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Friday, 15 May 2015

Flat out in a Popular

The four kilometre stretch on the A65 from Settle South Roundabout to Long Preston sports bends that boy-racers and born-again-middle-aged motor cyclists may dream of, and for me, an erstwhile boy-racer, there is particular nostalgia.

In 1959 my employer unwisely provided me with a company car - a last of the line sit-up-and-beg Ford Popular before the monocoque chassis was introduced a year later. That last of the line model was unsafe before it left the showroom, with wayward steering, feeble brakes and a windscreen wiper working on air pressure that swept slower as the car travelled faster. There were only three gears - from time to time the gear lever would come out, free in my hand. 

I was the first car “owner” amongst my  climbing friends. We would drive up to Langdale on a Friday evening. With three passengers and four rucksacks stuffed into the boot the lid had to be left strapped partly open.

I discovered I could take all those four kilometres of bends without ever lifting my foot from the accelerator travelling at the car’s maximum speed of fifty-three miles per hour. In those days, travelling towards The Lakes, the next section went through Settle (now by-passed) and up the long hill of Buckhaw Brow. I can remember my father and uncles talking about Buckhaw, which, in their earlier days only gave them a fifty-fifty chance of avoiding a boiling radiator before reaching the summit.

Well, this week my Thursday walk with Pete was changed to Wednesday (favourable versus unfavourable forecasts). The objective was one of my two remaining Marilyns in Region 35 - Ilkley Moor. Pete was often one of the aforementioned passengers back in the 60s so we were on a mutual nostalgia trip as we headed down the A65.

We were able to drive to the end of a cul-de-sac road a kilometre from the trig on Ilkley Moor which was gained by a splendid level path of three foot square sandstone flags apparently lifted from the floors of Industrial Revolution Yorkshire woollen mills.

Back with the car and we took a tour round the edge of the moor for more nostalgia visiting the Cow and Calf rocks above Ilkley. Here we served our time learning to rock climb all those years ago. There is a dramatic vertical crag (The Cow) with an enormous boulder (the Calf) at its foot, the latter perched as if to set off to roll down the steep valley side into Ilkley at any moment. I always had a fantasy of making this happen - it would have been the all time greatest trundle.

By pre-arrangement we finished off by visiting my very good friend M who lives in Ilkley - she was also part of our old outdoory, jazz club Bradford group back in the 60s and we have remained friends ever since (my late wife was M’s best friend). M has always been an accomplished and inventive cook. She told us she had recently bought a cheese and onion pasty which lead her to think about the lack of imagination applied to fillings in such widely available items, and she decided to do her own thing. We were treated to a wonderful pasty filled with a mixture of high quality tuna, spinnach, onion and other ingredients - delicious, and that was followed by freshly baked, still warm, light and fluffy scones with a slight hint of lavender. 

I was given another pasty to bring home and that went down ever so well last night. Thanks M, that was a thoroughly enjoyable get together.


Spotted in Arnside recently - exactly the same, colour and all as my 1959 Ford Popular

My actual car circa 1959/60 - me and Pete stuffing in the rucksacks. A rare photo - not many cameras about in those days

On the way to Ilkley Moor trig

Cow and Calf rocks. The square notch, centre leads into The Quarry. The Cow is prominent righthand end. The Calf hidden by the righthand end of the white marquee below The Cow

In The Quarry

The Cow

The Calf. Ilkley below


Roderick Robinson said...

May I dispute WORTH CLICKING TO ENLARGE. Not at all, not at all.

Amusing to reflect. While you were re-creating the sensations of the thirties (perhaps even the twenties) in your company car I was able to endanger my life at much higher speeds (and more cheaply) on a series of motorbikes. I doubt whether either of us would have made it to the Dungeon Ghyll with the Speed Twin's throttle up to full wick. Another experience you would have been denied was having to roll back the throttle ascending Buckhaw Brow. Buckhaw seems a typical clumsy northern name so how did adjacent airy-fairy, antsy-pantsy Giggleswick come to be so named? A bit la-di-dah if you ask me.

Sir Hugh said...

RR - Giggleswick - la-di-dah yes. There is a posh private school there. It even has its own golf course.

At Bradford Grammar School, approaching "O" level drama in a form labelled "Transitus" (never did know what that meant) we received a new entrant, unusual at that stage of school life. His name was John Seed. The rumour was that he had been kicked out of Giggleswick, but we never found out why. I often wondered if his name was relevant.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that post - nostalgia indeed.
On Wednesday whilst you were speeding down the A65 in the Skoda [Popular reincarnation] we were above you climbing on Giggleswick Scar. Yes it was a beautiful day - far too nice for valley climbing.
Remember well all my early climbing trips to The Cow and Calf, the Quarry and you didn't mention Rocky Valley.
Even more nostalgia with the Ford. When I was a penniless student in London I recall a girl friend who had a Popular. This enabled summer trips to the coast etc, seem to remember it often breaking down. Maybe that's why the relationship did't last.

gimmer said...

it was a world of luxury and reliability compared with my Austin 10 - albeit that was a 1932 model: i think the Cow was where we learnt to lead on our own with no supervision - with a manila rope, I imagine!
I too have never knowingly been to the 'top' of Ilkley Moor - after the promised drama of the song, it always disappointed me - Blencathra via Sharp Edge being my first proper hill climb - before we came to Bradford.
2500M straight up today in wall to wall sunshine after yesterday's blizzard (apologies for hijacking your blog) - ein angenehmen tag

Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - I remember your Austin 10 and also an old Land Rover I think. If you had kept the Austin it would have been worth a few pennies today. That Land Rover must have been an early Mk1, they were only introduced in 1947.

Glad to hear you are getting into the hills. My last remaining Marilyn in Region 35 is Mickle Fell which I am reserving for a joint foray unless I get tempted before the opportunity arises.

gimmer said...

this coming Saturday or Sunday - or 1st w/e in July - if you are not on your long trek !