Category Archives: Cycling

VE DAY 75 CELEBRATIONS.

 

Lest we forget – I nearly did.

I decided to go out on my bike again today, partially to avoid people and secondly to explore further afield. Not that I don’t know ‘further afield’ in intimate detail. I pedalled off into the east and found myself coming into Chipping in the early afternoon. There was bunting everywhere and there seemed to be a street party underway, all well distanced. Only then did the realisation that it was the 75th anniversary of VE Day enter my all too isolated brain. I didn’t stop for an illicit drink but I wished everyone well as I cycled past. What a good turnout. Up at the church was a classic jeep and other period vehicles had been brought out to give some atmosphere. I felt a chump for not realising the day and forgetting the two minutes silence this morning at 11am.

I was huffing and puffing on some of the hills out of Chipping and I stopped at a gateway to take a photo down the valley. Along came a couple of cyclists, my friends Kevin and Shelagh. I last saw them just before the lockdown when I called at their house on a walk over the Chipping Fells. Today they were taking their exercise and hoping to buy some cheese at one of the local dairies. After pleasantries, they cycled off with S engaging electric mode. I continued more sedately enjoying the views and fresh air.

I arrived home within the hour pleased with my modest socially distanced circuit, my belated  VE Day observances and determined to go further tomorrow.

I’m praying the government doesn’t in the next few days unravel our attempts to slow the virus and protect our NHS.

 

*****

PRESTON GUILD WHEEL – WHAT’S NEW?

 

I first rode around the wheel rather disastrously in 2014. and have repeated it several times since.  It has rained solidly for over 24hrs meaning the fields will be sodden and unpleasant for walking. Having used my bike to assist with a few walks recently I thought it time to revisit the well-surfaced route.

A toss of the coin determined which way I went, heads sent me anticlockwise. The beginning is not inspiring, through an industrial estate including a metal recycling plant where my last car ended its days. The roundabout on Bluebell Way I always find confusing, there is a choice of a level route on pavements or a steeper way directly into the countryside, I found myself on the latter. Pleasant parkland is encountered but the noise of the adjacent motorway is offputting. I walk up the first steep hill. I’m enjoying the riding and soon cover a few miles, it is 21miles for the full circuit as posts every mile remind you. Most cyclists seem to be coming the other way, clockwise.  I watch as most seem to steer straight through the awkward wooden barriers designed to slow one. They certainly slow me I come to a standstill and walk through, my bike manoeuvrability is not what it was or maybe I’m just broad-shouldered.

D’Urton Lane is soon reached and appears to have been opened to traffic after several years or building Broughton Bypass. Housing estates are being built with access onto this previously quiet lane. At its far end all is changed with signalled crossings over the Broughton Bypass, here called James Towers Way named after a WW1 VC decorated soldier from Broughton.Safely over the busy roads and round the corner the old A6 is very quiet without much traffic and changed lanes……and my once favourite curry house has been demolished for development of the site.

There are major housing developments around Preston Grasshoppers rugby ground and further on the housing is closing in on the wheel, there will be a lot more traffic to contend with in future.

I had my usual coffee stop sat outside The Final Whistle Cafe in UCLAN’s sports ground. Climbing over Blackpool Road dark clouds were massing over Preston as I headed back. Along past, the docks was a memorial stone, erected 2018, in memory of Ben Ashworth a local marathon/charity runner. Apparently, there is a plaque entering Miller Park as well but I missed it.

The old tram bridge over the Ribble at Avenham Park has been closed due to structural defects, I wonder if it will ever open again.

At the end of Brockholes Nature Reserve is a new sign erected by The Peak and Northern FootpathsSociety, I don’t remember seeing it before though it’s dated 2013.

All that was left was to push my bike up that last steep bit [have stone sets been laid recently?] and cycle through the crematorium to complete the circuit. Very enjoyable and it didn’t rain.*****

THE LOT. A HOLIDAY DIARY.

Puy L’Eveque on the Lot River.

I’ve just returned from three weeks staying in my friend’s house in the Lot Valley, France.  The weather as you can imagine, in August, was hot and sunny.

The first week was shared with the owners and their family, the second two weeks one of my sons came out with his family.

Here is a snapshot of daily life.

Day 1.  Hot air balloon. Awoke this morning to see across the vineyards a hot air balloon landing through the mist over towards Vire. They must have had a fantastic flight in the clear morning air. I don’t know where they launch from, an unusual start to the holiday.

Day 2. Men in orange. It turns out that this Thursday is a French Bank Holiday, we get caught out with the shops being closed.  This explains why the hunters are out in the combe, dogs try to flush out deer or wild boar into the open. Not a good time to go walking. Thankfully there were no shots heard this morning.

Day 3. Full moon. I seem to often visit whilst there is a full moon which shines brightly over the back of the house and garden whilst we are finishing supper.

Day 4. In the pool. The two young children make the most of the pool as the temperature sores into the 30s.

Children, father and grandma.

Day 5. BMF training. Saturday back home in Leeds is BMF training session in Roundhay Park so the exercises were recreated on the lawn. It all looked very energetic and powerful from my viewpoint on a lounger.

Day 6. French walkers. Each day I get out for a short walk, often before breakfast. My favourite is up the garden into the woods and then back down The Combe de Filhol. Today I extend my walk around the Orienteering Course in the woods across the way. I come across a group of French walkers, holidaying in the area, marching along with a map. Normally I see no one but today as I zigzag about I bump into the same group several times, they look a little uneasy as I keep appearing from the undergrowth.

