Lancashire walk - Hurst Green and Stonyhurst College
PUBLISHED: 00:00 13 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:47 14 January 2020
John Lenehan take us on a riverside route that passes one of Lancashire's most historic buildings
Hurst Green is pretty little village with its centre surrounding an impressive war memorial. Parts are, of course, a lot older than the memorial, none more so than the majestic buildings of Stonyhurst College, more of this later. Walking around this village can be pleasant ramble along the River Ribble or a more challenging walk up to Longridge Fell. For this walk I chose the former.
1. Leave the car park and turn left past the Bayley Arms and walk past the war memorial, cross the main road and take the lane to the left of the Shireburn Arms Hotel. Keep on the lane until a short grass section leads to a wooden gate and a stile. Cross the stile and, with the hedgerow on the right, go downhill then as the hedgerow turns right keep straight on. There is a marker post with a footpath arrow on it ahead. Cross a small footbridge on the right and then, keeping the stream bed valley on the left, keep on downhill to a stile. Cross this and a footbridge and climb some steps and turn left and carry on to a gate stile. Cross the stile and keep following the path through the woods until it come to a gate with a 'Private' notice on it. At this point turn left and carry on downhill then cross a footbridge then a stile and join the bank of the Ribble and with the river on the right follow the path along the bank, passing through some stiles.
2. On the opposite side of the river you can see the confluence of the River Calder as it joins the Ribble.
Note: The source of the Calder is in the Cliviger Gorge and the river flows through Burnley, Padiham and Whalley. It was heavily polluted during and after the Industrial Revolution. Thankfully, the river is now a lot cleaner and salmon have been reported as far upstream as Burnley.
3. The next landmark is the confluence of the River Hodder as it joins the Ribble. There is stile on the right just before a metal gate and stile ahead. The stile leads to a viewpoint and bench overlooking the confluence and would be a nice place to have lunch except it only has two slats left making sitting rather precarious.
Note: The source of the Hodder is White Hill in the Forest of Bowland and it is the largest tributary of the Ribble. Unlike the Calder, the Hodder flows through non-industrial villages such as Slaidburn, Dunsop Bridge and Hurst Green and was probably unaffected by heavy pollution. Sadly, during and after the Industrial Revolution the clean waters of the Hodder would have met the polluted Calder waters shortly after joining the Ribble but again that is in the past. Salmon now migrate up all three of these clean rivers.
Rejoin the path/track from the view point and turn right and cross the afore mentioned stile by the metal gate and keep on towards Winkley Hall Farm. Enter the farm through a steel gate then turn left and then onto the farmyard and turn right then once through the yard turn left passing a pond on the left and follow the tarmac road out of the farm.
Follow the road uphill and as it levels off there is a small building on the right and just before this a metal gate stile also on the right. Cross this and then head for another stile straight ahead and cross this then follow the path as it heads diagonally right towards the edge of Spring Wood then with the wood and wire fence on the right follow the path that eventually goes downhill through two stiles and onto a stile that leads into the main road.
4. Cross the road and go up the lane opposite called Knowles Brow. Keep on the road until Hall Barn Farm on the right.
5. Opposite on the left there is a track. Follow the track and keep straight on, do not go down the track to the right leading into Stonyhurst. Pass a red brick wall on the right and keep straight on, do not bear left into a yard, there is footpath painted on a wall as a guide. Keep following the track and turn right at Hall Barn Farm and keep on until the observatory building on the right.
Note: The track is skirting the grounds of the magnificent buildings of Stonyhurst College and it is really worth stopping to admire these. The frontage view is the one most known but the outer buildings are very architecturally pleasing to look at. It dates back to the 14th century. One of the college's more famous pupils was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. J.R.R Tolkien wrote some of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy while staying at the college and it is believed he based some of the story on local landmarks and places
6. The track then turns right and at this point turn left and go through a gate and follow a steel fence on the left past some sports fields on the left. Keep on following the fence until it starts to bend left towards a prominent red brick building.
There is a wooden electricity pole on the right, turn right towards and pass to the right of the pole and head towards the next pole. Reach a wood and with this on the right follow the path up to and through a metal gate stile. Cross this and keeping the hedgerow on the right keep on and cross another stile then still with the hedgerow on the right reach a metal stile by a cottage.
Cross the stile and turn left then follow the path into a road Smithy Road that leads in front of some cottages and at the end of the road turn left and join the road back to the car park.
Start/finish: Village Hall car park
Distance: 5.25 miles/8.5 kilometres
Terrain: Good walking on good paths except the first section down to the river that is in parts a bit steep and can be muddy. Good boots or walking shoes should be fine.
Time: 3.5 hours
Parking: See above - honesty box for motorists
Refreshment: Shireburn Arms and Bayley Arms
Facilities: Public toilets in village.
Map: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors