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Fifty Shades of Green - Lancashire's Ribble Valley - Northern England

Updated on April 20, 2013
the road to the Inn at Whitewell
the road to the Inn at Whitewell | Source
whalley nab
whalley nab | Source
Pendle Hill
Pendle Hill | Source
clitheroe castle
clitheroe castle | Source
english pub - the parkers arms
english pub - the parkers arms | Source
The Inn at whitewell
The Inn at whitewell | Source
Clitheroe Market Town
Clitheroe Market Town | Source
Pendle Hill
Pendle Hill | Source
whalley viaduct
whalley viaduct | Source
withches galore shop
withches galore shop | Source
view from clitheroe castle
view from clitheroe castle | Source
witches galore shop
witches galore shop | Source
Chipping village
Chipping village

Springtime in Lancashire's Ribble Valley


Fifty shades of green, or maybe more, soothing green, glorious trees, sheep grazing in fields and fells, country gardens, hedgerows and narrow country lanes.

Here I am in the county of Lancashire in northern England. My parents lived here, I was born here. I’m always eager to explore my birthplace. It's full of surprises, nostalgia, and a reminder of how things change.

No dark satanic mills now, just pastures green.The air, once heavy with soot, is now breathtakingly clear.

After a long harsh winter, spring has arrived, lightening up the darkness. Tawny, sandblasted stone buildings are adorned with fragrant, colourful, hanging baskets.

I hadn't considered the Ribble Valley as a holiday destination, but how wrong could I be? The places I once took for granted are now a tourist's delight.

History

Much of this countryside is unchanged since Oliver Cromwell marched through in 1648. Roman and Norman invasions are also chronicled.

The red rose is the emblem of the county, proudly displayed as the tourist logo. The valley stretches into the county of Yorkshire, the white rose emblem. Ah, the war of the roses is still evident.

Presiding over the valley looms the majestic Pendle Hill. It’s known as 'more than a hill and less than a mountain.' Misty and brooding, or mottled with sunshine, it reeks of history.

In days gone by Pendle Hill was a link in the chain of beacons. Many a bonfire has summoned the locals to take arms and fight for Lord or King.

In 1652 when George Fox climbed to the summit of Pendle he claimed he had a vision, resulting in the emergence of the Quaker movement.

Witches Galore

By 1612 Pendle Forest was in the throes of witch hunts. Three generations of local witches were hanged at Lancaster. Whether witches, or merely feisty, persecuted women, they are now established in the folklore of the valley.

Every Halloween hordes of visitors climb up the hill, all hoping to hear the ghostly cackles of the witches. In the villages some early cottages have crooked windowsills, a device for keeping witches away.

At Newchurch village, you'll find the 'eye of God’ in the Tudor tower of the church of St. Mary's. The eye is a window protecting the cemetery against witches.

You’ll also discover the Witches Galore gift shop where you’re invited to drop in for a spell. Try to unravel the Lancashire dialect phrases. ‘Gerrit spent – thi’ don’t put pockets i’ shrouds.’ Translation: Spend up – you can’t take it with you when you die.

Pendle has a Heritage Centre and its own walkway - a 45-mile circular route marked by a witch and broomstick.

Around the Villages


Today activities on and around the hill include walking, paragliding, abseiling, caving, cycling, and horse riding.

My preference is leisurely driving along narrow country lanes, flanked by hedges, stopping to explore the numerous unspoiled villages.

Nestling under the bulk of Pendle Hill is Downham, a perfect postcard village. Serene and sleepy, village green, stone-built cottages, babbling brook complete with ducks, 15th century church, and the Assheton Arms hotel.

The ancient riverside village of Ribchester is built on the site of a Roman station. In 1796 a young boy had a remarkable find - a roman helmet. Scores of artifacts discovered in the area are now on display in the Roman museum.

The Ribble valley's tiny village of Dunsop Bridge has the title, Centre of Britain - Heart of the Kingdom. It is the geographical centre of the British Isles. Debate over the geographical centre of the UK has been ongoing for centuries. In 2002 studies by the Ordnance Survey pinpointed the area more precisely.

Check out St. Hubert's Church. The painting of horse on the ceiling above the altar is claimed to be Kettledrum, a winner of the prestigious Derby race. The story is that the church was paid for by the horse's winnings.

The bustling village of Whalley boasts a Cistercian Abbey that Henry V!!! knocked about a bit but well worth a visit. The Church of St Mary’s dates from the 13th century.

Dominated the landscape Whalley Arches a 48-span railway viaduct crosses the river Calder. Whalley Nab, a large picturesque, wooded hill presides over all.


In the glorious village of Chipping the Sun Inn boasts the ghost of 20 year old Lizzie Dean. She hanged herself in the pub when her fiancé wed another. Her last request was for her grave to be dug on the church path so the ex would have to walk over it every Sunday. Taking revenge a little far, Lizzie!