Day 7. Hints of autumn.  On my walks I started noticing fungi pushing through the undergrowth. Unfortunately they looked poisonous, On the other hand, the mirabelles, small plums, were prolific and once stewed provided many delicious desserts with yoghurt or ice cream.

Day 8. All change. I take mine hosts back to the airport and await the arrival of my family group. They are quickly through passport control, how will this be next year after Brexit?   I drive them back with a short coffee break in Isseagac, a charming Bastide town.

Day 9. Garden games. A lot of time was taken up with games in the garden. Boules, table tennis, french cricket, croquet etc. The competitive spirit was well demonstrated in croquet where some most unfriendly manoeuvers were taken.

Day 10. On the bike. For some of my longer excursions, I took one of the bikes with me but ended up walking as much as riding due to the terrain and the bike’s gears’ obstinacy. One of my favourite trips which I hadn’t made for some time was over the hills to St. Martin le Redon in the Theze valley. Firstly over to Touzac then over the river Lot on a splendid metal bridge. Near here is a good swimming spot in the slow running river, popular in the heatwave, One of the GR routes is joined to go over another group of hills down into the Theze valley. St. Martin is a sleepy village but has gained a little cafe since I was last here; a welcome addition. In the valley is a string of limestone cliffs which I often climbed on in happier times. Hilly tracks take me over to Duravel and slowly back to the house.

Day 11. More exercise. As if last weeks exercises hadn’t been enough my own family started on more each day. Matthew and Lou’s seemed fairly casual but Sam was into serious workouts in between fast runs.

Day 12. Shush! there’s a deer in the garden. The orchard higher up the garden has numerous apple trees which drop their fruit at this time of year. It is a regular event for deer to visit the garden for this fruit and Alex spotted one tonight, well done; they don’t hang around long.

Day 13. Off to market. Sunday is market day at the nearby town of Montcuq.  There is a market somewhere every day but this one is very popular with locals and tourists. Every sort of stall [produce, clothing, antiques etc.] street entertainment and an interesting village to explore.

Day 14. The Poolman cometh. An ageing hippy drives up in his Morris Minor van, he has a collection of them, and cleans the pool.

Day 15. Snakes and glow worms.

Day16. More pool activities.  The weather was perfect for relaxing in the pool. One of the challenges was to do a length on the banana,

Day 17. Orienteering. In the woods I’ve set up a simple orienteering course. The family were keen to try it and being competitive split into two groups, I’ll call them the tortoises and the hares. They disappeared for an hour or so and needless to say the more careful tortoises came in first. This proved the hardest to find in a pile of stones in the middle of the trees…

Day 18. Eating in and out. We have mainly eaten at the house, two vegans to feed plus two picky ‘enfants’. Despite that, the family have eaten out at several local restaurants. Chips and salad is the best option for vegans in France. For a special occasion, I specifically booked the nearest place we could walk to. Le Caillau is a lovely courtyard restaurant with a reputation for good food. They told me they could cater for Vegans. My family appreciated the atmosphere and the food but I thought they could have been a little more creative with the seasonable vegetables, What have I missed out – wine tasting, Martignac with its Medieval church, lavoir and cazelle, Buzzards, Bastide towns, castles, mosquitos, kayaking and LOTS  more.

Day 19. Chez mois.  Je suis de retour a la maison maintenant, c’est l’Automne.   Que fait Boris?

 

A LOT OF WORK.

Back in the Lot valley for a couple of weeks to ease me into Autumn. When we arrived the air temperature was up in the high 20s and more importantly was the pool temperature. As the days slowly passed the temperatures dropped but I was still swimming on the last day. This was the usual combination holiday of work and pleasure, heavily biased to the latter. My oldest grandson joined us for a week and it was great to reacquaint him with the pleasures of rural France, think food and wine. It was a bus-man’s holiday for him being on lifeguard duty by the pool!  Despite the usual post flight colds we managed a few local walks and cycles incorporating fruit picking, he was on guard as I picked. Bad example to the innocent younger generation. Light relief came from boules, table tennis, crosswords and whist – boring old farts.

Anyhow to get back to the subject of this post there was a lot of work going on at nearby Hauterive Chateau with the plums they grow alongside the vines A machine washed and cleaned the ripe plums, trays of plums are then loaded into ovens to dehydrate them into our breakfast prunes. As well as our boxes of wine we came away with handfuls of plums which provided desserts for many nights. Grape picking occurs later at the end of September.

The fields in the vicinity of the house had been harvested earlier and now they were being ploughed and harrowed. The size of modern machinery is staggering, the tractor turns up with a trailer which then proceeds to unfurl its long wings making quick work of the large fields. The last run must have been seeding as within a few days green shoots of Barley appeared.

One morning I woke to find a man on the roof cleaning the chimney in the traditional way. Apparently one needs an annual certificate of this work being carried out for insurance purposes.

We had our own work repairing the sit on mower but thankfully the helper is an experienced engineer. It did work later.On my daily circuit of the wooded hill and combe I spotted some trees that had their bases tarred and sticks placed against them, not as traps but possibly as markers for any boar or deer movements. The woods are hunted regularly. No one was able to give a satisfactory explanation.

Every night a deer came down the garden to feed on fallen apples so in an attempt to get a closer view I rigged up my hammock and laid in wait but of course I drifted off to sleep, too much wine, so probably missed all the action. There was a full moon which lit up the garden in the early hours.

A pleasant couple of weeks.

EASTER DISTRACTIONS ON THE GUILD WHEEL.

