• Start: Bentham
  • End: Bentham
  • Country: England
  • County: Lancashire
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: Punch Bowl Hotel Low Bentham, café and pubs in High Bentham
  • Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer OL41 Forest of Bowland and Ribblesdale
  • Difficulty: Medium
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History may have left the Benthams untouched, but there's still plenty to enjoy, as Keith Carter discovered

There are two Benthams, Low and High, a mile or so apart beside the River Wenning. Wenning is an Old English word meaning dark stream and dark it certainly is, brown from the peat that it brings down from the high moors before depositing it in the Lune near Hornby.

This is the river that was responsible for two severe floods in the last century inundating the village of Hornby including the cottage lived in by my late mother-in-law Marjorie who had to be rescued famously clutching nothing but her pension-book.

The Benthams are the subject of a Heritage Trail, imaginatively illustrated in interpretation boards and a leaflet by Gill Baron and available in the Tourist Information Office in High Bentham. We learn that nothing much has happened here throughout history, no skirmishes with marauding Scots, no sieges, battles, raids, fires, rebellions, no civil strife, loom-breaking, not a window broken or a policemans helmet knocked off as far as has been recorded. Romans didnt come here, neither did Vikings, Jacobites, Roundheads, and no Wellington Bomber crashed nearby, in fact as Stanley Holloway would have said, nothing to laugh at at all.

That just leaves walking and the close proximity of Ingleborough offers plenty of possibilities for lovers of the high places. Our walk this month is a taster for those unfamiliar to the area and takes us along the river and back between Low and High Bentham and includes pleasing views, easy terrain and the opportunity of a drink at the half way point.

Park opposite the Punch Bowl Hotel at Low Bentham and turn right to walk on the pavement as far as the railway bridge. Take the next right onto a lane that passes by Millers Fold, a new development of housing beside the river and then some new factory units for light industry before leaving the buildings behind. Look for a concealed footpath on the left and take the uneven path which runs close to but out of sight of the river.

On reaching the riverbank we enter a field by a stile in a wall, our path crossing a succession of similar stiles before we are confronted by a dip or hollow where a gate leads us to an enclosed path among trees. This takes us alongside a caravan site emerging onto a tarmac drive and then a group of neat buildings used by caravanners.

You cannot but be impressed by the orderly layout of the site with its closely mown lawns between the rows and general air of tidy communal tranquillity. You feel this is a site where anyone dropping a sweet wrapper had better watch out.

Proceed through the site and exit at a junction with the road just up from Bentham Bridge. Cross the bridge and walk up the hill into the town past the premises of Angus Fire Armour, the biggest employer in the area. At the traffic lights, turn left onto Low Bentham Road and when you see a pub called the Horse and Farrier look for a footpath sign pointing left.

This leads between houses and where it turns left towards the railway line, on the bend, a stile on the right is our way forward.

Cross this stile and follow the wall to your right as far as a second stile which requires concrete steps on the far side to bring walkers down to a sunken lane. Turn left then immediate right and follow the next right hand boundary on a field path that heads diagonally for the railway where a white-painted wicket gate admits us to a fenced path running beside the line then crossing it by a pedestrian crossing.

Once over the line, we meet an obvious track which we turn right onto before going through a gate with a sign for a Nature Reserve on it. The path continues fenced along the riverside then turns away from the river and passes a group of pens used for rearing pheasants. These must be some of the 20 million birds bred annually for sport. Some might say the very size of the pheasant makes them hard to miss with a shotgun and wheres the sport in that? Admittedly I am partial to pheasant casserole slow-cooked in red wine so I can hardly complain.

We also pass beside a series of pools to emerge beside a tunnel under the railway. Dont go through it but keep ahead on a path now tarmacced leading to a footbridge over the river which brings us to the back of the housing development which we passed early in our walk. By turning right we come to the main road where we turn left and are soon back at the Punch Bowl Hotel.

Compass points

Area of walk: Bentham

Distance: 3.5 miles

Time to allow: 1 hours

Map: OS Explorer OL41 Forest of Bowland and Ribblesdale

Refreshments: Punch Bowl Hotel Low Bentham, caf and pubs in High Bentham

Further information:

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