The ride to Chipping is always interesting, as most of the way is along pleasant byways. Especially is it so after Mitton has been passed, when the range of the Bowland Fells, from Whitendale - to Parlick is continually before the eye, and the long mass of Longridge Fell, a constant companion on the left.
It was more so than usual last Sunday when the bright November sunshine — bright for November at least — gladdened the countryside with its radiance and attracted a large gathering of members from the Nelson and Blackburn sections of the C.T.C. to lunch at Chipping before taking part in the event of the afternoon.
After lunch and a lively musical interlude the real fun began. The competitors in the ~vent were timed off at intervals and were instructed to follow a red trail. Naturally, at the first road junction I took the wrong way, but soon righted myself. The trail followed a rough surfaced lane, deep set between two hedges, and then took to the more open country at the foot of Parlick Pike.
If I had not previously travelled this lane I would not have been able to describe it, as the only things I noticed were ruts and potholes. Somehow the rider who started half-a-minute later than I, caught me, and we began to form a kind of affection for each other; neither could leave the other however hard he tried. In this fashion we tore along, passing what seemed to our blurred visions dozens of competitors. Leaving the rough lanes neighbouring Parlick we entered the comparatively smooth road to Bleasdale, still affectionately hugging each other’s wheels. But the easy going was but short lived, and once again we crashed into a rough track winding over Beacon Fell. I have a faint recollection that there were beautiful expansive views of the low lying Fylde district bordering the sea, to be had from here, but the major portion of my senses were occupied in remaining upright. Some day I hope to visit this fell and see if my glimpses were correct. By the time I had reached a good road my partner was lost to sight. Later I found him, and he explained that he had not seen any "spoor" for a while; neither had I when I tried to remember, so off we went to find it. We soon gave it up as useless and decided to potter back to Brock, the tea-place. It was all right saying where we should go, but where were we? Somewhere north of Inglewhite, lost in a labrynth of byways was all we knew. However, we took the direction towards the coast and eventually came to the highway leading from Preston to Lancaster, a little north of Brock. We had hoped to be cheered in, or rather cheered up, at Brock, but we found only one competitor there, he had missed the trail earlier than we.
When all were gathered round the tea tables later, we learnt that we had fortunately missed the muddiest, roughest and toughest part of the course, which finished at Broughton. Nelson provided the winners of the ladies and gent’s prizes; Miss Sharples, the former, and Mr. Nutter the latter, with a Blackburn member a close second.
The runs list of thé Nelson section of the €.T.C. was perused last Sunday morning with great interest by a large number of cyelists with the result that about 30 riders met at Fence Church at 9-30.
We left Fence and proceeded by way of Whalley and Chipping to the abode of one known to cyelists and ramblers as "Toffy” Jack, and there we had lunch. Having satisfied our ravenous appetites we abandoned our bicycles and became ramblers. It was a glorious afternoon, one of those which October borrows from May, indeed, if it were not for the approach of winter; early autumn would be almost as alluring as spring. We went through the gate opposite our lunching place and footed it along the cart track that led us by way of several farmsteads, rustic bridges, and to the ivy-covered church of Bleasdale. The trees everywhere were tinted with burnished gold, a gold which would tax the efforts of any artist to reproduce. We rambled on until we came to a point where we were over-looking Bleasdale; here we branched to our right and the climbing began. It is usual when climbing to divest onself of all articles of clothing which are not necessary for warmth; to-day was no exception, pullovers and coats, both good friends of the past, rested over our arms. After about half an-hour’s strenuous work over peat, bracken and heather, we reached our goal — the summit of Fair Snape Fell — conscious of the joy of achievement and a glorious view. For a short while we sat on the cairn to recover our breath and exchanged gentle ironies on the manner of each other’s ascent, and then started across the ridge to the neighbouring Parlick Pike. The view from the ridge was very fine; the coastline from Morecambe Bay to the Ribble estuary was clearly visible (the member who said that he could see someone lighting a cigarette on the top of Blackpool Tower - was slaughtered and buried on the spot). At the foot of Parlick Pike nestled tree surrounded Chipping, and Jeffry Hill, Pendle Hill, Ingleborough and Whernside dominated the landward horizon, whilst Clitheroe Castle could be plainly discerned in the wooded vale of the Ribble. We paused awhile to admire this view, and then having trampled victoriously on the cairn at the top of Parlick Pike, began the descent. The descent was swifter, but far more hazardous than the ascent; some ran down, some tried to - but finished up by rolling, whilst the majority stumbled down at walking pace. The last mile and a half proved to be very interesting; we jumped rivers and skirted ponds on the way back to “Toffy” Jack’s, where we again became cycligts. . A few of the younger bloods made short work of the remaining miles to Chipping where tea was ordered, and the rest of us arrived as the sun was sinking midst a blaze of splendour, in the west.
