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A Sunday Scramble - c1930

"Good morning, everybody"; I propped my bicycle against a wall, and mingled with my fellow members who were gathered at our meeting place at Higherford. It was raining slightly, but not sufficiently to make us don our capes. Our number continued to increase, and at ten o'clock we started upon out journey to Long Ghyll. The top of Coldweather Hill was soon reached, and we sped down into Gisburn and on to Settle, where a halt was made to recover from our exertions, smoke, or imbibe "soft" drinks, according to our inclinations. The halt was not protracted, for some motor cycle club or other was trying it best to make the place unbearable with bad smells and hideous noises. We climbed out of Settle by way of Constitution Hill, and passed into upper Ribblesdale, finally coming to rest at Horton, where we dumped our bicycles and disappeared into the "Golden Lion" to destroy the aching voids that had grown in our stomachs.

The inner man satisfied, we ambled through the fields to the Ribble and collapsed upon the banks of the meandering river, and assumed attitudes which — whilst they may have been restful — were certainly not elegant. The rain had long since cleared away, and a hazy sun beamed paternally upon us. The voice of our runs secretary was heard bemoaning the fact that he had not brought the green and black horror he is wont to call a bathing costume. An occasional train rumbled by, but did not disturb the peace; an occasional splash was seen in the river as a trout quested its winged lunch; all was peaceful, all was still. It was, of course, too good to last; a discussion developed into an argument, and the argument into a scuffle. We heaved ourselves to our feet, removed the earwigs and other insect visitors from our persons, and ambled back to Horton for our bikes.

Soon we were rolling along the road again, and, Selside being passed, we stopped at a certain gate that marked the final stage of our outward journey. The farm road that leads to Ling Ghyll is far from perfect, but no serious accidents occurred, and we soon reached the farm at the foot of the ghyll. Here we left our bicycles, and proceeded on foot up the bed of the stream. Various kinds of wild flowers bloomed in profusion, and we soon lost some of our lady members, who evidently preferred gathering them to bruising their ankles upon the boulders in the river bed. As we scrambled up-stream, the grassy banks on either side changed gradually into rocky walls that towered higher, and higher yet, until we were in the heart of a ravine with precipitous sides. Trees grew out of the cracks in the rocks and made it a fairy glen that would be advertised as one of the wonders of the world if it were situated in North Wales or any other noted beauty spot. We enjoyed the charm of this rare gem, hidden in the Yorkshire hills in peace and seclusion.

We rambled along, sometimes climbing aver boulders, sometimes on one side of the stream, sometimes on the other, sometimes walking on the dry bed of the stream itself over which the stream hurled itself into the pool at its foot. We gazed at the obstruction, gazed at the steep walls of the ravine, gazed at our runs secretary and gave him a lecture upon the evils of bringing us upon an expedition like this without bringing a ladder also. He looked at us pityingly for a few minutes, and then, with a determined expression upon his face, began an assault upon the barrier. By the time he had clawed his way to the top we were firmly convinced of the truth of the Darwin theory; but where he had led surely we could follow. We did, with a little help from above, and soon we were gathered at the top of the obstruction. We pushed on, and discovered a cave, but since no one had brought a lamp, we (perhaps fortunately) could not explore it. Soon afterwards the floor of the ravine climbed steeply upwards, and we found ourselves upon level earth once more.

We walked down the right hand bank of the ghyll on our way to the farm. The trees in the ravine were exhibiting a multitude of shades of green, whilst many were also in blossom, and the fragrant scents of spring were in the air. Ingleborough and Penyghent reared their mighty heads into the hazy blue of heaven, and Ribblesdale stretched at our feet. It was very pleasant, far more pleasant than being in the dull, close streets of our respective towns from which we were mercifully delivered by our friend the bicycle.

When we reached the farm we found our flower-gathering members reclining upon the grass. Their first words were: "Do you know it’s quarter past five? Where are we having tea?" Tea! hugh! I wonder if they ever think of anything else besides eating. Shall we go to Ingleton, Horton, Stainforth, Settle? No. Do they make teas at the farm? The farm was sorry, they did not make tea. Some bright spark suggested a picnic, so out came our sandwiches, and we hied to the stream and had our meal al fresco.

At 6-30 we were ready for the road again, our appetites satisfied, and our litter burned. We scampered down Ribblesdale to Settle, where we found those who had been on the long run already in possession. We were greeted by the usual kind remarks: “Where the dickens have you been while this time?” “We could have walked it by now," etc. We retorted in kind: “How are your poor old knees?” “I’ll bet you were whacked when you got to Kendal,” and so on. However, peace was restored at last, and we ambled home together. Gisburn was reached and passed, and soon we came to the parting of the ways at Blacko Bar. “Good nights" were exchanged, and soon I was speeding through Roughlee towards Burnley, and so home again after a day of freedom from work-a-day worries, a day of happiness and fun, a day of healthy open air exercise that made me eager for supper and bed.