The rain has continued so today I thought it would be good to do a ride with more tarmac and less dirt. I haven’t ridden to Hunter’s Hill very often on my mountain bike but it was a place I rode as a child and youth. I lived then in Parbold, a village about 12 miles from Chorley, where I have lived for the past 30 years. I remember when it was my mother in law’s 70th birthday in 1997. I went to the Hunter’s Hill quarry and it was much as it had been when I was younger. It was a sandstone quarry, by this time disused, with small cliffs surrounding an open bowl of sandy ground with a few small pools and some scrubby bushes. I had been there too long, had dinged my big chainring, bending a tooth and had to get home quickly. It was about 15 years later, so probably 2012, when I next returned. The transformation was staggering. The whole area was now mature looking woodland, mainly of birch. The cliffs were covered in vegetation and in the lower part a small lake had formed. I think I’ve only been back there once since that visit mainly because the riding is a bit limited by all the trees.
I used a mixture of road and off road to get to Coppull, a village which has a BMX track. The Mid Lancs BMX has been used for national championship events so is presumably well thought of. I watched some of the BMX world championships on TV last weekend so obviously felt obliged to have a ride around the track. There is a steep start ramp, 4 corners and lots of jumps. I know from previous experience that a mountain bike can be a handful on such a track so took it easy, only riding one lap. Strava tells me that it took me 58 seconds and that I was 63rd fastest out of 123 riders. BMX was just starting in Britain when I left school and was popular with younger kids, so I missed the scene by a couple of years. I was “scambling” for my bicycle thrills at this time on a beaten up old bike with cowhorn handlebars. It was the nearest you could get to a mountain bike in the same years that the mountain bike pioneers were building their “klunkers” from old bikes. Thankfully the scene in California developed whilst our own small scene didn’t.
I climbed Harrock Hill with it’s disused windmill. This was another favourite ride from my younger days but isn’t particularly exciting now. I dropped, still off road, to the bottom of Banister Lane, which is a steep road ascending Hunter’s Hill. By this time I’d covered just over 10 miles. I explored around for about half an hour, twice riding a quite good downhill section. There is a Strava segment but I rode it in the wrong way so my efforts weren’t recorded. Whilst I was still at the quarry I took some photos. At the top is the woodland where the sandy quarry used to be. Below are 2 views out towards the coast. On the left I could see Richard Durning’s Endowed School where I’d been a pupil from 1967 to 1973. It was built in 1692 and extended in Victorian times when the 1871 education act made schooling compulsory for all. It was further added to in 1939 and 1965. It still takes 18 new children each year and is part funded by the original endowment of land which is rented to farmers. To the right is a view further south towards Hilldale, the village just a mile from Parbold.
I noticed when I took the pictures that I’d been riding for 1 hour 23 minutes. I went home by a slightly different route, still going through Coppull, via this site of the long disused Chisnall Hall coal mine. In the woods I found a short, man made trail with a few jumps but it’s not something I’ll be rushing back to ride. I enjoyed the jumps and twists at Birkacre on the return. An interesting ride to my old haunts, which has had me quietly reminiscing this afternoon. I covered 21.38 miles with 1,679 feet of ascent in 2 hours 22 minutes. I may be able to ride on Sunday and on Monday Ali and I are having a week on the east coast. I need to take a bike to ride the trails in Dalby forest. I’ve ridden there before and I seem to remember a big loop of 42 miles, which I only rode part of. I just need to negotiate a half day of freedom to fit it in!