Ribble Valley Walk - Pendleton to Downham
PUBLISHED: 18:46 16 October 2015 | UPDATED: 16:07 19 January 2016
The Pendleton to Downham circuit takes John Lenehan to some of our loveliest countryside and our finest watering holes
Pendleton is a beautiful village nestling below Pendle Hill. It is steeped in history and stories of witchcraft abound. It has one pub, The Swan With Two Necks, but more about that in my watering hole section. This is a great area for walking, cycling, or simply sightseeing. There are ancient villages with excellent pubs and cafes or nearby there busy towns like Clitheroe and Whalley that offer great shopping.
This walk takes in the villages Pendleton, Downham, and Worston, and is one to savour.
1. Leave the car park in the village (there is some on-street parking and a carpark at the Village Hall) and turn left past the Swan with Two Necks and follow the road to its junction with the main road to Sabden.
Note: The name Swan with Two Necks is not quite what it seems. The name is said to derive from a practise called swan upping carried out on the Thames in London. In the 15th century, the monarch allowed two companies, the Vintners and the Dyers, to share ownership of the swans on the Thames. In the third week in July swans are still caught and ringed to show ownership. The Queen’s swans have one ring and the Vintners and Dyers have two.
Prior to rings, swans were identified by the cutting of nicks in their beaks, one for the Monarch, two for the Vintners and Dyers. It is said nicks merged into necks, hence the name.
2. Cross the road and enter a track and bearing left follow this through the farmyard and carry on along the track.
3. The track reaches a house facing you. The track splits 3 ways and the centre track is the one to follow passing the left of the house.
4. The track reaches Lane Side farm and turns into the farmyard. Do not follow it into the yard but keep straight on to a metal gate and go through this. You are now walking on a green track and keep on this until Little Mearley Hall when it turns into a tarmac road. Follow this until it crosses a cattle grid and climbs slightly then turns left.
5. As the road turns there is a footpath sign and a stile on the right cross this and, keeping the hedge on your right, cross the field and another stile and then a footbridge to reach a stile that enters the road from Worston. Turn right after joining the road and follow this to Downham.
6. As the road enters Downham there is a footpath sign on the left by a lamppost. Turn sharp left and follow the path then go through the gate sitting between the two houses.
Note: Prior to taking the footpath you may want to take time to explore the beautiful village of Downham. There is a little café and a pub for refreshments. The ancient church is worth a visit and there’s a good view of Pendle from here. The village doesn’t have any overhead power or telephone cables, nor TV aerials and satellite dishes on view. This has led to it being an ideal location for filming. Whistle Down the Wind with Hayley Mills was filmed here as was the TV series Born and Bred.
Keeping the hedge to your right climb uphill and enter a track then through a gate and up to a stone stile. Cross this and keep to the stone wall on the right until it turns right. At this point carry straight on bearing slightly left to cross the open field. There is a footpath arrow on a post on the left near the centre of the field to guide you. Reach a stile by a gate near some trees and go through this and keep on until a track coming up from the left is reached. Do not go down the track but take the stile facing you on the right hand side of the track. Once through the stile follow the footpath with a stone wall on your left and Worsaw Hill on the right to Worsaw End House farm.
7, Go past the back of the farm building then left through a gate and then right to a gate passing a corrugated building on the left.
Enter a field and bear slightly left to a wire fence and a stream and follow these until eventually reaching a stile in a stone wall. Cross this and join a track and turning left follow this until it joins the main road. Turn right into the village of Worston. Go past the Calf’s Head towards the A59 until you reach two statues of sheep then take the road to the left of these until it joins the A59 and keep on the footpath/cycle path.
8. The cycle path crosses the A59 and enters a lane follow this and cross the road from the A59 to Clitheroe then after passing a house on the left reach a stile on the left by a steel gate.
9. Cross the stile and bear diagonally right towards a footbridge cross this and then bear left to a gate and stile leading to the A59. Cross this and down towards a gate then turn right to a stile on the left. Cross this and bear slightly diagonally right to a footbridge and cross this. Bear diagonally left to a stile then onto a steel stile then turn left and cross a stone stile back into Pendleton.
Start and Finish: Car park Pendleton
Terrain: The Pendleton Downham Circle is mainly on tracks and footpaths with a short section of tarmac road so light boots or walking shoes will be fine.
Distance: 7.6 Miles/12.2 Km
Map: OS Explorer 41 Forest of Bowland and Ribblesdale.
Facilities: There are toilets at Barrow Service Station on the A59 close to Pendleton and at Downham. The Calf’s Head at Worston allows use of the toilets.
Swan with Two Necks: Pendleton BB7 1PT: 01200 423112
My preference is the Swan with Two Necks. I’m a real ale man and they serve some of the finest brews in Lancashire. They also have what I think completes a good walk - a good Lancashire pie and at the Swan with Two Necks they make their own prize winning belly fillers. Meat and Onion. Beef and Ale. Steak and Kidney. Cheese and Onion. Pie and a Pint what more can a walker ask for.
Assheton Arms: Downham BB7 4BJ: 01200 441227
Superb food. The fish and chips are my favourite. There is also a little café in Downham near where the walk enters the village serving sandwiches, tea, and excellent ice cream.
Calf’s Head: Worston BB7 1QA: 01200 441218
Offers excellent accommodation to walkers and visitors wanting an extended stay in the area. The food is fantastic too and a visit to the Sunday carvery is a must.