Lancashire walk - River Hodder and River Ribble
PUBLISHED: 09:34 31 January 2017 | UPDATED: 09:34 31 January 2017
Our walking guide John Lenehan devises a route that takes in two famous Lancashire rivers – the Hodder and the Ribble.
Lancashire has many beautiful rivers. The River Hodder rises in the Bowland Fells and feeds into the mighty Stocks Reservoir near Slaidburn as a stream and leaves it as a river. It then meanders through some of the most beautiful countryside Lancashire has to offer as it passes through Dunsop Bridge and Whitewell.
The River Ribble rises in Yorkshire at the famous Ribblehead Viaduct. It then makes its way into Lancashire and enters into the valley that claims its name from the river, Ribblesdale. It eventually reaches and passes by the busy town of Clitheroe. I decided to work out a circular walk that included sections of both rivers. It turned out to be a beautiful and interesting experience.
1. Leave the car park and turn left down hill and cross Edisford Bridge then uphill and after passing the Edisford Bridge Hotel keep right towards Bashall Eaves and follow the road past a caravan and campsite.
2. On the left there is a footpath sign by a gate – go through this and head diagonally left to a stile in a small section of wall. Cross the stile and keep the hedge on the left and reach a gate stile that enters model aircraft club airfield.
Cross the stile and the airfield over another stile that leads into a huge field. Cross the field heading slightly right to a small copse of trees to the left of which is a stile with a post next to it. Cross the stile but in reality pass it as it is not connected to any fence and then follow the hedge on the right to a stile in the field corner that is to the left of two stone gate posts. Once over keep straight on, do not be tempted to follow the footpath sign that points right. The path from here is very indistinct, but keep following the hedgerow on the right and this goes directly to a stile that leads into the road. Turn left and follow the road and go straight on at the crossroads and downhill and cross Higher Hodder Bridge.
3. Immediately over the bridge there is a stile on the left leading into the woods. Cross and climb some steps to a footbridge then on to another bridge then more steps to a footpath sign, follow the left arrow then follow the river downstream through the woods crossing two more footbridges and exit the woods over a stile onto the riverbank. Follow the river passing over two stiles and the path enters Over Hacking Wood. Cross three footbridges and climb very steeply uphill and enter a small clearing. The path is very indistinct but there is a footpath marker but better still a gap has been cut through a fallen tree and the path goes through that and leads follow the path to a ladder stile. Climb down this and climb this small series of steps to a big unmarked stone cross.
Note: The cross is a complete mystery. Even the name plaque that was once fixed to it has gone. I have spent hours on the internet trying to find why it is there and got nowhere. I eventually asked locally and was told it is a memorial to a young man who drowned in the river.
4. Pass in front of the cross and follow the footpath marker straight on. The path then splits, do not go straight on but turn left and go down a steep set of steps towards the river then right over a stone bridge and follow the path as it climbs steeply up to Hodder Place. Keeping on the path as it bears slightly left then goes downhill and reaches a stile that leads onto the riverbank and open fields and a track. Follow the track crossing three stiles until it reaches Lower Hodder Bridge.
Leave the riverbank and turn left and cross over Lower Hodder Bridge and follow the road uphill to a road junction.
Note: As you cross the bridge look to the right and you will see the ruins of Cromwell’s Bridge. It’s hard to believe that Oliver Cromwell in 1648 led an 8000 strong army over this small bridge on its way to the Battle of Preston.
At the junction, turn right and pass the Three Fishes pub and restaurant on the right into the village of Great Mitton. Go through the village and descend down hill and cross Mitton Bridge and pass the Aspinall Arms on the left.
Note: You are now crossing the Ribble. Stop on the bridge and get a really impressive view of Pendle Hill.
5. Immediately past the pub car park there is a stile on the left. Cross the stile and bear diagonally right uphill then, after reaching a wire fence, keep this on the left and carry on to a second stile and cross this go downhill and keep on and go over a footbridge into a field and bear diagonally left towards the River Ribble. Follow the river upstream passing a weir and a building housing a wire rope transporter and then a white aqueduct and through a stile by a gate and enter Shuttleworth Farm. Keep to the left of the farm and cross a stile over a small field and cross a stile into a tarmac road at the buildings of Fishes and Peggy Hill. Turn left and follow the road past the cottages. The road passes the waste recycling centre on the right, keep straight on and the road crosses a bridge over a stream and some houses on the right.
6. Opposite the last house there is a track on the left of the road. Follow the track and after a few yards there is a track on the right with a stile immediately on the left, cross this and follow the path that leads back to the river. Follow the river upstream back to Edisford Bridge.
Swales Café and The Ale House
If you can do the walk in the morning and get back to Clitheroe for lunch go to Swales Café on Wellgate. They do pie and peas the old fashioned way in a bowl with gravy. My favourite is their meat pie. I can taste it as I write. Tel: 01200 423123
Some of the best beers brewed by man or woman can be found at The Ale House on Market Place Clitheroe. It has a character of its own unlike any other bar around. It feels homely a bit like sampling home brew in your best mate’s shed. It is a great place to quench the thirst after finishing the walk.
Start and Finish: Edisford Bridge car park opposite Roefield Leisure Centre.
Distance 7.5 Miles / 12 Km
Time: 4.5 Hours
Terrain: Very good walking on fields and tracks although a little rough underfoot at times in the woods. There are a couple of sections of road without pavements so care need to be taken. Good boots will be needed.
Facilities: There are public toilets at Edisford Bridge picnic area by the river near to the bridge.
Map: Explorer OL41 Forest of Bowland and Ribbledale