Leaden skies, dripping roofs, and rain swept roads; such were the conditions as we, the Nelson section of the Cyclists’ Touring Club, mustered under a friendly shelter at Higherford last Sunday morning. At 9-45 we grabbed our respective bicycles and started upon our journey to Catterick Force. A spirit of leisureliness seemed prevalent amongst us and we walked rather more than usual of Coldweather Hill. I for one, was quite satisfied with this state of affairs. since I was feeling none too fresh after the buffeting we received from the wind upon our journey to Burnsall the afternoon previous.
The top at last, with the glorious panorama of Ribbiesdale before us bathed in that bright mystic light that always seems to rest in the valleys that one views from the contrast of a cloud enshrouded hill-top. This part of Ribblesdale is surely one of Yorkshire's gems a dale of smiling fields. prolific trees and gurgling streams. bounded by those admiration compelling hills, Whelpstone Crag, Ingleboro, Penyghent and Rye Loaf; and in the centre of all these, the sleepy.
winding Ribble. As we descended out of the mist our capes became unnecessary, and we stopped at the top of the last rise before Gisburn and packed them into our saddle-bags. The ride to Settle was uneventful except for an occasional pointed remark concerning the negative usefulness of some mudguards, when o rider happened to encounter the spray cast by another’s rear-tvre.
We paused in Settle for a few minutes and then went up the suitably named Constitution Hill towards Horton. An occasional break in the clouds that almost hid Penyghent from our view, showed us that the monarch of Ribblesdale was covered with snow. In Horton we propped our bikes against the barn, which we usually use for that purpose, and were greeted by a faint bleat from within. Being of inquisitive dispositions we naturally investigated and discovered a sheep with a recently born lamb. The sheep was so proud of its achievement that I forbore from giving it a lecture upon the folly of bringing offspring into the world at this cold, early period of the year. Since Mrs. Joerjud (who hag a passion for petting all animals except "man cows") was not present, the lamb was left in peace, and we trooped into the Golden Lion for lunch,
Rain began to fall whilst we were having lunch, and when I, as leader. asked how many were going up to Catterick Force I was answered by a non-committal silence. I would have liked to indulge in a few sarcastic remarks upon the fragility of the modern youth, but since they may have involved me into walking the two steep miles of muddy fields and footpaths leading to Catterick Force and back again, I deemed 1t wiser to keep silent. We therefore donned our capes and proceeded back to Gisburn for the big event of the day. namely the annual dinner of the North Lancashire District Association. When we got to Ellis’ we found a number of our weather shy friends. who had turned out after dinner, already in possession. Since we had braved the rigours of the day we naturally didn’t omit to point out that they were getting timid.
We removed the stains of travel from our persons and then went in to dinner. There were 77 members present at the dinner from the various sections of the North Lancs. D.A.. 47 of whom were from our own section. I will not dwell upon what we consumed, let it suffice to say that it was an exceptionally good dinner. Our friend °Derailleur" who is a member of a society which forbids its members to take alcohol, was giving “Jeorjud" a homily upon the evils of having rum sauce upon his plum pudding. I was quite touched by Derailleur’s devotion to the temperance cause until I remembered a certain farm in the Lake District where he conveniently forgot his principles and partook of some of that delectable Cumberland commodity—rum butter. Upon me reminding him of this incident he immediately subsided into silence, for which we were truly grateful. The dinner over at last, T glanced around at the faces of my fellow members. Some looked much the same as usual, but one or two looked unusually red, and shiny, and a certain lady who sat opposite me particularly so. Ah! what a blessing to have a healthy appetite, thought I. The tables were cleared away, and the chairman, Mr. Atkinson, opened the evening's programme with a speech, which dealt principally with the health-giving properties of the bicycle, and the progress of the Cyclists’ Touring Club. The speech over, a varied concert was begun. Miss A. Dixon gave a pianoforte solo and Mr. J. Burrows a selection of operatic airs upon the flute. Miss Ellis and Messrs W. A. Taylor, T.Hargreaves, J. Butterworth, and J. Nuttall contributed a number of songs and our friend "Lezly" a humorous recitation culled from the works of W. W. Jacobs. The concert, which was uproariously appreciated, lasted until 7.30, and the Preston, Fylde, and Blackburn sections then departed for their various cities. In view of the splitting up of the District Association, this is the last of the annual dinners at which the Preston and Fylde will attend as an official part of the DA, As we had a less distance to travel home than the other sections we stayed a while longer. One party gathered round the piano and proceeded to make the rafters ring with more or less tuneful singing. Another party amused their little selves by doing tricks, such as picking matchboxes up with their teeth in the most awkward manner; these games were punctuated by a series of bumps and thuds as the various participants came to grief. The remainder gathered round the stove and smoked and talked to their hearts content.
