of oozy, slimy, water, and negotiating wide, crumbling drains.  I could see the rounded hill before me, and could just make out a faint scarred track – I must make for that, but owing to the roundabout way I had to take, it never seemed to get any nearer.  Once I found myself entering an area of rushes – I had to cross it, and it became awkward work I can tell you, with the bike on my shoulder, balanced with one foot on a little knob of grass, and striding across little dank, murky pools to the next sod.  At length I found myself getting deeper in the mire, so I had to retrace my steps across the little lakes of bog.  Then I spotted a ruined farmhouse surrounded by trees, so I made my way to it, and there found the track.  After that I was able to trace it up the very steep hillside to the summit where there was an ordnance mark surrounded by railings.

I got an extensive view though, from the summit, the Ribble Valley, Pendle Hill, Malham Fells and table-topped Ingleborough to the North and East, then the Fylde and the Lancashire coast from Morecambe Bay down to Liverpool, with the great black and green patch of South Lancashire between.

I missed my way afterwards, and wandered through many ruined farmyards, along very rough tracks, eventually coming out in the village of Brinscall.  Then by various lanes to Clayton Green for tea at the Lord Nelson, an old coaching house dated 1688.  I returned by Wigan road to Euxton, then by a newly discovered byway skirting Chorley and crossing the main road at Yarrow Bridge, came home via Limbrick and Heath Charnock.           40 miles

Tuesday, 1 September 1925 Hall i’ th’ Wood

Post:      This is a jaunt ’round the back of Bolton’ to explore part of our local history, but Charlie gets caught up in the history of the Romans, (I don’t quite understand the connection!) and we get an interesting article.

Tuesday, September 1                           Hall I’ th’ Wood and the Jumbles

 At 7pm tonight, Ben came over, and we headed up Blackburn road to Astley Bridge, turning down a cinder road that gave way to a ‘ginnel’ and crossed a footbridge, afterwards climbing steeply to the fine, timber-fronted mansion called Hall I’ th’ Wood, where Samuel Crompton invented the ‘Spinning Jenny’, an invention that revolutionised cotton spinning, and from which eventually sprang the ‘mule’, that mechanical wonder of modern times.  Hall I’ th’ Wood was purchased by Mr W. Lever, (afterwards Lord Leverhulme), who presented it and a sum of money for its restoration to his native town, Bolton.  The Corporation then restored the property and opened it as a Museum in memory of Samuel Crompton, furnishing it throughout with genuine furniture from the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Hall is bigger inside than would seem from the outside, and is vastly interesting, with its old chairs, tables, chests and massive sideboards, pottery, cooking utensils including a weird device for turning the spit, paintings, wainscoted walls and rich plaster ceilings.  The staircase, circular, is attached to a central newel post such as is seen in the round towers of ruined castles, except that it is of oak.  The oak floors are uneven and knotted with age, and the whole timber work is held together with wooden pegs, no nails being used.  From one of the latticed windows a gorgeous sunset streaking the rugged clouds above the moors was beheld, then we took a walk round the rear of the house, where is a smooth lawn and tastefully laid out garden.  The back of the Hall is stone-built.

Carrying on up Tonge Moor Road we came to Bradshaw, where the church there has a detached tower, then to Ruins Lane at Harwood, and up the rutty lane past the cottage where my Grandparents lived and died.  This lane, with the old, worked out quarries at the head, brought memories back to me of the times, 12 years ago, when I used to accompany my father on Sunday mornings to visit the old folks.  I always used to look forward eagerly to the huge piece of apple pie made in the good old fashioned way, and I never failed to get it.  There is the same old hen-pen that Grandpa owned.  There never were hens like those of Grandpa!  Or eggs.

Higher up, amongst the quarries, my cousin George and I used to play at soldiers or climb the precipice.  ‘Spion Kop’ is still there, the hill that was oft defended and rarely taken, a fortress of childhood – or boyhood – days.  I looked for that tree at the foot of which we firmly believed it was an apple tree, though whenever we went there, no fruit was to be found.  It is a sycamore!  Those ‘dear dead days beyond recall’!  A happy memory with a tinge of sorrow that the cottage is not in the hands of the good-hearted old folks who always gave us a welcome and who gladly gave us the best of their simple food.  I am not one who thinks that my boyhood days were the best – I am enjoying my best days now, thanks to the wheel, but still……   they were happy days.