The garage where I bought my car from last year lies on The Guild Wheel circuit. When I phoned to arrange the yearly service I was surprised the appointment, they have become very clinical in garages, was on Easter Monday, so rather than waste the day in went the bike. The receptionist, very clinical, was taken aback by my Lycra and helmet and doubted I would be back within the 2 hours the service would take. I set off on the Wheel in an anticlockwise direction and after a couple of miles I was investigating the lock gates from the Ribble into Preston docks when a familiar voice caught my ear and there was one of my sons and his partner cycling the opposite way. They were visiting from Manchester and doing a quick circuit before dining with family. I was invited to join them and soon was retracing my ride past the garage I had left a short while ago. I meant to mention that this garage is part of a multi motor showroom complex – there are cars and salesmen everywhere.

The day was cool and dry, we made good progress around the northern half of the Wheel. I managed to keep up with their youthful pace but was glad of a coffee stop in, say it quietly, Starbucks.That reminded me of a picture I took in Bethlehem a couple of years ago.

Onwards and down through the woods at Redscar where the bluebells were just colouring up. Now the fact it was Easter Monday hit home as all the way through Brockholes the path was thronged with families enjoying the sunshine. Slow progress. The pace quickened on the stretch by the river and after that my companions took a different route up into Preston. From here the crowds thickened again and I realised it was the famousegg rolling day in Avenham Park so it was simpler and safer to dismount and walk with the crowds. There was a great party atmosphere – egg-rollers, fair goers, music and dance entertainment and general family happiness. I tarried to absorb it all.

Even after leaving the park the route through the docks was thronged with people, the steam train was running. I arrived back at the garage after three hours to collect my car, complete with its clinical diagnostic sheet. I complemented the receptionist on their efficiency and enthused how easily I fitted the cycle into the boot.

Everyone seemed happy on this sunny Easter Monday.

BEACON FELL CIRCUIT.

It was one of those out of body experiences – I was 11years and cycling as fast as I could around the Teesdale lanes getting strong for some time trialing; then I was in my teens touring various parts of Britain with my mates; now I’m 30 and exploring the Trough of Bowland and further afield doing 100 mile days; next I’m 50 and cycling across Europe on endless adventures. Now I’m off my bike and having to walk up a steepish hill onto Beacon Fell. Bugger.

Today’s circuit from home is about the same distance as the Preston Guild Wheel which I’ve been using recently but with HILLS – over a 1000ft of ascent. Your are on your own here.Still the roads are quiet, the sun is shining and I’m wrapped up against the freezing temperatures.

Beacon Fell is a local landmark and popular with strollers and families. It is one of my regular haunts usually walking as previous posts detail. I had forgotten how impregnable it was on a bike. Still the cafe is open all year. Despite the icy roads it was mainly fast downhill from here on the long way round to Chipping under the Fairsnape Fells. There were a few more hills I’d forgotten about!

and then I’m sprinting to the finish on the Champs-Élysées.

***

As an aside I passed several laneside garages long since abandoned, they were a feature of the countryside 50 years ago. They were never open when you needed petrol  on a Sunday afternoon but their skilled mechanics kept the locals cars and tractors on the road. No plug in diagnostics in those days.

 

 

 

 

New Year Miscellany.

Several days have been sunny and cold but windless – perfect for a spot of bouldering at Craig y Longridge. There have been a few more brave souls out on the rock. The crag is owned and managed by the BMC [thankfully for now this acronym has outlasted the suggested change to  Climb Britain] and the climbing fraternity have done us proud, with no antisocial behaviour or littering. However at the parking spot some ‘part time builder’ has found it easier to dump his rubbish in the road than take a trip to the tip.     Happy New Year.

I noticed the above whilst cycling past on a circuit of Longridge Fell roads, much harder than the relatively level Guild Wheel. Thankfully I was alone, I was so out of breath conversation would have been impossible.

Back to the Guild Wheel I was on it again New Years Day, this time walking part of it with a friend who was plotting a short walk in the Fernyhalgh area for his monthly walking group. We found a decent dry circuit with plenty of interest. Passing on route at Ladyewell the old Fernyhalgh School building [now a private day nursery] – my children attended there in the 70s when it was still the village primary, only to be closed against local opposition. There is still evidence of Boys and Girls separate entrances. Nearby is a memorial to local lads lost in WW1, quite an ornate cross for the five.

Ladyewell Nursery. Wikipedia.

Ladyewell Nursery. Wikipedia.

With the same friend a circuit of the Longridge Fell tracks was completed on New Years Eve, we were glad to be in the trees out of the cold wind. The only other people met were dog walkers. A few of the poorer days have been spent at Preston Climbing Wall in a vain attempt to steal some fitness from the season.

Preston Guild Wheel again.

In my last post I mentioned there were a few issues with the ‘Wheel’ but as we were in the Xmas season of goodwill I left them till now. Today has been bright, sunny and freezing with no wind – perfect for another circuit to keep the momentum going. Well wrapped up I cycled from Longridge thus adding an extra ten miles to my clockwise route. Brockholes nature reserve was busy with family parties strolling around and serious telescope wielding birders. There did seem to be a lot of wildlife on the lakes. Onwards again in the parks families were enjoying the good holiday weather. This brings me to the first issue, that of sharing the ‘path’, there are a multitude of users – cyclists, strollers, pram pushers, dog walkers, joggers. On social media there have been unfavourable comments directed at cyclists for their selfish and at times dangerous behaviour. The main issue being speed. I must admit on my visits the majority of cyclists proceed in an orderly manner with due respect to pedestrians. There are only a few head down speedsters. Being old fashioned I have a bell on the bike and use it when approaching walkers as a warning, this seems to work well and we all pass happily. My grumble here is that a significant number of walkers are plugged in to some sound system, don’t hear and tend to stumble into your track becoming a danger to all. Touché.