After tea, lamps were: lit, and we traversed the innumerable byways that lead to Whalley, to meet again old friends and club-mates, for where, outside. the cycling fraternity, will you find such a spirit of comradeship? But time passes quickly and at 8-30 we departed for home under a star-lit sky with that joyous feeling which comes from a day’s healthy exercise in the open air.
We met at Higherford and loitered to Horton-in-Ribblesdale for lunch (being but the “short" run of the Nelson section, we were allowed to loiter). At 2 o'clock we erupted from the Golden Lion Hotel, full of lunch and eagerness to tackle the objective of our run — Brow Gill Cave.
We left Horton via the track that branches off the road at the Crown Hotel — and what a track it is! It begins in a fairly decent manner, but it soon sheds all pretence of responsibility and leaves the poor cyclist to flounder along over intermittent patches of muddy grass and river-bed. It was at a particalarly wretched stretch of river-bed that my bicycle went on strike. Skidding violently on some loose gravel my bicycle careered across the road (sic) and deposited me - fairly gently, I admit — into the grass at the hedgeside. I got up and regarded my bicycle sorrowfully. "To think that I have treated you with tender care and loving respect, and then you go and let me down like this,” I said, addressing my hitherto tried and trusted friend. The bicycle hung its head, but replied that if I would persist in bringing it along these wretched roads what else could I expect from a steed whose limbs were now nearly five vears old! I apologised for not giving its venerable age more considration, and, amicable relations restored once more, we chased after the others who had left us to our argument. Soon after we reached Brow Gill and left our bicycles on a natural limestone bridge under which the shy and elusive oil flows.
Lamps were removed from machines and we walked up the foliage covered limestone banks of the gill until we reached the mouth of the cave from which the stream emerges from the subterranean depths of the Yorkshire hills. The recent rains had swollen the stream to a small river, and we looked doubtfully at the peaty water and wondered whether it would be possible to traverse the passage without getting drowned. We decided to risk it, lamps were lighted, wills were made, our favourite flowers were named, tender farewells were exchanged with those who preferred to remain outside and so we began our underground adventure. We made a very inauspicious start; the self of rock along which we crawled was pitted with water - worn holes, all of which were, of course, full of water. A howl from ¢lose behind informed us that "Georjud" had knelt in one of these pools, much to the detriment of his plus-fours. I chuckled to myself and rvecommended "Georjud" to wear shorts, but just. then I knelt upon a knife-edge of limestone and my lamentations were added to the general din which consisted of grunts, mock groans, hymn tunes (cheerful souls), muttered imprecations and chortles of laughter as someone else came to grief. To add to our troubles the roof suddenly descended to within eighteen inches the floor. Fortunately the floor was dry at this point, and we crawled under this obstacle on our stomachs without much damage. This proved to be the worst part for, after passing it, the roof opened up to some fifty feet high and we moved along a trifle more quickly. We came to a barrier of massive boulders which had, in the remote past, fallen from the roof. A cautious whisper from our evidently nervous runs secretary recommended us not to speak above a whisper in case more rocks fell. The advice was received with jeers so loud that his fears were for ever set at rest. Several of us were without lamps (dynamos not being suitable for cave hunting), and to stand perched on the boulders in the inky darkness whilst. the lights were divected to the rear to help the others over the obstructions, was a distinctly eerie experience. “Young Bill" and I, who were the advance guard, Sang and whistled doleful hymns just to enliven the proceedings a bit, but I am afraid that our members do not appreciate good singing for the “Shurrups,” "Can its" and “Put a sock in it" that greeted our vocal efforts could hardly be called applause.
