Tag Archives: River Ribble



On our doorstep are two of the North’s great rivers, the Hodder and the Ribble. I don’t need an excuse to walk along either of them, and today I combine the two where they merge at Winkley on past Hurst Green. I park at the prominent bus stop just before the road drops down to the Lower Hodder Bridge. My previous posts on this area contain far more history and information than I’m about to give you on today’s short walk.

Hop across the road into fields and I’m on the popular Tolkien Trail and the not so popular Ribble Way. The well trodden ground shows just how popular anything to do with Tolkien has become, I estimate that 50% of people visiting Hurst Green walk the trail. Today I’m only sampling it. Soon I’m into the grounds of Winkley Hall and then become distracted by some fine bracket fungi. P1000566P1000592


Past the farm with its ancient moat, now boasting a new ‘duck house’, and there is the Winkley Oak. Today I measured the circumference of the bole, 13m which is over 40 feet. somewhere I have read that it is almost 500 years old. This tree is an old friend of mine and I am pleased to see it in fine form. P1000576P1000578P1000583

By the fishermen’s hut the River Hodder slides into the River Ribble which continues it’s stately way to the sea. It is helped on its way a little farther by the smaller Calder coming from Burnley via Whalley. This latter junction is where the Hacking Ferry boat plied its trade until the 50s. The boat house is a little farther round the bend. I have always been intrigued by the tumulus marked on the map nearby and I try a long distance shot of it. The river is in gentle mood today but flood debris in the trees shows how turbulent it can become after heavy rain. P1000584P1000593P1000597P1000588P1000594P1000601

Soon after Jumbles I’m off the regular trail and heading up the hill to Cross Gills Farm. On the way I meet the lady farmer driving her buggy and checking on her sheep which she can recognise individually. We chat about all things farming, she is uncertain as to the future now that perhaps food can be created in the laboratory. A frightening thought. I’m offered a lift in her buggy up the steep hill to her farm, but that would be cheating wouldn’t it? and I may have missed these fungi and the view over the Ribble. P1000602P1000606P1000607

Straight across the main road into Stonyhurst College land. I circle the cricket pitch with it’s lovely period pavilion. P1000613

Out past Gardener’s Cottage  onto the road  leading back to my car. Halfway along I’m accosted by a lady, doesn’t happen often, who knows me from my past. Once I recollect who she is we spend more time lamenting the demise of all things important to the fabric of our society.  That’s two conversations today reflecting on our past and our future, and I was only out for a bit of exercise. That’s how it goes around here with such lovely folk. I reach the car just as it starts raining – serendipity. And there is Pendle as ever keeping a watch over the Ribble Valley.






My camera went into ‘frozen mode’ after a short time on my latest cycle around Preston’s Guild Wheel. Gone for now are the pictures of the Ribble in flood mode, the harmful Giant Hog Weeds and the cautionary notice to dismount on the steep descent to Brockholes. I had no reason to ignore the latter, I’ve been going from one injury to another in the last month, so caution was uppermost. I had parked in the Crematorium grounds after all.

Ospreys have been regular visitors to the nature reserve recently, but obviously not today. They do have a problem with Himalayan Balsam though. It was surprisingly quiet considering the good weather and school holidays. They must be all at Blackpool, not the ospreys just the crowds.

The rural ride from the reserve along the Ribble Flood Plain into town is unfortunately virtually the last of the green fields on the wheel, housing has taken over elsewhere  in the last few years.

My phone camera comes into action on the tree lined boulevard into Avenham Park. Miller Park is looking immaculate, although the former, now empty, Park Hotel overlooking the scene has run into planning and financial problems as have many civic schemes in these cash strapped days. 20230815_12370220230815_124108

Plenty of cash is being spent on flood defences along Broadgate. I manage to squeeze through wheeling my bike on the numerous diversions/obstructions which I should have or could have taken, I persist with the directissimo. It is all green paint for updated and complicated cycleways at the bottom of Fishergate Hill, I survive into Docklands. No steam trains today. And no more photos.