The Guild Wheel has been a great success as a recreational route since its inauguration in  2012

For walkers and cyclists it is mainly traffic free but recent developments are threatening its viability. There are several new housing developments in the northern section which will, apart from the inevitable loss of open countryside, increase traffic on the presently quiet lanes. Local residents are as much up in arms as the Guild Wheel users. I believe that sections of ‘cycle to school’ lanes are also affected.                                                                                                                      In another area the construction of The Broughton By-pass cuts right across the Wheel and endangers users. I have not seen the proposals for pedestrians and cyclists on its completion.   It is interesting to read correspondence between Guild Wheel campaigners and our political representatives on the County Council. I will leave it to your interpretation as to whom to believe, time will  tell. There is a petition to sign if you have strong views.

Back home warming up in the bath I’ve a warm glow of satisfaction from today’s ride – physical and mental – long may it remain possible.

 

 

 

AROUND THE WHEEL, IF NOT THE WORLD, IN EIGHT CAFES.

      The Roman Soldiers on Preston Guild Wheel have dressed for the festive occasion.

The most clicked page on my posts in the last few years has happened to be the Preston Guild Wheel map –

– it seems to be a popular ride.

This is no blow by blow account of today’s festive ride, I’ve done that before here and there.

Better to look at one of the many YouTube videos of a speeded up trip around the circuit, they remind me of the London to Brighton film shown on the BBC as an interlude back in the days, along with the potter’s wheel.

Anyhow to get back to today’s ride, anticlockwise from Red Scar on a sunny but cold afternoon.  I didn’t have time to call in at all the refreshment stops but made a mental note for a future caffeine indulgence. Other beverages are available.                                                                     [These are the establishments directly on the Wheel, there are several more within a  hundred metres for a grand slam circuit.]

Starbucks. Bluebell Way.Jpeg

The Guild Merchant.  Tag Lane.

Ancient Oak.  Cottam.

Final Whistle Cafe. UCLAN Sports Centre.

The Beach Club Coffee Shop.   Preston Marina.

The Continental.  Riverside.

The Pavilion Cafe.  Avenham Park.

Floating Cafe. Brockholes.There are some ongoing issues with the Guild Wheel but I’ll leave them to a later date.

 

… so a seasons greetings to you all.

 

 

Simply passing time.

Peaceful Chipping Vale.

BANG – I thought I had been shot!

The morning had been frosty but bright and I was out on my bike for a few miles round the country lanes. Well wrapped up I was enjoying cruising downhill into Longridge when there was this explosion from my back wheel which immediately deflated. Luckily only half a mile to wheel the bike home and investigate the damage. The tyre had a large hole in it as had the inner tube. I realised my tyres were old and perished – hence the explosion. Looking back I should have been more circumspect before setting off as my saddlebag had been turned into a mouse nest whilst I’d been an inactive cyclist. They had chewed up a rag, a chocolate bar and a spare inner tube with its packet in my absence.   Next morning it was down to the bike shop for a couple of new tyres and inner tubes – after the horse has bolted.

Nesting saddle bag.

Nesting saddle bag.

Since I’ve been back from sunny Tenerife it has been bright and cold, but dry, here,  I don’t normally like this time of year and try to go abroad but I must admit the weather is superb for November. Hence the sudden urge to go cycling. Whilst away I managed to violently ‘back heal’ the toilet basin in our small bathroom, no alcohol was involved – well maybe a little the night before. Bruised heals are painful and I haven’t been keen to do much walking. A session at Preston climbing wall proved how unfit I was compared to my mates who have recently returned from Kalymnos. So afternoons have been spent up at CraigYLongridge, the local bouldering crag. I’ve surprised myself being able to have a session or two whilst the thermometer only showed 6C degrees  providing the sun was shining. A few other brave souls have joined me.

A cold Craigy.

A cold Craigy.

So the point of this post, apart from bicycle maintenance, is just to acknowledge how lucky I am to live within 5mins of climbable rock and within a network of Lancashire lanes in Chipping Vale just made for cycling.

Simple.

Chipping in bloom.

I’ve talked about the village of Chipping several times as I often seem to be passing through. Today I was here again for a short circular field walk that a friend was planning for his walking group. We were impressed by the tidiness of the village and the abundance of colourful floral displays, the village looked reet gradely.

Chipping in bloom.

Chipping in bloom.

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the village this morning, but it is worth seeking out the stone-built cottages,  17th century school, churches, almshouses, club row and waterwheel. On the edge of the settlement we left the road and followed an old hawthorn hedge and ditch, all that remain of a Medieval  ‘pale’.

Line of the enclosure.

Line of the pale enclosure.

This was a wooden fenced enclosure for the deer park of Leagram Estate. There is a rare map in the Duchy Of Lancaster archives by a Roger Kenyon from 1608 delineating the park so that its boundary may be traced still. Not only did the pale keep in the deer but also acted as physical statement of privacy and privilege to the common people on the outside. This is thought to be the origin of the phrase ‘beyond the pale

Walking beyond the pale with Longridge Fell in the background.

Walking ‘beyond the pale’ with Longridge Fell in the background.

