The Ribble Valley is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This designation stands for quality and variety of landscape. The Forest of Bowland, partly in the Ribble Valley, encompasses 36 acres and spills into Yorkshire.
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In the valley are two market towns. Clitheroe dates from Saxon times and has a small 12th century Norman castle keep, now the site of a museum. The castle is set in 16 acres of gardens. Most of the town’s buildings date from late 18th and 19th centuries. The church, on the same site as one dating from 1122, was built in 1828 replacing a medieval one. Its spire developed a twist and had to be redone. A stone built mid-Georgian house stands on land where a 14th century moated manor once took pride of place. The wing of a school building dates from 1782. Pick up a town trail booklet at the Tourist Information Centre.
The town of Longridge is the other market town in the area. It dates from c 500 years ago and is centered around St Lawrence church. The town was the site of cotton mills and stone quarries. A nature and sculpture trail is one of several heritage trails. A number of the town’s buildings have Blue Heritage plaques.
The villages in the valley each have their own charms and places of interest. They include:
A small hamlet located on the bank of the Hodder River; site of the legend of the Fairy Bridge, built by fairies to help a woodcutter chased by witches. Nearby is Browsholme Hall, dating from the reign of Henry VII and seat of the Parker family, and home to collections of furniture, arms, armour, textiles, books, and stained glass.
Bolton by Bowland:
In the middle of the village are two greens, a stone cross, and old stocks around the church. The village is named for its site on a bow in the River Ribble. Bolton Hall, no longer in existence, was home to the Pudsey family for 500 years. Henry VI stayed at the hall for a year after he was defeated at the Battle of Hexham in 1464 during the War of the Roses. A well in the grounds was named after him.
Location of Higher Hodder Bridge; popular walking area; riverside path.
Parish church of 1838 with high spire; once home to a cotton mill; manufacturing industries.
In the Forest of Bowland; 13th century church, almshouses, inns, stone cottages, and a 17th century school; reputation as being a bit uncivilized in the 1300s; local industries included a cheese maker, chair factory, and craft centre.
Sited by Pendle Hill; a brook runs through the village green; church with 15th century tower; stone cottages; Downham Hall was home to the Assheton family since 1558 with it being the seat of the lord of Clitheroe in the 20th century. Two Roman legionnaires, according to legend, stayed near the hall before dying nearby.
Exact geographic center of Great Britain; on Hodder and Dunsop rivers; popular walking area.
Cobblestoned wide main street; parish church with Norman windows and arch, 14th century stained glass; once the home of a herd of white hornless wild cattle.
Long ranging views from the hillside village; once the home of weaving and spinning cottage industries; St Ambrose church has 1805 tower, engraved window; heritage trail
In the heart of the Ribble valley; supposedly haunted by a highwayman; 17th century hotel; St Peter’s church; Roman Catholic boys school in parkland; Stonyhurst College has a museum collection including 7th century St John gospel; famous college student was Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes mysteries) who used the college in the book ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’.
Once a Roman camp; St Mary’s church dates from 1829, has peal of chimes and English oak woodwork and wood carving, 19th century Flemish stained glass windows.
Small hamlet on limestone set above River Ribble; 13th century All Hallows church.
Newton in Bowland:
Was home to Quaker John Bright for two years and Friends Meeting House in the village dates from 1767.
On the banks of the Ribble River; was the Roman site of Bremetennacum; Roman museum with displays and artefacts of the area.
On edge of Pendle Forest between Calder and Ribble rivers; was centre of handloom weavers; antique centre in old mill.
Site of ruins of Cistercian Sawley Abbey, founded 1147.
Grey stone village on banks of River Hodder; 15th century church; 13th century inn; Heritage Centre with tourist information, displays, artifacts, and AV presentation on the village’s heritage and Forest of Bowland.
On edge of Forest of Bowland, in both Lancashire and Yorkshire; cycle and footpaths in Gisburn Forest; St Bartholomew’s church of 1694 has 17th century octagonal font and 1701 Jacobean pulpit.
Brook runs length of the village; arched stone bridge; Waddington Old Hall (now a private nursing home) harboured Henry VI but he was found out and escaped to Clitheroe wood but later captured there; Coronation Gardens in the village earned the village the title 'Best Kept Village in Lancashire'; 1700s almshouses around a green; church with 15th century tower restored in 1901.
On banks of River Calder; dates from AD600; historic buildings include ruins of gatehouse of Cistercian abbey of 1296 and church of 1206; present abbey open for retreats and other functions.
Nicknamed 'Little Switzerland' as the river Hodder winds along the wooded valley; church; caves were homes for bronze age man.
On the edge of the village of Whalley; dates from 1193.
A one street village; site of prehistoric burial ground on hill; Worston Hall took Sawley abbey stone to use in building.
Clitheroe Tourist Information Centre
Ribble Borough Council Offices
Church Walk, Clitheroe, BB7 2RA
Tel. 0 1200 425 566
Forest of Bowland, 4 miles north-west of Clitheroe
Tel. 0 1254 826 719
Open: May-Sep, Wed, 11.30am-4pm, spring BH, first Sun month in May and June; check website for exact dates
Historic Houses Association member
Web: Browsholme Hall
Clitheroe Castle Museum and Gardens
Open: daily, April-Oct, 11am-5pm; Nov-March, noon-4pm
Ribchester Roman Museum
Riverside, Ribchester, Lancashire
Tel. 0 1254 878 261
Open: weekdays, 10am-5pm; weekends, noon-5pm
use free village car park 200 metres away
Web: Ribchester Roman Museum
Open: Easter-end Sep, daily, 10am-6pm; Oct-Easter, daily, 10am-4pm
Whalley Abbey Gatehouse
Open: daylight hours
English Heritage property; Visitor Centre
Church Lane, Whalley, Lancashire
Tel. 0 1254 828 400
Open: daily 10am-4.30pm
Accommodation; function venue; shop; coffee shop; exhibition
Photos © by Barbara Ballard and courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Clitheroe castle keep by John S Turner; St Lawrence church, Bashall brook, St Peter’s church, and Newton in Bowland by Alexander P Kapp; Chaigley by Tony Mercer; Chatburn and Worston village by Mike and Kirsty Grundy; Gibsburn by Humphrey Bolton; Grindleton St Ambrose church and Tosside St Bartholomew church by Phil Platt; Hurst Green Stonyhurst college by Robert Wade; Mellor church St Mary the Virgin by Trevor Littlewood; Sabden antiques centre by Robert Wade; Whitewell: river Hodder by Andy Stephenson; Wiswell village by Charles Rawding