CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – Whitewell, Mellor Knoll and the Hodder.

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Haredon rook connects with Langden Brook which connects with the Hodder just after the River Dunsop, itself formed from the Brennand and Whitendale  waters, has joined in. In this part of Bowland there is a lot of water flowing off the hills down the Hodder towards the Ribble. So much water that I couldn’t safely cross the stepping stones at Whitewell this morning. Walk number 14 of Mark Sutcliffe’s Cicerone Lancashire. 

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The day promised the best weather of the week – sunny,mild and dry. And it was. I adjusted and parked up at Burholme Bridge a little farther up the Hodder.

The climb up the quiet road was a good warm-up before taking the footpath through the field.  It felt good to see Lapwings flying around and a couple of Curlews in the distance. I was in limestone country and all around were little outcrops and caves, I have explored some of these in the past so was content to walk by. The lane leads into the hills and a far off farm under Totridge Fell, but the bridleway goes off right into the woods. At one time there were numerous hen houses scattered about, true free-range poultry, but today there only seemed to be one shed left standing. 


Unnamed limestone caves.


The ‘last’ Whitmore hen house.

The path through these woods, Lower Fence, has always been boggy but since recent felling matters have improved somewhat. As height is gained views open up into the heart of Bowland above Dunsop. Leaving the firs a contrasting beech wood is entered. I have always enjoyed this high woodland stretch – beautiful beech trees with Totridge Fell towering above and views down through the trees to the twisting Hodder where I had parked. The farm below has hosted off-road motorbike trailing for some time, but it was confined to the lower fields and contrived obstacles. Inch Perfect Trials. There is now evidence that they are riding higher up into these ancient woods causing erosion and damage to the tree roots. Their promotional video illustrates this clearly. No doubt the land belongs to the organisation but, call me a spoil sport,  I don’t feel this is appropriate in the wild surroundings. Worryingly they seem to have received several Lancashire tourism awards. We don’t need that sort of tourism. Let’s not forget we are in the Forest of Bowland, a recognised Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. I certainly would not like to walk this Public Bridleway when they are out to play. Who should I complain to? The King, if this is Duchy land? Now I’m home and writing this I am even more incensed – they are going to destroy that beautiful beech wood.


How it should remain.


Encroaching trails.


The Hodder Valley below.


What it is becoming.





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Maybe my mind was distracted, but I went astray at the col between Totridge and Mellor Knoll. It is easy to do so on the featureless ground. But basically all routes lead down to Hareden in the end. Incidentally if you are up here it is easy to gain the 344 m summit of Mellor Knoll, although there are no rights of way. Why wasn’t it included in the CRoW act’s open access land?

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Mellor Knoll.

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Off track.

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Haredon, can you spot the car on the trough road?

At the farm a trailer was full of sheep presumably off to market. When I asked the little girl with her mother if they were her sheep she proudly said yes. the mother quickly intervened to say that they were going on holiday. Very diplomatic. 


Going on holiday!


Haredon Farm. 1690.


Always a warm welcome.

it was flat walking down the valley into Dunsop Bridge, but the weather had clouded over and become much colder, don’t we have a mixed climate. Mark’s route fortunately brings you past Puddleducks café, still functioning as an outside venue, I enjoyed a coffee. 


Hareden Brook, haunt of Dippers.


Langden Brook.


Puddleducks in the old post office.


On past that 100.000th BT phone box often considered the centre of Great Britain. Down the avenue of tall Redwoods to Thorneyholme Hall, once owned by the Townley family of Burnley, known for breeding race horses. Their land agent Richard Eastwood had success in the 1861 Derby with Kettledrum. It is believed that St. Hubert’s Church in the village was partly financed though the horse’s winnings. More of that later.DSC00408DSC00411 (1)

The path down the valley alongside the Hodder, now joined by the Dunsop and Langden Rivers, is always a joy surrounded by all those familiar hills. This is a good place to watch Sand Martins but of course they haven’t returned yet. The river bank in parts is being eroded, and the path has been changed with the introduction of those modern metal kissing gates which I don’t feel are very sympathetic with our countryside. That is the last of my gripes.   