We surmounted the boulder barrior and moved along the ever narrowing passage to the accompaniment of the dull rumble of falling water, a rumble that slowly increased to a deafening roar as we neared the waterfall. The walls made a last desperate attempt to stop us from reaching the waterfall by narrowing to less than a foot apart, but after a few pants, grunts and exclamations, regretting the eating of too much lunch, we stood and gazed on the water that emerged from far above our heads and thundered into a foaming pool at the foot of the boulders on which we stood. The sight was certainly an awe-inspiring one; the lamps made rainbows in the spray that welled up and floated clamily round our persons; the very boulders. trembled with the mighty impact of the falling water. It was well worth discomfort to see such a scene.
The return journey was accomplished far more quickly than the inward one. We scrambled over the boulders and did not worry over much when we happened to be brought to a halt under a shower bath from the diminutive stalactites that hung from the roof. A hail from those in front: "Hooray! daylight!" I turned a corner and the mouth of the cave — which incidentally acted as a frame for the picture of the pretty, tree-hung stream beyond — came into view. We stood on the bank of the stream and grinned at one another. Wet plus-fours, muddy shoes and stockings, occasional patches of mud on our coats, did not improve our personal appearance. We ambled back to our bicycles, enjoying the while the sunlight and cloud shadows on Ingleborough, Penyghent and Whernside, and watched the trains flash down and toil up the hilly Settle to Carlisle railway that stretched along the other side of Ribblesdale. When we reached our bicycles we made an extensive toilet and succeeded in restoring ourselves to our more or less state of respectability. I offered to make “Georjud" a present of the fragments of rock and stalactites that I combed from my hair, but he refused them with thanks, saying that he had quite enough mementos in the shape of sundry bumps, cuts and scratches. Our toilet completed, we began our return journey towards Settle. After crossing a very fair imitation of a bog we arrived at Ling Gill Farm and thence on to the road near Ribblehead. We scampered down Ribblesdale as fast as possible, and arrived at Settle at 5-30. Hanby’s Cafe was, as one member said, f.t.b. (full to brasting), so we continued to Long Preston, and there we had our overdue tea.
We regretfully hoisted ourselves from easy chairs at 7-30 and, leaving the warm fire with glances of longing, began our homeward journey. Dynamos hummed their merry tune and banter passed to and fro as we sped home under the twinkling stars. Gisburn, with its crowd of ’buses, was quickly passed, and we arrived home about 10 o’clock.
On Sunday the Nelson Section of the Cyclists’ Touring Club held the annual one hundred miles endurance ride, the distance having to be govered in seven or eight hours by the men, and nine hours for the ladies. Being, as I thought, full of “pep,” I essayed to do it in seven hours,
Previous to leaving home on the fateful morning, I went over my machine with a pruning knife, cutting out all surplus weight. Departing full of optimism, I made my way to the starting place at Higherford, arriving there at nine o’clock, half an hour before the start. This gave the runs secretary quite a shock, because I usually arrive
later than the stated time.
Cyclists of both sexes were continually rolling up, until at twenty minutes past nine rearly forty entrants were awaiting the word "Go!” However, our Press photographer was waiting to do his stuff, so he ordered the various groups about until he had got all the snaps he wanted. At this point, one of the ladies discovered that she had a puncture, so along with another perfect little gentleman I made a hurried repair.