After the car showrooms the newly opened Western Distributor road linking the M55 with the western edge of Preston seems to be working fine, but at the end of the day is only there to link up with all the new housing developments. The traffic just keeps multiplying without any structured environmental planning. Planting a few trees alonside the new road fools nobody. I have never seen a boat on the Ribble Link – more money misplaced?  At least it is more carbon friendly if that makes any difference.

One now enters Lea, Cottam, Fulwood and Broughton or wherever. It is all housing, housing with a regulation 5 m square front garden often enclosed in the most unfriendly hedgehog fencings. At least the Guild Wheel has been preserved as a corridor to the other end.

I stop for a snack and contemplation opposite the war memorial on Garstang Road  and all I can hear are builders bulldozers in the land behind me. Nothing is sacred.

I’m flagging now through those green corridors, surprisingly lots of ups and downs. 21 miles is far enough, but I have guilded the wheel, even though it is becoming a little tarnished.


You often hear the sound of crashing waterfalls before you reach them. A sign off the road directed me to Scaleber Foss in a wooded valley. Scrambling down to the base gave the best views as the water cuts through the horizontal strata. There are some lively smaller falls before  the beck disappears down a valley at a more sedate pace to be met later.

I had just started another walk plucked from the LDWA database. A circular 23-mile walk in Limestone country from Settle in North Yorkshire named  ‘Loaves and Fishes’. I enjoy a two day walk away from home, I’m not sure this brings it into the long-distance category but it is a good excuse to have a night in a pub halfway. Considering the winter days and my level of unfitness this walk would seem to fit the bill perfectly. At the last minute, whilst parked up at the start I changed the direction of my walk to fit in with the weather forecast, rain today and maybe drier tomorrow when I would be higher in the fells.

Back up onto the road, I was soon on an old lane following Brookil Gill, this is Langber Lane an ancient drove route linking Settle with Otterburn and on through to Skipton. Easy walking left me thinking on important topics: the state of the world politics, our future after so-called Brexit this Friday, Coronavirus, our own mortality and is that water getting into my right boot?

After a hop across the beck, a path continued into pasture land where the stream from Scaleber Foss joined at a wooden footbridge. An ideal wild camping spot.

A steep climb out of the valley and I joined a lane overlooking Long Preston, one minute I could see it and next clouds and hail showers obscured the view. As I came out onto a road there was a bench perfect for an early lunch. I’m not sure why this road heading onto the moors is surfaced, there are no properties up there. On old maps it is Queen’s Road [? Elizabeth I ] and was the direct route from Long Preston to Settle over Hunter Bank before the turnpike road was built in the valley in the 18C. An old milestone was thus inscribed.

Dog walkers told me of the fine views up and down Ribblesdale, not today. Once over the top, I took to a direct footpath and a blurry Settle appeared below me. Little lanes, some still cobbled, thread their way into town. I took a coffee and dried out in The Folly, a late C17th manor house built by a wealthy lawyer Richard Preston.

I didn’t have time for more coffee and cake in the Ye Olde Naked Man, formerly an undertakers with a ‘naked man’ on the outside wall, 1663 covering his privates. There were more delights to discover off the beaten track in Settle. Narrow streets, quaint cottages, a Quaker burial ground and an old Victorian Music Hall.

I was aiming for a footbridge over the Ribble and then I would follow the river upstream past Stackhouse and Langcliffe Weir to Stainforth. The imposing large quarries at Langcliffe were in the gloom. I must be on a Long Distance Walk according to the signage. The going was muddy and by the time I arrived at Stainforth Falls, the light was fading. Sat-Nav is responsible for wide vehicles becoming stranded and damaging the old packhorse bridge.

I stayed the night in The Craven Heifer,  a friendly and comfortable inn. There are a number of pubs named after the Craven Heifer, a massive cow bred on the Duke of Devonshire’s Bolton Abbey estate at the beginning of the C19th.

The restaurant was fully booked for a Chinese New Year banquet but the chef was able to cook a fish and chip supper for me in the bar before festivities commenced. There was talk in the bar of a new virulent virus spreading in China.

The fish was significant as it was the only one I saw all day – remember the title of the walk. The loaves come tomorrow but the fish are the salmon seen in October/November leaping the falls at Langcliffe and Stainforth, not my battered variety.

Gung hay fat choy!