Langden Brook joining the Hodder under the watchful eye of Mellor Knoll.


What’s wrong with the old one?

Since I was last along here the farm at  Burholme has had its rendering removed exposing lovely warm sandstone. The farmer busy with his lambs tells me it has C14 origins. Their Lonks are not to be messed with.DSC00423


By the time I was back at the graceful Burholme Bridge the sun was shining again.


I then drove back along to Dunsop Bridge to have a look at St. Hubert’s which I had become more aware of through  this blog.  All the history is there to read and I won’t repeat it. See also its listed building entry. The church sits squatly by the road leading to the Trough of Bowland.  The striking feature externally is the large white marble angel guarding the Towneley family vault. Inside I found very little lighting to fully appreciate the fittings. The exquisite stained-glass windows however showed up really well. Their leaflet describes a painting of Kettledrum, but I was unable to locate it. Mary Towneley  of more recent equestrian fame is also buried here. 


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A good walk in the best Bowland scenery, which in truth I have done many times before at all times of the year, but never get tired of. (I did exactly the same walk on May 1st 2019.)  If you are intending to follow the Cicerone route in full come when the river is down so the stepping stones can be traversed and maybe a pint taken in the Inn at Whitewell.  There is a concessionary path off the road from near Burholme Bridge directly back to the Inn at Whitewell which would save some of the repetition of his route. 

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13 thoughts on “CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – Whitewell, Mellor Knoll and the Hodder.


    That new gate is pure lunacy. It can’t have been there more than a year or so and apart from its pointlessness it is already askew whilst its partner which has been there for perhaps a hundred years stands proud with a no nonsense latch, no sign of one of those mechanical, expensive, engineered contraptions that are prone to misalignment on the day of installation.

    1. bowlandclimber Post author

      At least round here they paint those modern gates green. The original gate was erected by the waterboard on the line of a pipeline. I’m not sure which,probably the one from Stocks reservoir to Preston and the Fylde.

  2. Michael Graeme

    As you may recall, I did that walk a couple of times last year. I missed out the steps at Whitwell for some reason, also walked it anti-clockwise. A terrific walk in beautiful countryside, except of course for the bit above that dreadful Inch Perfect place, where the destruction was so terrible I lost the path while the bikes were actually tearing the woods apart.

    From your photographs things seem if anything worse and, given Attenborough’s recent lament for our dying wildwoods, the damage is criminal but, as you say, who to complain to if they own the woodland? I did report the path as blocked on the PROW website, using words like “path obliterated by motorcycles”. It’s a wonder someone hasn’t been killed actually when trying to find their way through there, when the bikes are leaping about. They don’t seem to know (or care) if there’s a path there at all.

  3. shazza

    It’s very strange that the trail place is allowed to make such a mess , do they put flags out when they are using the area, I’m surprised somebody hasn’t been run over. 🙁

    1. Michael Graeme

      It was indeed very noisy and intimidating. There were no flags, no warnings. It was like they didn’t expect me to be there at all. I felt lucky not to be hurt that day.

  4. Eunice

    I love the white angel and the stained glass window, and the view where the rivers meet looks lovely. I’m with you on the trail riding through the woodlands, it all looks such a mess (and that’s my polite version!) Whoever it is might own the land but surely they shouldn’t be allowed to just destroy it like that?!

    1. bowlandclimber Post author

      The church was a delight apart from the poor internal lighting. There are a series of beautiful stained-glass windows, my spare camera was playing up and not focusing, so I’ve binned most of my photos. My Lumix Leica is back from the repairers, I’m happy.
      I think you would enjoy a visit there and would build a comprehensive post on it.
      As for the beech woods I’m going to take it further if I can. It is a beautiful area which shouldn’t be despoiled.

  5. bitaboutbritain

    Enjoyed that. I really should explore Bowland a bit on foot sometime. I’m with you on the pesky motor bikes. In fact, I get pissed off by push bike cyclists using footpaths, and even fell runners who are desperate to elbow past instead of having the courtesy to respect other users of the paths we all share. Why would you want to hurry, anyway? 🙂


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