Burnley and Pendle

Cyclists Touring Club

C.T.C.Notes - A March Vagary - c1930

March is a month of varied moods; it can be likened to the ferocity of a lion or the gentleness of a lamb, and truly Sunday presented a mood of its most rigorous type. Winter had visited us and bestowed upon this part of the world a departing gift, a rain-sodden covering of snow, nowhere acceptable.

While riding through the town, it was amusing to notice the suspecting glances and sceptical smiles I received from the people about town, as if they were questioning my sanity; but I heeded them not, knowing. full well that amidst the apparent difficulties there lay treasures unfathomed — that is, unfathomed to those not intimate with nature.

On arriving at the meeting place it was gratifying to find at least one fellow member. there, pacing sentinel-like in a vain endeavour to restore circulation. Eventually the other members began to arrive, some with a cheery "Good morning,” and others with fabulous accounts of snowdrifts and their efforts to surmount them. From their tales we gathered that Haggate and the "Bull and Butcher" were apparently. blotted out, and our own efforts dwindled into insignificance when compared with theirs. However, a start was made and all went "swimmingly,” the only annoyance being the by-wash from motor cars as they sped along the slushy, snow-covered roads.

After our customary pause at Skipton, we slowly mounted the heights to Draughton and then slithered down into Addingham, where the road and low-lying fields were free from winter’s snowy mantle. It was good to see the green meadows and hear the song of the thrush, as if defying winter's harsher moods; but I am afraid other thoughts were predominating - thoughts of an aching void that needed solace and a comfortable armchair before a blazing fire, and these were amply provided at our usual house of call in Ilkley.

Perhaps it was the geniality of the atmosphere that affected him, or maybe he had fed too well, but anyhow one of the party unostentatiously declared that he would, willy-nilly, go to the Cow and Calf Rocks, the object of our run. In spite of their taunts and pessimistic broodings, my enthusiasm prevailed “Yes, I was the guilty person), and, accompanied by a fellow adventurer, I strolled through the spacious streets of that North Country spa, leaving the rest with requests not to bring flowers should we perchance perish from exposure in the cold, stark moors, or bouquets should we return - victorious. Ever mounting higher, we left the residential outskirts of the town behind, and began scrambling up the moors, the snow deepening until it was laborious to walk. Often we fell, but that was of no account, for our objective lay before us. At last we were there, and it was pleasant to pause and view the surrounding scene from the shelter of the overhanging rocks. Below lay the trough-like valley of the Wharfe, in which the spires and roofs of Ilkley nestled. dwarfed into insignificance by the adjacent guardian fells whose snow-covered heights merged into the clouds, making very little skyline distinguishable. Of the rocks, the only resemblance to a cow and calf were their relative, sizes. The parent rock was a huge outcrop of millstone grit towering sheer above us, while the calf, a detached boulder of no mean size, lay a little removed; perching precariously on its side, its whole appearance was one of threatening destruction, should it perchance, be dislodged from its bed and sent bounding down the steep decivity into Ilkley. Like many places in Wharfedale, these rocks have their legendary associations. Long, long ago, how far back nobody seems to know, there dwelt on the neighbouring moors a giant named Rombald, hence the present-day name, Rombald’s Moor. It was during his peregrinations that he chanced to stride from here to some distant eminence, and just as you or I would do in the ordinary course of events: while walking over a stone path, may he crushing a small stone to pieces, so he detached the calf from the parent rock. To judge from the commotion he made and the size of his footprint, he must have reached a tremendous height, in, fact too high to believe; but then, to be too critical in mythical associations is to destroy the glamour of the story, and a legend destroyed is an attraction gone, However, time was passing, and wet feet and blowing sleet do not contribute to comfort; so, retracing our tracks, we arrived in Ilkley to find our companions had fled, leaving behind them information as to their whereabouts. I will not dwell upon the hardships of that ride to Earby, for is it not these trivial difficulties that fade from the memory, leaving only the recollections of the happier moments to predominate?

It was at Earby that we joined our friends, and under the kindly ministrations of our hostess we were soon feeling better; in fact, a cheerful fire, a good tea, and, a musical evening provided afterwards by our hostess’s gramophone, made us positively admit that life was worth living. We had attained that sense of contentment that descends upon you when -you have achieved your object and are enjoying the fruits of the spoil. But all good things come to an end, and so out into the unkind world we went, to slowly ride homeward, and then all turned their respective ways, leaving me to ride with nothing but my thoughts for company.

One cannot help but muse upon the happenings of the day, to inwardly laugh at some humorous incident, to pause in retrospection and note how the ranks of the club change and vary, here and there they fade away, lost to perception, perhaps to return, perhaps not; but still these self-same faces of old greet you smilingly, as in years gone by, persons whose names are synonyms of loyalty. "Still they come and still they go, but I go on for ever,” truly it aptly describes each of those persons. And then to thank those mediums through which I obtain these pleasant recollections, the constituents of that modern magic carpet, the bicycle, and in particular, the club.

- J.H.G


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