We traversed the narrow tracks which I had almost forgotten, over many stiles and through moorland farmyards, the while twilight deepened and a great golden moon tried to break through scurrying clouds.  A high wind was blowing and the evening was chilly when we struck that line of Roman Road, Watling Street.  Up here, almost 1,000 ft above sea level, the increasing darkness, with the wind-swept village street of Affetside before us and across a moorland valley the blunt ridge of Holcombe with its tower in black silhouette, little imagination is needed to stand aside and let the Legion’s pass.  I wonder if the villagers, looking through their bedroom windows on some such night as this is, catch a glimpse of the ghostly legionaries as they march along towards the wild North?  Or hear, as I thought I did, the crunching of chariot wheels, the rattle of reins and the hoarse shouts of Roman captains, borne down to them on the wind?  Sentimentalism perhaps, but what a sentimental night!  We came to the ancient cross which we used to call Roman, and which we used to kiss, though why, I never could find out.  It is just a cylindrical shaft about three feet long placed on three round steps, and I have an idea that its origin is not Roman at all, but Saxon, as the name Affetside seems to suggest.  Probably it is a Saxon market cross.  A rapid descent took us to Hawkshaw Lane Ends, where is the Edgeworth road and then a dark, bumpy tree-shaded track brought us out above Turton Bottoms.  It was quite dark now, but we joined a track, carrying our bikes down to a mill, and then crossed the River Tonge by a narrow footbridge, and entered the Jumbles.  This is very pretty, with a deep waterfall and a river course over huge masses or rock just as is found in the wilder rivers of North Wales.  It was a long, beautiful walk beneath shadowy trees and by a tinkling stream, but there is one marring effect – the odour.  Regaining rideable roads, we soon sped down to the Oaks and then home.  I think that the various types of scenery about Bolton would justify a ‘Beautiful Bolton’ campaign.  Who’ll start it?                                                   15 miles

Sunday, 30 August 1925 Tandem to Lud’s Church

Post:     A new experience for Charlie, to crew on a tandem.  We know that generally he doesn’t like tandems on a Club run, but now he is in the driving seat, so to speak, it is a different story !   Those of you with copies of Charlie’s books will know that he, later in time, actually rode a tandem all around Devon and Cornwall and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Sunday, August 30                       With a Tandem around Lud’s Church

As arranged last night, I was to travel today as the ‘crew’ of a tandem, which, though it is not an actual lightweight, being ‘converted’, is the acme of ease and comfort and speed.  It has a gear of 70”, 10.2 inches greater than my single, but the difference is easily taken up by the added power, wind resistance, etc, being lessened, whilst the chain transmission is exceedingly smooth, except when on a very hard hill, when it can just be felt through the pedals.  The tandem exceeds 60 lbs in weight, but the extra poundage over a modern lightweight tandem is considerably alleviated by the very notable rigidity of the machine.  ‘Whip’, that bugbear in many tandems – and even in single bicycles for that matter, is conspicuous by its absence, so that the machine responds to a light touch of the pedals.

Altogether, I was much taken up by the machine, which, except for rough-riding, is ideal for hard riding – easier than a solo bicycle.  There were two brakes, one of which was not very effective, and it is fixed geared.  The hardest part of it is holding it back on the rough, steep hills that surround one in Derbyshire.  With 26” by one and three eighths wheels, instead of 28 by one and a half, that machine would be as good as any on the road – it is a tandem which will stand up to something.

We were to meet at our house at 6.30am, adjust the rear position to my liking, strap my saddlebag on and depart, Joe, and Thomas P. on singles, and John and I as tandem partners.  We met, rather late, for we must meet up with Tom Idle at Kingsway End at 8am, and it got to 6.55am before we could start.  At first I kept trying to steer from the rear seat, but I got over that, and soon got settled.  In the lanes to Walkden, we lost one of the gang and had to make a long detour, and then waited for him, pushing on a little later to find him kicking his heels at Barton Bridge.

