Ribchester, Lancashire Sunday 29th January 2012

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Selwyn Williams   Distance: Approx. 9 miles

We set off from the village to the River Ribble and follow the bank on the opposite side to the Ribble Way, later crossing over by secure method of a bridge (no stepping stones here). Up to Hurst Green (toilet stop available), passing to the left of Stoneyhurst College and up to Deer House Wood. We then return across fields to our start, passing Stydd Manor with the old alms house and little chapel.

Moderate Leader: Leo & Jean Keenan   Distance: 8 miles

The walk is a steady climb from Ribchester towards Longridge Fell, going through Duddel Wood and Manor House Farm. We then go along Huntingdon Hall Road, through fields to Goodshaw Farm, along the Old Clitheroe Road with views of the Ribble Valley, towards the New Drop Inn. From here we descend back to Ribchester through sheep grazed fields. The walk could be very muddy with plenty of stiles.

Leisurely Leader: Cynthia Pescott & Margaret Black   Distance: 7.5 miles

This lovely walk takes us through fields to Ribchester Bridge then heads up to a good view overlooking the river and the countryside. We then head down to Clough Bank and Dinkley Suspension Bridge and walk back along the other side of the river, through Marles Wood and up to the lane that leads back to Ribchester Bridge. We head back over fields to Stone Bridge and go near to the Roman Bathhouse and have beautiful river views in Ribchester itself. There are lots of footbridges and lots of stiles and some steep downhill steps. Not a lot of uphill walking. Most of the walk is on good paths, tracks or lanes.

When this walk was first reccied Joan McGlinchey broke her ankle on a muddy Ribble Way and had to be rescued. Margaret & Cynthia tried to find a new route that was not muddy but this seemed impossible in Ribchester. One field gate was muddy where cattle had collected, so there were muddy boots on part of this walk, but this could not be avoided. At the end of January the ground could be harder!

Easy Leader: Hazel Anderton & Ruth Melling   Distance: 5 miles

Today’s walk takes us through the town and then to the north of Ribchester and includes a circular route around Duddel Hill (with the mast at the top). We go along lanes, cross fields and through some woodland. There are no steep climbs and the mud situation is not too bad, but there are a lot of stiles.

Notes On The Area

The countryside around Ribchester is probably one of the loveliest areas in Lancashire, with streams flowing down wooded valleys into the Ribble, rolling hills, grassy fields, and many trees, topped off with views of Pendle Hill, Longridge Fell, and the Forest of Bowland.

Ribchester itself is well worth seeing, the interesting bits being off to the left of the main road towards the river; Church, Roman remains, Museum of Childhood, Tea Shop, pubs, and old houses. The 13th century church is sited alongside the River Ribble at a place where there was a ford. Crossing the river was a hazardous occupation – in 1246 the rector, whose name was Drogo, was drowned together with his horse. The Assize record shows that the horse’s hide was valued at 19 pence, and this amount was duly paid to the sheriff. In the church a fragment of a medieval wall painting shows St Christopher, patron saint of travellers, with the Christ Child. In the 13th century the prominent steps in the churchyard probably supported a cross. Now there is a 17th or 18th century sundial, with an inscription that asks the question: “I am a shadow – so art thou. I mark time – dost thou?” Near the church a small museum houses Roman artefacts. These include a replica of a fine bronze ceremonial helmet, discovered by a schoolboy in 1796, the original is in the British Museum.

On the way out of town, at the end of a lane edged by leafy hedgerows, is the hamlet of Stydd. Here are the almshouses endowed in 1726 by John Sherburn for six Catholic ladies, widows or spinsters. The unusual facade includes some Roman pillars. Today the almshouses are administered by the diocese of Salford. Further up the lane is Stydd Church. Built by the Knights Hospitallers of St John in Jerusalem, the Chapel of the Saviour is all that remains of a small monastery complete with dormitory, refectory and cloisters. In 1338 when it was considered that the monastery no longer served any useful purpose, it was dissolved. The chapel was transferred to the parish of Ribchester in 1545 and today services are held monthly. It is the oldest church building in the valley. The north door is the work of 12th century masons. The interior is simple – a stone flagged nave and an aged oak screen dividing it from the chancel, some massive beams and a panelled pulpit.