The organiser clambered on to a high wall, and in a squeaky voice, which he fondly imagined to be a bull-like roar, gave the word “Go!” The result was a medley of human forms dashing about looking for their bicycles, and, finding them, tearing down the road to Barrowford. This burst of speed did not last long, however, for the course took us up the road to Wheatley. Here I started reaching for my second wind (if any), and, failing to find it, I slowed down, riders panting by on both sides of me, until two of the weaker sex crawled by on a tandem. This was too much for me, and, making a desperate effort, I managed to keep with them.
The course lay through Whalley and Preston to Cabus, thirty-five and a half miles from the start. Here the riders compulsory half-hour stop for refreshments. Up to this point a strong head wind had to be faced, which took toll, the strong forging ahead and arriving over an hour before the stragglers. !
After the stop, the riders continued to Lancaster, and thence via Hornby and Ingleton to Settle. This part of the course being in an easterly direction, we had the wind at our backs, and, using a three-speed gear was able to make up all the time I had lost in the early struggle, and gain a few minutes on my schedule. I arrived at Settle just in time to see the first group leaving for the final stretch.
Calculating the distanct and time, I found that the small party I was with had one wour and forty minutes to reach the finish, a distance of 27 miles. Several of the club members, who were spectators, kindly informed me that I should fail. This put me on my mettle, and after my half-hour stay I tore away in a rainstorm, determined to do or die. Fortunately, good going was encountered to Skipton, and gaining a few more minutes, I arrived at the finish just in time to check in and sink gratefully on to a form in a near-by sweet shop.
After the time limit had expired, it was found that fourteen riders had successfully completed the course within seven hours, tweive within eight hours, and three ladies within nine hours.
In due course they will be presented, at the annual dinner, with certificates, which they can have suitably framed, and in their old age show with pride to their grandchildren. For myself, never again! The press secretary informs me that I said the same thing last year.
“Variety is the spice of life,” so the saying goes, and if this be the case many members of the Nelson section of the Cyclists’ Touring Club are suffering from a surfeit of good things. This i1s due to our participation in the first camping rally of the North-West lLancashire D.A., held last week-end at Brock, a small village situated on the Lancaster road, about eight miles from Preston. The good things provided for our entertainment included a lantern lecture, field sports, the opportunity of meeting old friends and making new ones, and finally for those who awakened soon enough the chance of viewing a thirty miles tandem race, though this latter event was not provided by the C.T.C.
Being one whose occupation mnecessitates working on Saturday afternoon, it 1s necessary for me to make special arrangements for camping, so my partner takes the tent and all heavy items of equipment, while I follow on, travelling light. This system I find very satisfactory.
Leaving work, I proceeded towards my destination via Higham and Whalley, alternately putting on my cape and taking it off as the showers of rain necessitated, until, tired of the weather’s vagaries, I told the weather clerk to do his worst, and put 1t away for good. Fortunately, he took pity on me, and the sun came out.
At Whalley I turned along the Preston road, but, finding so much traffic bound for the illuminations, I forsook this road at the first opportunity and proceeded by winding lanes to Ribchester and lLongridge. Here, feeling anxious for the safety of my fellow members, I took the Broughton road, which goes close by Whittingham Asylum, but, fortunately, they had taken another route, and are still at liberty.
Reaching Broughton, I again found myself amongst the "petrol fiends,” and they vied with each other in chasing me to my destination. Dismounting from my machine, I was greeted by an old friend, "Rota,” of the “Northern Daily Telegraph,” who was busy making notes on the assorted types of tents, cycles, ete., which were pouring in.
On investigation, I found my partner just putting the finishing touches to the tent, so I congratulated myself on the time taken for the journey.
After replenishing the inner man, the assembled campers proceeded to the lecture hall, where "Wanderer,” of Leeds, gave an illustrated account of a camping tour "Through France to Andorra,” the little Republic situated in the Pyrenees between France and Spain. The lecturer kept his audience interested in describing the many beautiful scenes seen on the tour, and the difficalty he had in making known his wants in very bad French to the farmers and catering establishments on the way.
The lecture over, the audience dispersed to their tents, some to sleep (?) and others to keep them awake by engaging in community singing vound a huge camp fire.