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After that we hummed along quite merrily, sprinting from Barlow Moor Road to Kingsway, where Tom was waiting.  Here we had a conference as to the route, and after some deliberation, decided to make for Lud’s Church, which I had not seen for over 12 months.  It was fine on the tandem, pottering along the Wilmslow road and sweeping through the lanes from Handforth.  Once we stopped at a wayside cottage for a drink of cider and a snack, whilst the old chap belonging the place showed us, with some pride, a few long kidney beans which had just taken a prize at the local show, some enormous apples, mushrooms, and took us round his garden which was well stocked and possessed some beautiful flowers.  We dodged the main road to Macclesfield by taking a lane route through Prestbury.  The entrance to the silk town was celebrated by a little crash between Tom and Joe, scratching Joe’s knee (that is the worst of shorts), but otherwise causing no damage.

Now came the Wincle road, uphill from Sutton for about three miles, along which the tandem easily asserted its supremacy as a hill climber.  The summit was reached at the New Inn, near where the road goes to the right for Wincle, and straight down for Allgreave at the end of Wildboarclough.  After a round table conference, we decided to approach Lud’s Church from the Gradbach side, so downhill we fled for Allgreave.  Jove, but it was a job holding that ‘twicer’ back on the precipitous downgrade; with the brake jammed hard on and our feet literally stamping on the pedals to keep them from coming up so often, we crept downhill, round the bend, across the Wildboarclough road, and with a sigh of relief safely negotiated the bridge at the bottom.

The climb, drop and climb again to Burntcliffe Top, we rode in great style, though for the singles it meant a walk on many occasions, but when we got on the narrow track, the bicycles scored.  For us it was bump and swerve, speed and stop – and trust the steersman.  Most of the way was walked – all of it from the tiny hamlet of Gradbach, where we crossed the Black Brook – memories of a hazardous hour! – and climbing through beautiful woods, we came to the Lud’s Church track where we dumped the bikes and proceeded to the romantic gorge on foot.  This canyon is gated at the entrance, and 3d is charged to enter, but as no one was there, we climbed over the obstacle and entered.  We have no conscience qualms over paying impositions of this type – or rather over dodging  them; I will go so far to say that whenever possible we will avoid paying and get to see what we want another way.  Time after time one comes in contact with this kind of thing at points of interest.  It is not a new ‘stunt’ either, for last century, Savage wrote:

‘Where perquisited varlets frequent stand,

At each new walk a new tax to demand’.

The objects in question may be well worth the trifle asked, but the commercial spirit, the principle of it is wrong.  If it was a newly opened road that required keeping in repair or something like that, no one would mind.

I tried to explain Lud’s Church in Last Year’s Diary, but another short outline to the best of my poor ability would not be amiss.  It is a deep narrow, tortuous gash in the moors, with rough, steep – sheer – walls of slimy rock, and in a narrow path at the bottom.  Various shallow chasms and dank caves break into the sides, whilst in one place the gorge splits into two, one of them ending ‘blind’, except for a very narrow opening through which one may squirm to the main passage.  A little way inside, facing the entrance, perched on a rocky ledge about 20 feet above the path is the wood-carved figure of a woman, the dress denoting the 17-18th centuries.  One can see it is old, as the hands are broken off at the wrist and the nose is rotted away, whilst the foot of the figure is rotten with the damp atmosphere.  The chasm ends in a deep, narrow, boulder-strewn track and a low cave.

As one enters the place, the depressing damp atmosphere is immediately felt – it makes one instinctively feel that there is something sinister about it.  I am hazy about the story connected with it, but there was a massacre in this hole, and the image is of a young lady who tried to warn them of the impending disaster, but suffered the same fate herself.

We over-ran the gorge, Joe and I entering the cave, but on remembering that three large boulders over the entrance are loose, we beat a hasty retreat lest they should give way and imprison us.  Joe pushed them over from the outside, and with a crash they rolled into the cave.  Anyone can get in now with much more safety, then after climbing up to the effigy, we came out into the sunshine and more pleasant surroundings of the woods.  Near the divergence of the main pathway and that to Lud’s Church, are several huge bastions of rock, which I climbed, getting a very fine view of the surrounding country therefrom; these are marked on the map as Castle Cliff Rocks.  Then we carried on over the beautifully coloured moors, on a sandy track which the tandem ploughed up and often brought us off.  The downhill run into the grounds of Swythamley Hall was often rough and steep, but riding was easily possible, and the views were continually changing, the Roaches and Hen Cloud being very prominent.

