The skies were weeping copiously as I glanced out of my bedroom window at the unearthlv hour of 7 o’clock on Sunday morning last. A gusty wind rattled the windows, and I thought what a good idea it would be to stay in bed a bit longer and go on the short run instead of the long one. Better still, why not stay in bed till dinner-time in the approved Sunday morning manner, instead of tearing about the countryside in the rain—more fools we . . . The unusual exertion of thinking must have sent me to sleep again, for my next awakening was at 8 o’clock, and—believe me or believe me not—a patch of blue sky showed in the heavens! Wonders never cease! Could I catch the long run ? I galloped downstairs, and by 9-15 I was jolting over the uneven setts that seem inevitable in industrial Lancashire to our meeting-place ai Colne.
I arrived at Langroyd 40 minutes late, but found that my club mates had not yet departed; apparently I was not the only one who had suddenly decided that the long run was feasible; though, of course, those who were punctual did not forget to boast about it. We set off immediately, and, after a minor adventure in the form of n flooded road, we arrived safely at Skipton, where the roll was called to make sure that no one had been drowned There was a panic when it was discovered that our diminutive friend "Lezley" was missing, until someone recollected seeing him paddling safely across the flooded area using his outsize sou’wester as a canoe. The missing one eventually turned up, and we rode on into Upper Wharfedale. The Wharfe was in flood and Kilnsey Crag spouted a number of sunlit cascades from its fissures—a sure sign that our afternoon’s passage over 'Darnbrook Fell would be a distinctly damp one. The crag passed, we forsook Wharfedale and entered Littondale, a charming dale that: does not receive a quarter of the attention that it deserves, for the simple reason that its roads are not first-class roads-—-thank heaven! Not that I object to first-class roads, but I do object to the high-speed traffic which they foster. A few miles up this dale and we were in Arncliffe, where we had lunch. Arncliffe is a picturesque village composed of a large green fringed by trees and a few houses. The church is tucked away down by the river, and still possesses the ancient reed with which the congregation of Arncliffe was wont to take its note before the advent of: the organ. "Derailleur" wanted to give us a demonstration of how it should be done, but fortunately the glass case was locked and we breathed sighs of relief.
A Queer Road.
There are two roads out of Arncliffe, one a fairly decent specimen that leads to Halton Gill; the other is one of those that the C.T.C, apparently loves—rideable sometimes, but not so often! A road of more or less hard mud studded with egg-like pebbles, with the points uppermost, of course. Up this so-called road we tramped, pushing our bicycles by hand instead of foot, pausing now and again to rest and glance back at Arncliffe, that grew smaller and smaller until it resembled a toy village set in a miniature valley in the bulky hills. A shoulder of a hill then hid it from our
view, and the top of the moor was soon in sight. Away upon our left the picturesquely rugged hills were split up by numerous milky-white ghylls swollen and spouting with the recent heavy rains as they tumbled down into the valley below. Contrary to our expectations, the road did not dwindle to a grass track. Since our last visit some person-—possibly with the best of motives—had made a road (?) by the simple expedient of removing the sods and leaving the subsoil bare. In years to come the rain will probably wash away the soil and leave bare the stones and boulders that usually answer for a road in the hill districts, (evolution, my dear Watson, evolution). Unfortunately for us the washing away process had scarcely begun, and we were left with the alternative of either tramping over the uneven moor or wallowing in the four inches of mud on the “road.” We did both, always trying to find the driest spots, but when we eventually arrived at Darnbrook and looked at our filthy shoes we instinctively looked for our runs secretary to wreak our vengeance upon him for bringing us over such stuff as this. Our runs secretary, however, blamed the deputy leader, and the deputy leader blamed the absent leader, so our vengeance went empty away. Such is life! Some motor cycle club or other very kindly amused us by having a trial through Darnbrook, and we watched their efforts to surmount the steep road (river-bed in wet weather) out of Darnbrook. Stones flew, motor cycles and riders bounced, skidded an< swerved, but, probably owing to some misunderstanding no one fell off. To the lady checker who was propping up the local bridge we voiced the opinion that we had been robbed of our rightful entertainment, but some-how she didn’t seem to see our point of view, so we gathered up our bicycles and proceeded sorrowfully to Malham.
We had tea at the Airedale Hotel, and after the tables had been cleared away we had "music.” It was, of course, distinctly "rowdimental"; anyone could be excused for thinking that the chief object in view was to drown the piano as completely as possible. We.stood it for a while and then went for a walk. The moon rode high in the heavens and silvered the slowly moving clouds. The air was perfectly still not a sound was heard, only a glimmer of light here and there showed that Malham was not a village of the dead. “Georjud" proposed a walk to Jennet's Foss; the suggestion was greeted with acclaim and put into immediate execution. As we tramped the deserted road to Gordale Scar, “Bookoss,” who has a deplorable” taste in music, dragged out his favourite songs and our feet kept time to “One man went to mow,” "Ten green bottles standing on a wall,” etc. Jennet’'s Foss was soon reached, and as we stood near the waterfall I discovered. why we do not stop in bed till dinner-time in the approved Sunday morning manner, for the stream was in flood and the water was a silvery white as it dashed over the limestone shelf into the pool below, the moonlight filtered through the trees which whispered, in the faint breeze that stole up the rocky ravine, the song of the falling water added to, rather than detracted from, the peacefulness of the scene: it was an enchanting moment, such a moment as will never be found in the streets of an industrial town. My debt to the bicycle is, indeed, an ever increasing one.
We had more "green bottles" as we tramped back to Malham; indeed, to see "Bookoss,” "Georjud" and our runs secretary linked arm in arm singing lustily about green bottles, one might have suspected that their acquaintance with bottles was more than casual. Fortunately, however, they desisted before reaching the village,
We retrieved our bicycles from the hotel and sped homewards over the moonlit roads, through Gargrave and Thornton to Colne, and-so into industrial Lancashire once more, but only for five days!
And there, my brothers, ends the tale of our adventure. If you should like to take part in our next you will be made cordially welcome.
Run for this week-end is as. follows:
Sunday: Gaping Ghyll; meet Higherford, 9-30; lunch, Clapham.