The art of Christmas in Clitheroe
PUBLISHED: 18:24 12 December 2013 | UPDATED: 18:24 12 December 2013
They take Christmas fun seriously in the Ribble Valley as Sue Riley discovered during a tour of Clitheroe
Many people visit the Clitheroe because of its range of quirky, independent shops, many huddled around Moor Lane with its bespoke furniture maker, wool and craft shops selling a range of English olde style sweet shops and cafes. In the run-up to Christmas many open later in the evening to ensure everyone can buy their last minute gifts. ‘Christmas in Clitheroe is quaint, very sweet. It feels like Christmas because you have the castle and the lights. You also have a lot of independents here so you can get unusual stuff,’ said Liz Walker, owner of Pendle Stitches.
She also runs lots of workshops so you can make your own Christmas presents. The classes have been selling out so quickly she is now holding an event most days in December, from crocheting and knitting to make your own snowflake bunting and cobweb lace scarves. Since setting up the business a few years ago - she started with a stall in the market - Liz prides herself on putting on an appealing shop window and this year has created a knitted Christmas tree, crocheted snowflakes and Christmas bunting for the festive period.
If you don’t want to make your own presents, the Platform Gallery near the staion is holding a Christmas exhibition featuring the work of more than 150 artists and makers. The items range from handmade baby clothing to toys, accessories, textiles and ceramics. Another quirky place to buy unique pieces of handmade art is the Ribble Valley Art Studios (RVAS) in Wellgate which opened 18 months ago and offers studio space to local artists.
It’s the idea of Keith Parkinson and Beverly Chapelhow who met as mature students at Blackburn and after getting their degrees, wanted to set up an artists’ community in Clitheroe. There are eight at the studio, regular art classes and plans to expand into a nearby building. ‘This Christmas we are planning a Festive Art Trail with prints of the LVAS artists’ work in shops and around Clitheroe which will signpost people back here. It will be a treasure hunt around the town. People will see prints in the shops then view the originals here,’ said Keith, a former primary school headteacher.
Food is always a big event in Clitheroe – its food festival every August has turned into one of the highlights of the year – and the key businesses all get into the festive spirit. D Byrne & Co which stocks 4,000 bottles of wines and spirits, making it the biggest wine shop for miles, is always a big attraction for visitors. And Cowman’s Famous Sausage Shop is launching its Christmas sausage of pork, cranberry, rosemary and mulled wine, adding to its range of 60 different varieties.
At the market, stallholders make it as Christmassy as possible; Sarah Atherton is planning to make more bird wreaths which attracted a lot of attention last December when she used them to decorate her Paws and Claws pet food and accessories stall.
5 to try
There’s no shortage of places to eat and drink in Clitheroe. We hear good reports from:
A cafe, deli and cheese shop specialising in vegetarian just behind Castle Street.
Hugely popular spot near the market serving home made food to an appreciative clientele.
Exchange Coffee Company
A coffee lover’s paradise in Wellgate also serving quality snacks and cakes.
Middle East meets Mediterranean in Swan Courtyard and gets raves reviews.
Home made sangria and tapas bring a highly-rated taste of Spain to Clitheroe.
Don’t bother parking on the street. There are plenty of well signposted carparks in the town centre. We used the one by the market and it was 50p for an hour.