At the Hall lodge the road improved and we swept down to Dane Bridge, stopping at the CTC place there for lunch.  Dane Bridge is a very pretty place, the rendezvous of many cyclists and picnic parties, but it is in no way spoiled, and was very quiet today.  We left Dane Valley on the Wincle road, climbing uphill for a long time, then swooping down to Wincle and climbing again on the other side until we found ourselves back on the Allgreave road.  It then did not take long for us to speed down to Sutton, where we turned left across the bridge and found ourselves in a rural part of Cheshire, where old-fashioned buildings abound and the tranquillity of the woods and lanes are such as Cheshire only seems to show.

After a while we crossed the Macclesfield-Leek road and hummed along level lanes to Gawsworth.  So far as I have heard there are three ‘prettiest Cheshire villages’, Great Budworth, Prestbury and Gawsworth, and though I still remain faithful to Great Budworth, I will say that Gawsworth is remarkably beautiful.  It has ancient, half-timbered houses, a fine church and a beautiful tree-shaded lake which stands between the road and the church.  We entered the old church which, though it has been much restored, still retains much antiquity.  A list of rectors gives the first as in the 13th century.

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There is one thing which struck us as being a little too bad; a notice over the offertory box which states ‘Visitors who can afford it are asked to put not less than 6d in the box’.  We could not afford it !   How many people are there visiting Gawsworth Church, who, for common decency would willingly give a copper or two towards the upkeep of the old edifice, but who genuinely cannot afford 6d or more, and are forbidden to give less, so give nothing at all.  Many thousands of people, including ourselves, work very hard to earn our meagre wages, and would really feel the loss of even 6d.  I think that a mistake has been made at Gawsworth to snub the working man’s coppers.  I myself, up to now have frequently embarked on long day runs of 100 to 150 miles with 2, 3, or 4 shillings in my pocket, and I know that a great many others are just as badly off.  (Thank God there are better prospects now).

But that is by the way.  Gawsworth rectory is an exceptionally large, picturesque, timber framed house with a valuable living.  (Perhaps that is why 5d is snubbed, the Rector having such a good living and a comfortable income, can’t imagine anyone who can afford less).  Close by the Hall, a residence of the same character, anciently the seat of the Fitton’s, among whom was that Mary Fitton who is supposed to have been the anonymous ‘Dark Lady’ of Shakespeare’s Sonnet’s’.

After scouting about here, we made for ‘Maggotty Johnson’s’ grave, which lies in a coppice hard by the main road.  The owner of this unsavoury nickname was a local wit called Johnson, who lived in the 18th century, and who ‘carried his humour beyond the grave’.  There are two gravestones, one on a kind of raised vault and the other just beside it.  On the lower one is a big epitaph, his history in short, and a warning such as people are fond of inscribing graves with, whilst the other contains a tedious verse, explaining his humour and why he came to be buried in this ‘sylvan glade’ as it is called.  Johnson, or Lord Flame, as he later was known as, must have had a stormy and harrassing life with the opposite sex, for he gave orders that on his death he should be buried here ‘away from the lashing tongues of women’, and that his last resting place should be kept secret lest the ‘gossiping old vixen should pull his bones up’.  Alas for his wishes! The very secret, once it became known, led to the notoriety that he so wished to avoid, and now most people passing this way stop to see ‘Maggoty Johnson’s Grave’.

At the five cross-roads at Broken Cross we lost each other, so after a short search we with the tandem carried on alone.  I was directing, as John knows few of these intricate lanes, and he became more and more bewildered as I first said right, and then left, then straight across and so on until we seemed submerged in a deeply shaded maze of lanes.  The scenery was excellent and the roads lined with blackberry bushes heavy with ripe fruit.  Eventually, as I expected, we came to the Macclesfield-Alderley road, and we ‘got down to it’, bounding along at easily 25 miles an hour, passing cyclists and motorists like a shot.  Gee! but a tandem can move when the crew and skipper work together.  At the ‘Wizard’ we turned left and tumbled speedily down to Mrs Powell’s where we found Joe.  Twenty minutes later, Tom and Thomas came in, and after a wash we rolled in to a merry tea.