The following morning, being awakened by the occupants of the next tent, who were riding in the tandem race, I washed in the brook — a process which made some of the onlookers’ teeth chatter. A good breakfagt soon induced a little warmth after my dip in the icy water.
Then, finding that the race was just starting, I strolled through the fields on to the roadway, and cheered the competitors impartially as they hurried by. After seeing their return, and finding that the winning couple had done the distance in just over one hour and a quarter, I made my way back to camp, along with other spectators, for the sports. These consisted of one hundred yards running, threading the needle, boot and shoe race, tug of war, and high jumping. The last two events proved to be the most interesting of the lot. Mr. Hudson, of Nelson, who is a Councillor of the club, then made a short speech, congratulating the organisers of the events, and distributed the prizes to the winners.
The assembled campers afterwards proceeded to make tea, pull down their tents, and departed according to the distance be traversed to their respective home. My partner and myself had tea, then packed up and made our way homeward by Inglewhite, Longridge and Whalley, thus ending another week-end which will remain in our memories for a long time to come.
September holidays, the problem of the moment. How does one obtain an enjoyable holiday when the exchequer is low? Does one stay at home and re-hash the memories of one’s mid-summer holiday? Certainly not. Let me tell you how thirty-three members of the Nelson Section of the Cyclists’ Touring Club managed it. They loaded their bicycles with tents, pots, pans and other camping requisites, and after a rather tedious journey through the pouring rain eventually arrived at Ambleside, the chosen headquarters. Fortunately, the rain cleared in time to allow us to pitch our tents without any discomfort on the edge of Lake Windermere.
Sunday found' us indulging in various recreations. During the morning some boated on the lake, one or two swam in it, and the rest idled about enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
In the afternoon one party had a leisurely run to Tarn Hows and Tilberthwaite Ghyll, a delightful bit of Lakeland between Ambleside and Coniston. From the how, or hill, overlooking High Low Tarn there are fine views over the mountain lakelet, with its winding, wooded shores to the fells beyond Ambleside. This tarn and part of the surrounding country was within recent years presented to the National Trust. Another party. climbed Lougrigg, and rock-embossed fell at the head of Windermere, and then went forward to Grasmere, returning along the shores of Rydal Water and through the beautiful wooded Rydal Vale.
Monday morning found the camp in a general state of unrest, for it was murmured that Scafell Pike was to be conquered that day. A start was made by riding via Skelwith Bridge and Elterwater, into Great Langdale, one of the finest valleys in Lakeland. One cannot fail to be impressed by the grandeur of the mountain outline visible daring the latter part of this ride, and especially when Langdale itself is entered. The well-known Peaks of Langdale stand at the head of the valley, whilst more to the west, is the graceful peak of Bowfell and the rugged contour of Crinkle Crags.
At Middlefell Farm, near Dungeon Ghyll, we abandoned our cycles and commenced our tramp. The first two miles of Mickledon Strath were soon covered, and then we tackled Rossett Ghyll, the notoriously rough valley below. This accomplished, we felt that we had earned something, so an al fresco lunch was partaken of. Then we strode on past the deep-set Angle Tarn to Esk House, where we obtained a fine view of Great Gable and the crags of Great End. Here we turned left on to Scafell Pike. We were soon. enveloped in clouds, but after a rough walk across the huge boulders which constitute the higher reaches of the mountain, we scrambled up the narrow ridge - the last ascent to the summit of England. From the summit an occasional break in the clouds gave us glimpses of the valleys below, and then, as quickly as it had come, the mist disappeared, and the whole district, from the Scottish hills beyond the Solway Firth to the hills on the farther side of Morecambe Bay and the intermediate peaks of the Cumbrian mountain, came into view. The majority returned by the same route as they had come, but a few of the more adventurous spirits continued over Bowfell and down by Hell Ghyll — a wild ravine, with ‘waterfalls and cascades roaring and splashing over the rocks — to join the rest of the party at Middlefell Farm for tea. There is always a fair amount of table-talk after an ordinary event, but this one beat them all, for everyone had some amusing or exciting incident to recall.
