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Clitheroe's River and Castle

Partly a town trail, but mostly a rural walk beside the River Ribble.

Distance 3.5 miles (5.7km)

Minimum time 1hr 15min

Ascent/gradient 164ft (50m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Field paths, surfaced tracks, pavement, 7 stiles

Landscape Urban, rural, woodland and riverside - a rare mix!

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer OL41 Forest of Bowland & Ribblesdale

Start/finish SD 744422

Dog friendliness Can roam free in Brungerley Park, on leads elsewhere

Parking Long stay car park on Chester Avenue, by Clitheroe Station

Public toilets On Church Walk

1 Walk towards the railway then bear right on a road blocked to through traffic. Follow it round to Kirkmoor Road and go right. At Back Commons go over a stile. Cross the field to another stile, bear right to a kissing gate and immediately right through another. From a third gate go right on a short track past the cemetery to the road and go left for 250yds (229m). Go right, up the lane then, just past the gates of Park Hill, go left on a footpath. Cross the field to the edge of the wood. Go down left then swing right on a surfaced track. Follow this for about 150yds (137m) then descend to river level near to the boundary of the Cross Hill Nature Reserve.

2 From below the quarry follow the riverbank for about ¾ mile (1.2km) to Bradford Bridge, near the huge cement works, the one large-scale industrial plant in the pastoral Ribble Valley. Cross the bridge and, from the bend in the road, follow the river bank through the first field, then go diagonally right to a stile. Keep left where other paths branch off, then cross a larger field to a concrete footbridge. Bear left across the next field, quite near the river again, then join a farm track up a rise and bear right past Brungerley Farm to the road.

3 Go left across Brungerley Bridge. Go over the wall by the bus shelter and down the steps. Follow the river bank to a gate into Boy Bank Wood. Ignore an obvious line of steps on the left and follow a level, though rougher, path to the large weir opposite Waddow Hall. On the far side is a fish ladder, and on our side an old sluice gate. The canal, now partly silted up, ran for about ½ mile (800m) to the large mill at Low Moor, formerly owned by the Garnett family of Waddow Hall. Beyond the sluice the steep bank on the left begins to diminish. Go up and back left along the top of the bank, to meet a clear path (coming up from the steps you passed a few minutes ago). Turn sharp right across the field to the end of a line of trees and a kissing gate. Follow the left edge of the next field. At the next gate you briefly rejoin the outward route, going slightly right to a stile and across the last field to Back Commons.

4 Keep straight on down Kirkmoor Road, swing right and out to a busier road. Cross the railway bridge. From the end of its parapet double back to the right, under the little footbridge that serves the Methodist chapel. Enter the castle grounds and turn left immediately up a rising road. Near its crest go left up a stepped path. At its top go up steps on the left then turn right immediately below the buildings. At their end go up more steps, emerging in front of the Castle Museum.

5 From the museum entrance go up again, then bear right through the yard, towards the keep. Go up steps, then left into the keep. Leave by the other 'door'. Immediately to its right are more steps giving access to the ramparts. From the base of these steps go right down a stepped path. Keep right at the bottom, out into Castle Street. The
An arch beside the White Lion leads into Church Walk. Go left at the bottom, then right, to the railway station. The main building is now a gallery, but the railway is still busy, with trains to Manchester. Go right 50yds (46m) and under the tracks to return to the car park.

The walk begins by heading for the river bank and the Cross Hill Nature Reserve. The reserve centres on Cross Hill Quarry, which ceased working in the 1900s. Like others in the area it once served the cement industry (which is still active, as you'll see). The woods near the river produce masses of wood anemones by early March: these star-like white flowers are among the earliest signs of spring.

Emerging from the fields into the town, we head for Clitheroe Castle, now housing a museum, which has great views from its ramparts. Beneath the castle, Castle Street has adistinctive wedge-shaped building, at the end of the street, that is now the town library, but in its time it has also been town hall, police station, lock-up, and public lavatories! The area in front of it was the original market-place, but it's a very cramped site. Markets used to overflow into Castle Street and Church Street; maybe they would again if only Castle Street were closed to traffic.

While you're there

The Castle Museum seems larger on the inside than it does on the outside, and is good on geology as well as history. Don't miss the Geological Trail at Salthill Quarry on the outskirts of the town. Clitheroe has good shopping too - lovers of sausages and/or wine will be in seventh heaven.

What to look for

Clitheroe is built on limestone, which is visible at Cross Hill Quarry, in the riverbed and in the knoll on which the Castle stands. Many of the town's buildings are of limestone too, but darker gritstone also appears, quarried a short distance away (there are still active quarries on Waddington Fell, for instance). When you walk down Kirkmoor Road, the terraced houses on one side are built of gritstone while those opposite are built of limestone.

Where to eat and drink

The Swan and Royal, on Castle Street has well-kept Jennings ales and a good range of bar food - try the baguettes - as well as a children's menu. If alcohol isn't essential, the Exchange Coffee Company, on Wellgate, also does excellent lunches and delicious cakes.


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