Then lanes again, Joe providing a diversion by falling off again, then Chelford Corner and Knutsford road.  The others had to call us to steady off several times, as a tandem never knows its own speed and it is hard work for singles to keep up – I know that to my own sorrow!  From Knutsford we joined the old road by Tatton Park and Mere, and then Chester road to Altrincham where it started to rain and capes had to be put on.  At Stretford we put them away, and made arrangements to meet Tom next Sunday 34 miles away at an unearthly hour, then Tom went his way and we went ours, arriving home at 9.30pm.

This has been my first tandem ride of any length and I can say that I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  Although we have covered a century of miles, the extraordinary ease has been a revelation to me.

Let’s hope it isn’t the last!                                                     102 miles

Saturday, 29 August 1925 Parker’s Tunnel

Post:     You just wonder about Charlie’s lack of names for his riding companions, could it be that he doesn’t know their surnames and is too shy to ask?  It could just be a simple thing like that.  Anyway, he has been to Parker’s Tunnel before, I think, but cannot be sure, it runs under the railway, but in any event it is reputedly difficult to find !

Saturday, August 29                              Parker’s Tunnel

Ben and Joe came up this afternoon, and the three of us started together against a howling wind up Chorley New Road to Horwich, where we turned into Lever Park, and ran through to Rivington Village.  The uphill route to the fork-roads was taken now, where we branched left, through many lanes to the edge of the big Upper Anglezarke Reservoir, which is at present empty.  Turning through a gateway, we climbed uphill on a rough track and then down – and up – to a lane that was chock full of long grass and rushes to a ruined farmhouse, through several gates, and then joined the road from Anglezarke, plunging down to the far end of that beautiful sheet of water.  Up again, then right, and down to White Coppice and Heapey Station.  Many various lanes led us to Whittle and Clayton Green, and the Brindle road from the Lord Nelson, uphill.  First left, and with a series of long downhill swoops through pretty country, we came to the Chorley-Preston road at the far end of Bamber Bridge.  A few more yards brought us then to the Unicorn Hotel at Walton le Dale for tea.

Here we were delighted to find J.E. and his fiancée (tandem partners), J and T Pearson, and another with whom we had tea.  An hour was spent in yarning and joking, then we made it up to have a peep at Parker’s Tunnel, so at 7pm, eight of us left.

At the end of Bamber Bridge, we joined Wigan road for a short distance to the narrow, twisty entrance.  We had very little trouble this time getting the tandem through, but at the tunnel it was rather shiny, and bicycles were best carried through the dark tunnel.  I personally carried the tandem, finding it very light.  Then we sped down to Wigan road again, turning along Leyland lane to Chorley, from where we ‘blinded’ home.  The brothers Pearson and Joe promised to accompany me on tomorrows run, and John P asked me if I wanted to go by tandem.  I jumped at it.  We shall see how a tandem turns out – with me at any rate, for it was over two years since I was the crew of a ‘twicer’ – and then only for a few miles.                                50 miles


Friday, 28 August 1925 ‘by Bollin Banks

Post:      By the time you get to the end of this day, you may be forgiven for thinking that Charlie is accident prone, certainly in his prowess with blackberries.  Concentrating on house names, to me, is verging on very sad behaviour, but well spotted Charlie, a clergyman cycling without lights.  What is the world coming to ?

Friday, August 28                                  By Bollin Banks

More blackberries!  I decided to take a large tin, this time, so that my saddlebag would be alright, so packing up, at 1.30pm I started – for Cheshire, but a different part.  A very strong wind helped me as I crashed over the ten sets of railway lines that are so liberally chucked about in the lanes on the road to Walkden.  Barton Bridge, then a tussle with the breeze to Sale, where I took the straightest way, Brooklands Road, to get me out of suburbia.

