Tuesday, 11 March 2008

#040 - 1953 - Trips and Holidays

I was still managing to race performing reasonably well in the two Track Leagues at Derby and Nottingham. But the business curtailed training time, although as a family we were going walking on Sundays mainly in the Peak District especially to the Kinder Scout area. On one particular Sunday we came to Hope and found a rough track going up Win Hill, the track on the map looked as though we could get to the Snake Pass, we opened several gates, the track getting ever narrower so nearly at the top the track was too rough to negotiate.

To turn round I had to put on full lock, drive to the edge of a precipice, then Carol, Jean and brother in law Keith pushed the van sideways as it skidded on the wet grass. We left the van there and walked up Crookstone Knoll then round Kinder downfall and so returning to the van for our lunch. Halfway thro lunch, a party of ramblers came up from the direction of the Snake Pass, on passing us one of them kept looking round at us in the van. After passing us about 100yds he came running back towards us, I opened the window to speak to him when he said “how the b……. hell have got up here in that” he could not envisage we had turned the van round because it did look as if we had come up from the Snake - what a laugh we had.

Easter that year found Carol, Keith, his son David and I staying in a farm in the vale of Llanberris. We did not leave Long Eaton until after 7 o’clock and so arrived at the farm late, the family were in bed and we had to exist in the car all night until the farmer’s wife luckily got up early and cooked us breakfast seemly to be upset that she had not waited up for us. We left after breakfast to Llanberris leaving the car near the mountain railway station, at that time it looked like a Swiss cottage in its natural wood (I was to visit here in 1990 and I saw to my regret that the building had been painted hideously in red and blue). We walked up Snowdon on the railway path, this was our first walk in the mountains and we had ordinary clothes, Sports coat and flannels and raincoats, it rained and blew all the way up, when we reached the top all was deserted - even the café looked closed and we were all about shattered. Anyway I tried the Café door and it opened what a sigh of relief there was. We were the first up there, we stripped off our wet clothes and hung them up to dry. Whist we were doing this in walked three “puka” climbers kitted out in all the latest gear - said to the Café owner “We are first up again then” and on seeing us they exclaimed “is the railway running ?” No, we chorused , we felt quite proud. On the descent it rained all way, the clouds were well down so we had no views at all. At the bottom the van was on the other side of the river so to miss about 1 mile detour we walked through the river - we could not get any wetter. On our return to the farm the wife fed us superbly and also lent us dry clothes. It was still early so we had a look at Snowdon Ranger youth hostel then on to Cricceith Castle, the sun came out and the scenery was super.

Later in 1953 we entered a road race at Esholt Park between Leeds and Bradford , the trusty Morris getting us there. The course was about 3 miles round with one fairly steep hill of 6oo yards, the back straight wended its way through a sewage farm, the huge flies and the smell was revolting, the race was won by Brian Haskell with his Huddersfield R.C. winning the team, we were well down vowing never to ride there ever again.

October 1953 saw us in the old Bedford Van having accepted an invitation by the Huddersfield R.C. to attend their annual dance, this was held in the Town Hall in Huddersfield, Bill Henshaw and Dennis Thomas and I were invited and we each stayed at various members homes, Bill with Tom Oldfield and Dennis Thomas and I with Gran Hayley. We were late getting there as going over the moors we had electrical trouble with the van. - no lights or ignition, luckily we had a coil of light wire which we connected to the positive terminal on the battery then to the positive on the HT coil, much to our amazement the van started. After a good night at the dance we remembered we had entered the Huddersfield R,C. hill climb that started at Holmfirth to finish near the T.V. mast at the top of Holme Moss, after the dance the night before we were in no shape to do a ride and it was no surprise that we all packed before the summit. The van behaved perfectly on the way home over Strines moor then past Derwent dams and so home. We finished 1953 by doing many long Sunday runs, two of them over the Snake Pass.

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