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Hurst Green and the Ribble Valley

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Hurst Green and the Ribble Valley
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 23 May 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Lancashire, Clitheroe
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Hurst Green and the Ribble Valley
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 5.5 mile circular pub walk through the spectacular Ribble Valley in the Forest of Bowland. The walk starts and finishes at The Bayley Arms, a pub with great character and ambience and perfect for refreshments before or after your walk. The route takes in the riverside path alongside the Ribble plus the surrounding fields and tracks. There are beautiful views throughout as you take in this peaceful and tranquil setting which, some speculate, could have been Tolkien’s inspiration for the Shires in the Lord of the Rings novels.

There are several climbs and descents throughout and the paths are generally grass paths and tracks across pastures which can be very muddy after rain. You will need to negotiate several kissing gates plus six stiles, all of which are fairly enclosed so dogs may need a lift over. Several of the pastures you cross are likely to be holding cattle and/or sheep so take care with dogs. Approximate time 2 to 2.5 hours.

Hurst Green is located on the B6243 Whalley Road between Clitheroe and Longridge in Lancashire. The Bayley Arms is located on Avenue Road. Parking is available at the pub, at the parish hall on Avenue Road, or you can park (with respect for local residents) on Avenue Road itself. Once you’ve parked, make your way to the public toilets on Avenue Road to start the walk (these are fairly close to the junction with the main Whalley Road). Approximate post code BB7 9QB.

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Walk Sections

Start to River Ribble
Start to River Ribble

Start point: 53.8372 lat, -2.4802 long
End point: 53.8317 lat, -2.4726 long

Standing on Avenue Road with the public toilets to the left, walk ahead down the hill to reach the village crossroads. Pass to the right of the village war memorial, cross over the main road with care and take the lane opposite which runs to the left of the Shireburn Arms. Pass the pub buildings to the right and the pub car park to the left to reach a gate into a large open pasture.

Pass through this gate (note the pasture is likely to be holding cattle) and continue downhill, staying close to the fence on the right. As the fence on the right ends, dog-leg right then left (crossing a small concrete bridge) to continue the descent down the field, following a small stream on the left.

Follow the path into a small belt of trees and cross the stile ahead. Cross the wooden footbridges and take the steps into the next field. Follow the path over the brow of a small hill to reach the next stile. Cross this, swing left and then right to join the stone woodland path winding fairly steeply down towards the river. The woodland is home to a myriad of wild flowers in spring. At the fork you can go either way, both paths come back together (one via a footbridge) to reach the next stile. Cross this to join the grass footpath with the River Ribble running on the right.

River Ribble to Jumbles Barn
River Ribble to Jumbles Barn

Start point: 53.8317 lat, -2.4726 long
End point: 53.8346 lat, -2.4541 long

Follow the path to reach the aqueduct, a stone bridge carrying water pipes across the river. Cross the stile alongside the aqueduct and continue on the riverside path. You will pass a small fishing hut on the right, simply continue your riverside journey crossing another stile and then two gates along the way.

This area was a manor from the twelfth century, with the lords adopting the name Shireburn in the late thirteenth century (hence the name of the pub you passed earlier). Their family seat was at Stonyhurst Hall, now Stoneyhurst College, which you will pass later on the walk. Many people speculate that the area was also the main inspiration for J R R Tolkien’s setting for the Lord of the Rings books. Tolkien spent long periods in the area while his son taught classics at the college. The books give some tantalising clues to this connection. In the hobbit’s Shire there is a River Shirebourn and a Shire Lane (the name of a road in Hurst Green).

Further along the path merges with a tarmac lane. Simply keep straight ahead along this and it will lead you to the stone farm and barn, Jumbles Barn, on the left. Take a moment here to enjoy the views across the river, where the outcrops of limestone form a natural weir.