 We completed our simple circuit with first views to Longridge Fell and then the Fairsnape fells to the north. The route will need a few tweaks before the group use it – apparently they are not keen on too many stiles or boggy ground! There was intermittent rain and sun and the only other point of note was a ‘Zebra’ in a field.The Tour of Britain cycle race, stage 2 on Sept 7th, comes through Chipping and has a circuitous journey on the local lanes to Longridge and beyond. Hence all the yellow bikes, what Yorkshire can do so can we. Should be worth a watch.

All along the hedgerows.

Daft or apt title for a cycle ride?

Having just returned from the heat of France I find that it’s hot here too. Great. I’m out early on the hottest day of the year creating my own breeze on the bike. Just the usual lanes around Chipping but as I ride I’m struck by the abundance of flowers in the hedgerows. So out comes the camera. Wild roses and honeysuckle. Brambles. Ragged Robin. Elderflower. Foxgloves. Cow Parsley.

A splendid show as I cycled past. I seem to remember a way of working out the age of a hedge – the number of different species of trees/shrubs in 30yards x 100. Not sure if this works but we do have some historic hedgerows in England. That’s if they are not stone walls as in the Pennines.

I was using small ‘quiet’ lanes but was it was evident that the van and car drivers didn’t share the same view. So different to France where a cyclist is given some respect, as I’ve recently experienced.  Over a hundred cyclists are killed in a year in the UK and many more seriously injured. I admit a majority of these are in urban areas but I didn’t feel particularly safe today.

http://www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/pedal-cyclists/facts-figures/

To diverse I wandered off route and found myself at The Horns Inn, an 18th century pub, although originally a farm. They are renowned for their Goosnargh Duck menus and their micro brewery. The bar is unique as is the old gents urinal  [?architecturally listed]  across the road – seen on the right of the picture.Another on the whim diversion took me down Ford Lane and across the low stream. It can become dangerous after heavy rain as the height marker shows – I shudder to imagine such a deluge. There is a footbridge!

Cycling in The Lot Valley.

This is a perfect cycling area – quiet lanes, not really too many steep gradients, beautiful villages with refreshments and also a  good network of VTT tracks. The tourist information offices have lots of free leaflets and maps – try the ones in Puy L’Eveque and Duravel. There is a particularly good set of routes produced by The Lot tourist board  –  http://www.tourisme-lot.comOver coffee and croissants I pour over the 1 in 25,000 map as I want to explore tracks alongside a large loop in The Lot to the east near Grezels. Choosing an off-road bike for practicality I planned quiet lanes over towards the area I was to explore. Memories of cycling through this area on a journey on the Camino to Santiago de Compostela several years ago came flooding back. On that occasion I spent a night in Cahors and cycled alongside The Lot somewhere, tasting the dark red wine of the area for the first time. I remember how the French people heartily welcomed a lone cyclist and how considerate car drivers were as opposed to the UK.

Soon I was on a well-signed cycle route through steepish hills amongst the vines and on down towards The Lot. Here I left the road to follow a grassy track alongside the river passing an old mill on a side stream. At a slipway there were plaques showing the heights of ‘recent’ floods, March 1912 appeared the worst.  I’ve seen The Lot in flood and it’s a frightening sight.As I cycled along a green lane by the river I came across the newish tourist passenger boat sailing by,  operating from Puy L’Eveque it seems a fairly tame trip. Much better to hire a canoe from the same people and explore yourself. A little further upstream is one of the canoe launching sites I’ve used in the past below a new weir and lock. I once found it surprisingly hard work getting back to Puy with my young Grandson against a strong headwind, kept getting blown back up the river whenever I stopped paddling for a rest.

The lane left the river through fields of sunflowers which were just coming into bloom. They are a classic summer sight in this region of France.

I pedalled along happily, pleased with my chosen route alongside the river. Even better was my arrival in previously unvisited Pescadoires which turned out to be a delightful hamlet just above the river. In the village square by the 11th-century church [with its series of Gargoyles] I had a potted history of the place from a lady out of one of the adjacent houses. She also proudly told me she lived next door to an English family who fly in for short breaks – such is the nature of modern travel. I wonder how many English own houses in the area and how this has affected traditional community life and the prices for the locals. My French wasn’t good enough to delve into those issues.Road cycling took me through Lagardelle as the clock struck 12 – mad dogs and Englishmen….      and on to Grezels. The restaurant La Terrace here had an interesting 18euro lunchtime menu, would return. Again in the village, some of the buildings displayed faded old signs from the recent past. These rural places must have been much more vibrant 50years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy with my morning’s cycle I returned home the same way I’d come, this being the soft option rather than a longer loop over steep hills.  Next time!  and in any case, I was ready for lunch. The afternoon temperature rose to 34C in the shade, they were harvesting the rapeseed in the adjacent field so the Kites were flying in. As a bonus in the evening we were visited by a deer and her fawn.

 

 

 

 

BREAKING THE 50 MILE BARRIER.

Despite being rather disparaging about my cycling exploits in a recent post  [Irwell Valley 1]  I’ve been out for shorter rides [20 – 25 miles] mainly around, rather than over, Longridge Fell. All of a sudden I feel some fitness returning, that toe is not complaining too much and I’m enjoying the weather. Why at my age do I still feel the need to get fitter? Of course I know the answer – I want to keep active as long as possible exploring the outdoors at home or abroad. So my fate is sealed. After my cycle through ‘The Trough’ the other day I muttered about doing 50 miles next. Today I had in mind to cycle through the Trough again but in the reverse direction which I reckoned would be harder.