I have recently discovered a new hobby that gets me over the long suburban stretches effectively.  That is, watching the names of the villa’s en route.  Common ones are ‘The Beeches’, ‘The Oaks’, ‘The Elms’, ‘Lyndhurst’, ‘Glenview’ etc, but the ones that take my eye are those pertaining to places, one may meet with ‘Glen Nevis’, ‘Brae Bank’, ‘Easedale’, ‘Grasmere’, ‘Moelfre’, ‘Llyn Elsi’, ‘Torbay’, ‘Clovelly’ etc.  But the usual fact is, that at the ‘Elms’, there is no Elm to be seen, as at the ‘Limes’ or the ‘Beeches’, whilst at the ‘Oaks’ is perhaps one solitary tree of that ilk.  At ‘Glenview’ is a bare outlook of a road or factory.  ‘Moelfre’ is far from being a grassy hill, and it would be uncomfortable if ‘Llyn Elsi’ were a lake!  Still, it is just a name!

I traversed that narrow lane that dips down to the Bollin near Castle Mill, and had a long walk down the river bank, but failed to get what I was after, so I crossed the river by means of a twisty wooden footbridge, and discovered a decent amount on the other side.  Reaching the Ashley road, I sped down to Castle Mill, where I tried to get a pot of tea but failed.  On the climb afterwards, I left the bike and in wandering down the steep slope to the river, struck a peach of a place.  I could not go wrong after that and all but filled my tin, and tying it up, I made for home via Hey Head and Gatley to Cheadle.  Now I had had trouble with a clicking pedal all afternoon, and in putting it right, noticed something sticky dripping out of my saddlebag.  It was blackberry juice!  Between Chorlton and Stretford, I saw a large hole in the road, presided over by a policeman.  I presume a heavy lorry had proved too much for it!  The usual route home with lamp lit, from Walkden, and in the railway riddled lanes saw a parson (of all people) cycling home without lights.  My bag, worse than before, was full of blackberry juice, but the fruit was a delight.                                                                         50 miles


Wednesday, 26 August 1925 A Blackberry Potter

Post:    This was a fine wet day, if I may use the phrase, but it enabled our hero to have a gentle ride, in his own time, of 85 miles to collect that autumn special, blackberries, in order to build himself up after his one month lay off from work due to his bad foot.  Speaking personally, I quite like blackberries as well, so I think his day was well spent and not to be criticised.

Wednesday, August 26                                    A Blackberry Potter

 I decided last Sunday that I would make a special visit into Cheshire and consult a few blackberry bushes, so I started this morning at 9.20, armed with a very large cardboard box and plenty of brown paper, and sheltering inside my cape.  The cape came off and on many times before I reached Warburton, where a close survey of a track hedged with bushes revealed only one blackberry.  Anyway, it was a start!  I had better luck on the High Legh-Budworth road, where I gathered a paper bag full, but on pulling the bag out of my pocket, the bottom came out and my pocket received them.  It is surprising how much juice is contained in a handful of these berries.

A track on the Arley Green path, proved a gold – that is, blackberry mine, but also proved something else which made me beat a hasty retreat.  A mass meeting of wasps was being held, so not liking to intrude on their business, I retired.  Anyway, I discovered plenty more, so that in an hour I had collected several pounds.  I had lunch at Mrs Lambert’s at Arley, then crossed through the park and stumbled across another series of bushes which enabled me to fill my box, wrap it up, and put it away in the saddlebag.  Thereafter I made a tour of the bylanes, through farmyards, etc, to Lymm, where a rainstorm drove me into the cape.  For a change, I pursued the footpath through that long sylvan glen, the Dingle, and came out on the Warrington-Knutsford road near Poplar Farm, where I stopped for tea.

I returned to Lymm via Cheddar Lane after tea, then again inside my cape made my way across the Budworth road, by High Legh Hall, and thus down to Millington and Warburton in a downpour.  As usual I made my way home via Chat Moss, Glazebury and Atherton.

The Blackberries?  Oh, they got home alright, though they had come through the box and discoloured my saddlebag, still it was a ‘fine wet day’ out – and blackberry pie is very good!                                          85 miles