Jumbles Barn to Winkley Hall Farm
Jumbles Barn to Winkley Hall Farm

Start point: 53.8346 lat, -2.4541 long
End point: 53.8411 lat, -2.4427 long

Continue on the lane and you will pass a small brick building, the New Jumbles river flow measurement station on the right. Immediately after this turn right over the large wooden elaborate stile (which resembles a flight of steps) to join the grass riverside path.

Follow this grass path for some distance, passing the large stone property, The Boat House, over to the left. Follow the path round a fairly sharp left-hand bend. Within this bend you’ll see the confluence between the River Ribble and the River Calder, the Calder being the branch heading off to the right.

Further along the grass path becomes a stone track. Follow this for half a mile. Keep your eyes peeled for the plentiful birdlife that make the valley their home. We were lucky enough to spot a curlew and a pair of wigeons.

Just before you pass through a gateway under some ancient oak trees, glance to the right to see another confluence of rivers. This time it is the Ribble heading off to the right, with your journey continuing alongside the River Hodder. The stone track will lead you to a junction of paths with Winkley Hall Farm directly ahead.

Winkley Hall Farm to Hall Barn Farm
Winkley Hall Farm to Hall Barn Farm

Start point: 53.8411 lat, -2.4427 long
End point: 53.8439 lat, -2.4678 long

Turn left and follow the farm track as it swings right between the barns and then left passing a pond on the left. Follow the main access lane as it climbs fairly steeply and then swings left passing Winkley Hall. The original Winkley Hall dates from the 1500s and was once at the heart of a large estate. The modernised private property today only retains a couple of windows dating from the 1600s.

The lane now levels off; simply follow it as it winds ahead taking care of any occasional traffic. Across to the left you’ll see the old landscaped parkland that once formed part of Winkley Hall’s grounds. The lane leads you between a line of lime trees, another remnant of the Winkley Hall Estate when this would have been the impressive entrance avenue to the hall. You will emerge out to a T-junction with the main road, the B6243.

Turn left along the pavement and follow the road as it bends right, ignoring the first footpath off to the left. Just before the road begins to swing left, cross over with extreme care to take the footpath signed on the right. Pass through the gate (or use the stile alongside) and follow the grass track along the right-hand edge of the field. At the far end of the first field, keep ahead as the path becomes a stone track between hedgerows. The track climbs steadily to reach Hall Barn Farm on the right.

Hall Barn Farm to End
Hall Barn Farm to End

Start point: 53.8439 lat, -2.4678 long
End point: 53.8376 lat, -2.4804 long

Continue past the farm buildings on the right and pass through the small metal gate ahead to reach a crossroads of paths. Keep straight ahead onto the tarmac lane. Ahead and to the right you’ll see the impressive buildings of Stonyhurst College, including the distinctive griffin-topped gatehouses.

Stonyhurst College is an independent day and boarding school for girls and boys aged 13 to 18, adhering to the Jesuit tradition. The original manor was constructed here by the Shireburn family in the 1592. In 1754 the buildings were donated to the Jesuits and it became the home of the Roman Catholic college. The college numbers (and buildings) continued to grow and by 1900 it had become the largest Catholic college in England. Notable alumni include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of the Sherlock Holmes novels) and Joe Ansbro (a Scottish rugby international).

The path leads you past a side gate for the college on the right, the gates to the immaculate sports fields on the left and then the circular observatory, dating from 1866, on the right. Where the lane bends to the right, fork left through the wooden gate to follow a grass footpath with woodland to the right and the college’s sports fields through the fence to the left.

A little way along, as you draw level with the cricket practice nets on the left, bear right to join the path which follows the line of the right-hand fence. At the top corner of the field, pass through the kissing gate and walk ahead staying close to the fence on the right. Continue in the same direction passing though two more kissing gates along the way. A narrow path will lead you out to a residential road, Smithy Row.

Keep straight ahead along this road. Smithy Row was the childhood home of Will Greenwood, the World Cup winning England rugby player. At the T-junction turn left into Avenue Road, passing the impressive Alms Houses on the left which were donated by the Shireburn family. A little further along you will come to The Bayley Arms, where the walk began, for some well-earned hospitality.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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