Clitheroe Market town

In the centre of the Ribble valley is the market town of Clitheroe, dominated by the remains of a Norman castle.

The castle grounds are extensive the surrounding gardens a maze of colour in summer – a rose garden, traditional bandstand, playgrounds and cafes.

The castle museum is intriguing covering the history of the area, geology, the local people, the war years – plus activities for children. Opening hours vary with the seasons.

And then there’s Simon Entwistle, who conducts heritage guided tours in the valley. Coach tours or Range Rover, tailor made for groups large or small, choose your own hours - he’s a consummate host and passionate about the valley.district

He entertains with local legends, myths, heroes, villains and witches. There’s also his weekly ghost tour – if you dare.www.tophattours.co.uk

Satlhill Geology trail, despite being close to the freeway, is worth a wander. This is a series of limestone crags formed 300 million years ago on the bed of a warm sea. The fossil remains of crinoids and corals can be seen on the trail.

Nostalgia


I can't believe that as a child I considered my room with a view boring. I could see a serene river, hedgerows, stone walls, patchwork fields in varying hues of green. grazing sheep and cattle, and in the distance the shining dome of Hurst Green's Stonyhurst College.

Stonyhurst, a world famous Catholic college, boasts a museum collection including the private seals of James 11, the embroidered cap of Sir Thomas More and volumes of priceless books, some printed by Caxton - viewing is by appointment only.

Oliver Cromwell is said to have slept here before his journey to the Battle of Preston - the rumour is that he slept on a table. Historians say he was in fear of attack but to me it sounds more like a bad back.

Food and Ale

No need to be hungry or thirsty in the Ribble Valley. Pubs are welcoming, quaint, historic, with good food, and locals who love to talk.

The Inn at Whitewell has a reputation of excellence for dining and accommodation. Fishing, walking, wine tasting or just relaxing, this inn is recommended.

The Parkers Arms in the Trough of Bowland is welcoming – eat, drink, sleep, shop. Enjoy a pint of local ale, a coffee, a snack or a hearty meal.

Dating back to the 13th century, the Hark to Bounty at Slaidburn is one of the oldest pubs in Britain. It once doubled as a courtroom; a guilty verdict meant immediate hanging on the premises.

At Mitton, the Three Fishes Hotel has a restaurant boasting local produce. Mmmm, when I visited I chose an old favourite local dish, - Lancashire hotpot. It has lost its peasant origins and is now a gourmet dish.

Not to be outdone the nearby Aspinall Arms, a traditional country pub has top food, B&B accommodation and real ale.

It’s an unusual feeling being a tourist in the place where you grew up. I’m overwhelmed with the sheer beauty of the area now engraved in my memory, blessings in shades of green.


Useful sites www.visitribblevalley.co.uk www.visitbritain.com




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    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 4 years ago from Spain

      How do Maj. Really enjoyed this hub on the gorgeous Ribble valley. You´re not wrong , it is stunning countryside, rich in history and folk lore. Great people too. I know most of the places you talked about, but not the history. Your reference to Oliver Cromwell´s bad back made me laugh..and I think you are more than likely correct. The photo´s on the hub are lovely too. Even as one born on the other side of the pennines, I think this part of Lancashire is truly stunning in it´s beauty. Voted you right across the board Maj. Stick to hubbing instead of farming lass !! All the best. Anne.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Good morning Anne (or evening your way) I'm glad you enjoyed taking the trip with me - and your extremely positive comments and votes are very much appreciated. I'll be in the Valley in Oct for a quick visit and also Harrogate! So both sides of the coin covered. Fair goes hey! Best wishes and thank you again.

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 4 years ago from Spain

      Hi Maj. Your reference to Dunsop bridge brought back a lovely memory of going on a ride round with my husband when we first moved to Preston, and then the village of Chipping another memory of a bad do with some cows when we took a bridle way path with our dog through a field and were lucky to escape unscathed. We ended up going into Chipping and had an ice cream to help us recover...well you have to do something when you have been almost trampled by a herd of cows now don´t you ha ha :)

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      That is so funny Anne - I have two pet cows and they are big - I am very respectful. And that's only two. Certainly, springtime in the Ribble Valley is gorgeous - not sure if i could cope with winter. It's bad enough here. . Thank you once again for your fun and support -muddling through - Cheers and best and mooooooo from Maj

    • profile image

      Valleypoet 4 years ago

      Your hub gives a great all round feel for the beautiful Ribble Valley and its rich history. I am relatively new to the area, having moved here some 7 years ago. I used to live less than 20 miles away previously, and to be honest, I knew nothing about the place. I now feel privileged to be living here with all it has to offer. Your hub does it great credit. Voted up and following

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Hello again Valley - thank you for such positive comments - I'm pleased I captured some essence of the valley - perhaps in a nostalgic way. Thanks for the follow - look forward to reading more of your work - best wishes....