The doorbell rang at 9am and there was Al in cycling mode. Are you going through the Trough?  I enquired.  No, I’ve just been,  he replied!    He’s always been known for his early starts, today he’d left Preston at 6am and was hoping to be working by 10. But first cups of tea and catch ups.

No excuse now. Pedaled away up past Chipping and into the Hodder Valley, feeling rather sluggish I was dawdling along towards Whitewell in my own thoughts.  Alongside came a fit looking cyclist and rather than speed past as most do he slowed down for a chat. He gently mocked my ancient gear changing leavers [Campag!] – any gear will do scenario. He’d already cycled from Bolton and was in for a long day. This was nothing for him as he’d just returned from cycling in the Alps including an ascent of Alpe d’hues. I felt my pace quickening  to keep up.  I relaxed when he turned off to Slaidburn.Uplifted by our meeting I sped along Langden valley but was soon struggling on the steeper Trough itself.  OK – I walked the last few hundred feet admiring the purple heather which has just bloomed. It is harder from this side!

I came back to life on the descent and was soon through Dolphinhome and across the A6. Here I decided to make a longer loop home so I ended up in Cockerham where I hoped to find a cafe – nothing. Made a mistake of going out towards Knott End and not able to find a road going south towards St. Michaels, the lane I chose meandered me back to Cockerham!  Down the road however I was saved by a cafe/ice cream parlour, The Pudding House. Most people were queuing for massive ice creams….…. but I was happier with a pot of tea and a lifesaving date slice – thank you.

Knew my way from there via Garstang and Inglewhite and arrived home rather weak legged – 52miles!  Had also climbed 2500ft, so it turned out a hillier 50 than I had intended.

 

 

CYCLING THROUGH ‘THE TROUGH’

It had to be done. This is the classic ride from the Preston area. After recent trips on my bike, slowly building up strength, I knew that the next challenge was to cycle through The Trough of Bowland. Had not done this for 20 years, too busy climbing and walking. Set of today at lunchtime.The fells which I had to circumvent had ominous black clouds above them as I left Longridge. Was soon into Garstang and on to Scorton where the traditional stop at The Priory for coffee and cake was duly taken.  Got chatting to a fellow cyclist [I have put myself into that bracket now] Turned out he was staying in Longridge for a couple of days and had escaped the family to ride today. I was glad of the cake as I followed twisting undulating lanes towards the fells.

Heading towards Marshaw.

                                           Heading towards Marshaw.

One particularly steep little hill climb caught me out and had me standing on the pedals. Once on the Trough road at Marshaw I just had to keep going at a steady pace and I was at the summit before I knew it. Set at 968ft is the Grey Stone of Trough marking the pre1974 boundary between Lancashire and West Riding of Yorkshire.

The Grey Stone Of Trough.

                                   The Grey Stone Of Trough.

Wonderful scenery abounds up here in the Bowland Fells and today the conditions were perfect, clear warm and sunny and most important – no wind.  Great swooping descent to Dunsop BridgeSAM_5214 Onwards by the Hodder to Whitewell, with it’s celebrated Inn.

The River Hodder.

The River Hodder.

I enjoyed the trip down the valley to Chipping and the short stretch back to Longridge in the late afternoon sunshine.

Feeling rather smug tonight with my modest achievement and dreaming up longer and longer cycling days.  LE to JOG?  Hang about – I’d better try 50 miles tomorrow first!

ZCapture.JPGtrough

BLAZING SADDLE. A PHOTOGRAPHIC PUB CRAWL.

Z cycle shardThe heat wave continues!  I mentioned in my last post how I was Inspired to cycle once more through The Trough of Bowland. I felt I had to get some miles under my belt first to achieve a modicum of two wheeled fitness. So today cycled out to Shard Bridge on the Wyre and back, almost 40miles. The tarmac was melting in places and I had the wind against me all the way home. Good training, The title Blazing Saddle was appropriate by the time I finished in the afternoon heat. Talking of saddles the picture below shows my well used and worn Brooks leather saddle, at least 60yrs old. Complimenting it is my old Carradice Saddle bag. Both are still in production, for a price, – good design and craftsmanship always win out. Shows my vintage!

Picture taking whilst cycling is different to when walking. First it is advisable to stop before shooting, so nothing is spontaneous, and often there is only a winding road to focus on. I made a decision today to just take pictures of the interesting pubs I passed. There is some logic there as whenever you ask directions you get the reply – ‘turn at the pub’ etc. That is a good reason not to change pub names,they are a historical document.  Have a good selection of names here, all will be familiar to Lancastrians in the area. Not sure of my results, maybe next time I’ll choose the equally imposing village churches.

ALSTON ARMS.LONGRIDGE.

ALSTON ARMS.LONGRIDGE. MY LOCAL.

HORNS INN AND GENTS LOO ON RIGHT OF ROAD.

HORNS INN AND GENTS LOO! ON RIGHT OF ROAD.

REOPENED GREEN MAN ON VILLAGE GREEN INGLEWHITE.

REOPENED GREEN MAN ON VILLAGE GREEN INGLEWHITE.

THE ROEBUCK AT BILSBORROW. MORE RESTAURANT THAN PUB.

THE ROEBUCK AT BILSBORROW. MORE RESTAURANT THAN PUB.

OWD NELLS - CANALSIDE PUB.

OWD NELLS – CANALSIDE PUB.

THE FRIENDLY GRAPES IN ST. MICHAEL'S.

