A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY. 8. Whalley to Sawley.

                                                                         Sawley Abbey.

Time we visited an Abbey or two.

But first a visit to Taste Buds Cafe for a second breakfast and coffee, what a great takeaway. Good coffee and tasty bakery.

Fortified I wander through the graveyard of St Mary & All Saints, built on the site of an 8th Century church and a later Norman (circa 1100) church. The present church building dates from around 1200 with the tower being added in 1440. Inside are apparently ancient pews, some from the Abbey. Despite several visits, I’ve been unable to see inside. The Saxon Crosses in the graveyard I’ve pictured before.

I go through the Eastern gate of Whalley Abbey to look at the remains of one of the largest monastic sites in the north.A Cistercian order started here in 1296 and was still expanding in the C15. There was a church, monastic lodgings and infirmary. After the dissolution, it passed into private hands and most was demolished, so mainly only low walls remain. The larger walls were part of the monks quarters. A manor house was built on the site and today is used as a religious centre. An image from their website gives an idea of the layout. The last Abbot, John Paslew was executed for his part in the Pilgrimage of Grace, an uprising against Henry VIII actions. The emblem of the Abbey – Three Fishes – crops up a lot in the locality.

I leave the village via the vast west gate and out under the railway into the countryside along the Calder River.

Dog walkers were out in force using footpaths that were new to me, I walked around the site of Calderstones Hospital, an institution for people with learning disabilities. Most of the site has been demolished and redeveloped for housing. Out the other side of the complex, I’m into semi-frozen muddy fields on the line of a Roman Road to Skipton and somewhere there is a base to a medieval cross. I spend some time looking for it, backwards and forwards. Frustrated I carry on only to stumble into the large, unmissable stone nowhere near its OS mapped site.

From this open ground I have good views of Pendle to the east… … and to the north Longridge Fell. In this shot can be seen the domes of Stonyhurst College and closer at hand in Mitton the old hall and the C13 All Hallows Church. It is a shame this church isn’t visited on this walk as it is full of interest including medieval woodwork from Sawley Abbey and memorials to the local Shireburn family, dating from the late 16th century.

Now back on the Ribble Way, I start meeting lots of dog walkers out from Clitheroe. I come round a corner to see a lady with binoculars studying a tree, she points out the kingfisher to me. Wonderful. Off it flies only for me to come across again shortly it in some reeds upriver. Its times like this that I wish I had a better camera.

The walk by the river around Clitheroe was very familiar to me and I made good progress as the sun became lower and lower in the sky. The works at West Bradford are all too familiar. Near Grindleton the path climbs up onto the road from where there were good views of misty Pendle.

Ahead is the bridge over the Ribble at Sawley.

I reach the  Sawley Abbey grounds with half an hours daylight remaining.

Another Cistercian monastery, founded in 1146, it bordered onto the lands of Whalley Monastery and there are records of quarrels over fishing rights on the River Ribble. After dissolution, the abbot William Trafford tried to resurrect the abbey under the Pilgrimage of Grace. This failed and Trafford was hanged at Lancaster in March 1537 and the abbey immediately plundered of its valuables. Over the years stone from the monastery was used in local buildings. On the ground, there is little left of the church but remnants of the refectory and a grand fireplace are visible. Outside the site earthworks connected to the monastery can be seen in surrounding fields. I’ve now finished the first half of A Lancashire Monastic Way from Upholland to Sawley and thoroughly enjoyed the new paths and history I’ve encountered. The next half is from Cockerham Abbey to Furness Abbey, I’m wondering whether to devise my own walking link up between the two?

*****

6 thoughts on “A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY. 8. Whalley to Sawley.

  1. shazza

    Wonderful that you managed to capture a kingfisher on camera. 🙂
    I grew up in a house called Little Mearley Hall between Worston and Pendleton. Apparently there was some sort of tunnel between whalley and little Mearley for monks to use , but I’m not sure if that was really true….

    Reply
    1. bowlandclimber Post author

      That picture was too fuzzy with my cheap camera but it was great to be able to stand and observe for a minute or so. Made my day.
      I know Little Mearley Hall at the base of Pendle. Back in the 70/80s, good friends of mine from Grindleton were friendly with its occupants – maybe your parents.
      That would have been some long tunnel to Whalley.
      Apparently, a window in the hall came from Sawley Abbey after dissolution.

      Reply

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