Sunday, December 23 – Buglawton

Today is to be the great day – THE day, for was not the club going to Buglawton for their Christmas Annual Dinner?  And according to all accounts it was to be some dinner! for everyone intended gorging themselves until they could not stir.  Think of my consternation when I discovered that it was only 8am when I awoke, and the run was to start at 8am!  I decided to go direct, and meet them at Buglawton, so at 8.50 I started.  Taking the lanes to Walkden, I gradually worked up a pace, with a roaring wind behind me, that fairly ate up the miles.  Barton, Stretford, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Didsbury, Cheadle were ticked off, then Handforth and Wilmslow, to the extent that I was in Alderley Edge at 10.15am – 26 miles in one and a half hours.  The Congleton road, which is slightly undulating, seemed very pretty this morning, and I took it easier, for I was now well within time.  Just past Monk’s Heath – at Siddington, I was hailed by two youths, who joined me – one was the brother of our leader today, Mr Fred Boyle.

Via Marton, we soon reached Congleton, now taking the Leek road by mistake.  We were put right, however, and were soon at Buglawton.  Followed a terrible hunt for the tea place, which we discovered at last.  A wash, and we were ready for the biggest dinner procurable, but the club had not arrived.  Half and hour later, at 1pm, they came in, and soon we were ‘off’.  Although it was only three courses, there was enough to satisfy the greatest glutton – and each of us was determined to be a glutton, just for once.  It was darkly hinted that there was brandy in the Christmas pudding, and I believe that I could just smell the faintest trace, but otherwise I am a teetotaller.  When we had finished, we felt like sitting around the fire all afternoon dozing, but somebody started an ancient gramophone going.

That did it! for we decided then to climb the adjacent hill, The Cloud, from where fine views of the surrounding country can be seen.  It was a rather stiff climb, and near the summit a howling wind made it hard to stand up!  All the while a glorious panorama gradually unfurled, until at the top, over a thousand feet above Cheshire, a wondrous view met the eye in three directions.  Congleton, and the broad plains of South Cheshire, towards Crewe, Nantwich and Knutsford, rolled smilingly, prosperously, peacefully, bounded by the low, dim, Peckforton Hills, and the rock on which that dark, fallen ruin, Beeston Castle, perched itself in bold, assertive, nay, proud isolation….

‘Plaything of Kings, wreck of forgotten wars….’

The silver, sunlit streak of Macclesfield Canal, the winding Road, yes, the Road which holds us in its grip, guides us, beckons us, makes us willing captives to all its charms, ever urging us on to ‘seek fresh fields and pastures new’.  To look down upon the ever open Road awakens us again to the lure of the Road, and all it stands for, for no-one understands the Call of the Road, unless they have felt it, and heard its insistent voice.  As our eyes swept round we marked the scene now changing, the land became ruffled, Alderley Edge, Macclesfield, then a jumble.  The Derbyshire Hills became assertive and climbed into peaks, and dropped into wonderful little dales.  The silver sheen again of water, Bosley reservoirs, in a valley below us, then hills, and the dales beyond hid themselves behind a ridge, or rather a series of ridges.

Well, we came down, and at 3.30, some 24 of us started out again for the tea place.  I became troubled with cramp in one knee, as we turned through Congleton.  At Marton, in the gathering dusk, we took a peep into the little, half timbered church, inside of which is an effigy of a knight in full 15th century armour.  Soon we reached Birtles where tea was ready but I am afraid that we did not do it full justice.  On account of my cramp, I started back earlier than the rest, and got home via Cheadle etc, at 9.30pm.                      94 miles, 13 hours