THE FRIENDLY GRAPES IN ST. MICHAEL’S.

SHARD BRIDGE INN - NOW THE UPMARKET 'SHARD' ON THE WYRE.

SHARD BRIDGE INN – NOW THE UPMARKET ‘SHARD’ ON THE WYRE.

THE SHIP AT ELSWICK. ANOTHER 'GASTRO PUB'.

THE SHIP AT ELSWICK. ANOTHER ‘GASTRO PUB’.

THE DERBY ARMS, OLD MOTORING PUB AT INSKIP - LOOKS CLOSED!

THE DERBY ARMS, OLD MOTORING PUB AT INSKIP – LOOKS CLOSED!

THE BROUGHTON INN, NOT EXACTLY A COUNTRY PUB!

THE BROUGHTON INN, NOT EXACTLY A COUNTRY PUB!

THE STAGS IN GOOSNARGH.

THE STAGS IN GOOSNARGH.

Mission completed, next cycling trip should be around The Trough.

A TRIP INTO BRONTE COUNTRY.

The e-mail message said South  Pennines  grid ref. 018 362 at 9.45am.

Twisty roads over from Colne made me late into the carpark.  I wasn’t too sure of my whereabouts but a huge white sign on a hill ahead spelt out Welcome to Yorkshire – the Tour de France had been through last weekend. The other five were booted up and ready to go. Two are from Yorkshire so the score is 4 – 2. A long straight track took us onto Haworth Moor and then a descent into a pretty valley at The Bronte Bridge and waterfalls, mentioned by Charlotte in 1854. Everything round here has a connection, true or fabricated, to the Bronte Sisters. Today the stream was running empty so the waterfalls were disappointing. Signs directed us up towards Top Withens – this is the first time I’ve noticed Japanese characters on a sign post in England, obviously reflecting the Brontes’  popularity with those tourists. The farm is now mostly ruined though one room has been restored and wooden benches added to serve as a refuge on The Pennine Way which we were now following. The situation is said to have been used by Emily in Wuthering Heights. Lovely open space walking led across the moor and down to Walshaw Dene Reservoirs. As it was the PW the path had been flagged through the peaty terrain. An early lunch break was called at the emptied middle reservoir. Time for a debate as to our onward route and much map gazing.

Four men and a map.

                                                    Four men and a map.

Refreshed we climbed over Wadsworth Moor and down to the attractive hamlet of Walshaw. Then up again past old farms and down to Paddock Beck on sketchy paths. A long  ascent of the old Hebden to Haworth road proved to be very sweaty in the afternoon heat. We had actually been walking most of the day in Lancashire but we then descended steeply to the Leeshaw Reservoir back in Yorkshire. Yet another uphill took us back to the carpark, the walk planner was getting some stick by now for all the descents/ascents [2700ft] packed into what was a relatively short walk [11miles]

We needed a visit to The Friendly pub up the road in Stanbury to restore our composure with a pint of Goose Eye Brewery’s Maillot Jaune, a blonde summer ale produced to celebrate the tour in Yorkshire. Delicious.  Out of interest other local breweries have come up with the following imaginatively named special tour brews – On Yer Bike,  Le Champion and Saddle Sore.

Get them whilst you can.

LE PETIT DEPART.

Cycling fever pitch is rising this weekend with Le Grand Depart of the Tour de France in Yorkshire.

To ease my left big toe pain I ended up doing a few short cycling trips  whilst in France last week.  After my last forays on my old road bike in the local hills I decided I needed lower gearing, so whilst I was away I had the front rings replaced to improve matters. The last couple of days I’ve been out on my bike again in Lancs. Many of the roads nearby are ‘classified’ as quiet country lanes – not that that makes much difference to the boy racers or the posh 4×4 brigade.

There has been an effort in the last few weeks to resurface some of the worst potholed sections which I have to be grateful for. Enjoyed a pleasant, short, circular ride today out to Bashall Eaves and back via Chipping in rather dull weather but it never rained. The hamlet of Walker Fold passes by in a flash, even at my speed.  The bridge over the River Hodder is the lowest point on the ride and today the river is running low. Uphill to Bashall Barn, a popular cafe developed in the need for farm diversification. The hamlet of Bashall Eaves is only a few scattered properties. The pub is sadly only open now at weekends, rural pubs are having a hard time round here. Called The Red Pump it has a history of a mysterious, unsolved murder in 1934.

Once past Browsholme Hall with its Tithe Barn [another cafe!] and the small hamlet called Cow Ark I was onto an old stretch of Roman Road, Watling Street linking Chaster to Carlisle. It can be traced over Longridge Fell visible down Chipping Vale.

Passed an old cheese press near a dairy. Chipping Vale produces a lot of Lancashire cheeses to this day.Quicker progress was made down the lanes into Chipping with its narrow streets. I resisted the cafe as I was home in 15mins. No sprint finish.

EPISODE TWO – ON ROUTE 622, PRESTON GUILD WHEEL.

On the spur of the moment decided to cycle the Preston Guild Wheel again after my last rather troublesome trip. [ see  post  https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/preston-guild-wheel-practice-circuit/  ], Having replaced all my brake and gear cables as a precaution and having a few more miles under my wheels I set off with confidence. To ring the changes I cycled anti clockwise this time which gave a different perspective to the scenery and of course different hills to climb.

The weather was forecast to be bright and breezy, that’s always good for walking but on a bike I’ve re-realised  you have to take account of the wind strength and direction. Today it was from the west so got that out of the way early on as I rode out through Cottam and towards Blackpool before following the River Ribble back through Preston.

