I’ve found another one. This time on the West Pennine Moors 1:25000 Map 287 sheet over the hill in the Ribble Valley. I was pleased with my little expedition on a dead-end track to the Hodder the other day so I started looking further afield and immediately came up with another obvious ‘road to nowhere’ It leaves the road at Mitton Hall and leads down a strange little peninsular to where the Ribble and the Calder join. I’d been on the opposite bank near Hacking Hall three years ago and even took a photo of this peninsular point.
It was near here that Hacking ferry operated up until the 1950s so perhaps this footpath linked with the ferry.
Time to put on the boots again.
I thought the best place to safely park was in the grounds of Mitton Hall Hotel, I find a place as far as possible from the hall, there are few cars about, and slink off along the road. An alley leads into fields and I’m immediately confronted with a flooded stream I dare not jump across. I find a way round to Little Mitton Farm and wander through their yards without any problem and without seeing a soul. Stiles give access to fields which take me into Mitton Wood, an obvious pheasant breeding area, all I see are half a dozen roe deer the pheasants having been shot.
I’m walking along a ridge between the Ribble on my right and the Calder on my left, at its end I drop down to a stile into a riverside meadow. The field narrows as I proceed just above the flood line. This is quite a dramatic situation with the two rivers roaring by. At its end, I can see Hacking Hall on the left bank of the Calder and the Hacking Boathouse on the right bank of the Ribble.
Near here in the past was the Hacking Ferry mentioned above. It is documented that the ferry ran on Sundays to enable people to attend church but I wonder which – Old Langho or Great Mitton. There are historical photographs of the Hacking Ferry which was popular in the late C19th and early C20th. One could probably request where you wanted to be dropped off. The last ferry boat is said to be preserved in Clitheroe Museum but I have yet to visit it.
The Ribble Way follows the north bank of the Ribble and it was always planned to construct a bridge across at the confluence of the rivers. Stood at the end of the peninsular I wonder about where the bridge would have connected up these footpaths. I later find online the designs for an innovative bridge linking all three by Flint Neill civic engineers. This was back in 2003 before funding was withdrawn for such projects. An amazing looking three-way arch footbridge, with 43.5m legs and a high arch at the confluence of the Ribble and Calder rivers. What a shame it was never constructed, The rivers were running high with tree trunks whizzing along. A few walkers were braving the winds on the Ribble Way. How many people come down to this spot I’m standing on? A kingfisher flashes past as I retrace my steps upstream.
I find my way back into the woods as the gale blows through the trees, creaking and groaning, hoping none will come crashing down – this is Tolkien’s Middle Earth after all.
At Mitton Hall Hotel the car park was completely full of wedding guests, I felt rather out of place in my full waterproofs.