Downham, Lancashire Sunday 25th November 2018

Today’s Walk

Strenuous Leader : Rob Rose   Distance: 10.00 miles

If it is a nice Winters day we will walk up Pendle Hill. If not, we will walk from Downham to Worston passing Longlands Woods, Worsaw Hill and walk alongside Worston Brook. From Worston we walk to Chatburn then alongside the River Ribble on to Sawley. Then back to Downham passing the remains of an abbey along the way.

Moderate / Leisurely Leader: Steve Balenski   Distance: 6.70 miles

We head north climbing slightly on field paths and then drop down, crossing Rimington lane, Swanside Beck and the A59 to Sawley. We stop for lunch at the Abbey and then follow the River Ribble, partly on the lane, past Bowland High School and partly on the Ribble Way to Chatburn. We then loop round for our return climb to Downham at the Assheton Arms. We encounter step stiles, squeeze gates, kissing gates and cattle in some pastures. Paths were good on the recce. The only refreshment place open in Downham is the Assheton Arms which can provide tea and coffee for those who don’t want an alcoholic drink. It is open from 8am for breakfast and coffee etc.

Easy Leaders: Hazel Anderton & Ruth Melling   Distance: 5.00 miles

The area around Downham has mainly fields, and lots of fields usually mean many stiles. So, to avoid too many stiles we will sometimes go along little lanes and good tracks, as well as fields. There were only 8 stiles, which were mainly stone ones, as we walked to the east and south of Downham, passing Worsaw Hill on the way back. There are some very nice views, and it was good underfoot on the reccee despite heavy rain the night before. We came across just one muddy patch, and no cattle, only sheep. There are a couple of places when we walk uphill. It is a bit steep but not strenuous or tricky underfoot.

Notes On The Area

It is often claimed that Downham is the prettiest village in Lancashire, and it is both undeniably picturesque and remarkably unspoilt. From the church, inn and group of old stone cottages at the top of the village, a road descends to a stream, bridge and a green, lined by more old cottages. The whole scene is presided over by the unmistakable profile of Pendle Hill which rises to 1900 ft. The village has remained unchanged since the early 18th century and has no road markings, overhead cables, TV aerials or Sky dishes to spoil the view. Its claim to fame is that it was used for the location of the film Whistle Down the Wind and, also has been used by the BBC for a television series. It is surrounded by lovely countryside, rich farmland hidden behind quiet lanes and has very contented cattle and sheep. 

It lies close to an old Roman road and is in an area said to be the haunt of the Pendle Witches. 

Apart from the fifteenth century tower, the church was almost entirely rebuilt around 1909-10, despite its medieval appearance. It contains memorials to the Assheton family, whose home is at Downham Hall next to the church. The Asshetons were the Lords of Downham from 1558 when they bought the manor and Whalley Abbey. Downham Hall is a repository of old books and family records, Nicholas Assheton the diarist being among the company surrounding James I at Houghton Tower in 1617. The Assheton coat of arms are painted on the inn sign. The Assheton family has been very generous to the village including paying for the school. 

Cricket is still played on the Barley Field, so called because barley was planted there in 1812, in response to a shortage of food locally.