The route was very busy with cyclists, of all shapes and sizes, coming past me in the more popular clockwise direction. Cheery greetings to all. For a while I made a mental number, into the hundreds, of those passing until I realised  I was encountering people from earlier in the day for the second time. I don’t know how much Preston spent on this project but judging from it’s popularity it must be one of the more successful endeavors with our council tax.

The dockland railway was in operation and I was able to have a ‘race’ alongside the steam train as it cruised into Preston.                                                                                                                                                                                       The parks were all looking spic and span in the Spring sunshine.

 

 

MILLER PARK.

                                                                                 MILLER PARK.

The cherry trees were still blooming and in the woods there was the first flush of bluebell blue.

                                                                                                                                                                           By the end of my trip I was flushed with the exercise as I climbed the last steep hill in the hinterland of Fulwood. Must have a closer look at the map to see exactly where I’ve been.             Some interesting place names were encountered – Lightfoot Green, Nog Tow, Frenchwood, Midgery Lane. Will look into their derivations.

Have a walking trip planned for the end of the month so will keep cycling to get fit and hope my foot copes with the actual walking then.

PRESTON GUILD WHEEL – PRACTICE CYCLE CIRCUIT.

River Ribble.

Preston Guild Week takes place every 20 years – I’ve witnessed three. It is an ancient tradition celebrating the Merchants Guilds who traded in the town, now city.                                                 In 1179, King Henry II granted Preston the right to have a Guild Merchant and awarded the town its first royal charter. The Guild was an organisation of traders, craftsmen and merchants, who had a monopoly of trade in the town.  Gatherings for renewing membership were infrequent, from 1542 Preston Guild took place every 20 years. In 1790 there was freedom of trade in the town, which abolished the need for a Guild.  But people continued to celebrate the Guild, as its festivities had developed into prestigious social occasions, which continues to this day.

The Guild Wheel has been created as a lasting legacy of  the 2012 Preston Guild. The 21 mile route makes the most of the different landscapes that surround the city, creating a rich and varied environment for people to enjoy on foot and cycle.                                                                      For more information and downloadable maps visit http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/web/?siteid=5989&pageid=34335

GUILD WHEEL IN RED.

This was therefore an obvious challenge for my new found cycling enthusiasm.  Cometh the moment cometh the man. Unfortunately the man made two predictable mistakes .                      1   I didn’t have a map, expecting my local knowledge and the way marking to be ample.    2   I strangely decided, despite being out testing road bike for a week, to use my    ‘Mountain  Bike’ which had not been out of the garage for years.

Anyhow parked up and ready to go on a blustery cool day. The route has a start outside the Pavilion Cafe in Avenham Park, which today, a Saturday, was quite busy. The route is punctuated with mile posts giving the distance in either direction.

Start and Finish.

I opted for a clockwise circuit. I set off confidently whizzing along the riverside track and soon arrived at the old bridge in Lower Penwortham.

The wrong way!

I was distracted by all the cyclists coming over this cobbled way and intuitively went the same way and on to a good cycle track, only after some distance, as I headed up into Penwortham, did I realise this wasn’t the ‘Wheel’. My pride was too much just to turn around and go back, so totally disorientated I did an irrational loop into housing estates, cul de sacs and parks before having to ask a group of teenagers the way back to the river.   Great start!   By now I had also noticed my second mistake – my aging cable to the rear derailleur had snapped so I had to cycle the rest of the route in one gear!!!

Safely back over the bridge I was able to follow the correct way along the north side of the Ribble past the docks railway, no steam today but I will return to check out their locomotives. Passed one in need of care and restoration.

Onwards through the docks area [one of the largest in Europe in the 19th century] another cafe at the Marina, and onto the seaward section of the Ribble, complete with seagulls and cormorants. Next there was a stiff incline [in the one gear] heading west into the wind alongside Riversway until a bridge took me over the busy road and back along a canal – The Ribble Link, the only canal constructed in the last century – connecting the Lancaster canal with the rest of the system via the Leeds Liverpool.  This looks miniscule and I wonder how many canal boats make the passage.

Onwards on surprisingly rural cycleways in Cottam and through the UCLAN sports fields, all areas I had no knowledge of. Still lots of cyclists coming both ways and with all being   communicative it felt a very social day out. Somehow bypassed Eastway, past the ‘Hoppers sports ground over the M55 and ended up alongside the A6 in Broughton.

Quietness returned in Durton Lane with its speed bumps. Next I was going along the long neglected Longslands Lane and coming across the Asda superstore. Some steep inclines brought me onto the M6 motorway access at Bluebell Way [well not quite] and Roman Way.

Roman Way.

I was soon cycling  through the grounds of Preston Crematorium, certainly plenty of variety!

A lovely section through Bluebell Woods, too early for the eponymous flowers, and steeply down the escarpment……

…….. to enter the Brockholes Nature Reserve with lots of earnest bird watchers binoculars trained on the lakes. Another location to revisit.

Floating Brockholes.

Good flat cycling alongside the River Ribble all the way back into Preston and Avenham Pavilion Cafe.

Pavilion Cafe.

What a great trip out, though still stiff from the effort, and congratulations to Preston for making it all possible. Far too much interesting stuff for one post!

I’ll be back with a reliable bike, more fitness and a Map!

Next time I wonder about making a day of it and stopping at every single cafe en route – that would be quite an endurance trip.

T Dagnall’s’ Broody Duck’.