Scotland and back
A look back through my old journal covering a wonderful cycling holiday in 1955.
■ Saturday, July 16th
Mervyn, Arnold and I left Shotton at 8.15am after Mervyn mended a puncture. In the Mersey Tunnel we were told off for riding in the fast lane then got lost in Liverpool. An AA man sent us the right way and after dinner we only had 30 miles left. We stopped in Rochdale, bought food at Todmorden, then walked up the hill to Mankinholes hostel. Went for a swim in a nearby lake.
Day’s ride, 74 miles. Shotton, Birkenhead, Liverpool, St Helen’s, Wigan, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Todmorden, Mankinholes.
■ Sunday, July 17th
Didn’t sleep well. Left at 8.45am, stopping for dinner between Leeds and Wetherby. After dinner the riding was hard. The A1 was very straight, and it was tedious. We got some potatoes from a field for supper.
We misjudged the miles from Thirsk to the hostel -seven not one. After supper I made a few adjustments to my bicycle and then went for a walk. Day’s ride, 74 miles. Mankinholes, Todmorden, Halifax, Leeds, Wetherby, Boroughbridge, Thirsk, Nether Silton.
■ Monday, July 18th
For an hour we averaged 17mph but from Stockton to Durham was hilly. We rode to Hexham but got lost. We stopped for a drink at an inn, and arrived at Acomb hostel. It was a converted stable and the warden was about 75. Had a good supper of boiled potatoes, peas, spaghetti and fish cakes.
Day’s ride, 80 miles. Nether Silton, Yarm, Stockton, Sedgefield, Durham, Consett, Hexham, Acomb.
■ Tuesday, July 19th
Started for Rothbury at 9am. Hard going; we walked six miles up hills. It briefly rained on the moors. At Rothbury we stopped for dinner then rode quite fast until we came to more bad hills. We met the A1 again and rode to Rock village. The hostel was easy to find, but no shops. Mervyn and Arnold went back to Alnwick.
Then we had a good walk and visited the old church -part of the original Norman structure still stood.
Day’s ride, 55 miles. Acomb, Kirkharle, Cambo, Rothbury, Alnwick, Rock.
■ Wednesday, July 20th
Crossed into Scotland over the Royal Tweed Bridge at Berwick and bought cards and a cotter pin. Rode on to Coldingham. Arrived at 2pm and went for a swim. The water was warm and we sunbathed. The hostel opened at 4pm. After supper
went back to the rock pools. Arnold got a wet foot. Tried to fix my cotter pin but it broke.
Day’s ride, 45 miles.
Acomb, Belford, Berwick, Eyemouth, Coldingham.
■ Thursday, July 21st
Left at 8.15am but stopped at Coldingham to have my cotter pin fixed. We heard the Edinburgh hostel was full, so we wanted to get there quickly. We averaged 18mph, arrived at
1.30pm and found it wasn’t full. We went for a ride around the city seeing Holyrood House, Edinburgh Castle, St Giles Cathedral and the Usher Hall. From the castle we could see for miles, then we walked up the Royal Mile.
Day’s ride, 60 miles. Berwick, Haddingdon, Edinburgh, Coldingham, Cockburnspath, Lenten, Haddington, Edinburgh.
■ Friday, July 22nd
Left Edinburgh for the ferry at Queensferry, passing under the Forth Bridge. From north Queensferry we had a difficult ride to Perth, then rode on to Birnam and found the hostel, an old school. After supper we rode to Dunkeld and visited the cathedral, then sat by the river. Day’s ride, SO miles. Edinburgh,
Linlithgow, Fife, Kinross, Perth, Dunkeld.
■ Saturday, July 23rd
Left at 8.30am to ride to Aberfeldy. Uphill most of the way except for the three-miles downhill into Aberfeldy. We stopped by a lake and went to the far side to see if we could go for a row in a boat, but the oars were locked up.
Arrived at Aberfeldy at
11.30am and bought cards and presents. This was as far north as we would travel. We rode 20 miles along Loch Tay to Killin. The countryside was wonderful – the pines on Ben Lawers with Loch Tay in the valley made a splendid picture. After supper we visited the castle and burial ground of the Clan Macnab. Day’s ride, 40 miles. Perth, Dunkeld, Aberfeldy, Weem, Kenmore, Killin.
■ Sunday, July 24th
Left the hostel at 9.30am. We had a short ride so took our time. The scenery was beautiful along Loch Lomond. We rode three miles past the hostel and back again, then swam in Lomond. It was the hottest day we had. When the hostel opened, we cooked a meal and then went for a long walk over the mountains. From the top we had a perfect view of all the lake.
Day’s ride, 45 miles. Perth, Stirling, Dunbarton, Killin, Helensburgh, Inverbeg.
■ Monday, July 25th
Rode alongside Loch Lomond, then into Glasgow averaging 20mph for the 30 miles. It took two hours to get through the city because of the cobbled roads. We stopped to look around before tackling some 1 in 5 hills, then rode on to the hostel. We gave our bicycles an overhaul after supper.
Day’s ride, 62 miles. Dunbarton, Inverbeg, Glasgow, Hamilton, Lanark, Biggar.
■ Tuesday, July 26th
Left the hostel at 8.30am – an easy ride but hot and we got thirsty. Mervyn went ahead at a fast speed. We asked an old farmer for a drink. He gave us one and a bottle-full as well and talked to us for over an hour.
We rode on through Gretna Green, over the border to the hostel at 3.15pm. Mervyn had been there an hour. We swam in the river. After supper we went to the common room to read but it became full of Scottish folk dancers.
Day’s ride, 56 miles. Biggar, Moffat, Locherbie, Gretna Green, Carlisle.
■ Wednesday, July 27th
Had pedals fixed in Carlisle then rode to Maryport, arriving at 11.30am after 27 miles. We bought some pop and went to the beach – more swimming. Left Maryport at 3.45pm and had a supper of chips and steak
and kidney pie out of a tin. After supper Mervyn and I went for a walk around Cockermouth. Came back to the hostel and read in the common room. The weather for the last three days has been the hottest we have had in the long dry spell.
Day’s ride, 40 miles. Carlisle, Wigton, Maryport, Cockermouth.
■ Thursday, July 28th
Started out to tour the lakes. Bassenthwaite was beautiful against the hills. We passed Derwent Water and stopped at Ullswater, where Donald Campbell set the world speed record.
We went over the Kirkstone Pass, which is 1,928 feet above sea level at the top. Mervyn rode up. We stopped for a drink and signed the visitors’ book, then down quickly to Lake Windermere and Kendal.
Arnold’s bike got stuck in a grid and he buckled his wheel. He could not ride with it. He went to the police station, and they promised to get him a lift. Mervyn’s saddlebag stand broke. He got Arnold’s and fixed that on.
Day’s ride, 55 miles. Cockermouth, Keswick, Ullswater, Windermere, Kendal.
■ Friday, July 29th
Left Kendal at 8am to ride home, but left Arnold with the police to get a lift – he passed us after about 35 miles. We averaged 20mph in the morning but in the afternoon slowed down. The last 17 miles took three quarters of an hour.
We averaged just over 20mph for the whole distance home. I’m sure we could not have done this before we started the tour. Arnold did not arrive home until 6pm. We were glad to get home, very sunburnt, but it was the most enjoyable holiday I’ve ever had. Day’s ride, 103 miles. Kendal, Lancaster, Preston, Ormskirk, Liverpool, Birkenhead, Shotton. ^
Total journey 840 miles.