Thursday, 29 March 2012
The Top Lock, Copthurst Lane, Chorley
With the early spring sun coating me in a gentle warmth, fanned by the faintest breeze, I knew it was time to dig my bike out the shed.
I carefully consulted several maps before tossing them back in my wardrobe, accepting I would, as usual, just follow my nose anyway.
So after several hours looping up, down and around in circles, I ended up in Blackburn where I cursed myself for not having followed a map.
This was not the rural idyll in the heart of the Forest of Bowland, I’d had in mind.
I was angry. It was the first day which felt like spring and I wanted to celebrate it in the beautiful countryside which blankets much of Lancashire.
Instead I’d found Blackburn.
Logically I couldn’t have put the blame at our East Lancashire neighbour’s door, it has always just been there right where it is, minding its own business (usually).
The blame lay much closer to home and that made it much worse but I found that an inconvenient truth which put me in a worse mood, so I went ahead and blamed Blackburn.
But on the ride back along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal I came upon The Top Lock, which improved my mood instantly.
I slammed on my rusting brakes which drew me to a gentle halt about half a mile further down the tow path.
The day was rescued.
When on cycle trips I ban myself from having a pint unless I am within pushing distance of home, in case the flood gates open and I am rendered incapable of safely operating my beaten up old rust roller.
So I sat outside with a pint of Coke and watched the plump ducks lumbering around and reflected how everything was right in the world, before leaving with a vow to return soon.
This was two years ago but I never forgot how the place had revived my day.
With endorsements ringing, last weekend my neighbours agreed to drive over to have a closer look.
I almost punched the air when I walked in, delighted as I was that my fond memory of the pub was not formed entirely upon my disappointment at what had preceded it.
The pub was packed with traditional character, from top to bottom with an imposing array of real ales, from which I chose Timothy Taylor Landlord, a beer for all occasions.
The pub is very small with just one main room but there is plenty of seating and I know from my fleeting visit a couple of years ago, being outside is every bit as enjoyable as being tucked up within.
With the fair-weather bike riders’ season upon us, I am hoping my aimless outings will throw up a few more gems.