At nine o’clock we lighted our lamps and left Gisburn en-route for home. The weather clerk had evidently repented his misdeeds for the night was mild and pleasant as we drifted back over Coldweather Hill. Some of our lady members had not recovered from eating too much so we considerately walked most of the hill. Three other Burnleyites and myself could not face the setts of Barrowford. Nelson and Brierfield, so amidst a chorus of "Good nights" we left the main body at Blacko Bar and went home via Rough Lea and Fence. We finally reached our native city at 10-30, and so to bed. The last thought that entered my head as 1t rested on the pillow was—Roll on the next D.A. dinner.
There are some mornings when you awaken from a sleep disturbed by torrential rain and the audible gyrations of dust-bin lids ending their none-too brief flights, and half expect to find the streets thronged with mariners, busily engaged in hauling their respective crafts back to the sea, from which they might have been swept during the night.
Such a morning presented itself last Sunday, the day when members of the Nelson Section of the Cyclists’ Touring Club were intended to ride to Austwick for dinner, then afterwards either make the moorland crossing of Sulber Nick or go home again via Helwith Bridge and Settle, the latter route being specially arranged for our pottering members.
The appearance of a ship’s mast outside my bedroom window on the said morn caused me to part company with the blankets quicker than usual; but further investigation proved the "mast" to be merely a clothes prop blown from its moorings.
Once out of bed, I made a decision which later resulted in the weather-beaten appearance of my body and "bike” in Gisburn, where other members of the C.T.C were likely to be met. The description of how each one arrived there, after battling with atmospheric conditions usually associated with Christmas, may be better given in the form of a book. Therefore let the story begin as we take the main road to Settle, where the journey becomes more like a nightmare than a reality,
The tall trees by the roadside, aided by the wind, would wait until we were about to pass, then suddenly bend low over the roadway, flourishing their leafless branches before our faces, and it was very fortunate that we were not wearing bowler hats.
Very often our Sou’-westers were straining at their leash of double width hat elastic under our chins, threatening to strangle us. But always just at the moment when we were about to receive our mythical harps or coal shovels (mine was a shovel) there would he a lull in the storm and the hats would return with oo whack on our heads, to bring us back to reality.
Speaking of harps reminds me of an excellent rendering of “Souls in Anguish,” performed by the wind playing on the telegraph wives, between long Preston and Settle. The musical description of the souls as they are repeatedly purified by the action of boiling sulphur, is characterised by a triple crescendo on the "screams of terror,” followed by moans and howls that would have been sufficient alone to curdle the contents of our stomachs. But our breakfasts had long since departed; therefore we were spared the ordeal.
The only fault with the selection was that the air was a little too boisterous, and caused “Squire" to perform all sorts of high-brow wrinkling contortions to prevent his proverbial cap from giving an aeronautic display; while “Non-Stop,” a rather incessant talker at times, was unusually silent—
this may have been due to his “Aberdonian” respect for his slack-fitting false teeth.
On arriving in Settle, a short halt was made to hold an impromptu roll-call, and a few were to be seen removing hail-stones from their ears for that purpose. As none of the party were missing, we continued towards Buckhow Brow, the ascent of which was made on foot, but nearing the summit, the wind became so terrific as to almost necessitate further procedure to he made on “all fours.”
A few more miles and we reached the cross roads at Cross Streets, where we turned off on the winding road to Austwick,
Here "Non-Stop" suddenly found himself possessed with a dynamic spasm of energy, so we sent him on in advance to give timely warning of our tea-drinking abilities. After a hundred yards sprint, we witnessed his rapid. disappearance round a bend in the roadway. Had the road been a straight one we might have observed the rapidly-diminishing distance between ourselves and our courier as we pattered along slowly behind. Therefore our surprise on overtaking him round the first gable end in ethereal blue.
Lunch over and digested, it was decided not to make the crossing of Sulber Nick, but to visit Helwith Bridge (spelt with one “l” for purposes of distinction). After getting within sight of the bridge from a distance of about four hundred yards, our decision was altered by another, which led us over the old road to Stainforth Force.
It was only by chance of fate that we arrived at Stainforth Force. Had any one of the other random suggestions that were offered at the parting of the ways been fulfilled, there might have been small rewards offered by now for our whereabouts, dead or alive- but not in the Wild West sense.
The Force mentioned gave a watcher a play of its tendency to increase the velocity of the river Ribble, and we had to shout at each other to make known our observations concerning the beauty of the falls.
I took great care to keep at a considerable distance from the edge of the rockery, where one might easily be precipitated into the churning depths, Some of our members are not to be trusted —remember last week at "G. G."
