I have arranged to meet Tom at Ringway, 5pm today, previous to staying the night at his place. The afternoon was bright and cold, with a clear sky. On the road, however, beyond Atherton and Glazebury, there was little or no traffic and few cyclists. I stopped on Warburton Bridge to watch a huge ship pass beneath, the ‘Nuddea’ of Glasgow. One wonders how the masts are going to get under, and some have very little room – only a foot or so to spare. Paying the 1d toll, I soon reached Heatley, then the Boathouse Inn, and a byway to the Altrincham-Lymm road. A mile or so of this, and again the lanes through Millington, across the Chester road and down to Cheshire’s prettiest mere, Rostherne Mere. The pleasant village passed, I ran by the walls of Tatton Park to Ashley. The sun was setting, the sky being tinged with gold and blue, and the western horizon streaked with red.
Several miles of undulating lanes by the side of the valley of the Bollin followed, then a sharp left and down to Castle Mill, in the valley. The old mill is now a dilapidated brick building, long since dismantled, and now the owners of it eke out a living by catering. I climbed over a stile, crossed a field with the river on my left and the woods to the right, over another stile, an uphill. A few moments later I was joining Tom near the church, and then we both pottered along to Mrs Woodward’s for tea. Some scouts came in, the room was cosy, the company merry, and – well, we stayed two hours.
At 7pm we rejoined the road, and made for Styal. The sky was deep blue-black, with myriads of stars twinkling above, and the bright moon a day short of full. By deep, shadowy woods we rode, by snug, sleeping cottages, the whitewashed panels showing in relief against the black, tarred beams. It was a quite impressive ride through the half-lit lanes. From Styal, a ‘private’ road took us to Handforth, then the main road to Cheadle. We preferred the old road into Manchester, rather than the new ‘Kingsway’, which runs straight as a die, and with a velvet surface. One never seems to get any further along it – as Tom adequately describes it, it is like being on a home trainer. Then came a lot of rough setts by Belle Vue and Gorton to Bradford, and Tom’s place at 8.45pm. An early start in Derbyshire tomorrow! 46 miles