During the ‘VCBC – Three Pigeons’ ride, John Hopkinson and I had decided that we’d resurrect the old Sunday club run for the 2nd of April. We were never going to get huge numbers, what with people riding the Ronde Van Calderdale, the CTC’s ‘Ride out and Meet’ or some doing their own ride ‘at an earlier time’ (earlier than 09.30!). Nevertheless, after a brief publicity drive, we managed to get three others to join, namely, Matthew, Gavin and Jason.
Gavin was on amber alert, his wife being 37 weeks pregnant, which I’m told is a lot. His phone would be poised in ultra-vibrate mode for the duration of the ride – thankfully, a call of that nature never materialised.
Jason had been working the previous evening at Hebden Bridge town hall, for the occasion of the Lord Mayor’s Dinner. The Lord Mayor clearly knows how to keep it real, as Jason had managed to secure us a bag full of leftover pasties and pineapple upside-down cake, which we duly collected from the Town Hall on route – an opportunity Hoppy took to make himself at home.
The first part of the ride was direct, following Burnley road before veering right at Walk Mill and navigating through the outskirts of Burnley to Fence. Here the scenic part of the ride started in earnest. It wasn’t long before we turned left onto the road to the Clarion House, an idyllic, quiet road, lined with trees on one side and fields on the other. Here, time moves at a slower speed; if I was sat astride steel tubes instead of carbon ones it could have quite easily been any time in the past 100 years. That didn’t stop an irate motorist arriving behind us and shouting out of his window for us to move out of the way. We did, and he sped past us for all of 3 yards before turning down a driveway to his country house.
We were relieved that his journey was made a whole 7 seconds
quicker by our good manners.
This was my second visit to the Clarion House, or, as I call it, the 1940s. The weather was being kind enough for us to be able to sit outside with our pints of Tea - priced at 55p (or a shilling, whichever is cheaper) - though that didn’t stop the good people of Nelson Independent Labour Party from keeping a roaring fire burning inside and quietly closing the doors after us once we’d gone to sit outside.
We all sat at a picnic bench and Jason unravelled the goods, there were 7 pasties to divvy up as well as 5 slices of upside-down cake. Hoppy had his pasty which filled him up so much he said there’d be no need to eat anything else all week. Nevertheless, he had his eye on the cake slice with the most cherries and wrapped it up ‘to have for tea’.
It was at this point that Jason had to ask Hoppy to help him navigate a quicker route home, as he’d to be in Hebden Bridge for two o’clock. Well, he wasn’t impressed, but did give Jason permission - on a one-time basis -to leave early, and we went our separate ways after the village of Blacko. A talking point on the ride was Hoppy’s encyclopaedic knowledge of pubs and which village boozer ‘does a nice pint of (insert local brew here)’. As we rode up another quiet lane, I noticed a pub on the horizon, the ‘Black Lane Ends’ and asked him for his verdict. Surprisingly, he told me he’d not been in before, as it was a Copper Dragon pub. ‘But let’s give it a go’. Gavin and Matthew didn’t take too much persuasion, and so in we went. Much to our happiness, we found that the pub had changed hands and was no longer part of the ‘Golden Pippin’ empire.
Here we were treated to another tale from John, about the time he and his friend visited the Tan Hill Inn. It went something like this:
We’d ridden up about mid-afternoon and set up our tents outside the pub. At closing time, we came out and there was a blizzard, with about 2 feet of snow on the ground. So I dug out my tent and inside I find that my sleeping bag’s gone. I went back to the door of the pub but it was locked, so I’m banging on the door and eventually a window opens from upstairs and someone throws out an old jacket and then pointed at a horsebox. So I put on this jacket and get inside the horsebox, but there’s a hole in the roof and the door won’t close properly. Anyway, I must have got some kip cos I woke up at about dawn and I’m freezing. I thought, ‘there’s nothing else I can do’, so I climb into my mate’s tent. He wakes up and isn’t happy, but I tell him I’m so cold and I need his body heat, so I just lay with him in in his little tent.
I get up a few hours later and there’s still snow on the ground, but I can’t find my shoes. So I’m cursing over the people who nicked my sleeping bag and shoes and just wandering around in my socks. Then the door to the pub opens and the landlord comes out with my sleeping bag, ripped to shreds, asking if this is what I was after. Then out comes a dog with one of my shoes in its mouth!
The next part of the ride to Cowling and then passing through the salt and pepper pots on route to Oakworth, was a real treat for me, some gloriously quiet roads with stunning scenery – I couldn’t believe I’d not been around here before!
The main chunk of the hills were finished with once we’d climbed out of Oakworth to Ingrow and from then it was a fairly fast return to the Imps spiritual home, the Cross Keys. I hope we can make the Sunday club run a slightly more regular occurrence as it was a hugely enjoyable day out.