Most cyclists soon “tyre" of one particular piece of scenery, and after about five minutes by the river side. T was dragged away along another old road, terminating at Settle.
It was almost four o'clock in Settle, and by half-past four we were all safe in clink, or is it clint? - that little bungalow where teas are provided, which we reached after a seven-miles ride with the wind towards Gisburn.
After tea we came out of Clint into a night made beautiful by the clear moonlight, and in preference to returning home by Cold Weather Hill, we chose Tubber Hill as an alternative.
A little later, after arriving at Barrowford, two of the party might have been seen consuming ice cream in a manner that left passers by shivering home to their beds.
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.
What of Saturday’s run? That is the question I suspect a few interested readers ask themselves after perusing the usual C.T.C. failure, and finding only Sunday’s happenings related. Now, I think it only my duty to deal with such, considering the number of enjoyable and interesting rides that have taken place. For an example I will endeavour to give a pen-picture of last Saturday’s outing to Pendleton.
"I love Pendle Hill, and from whatever side I view it-——whether from Whalley, where I see it from end to end, from it's lowest point to its highest; from Padiham, where 1t frowns upon me; from Clitheroe, where it smiles; or from Downham, where it rises in full mystery before me—from all points and under all aspects, whether robed in mist or radiant with sunshine, I delight in it" Thus spoke Nicholan Assheton in Harrison Ainsworth's novel "The Lancashire Witches.”
Frequently those words occnrred to me as we pottered along those delectable byways that skirt the foothills of old Pendle, for did we not circumnavigate ; see 1t from every view-point ; frem Whalley where—but then, I am getting too previous ln my narrative, so I will carey voua back to Fence and introduce you to the run in a proper manner.
Green fields all around, mellow suniight, and great, white clouds mounting high in the blue sky. But stayv, what is that drifting out of the west, ohiiterating first the hills in the distance, and then objects mneaver, until T am enveloped in it—a snowstorm. Thus did Fence greet me, and sheltering behind a barn, I patiently waited until, one by one, my clubmates joined me. As quickly as it came, the storm passed over, leaving the country-side clothed in & gdarment of white. So, with prospects of an enchanting ride, we mounted our steeds and rode forward to Whalley. On leaving the aforementioned place we immediately desevted the maing read and followed a byway, labelled by a signpost as narrow and tortuous. It may be narrow, but to a cyclist it is the very opposite to torture, for during its course it passes through = succession of picturesque villages, and from it we obtained fine, panoramic views across the Ribble valley, culminating in Kemple End, the fells of Bowland Forest and Waddington Fell; while in the immediate distance swod Clitheroe Castle, guarding the entrance to Craven. To the south, Pendle predominated the scene, in a wintry aspect, clear cut against a sky of blue, and radiant with sunshine. Passing through "Wissel,” we soon arrived at Pendleton, where we were audibly greeted by a number of ducks that were revelling in
the icy siream that adds greatly to the charm of the village. Continving forward, as the gathering dusk prevented further delay, we passed through Worston, and after considerabie twisting and turning (for the road was still narrow and tortuwous), we finally dropped into Downham for, tes.
And of tea-time, to some cyclists the most important item of fhe run. Picture, if you can, a number of healthy youths seated round a tables, a fire cheerfully blazing away in the grate. A constant flow of banter greets the ear, intercepted. with a tinkle of crockery; "Please pass me tne sugar", "Can I have more tea please?”, °Chase the cow up,", and laughter as some particularly good joke is narrated. And so it goes, waxing merrier and louder as hunger and thirst arve appeased, until, chairs are pushed back, one account settled, and bidding our host “Goodnight,” we sally forth into the open.
The scene has chaaged. All is dark except thie piercing glare of our lamps reflecting from ihe snow coverved road. Occasicnally, the moon peeps out, bathing the whole world in a silvery light. Downham, with its steep main street and illuminated windows is left behind, and we are homeward bound, sheitering when a blizzard overtakes us, and we pause at the summit of each hill to drink in the enchanting views. A hectic descent to Barley, a steep climb out. On looking back we seo Pendle like a hugee white whale, “alternately darend and lightened as clouds move across the face of the moon, and below, in the hollow, twinkle the lights of Barley. Facing south again, we catch a glimpse of the countless lights far helow in the Burnley vallev, and on we go, waiking up hills, and swiftly shooting down them, Occasionally some one bursts forth into song, making the night hideous with his howls, and from behind, a fellow creature (as if one is not enongh, joins in mortal commbat with the originator, giving the whoie countryside the impression that old Mother Demdike upd her compatriots have resumed thewr rituals. All too soon we are amongst those innumerable lights we saw away back in Goodshaw Booth. and with pleasant recollections and a cheery "Good night.” we depart in various directions to our homes. - J.H. 1929