After tea there came a peaceful ride down Langdale in a typical Lakeland evening, the gold outlines of the Langdale Pikes showing majestically against the yellow hue of the western sky. Then the camp fire was lit, and there followed the usual recounting of experiences before everyone turned in for the night.
Tuesday proved to be practically uneventful. A steady drizzle upset any ambitious plans that were made.
When the last day of the holiday came, nearly all packed their outfits and returned home, knowing that they had spent their holiday both wisely and cheaply. Those more fortunate members who had secured a longer period stayed to enjoy the incomparable beauties of this jewel of England.
How good it feels to be on the road again after sizzling for four days in the tropical atmosphere of the factory Thus though I was, accompanied by my clubmates I sped swiftly along to Skipton. How good it felt to breathe deeply the bracing air of the countryside and feel the cool breeze gently caressing our cheeks and hands as we coasted swiftly down the hills, revelling in the prospect of a week-end’s freedom with congenial companions in the Dales.
Who, amongst cyclists, would not be a camper if he only knew and understood the many pleasures of this carefree life. What matter 1f it is a trifle harder uphill, it’s miles an hour faster down. My mood continued, and I thought of our friends the non-campers, returning home to the murky, soot-laden atmosphere of the town, on Saturday, only to bump and crash over the rough sets, to join the run on the morrow. Poor chaps! They don’t know the joy of sleeping out under the stars, the majesty of the hills as the mists descend to form a nightcap over their summits, or waken to see the country glistening under the rays of the rising sun. “What know they of a country who keep on passing through.” I misquote, but—
We stayed a few minutes in Skipton chatting with old friends, and then we were away. Cracoe and Threshfield dropped behind and we slid down into glorious Wharfedale. Leaving the main road at Kilnsey we went round by way of Coniston to Kettlewell. A narrow and torturous road this, but it is the quickest way for a cyclist travelling up the Dale. One is rewarded with splendid views of the Dale dominated by the forbidding mass of Kilnsey Crag. Passing through Kettlewell the trend of talk naturally turned to Captain Kettle who was named after this village, and to his rival Thomas Higgins, of Starbottom. two miles farther up the valley.
Buckden called us for tea and we found several of our members already there. Tea over we attacked Cray, riding steadily. It is a long climb, and soon we were glad to walk. Not satisfied, we then stormed the Stake Pass, or perhaps it would be more correct to say the Stake Pass stormed us. It was glorious weather down in the valley, but on the hills the mist and clouds hung. thick and heavy. We had anticipated this all the way up Wharfedale. A so-called road sometimes grass track, occasionally like a riverbed, led us gradually upwards into the clouds. The thick mist hung like dew on our hair and eyelashes, while our outer garments were soon saturated. However, we reached the top at last and shot down the long freewheel at the other side. We ran out of the mist, back into it, out again, and then came Semmerwater, the lake on whose shores we were to spend the night and part of the morrow. We had scarcely pitched our tents ere the rain commenced, blotting out the landscape. Someone proposed supper, a suggestion which met with unanimous approval. After a hard day’s ride, one of the pleasures of camping is to sit and listen to the chatter and songs of the campers while supper is cooking. ‘
Listen! A voice is singing, "Then all the steins for Auld Lang Syne."
Then, “Give me the milk please.”
No! Don’t wash yourself in it.
Singer again, "Shout till the rafters ring’
Steaming cocoa and pancakes for supper more singing and then to bed. As I lay there I thought of the legend of Semmerwater; of his vengeance turned the valley into a lake and drowned them all. I don’t know whether this accounts for it or not, but Semmerwater is well known for its pike.
Morning brought a more cheerful prospect and the water was so warm that nearly all went swimming before breakfast. Afterwards some explored the country round the lake, others attempted to sketch it while the rest offered constructive criticism.
Soon after dinner camp was struck, and we came slowly back over the Stake, through mist so thick that one could scarcely see ten yards. Back to sunshine and Kilnsey for tea, then by easy stages home.