Saturday  27th March.     6.75 miles.      Hurst Green.

I expected Hurst Green to be full of cars this morning, but we were able to park up outside the Bailey Arms with no trouble. I think we stole a march on most people by being away early. A new signpost has been erected near the Shireburn Inn to get you on the right track. Dropping to join the River Ribble seemed muddier than normal, a lot of people have come this way in the last few months. To start with we had the riverside path to ourselves with wide-ranging views. Only as we approached Winkley Farm did a steady stream of people start appearing from the opposite direction. Fishermen were wading in the Ribble just upstream from where it joins the Hodder. A new path, not particularly aesthetic, gives a dry way across a particularly muddy field. A lot of people were milling about at Cromwell’s Bridge and on the path alongside the Hodder, we couldn’t work out how some of these groups were constituted with no social distancing in evidence – I suspect people are coming out of lockdown of their own volition. Up at Hodder Court Gandalf is staring out over the Ribble Valley, although his hat seems ready to fall off. We walked on through the grounds of Stonyhurst College to a now busy Hurst Green. I dread to think what this walk will be like after April 12th when people can travel further.

Here are a few photos…

A deserted Bailey Arms, I wonder whether it will survive.

We were glad of our poles in the mud.

Aqueduct over the Ribble taking water to Blackburn.

Distant Pendle.

Hodder and Ribble meet – spot the fisherman.

That Winkley Oak.

The new ‘bypass’

Trail walkers with Stonyhurst in the background.

Cromwell’s Bridge.

A wooden Gandalf.


For more comprehensive views of this walk please have a look at




  1. Michael Graeme

    I’ve enjoyed that walk on a couple of occasions – not realizing it had a name. The last time was a few years ago, but I must have gone mid-week and early as I didn’t see anyone else all the way round. I remember that tree in particular. It’s a stunner. Is “The Winkley Oak” its official name?

    When they create “themed” trail like that you just know it’s going to get pounded to death, especially at the weekends – and especially now. Instagram’s another culprit, people posting pictures of formerly little known beauty spots, and flagging their presence to the whole country. Where I grew up in Coppull, there’s been a problem with people travelling hundreds of miles (under lockdown) to visit a country park there.

    Fingers crossed Boris lets us out a bit further to play today, but we’ll have to be choosy where we go, and I suspect we’ll have to go early to park the car.

    1. bowlandclimber

      I don’t know when they came up with the idea of naming it. The Shireburn Inn has a vested interest being right on the route, as they say in their blurb – call in for a drink, pick up a guide leaflet and book in for a meal on your return. Visit Lancashire have a rather well produced downloadable guide –
      So you can see how the bandwagon started rolling. It is certainly to be avoided at weekends, I only went because my friend had found it in a walking book.
      The ‘new; stretch was an unwelcome surprise though it does avoid the mud, for now.
      Yes, the next few weekends we will need to be selective as to our destinations. I’m staying local until April 12th. The Lakes got a bashing this weekend and we hadn’t even started.
      I named the oak in view of its proximity to Winkley Hall Farm – I wonder if it will catch on. Watch this space.

      1. Michael Graeme

        The Winkley Oak sounds good to me, and it’s such a grand tree, it should have a name. I always think it looks like it could sprout legs and walk away like one of Tolkein’s talking trees.

    1. bowlandclimber

      J.R.R Tolkien the author spent time at Stonyhurst College, where his son was a pupil, working on The Lord of the Rings during the Second World War.
      The Ribble Valley countryside may have inspired him, many have found connections with this landscape and his writings.

    1. bowlandclimber

      The Gandalf statue is in the garden of Hodder Court, he’s been there awhile now and in fact is beginning to look a little worse for wear. Peep over the hedge from the road.


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