    • kj force profile image

      kjforce 4 years ago from Florida

      travmaj..Beautiful pics..thanks for taking me on along on the tour..much enjoyed...

      Funny how when we live in a country, sometimes we forget how rich in history it is...

      I have ret'd to Uk on several trips..and still have never seen all the wonders..and now all family members are deceased...look forward to checking out your other hubs...nicely written..

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Thank you for such positive comments - pleased it brought back some memories for you. I've probably seen more of the UK than my family members who still live there! I'll be checking out your hubs - thank you again - cheers...

    • christin53 profile image

      Ann-Christin 4 years ago from UK

      I enjoyed reading this and the photos are really good. Sometimes you don't appreciate the place you live until you move away and see it through different eyes. I was the same as a child the views from my house in Yorkshire were beautiful but I couldn't see it at the time.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Hi christin - thanks for your comment - yes, I'm sure that's it - we just take things for granted until we move away - and then it all kicks in.

      Deep down still a Lancashire lass I guess - thanks again.

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Hey, Maj ... would you believe I only discovered how beautiful Lancs was last year? And I was born, hundreds of years ago, in Rochdale - which admittedly is not beautiful.

      I was brought up in Yorkshire which too is beautiful and only ever visited my rellies in amongst the dark, satanic mills so have never found this loveliness.

      Thank you for this hub ... I want to get up there now and explore. Now look what you've started! Voted up, our kid!

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Hey Angie - perhaps we have to move away to be able to return and appreciate. I voice my enthusiasm in and about my Lancashire and am quickly reminded 'well you sodding left it and us!' (and you're now an aussie! ' ) Hah - Love it all...Thanks and best...

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi travmaj.

      What a wonderful lesson for me. I know of most of these things but when you put them all together, I realise all the places that I have not visited. Well done lovely photos as well. Voted up an all.

      Following.

      Graham.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      old albion - thank you so much for your lovely comment and vote - I appreciate it very much. I love Lancashire and see it from a different view point when I look through my tourist eyes I guess. Best wishes and thanks

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

      Enjoyed this hub with the magnificent pictures and the past and present. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Hey wetnosedogs - thank you for stopping by - I appreciate your positive comments. Always nice to go home...

    • profile image

      Jackb39 4 years ago

      I studied in Lancaster a couple years ago, what a beautiful place up there!

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Jackb39 - Thanks for dropping by and commenting . Yes - it it is beautiful - has so much to offer - spring time is magic.

    • liesl5858 profile image

      Linda Bryen 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      travmaj, thank you for such a wonderful hub with lovely descriptions of each places and for the beautiful photos. I like traveling a lot and so one of this days we might go and walk those beautiful hills.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      liesl5858 - I should thank you for stopping by - I hope you do visit the Ribble Valley one day - best wishes.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Ribble's valley looks absolutely verdant, and thanks for sharing its beautiful serenity with us. Sharing this!

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Hello and thanks Michelle -it's always nice to go home. It's been a tough winter in the valley but Spring is in the air now. Beautiful

    • profile image

      Kay Readdy 4 years ago

      Wonderful pictures! They don't still 'do' witches at Pendle Hill, do they? ( I have one or two I could volunteer for burning.)

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Kay - how lovely you stopped by the Ribble Valley - certainly the Pendle witches legend is still strong - have a feeling you should be here, writing your own witch piece! Thanks Kay

    • profile image

      Deb Welch 4 years ago

      Nice Hub. I truly love England - I have always wanted to visit since The Beatles in the 60's. I came close to visiting in the 90's and then to see Howard Jones several years ago but didn't. Britian is on my Bucket List. Interesting, Useful and Beautiful photos as well.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      Hello Deb - I hope you get to England one of these days. My bucket list is overflowing - I keep on adding - bet yours is also.

      Glad you stopped by and had a look at the Ribble Valley - just beautiful in Spring. Thanks again

    • profile image

      JJude 4 years ago

      Wonderful scenic views of Ribble Valley, Maj! Certainly makes me want to visit there someday. Enjoyed this very interesting armchair tour. Am big fan of your writing. Thanks.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      JJ - what a pleasure to see you here. And enjoying the Ribble Valley - my home base. I'm so glad you took this journey with me.

      From one writer to another, have a look at joining Hubpages and sharing your great work. You won't regret it. Promise.

      Thanks again JJ - appreciate your comments.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Sharing your homeland with others again, Travmaj! Beautiful!

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      Hello Michelle - thanks for visiting my place - it is beautiful - I'll see it soon.

    • GwennyOh profile image

      GwennyOh 3 years ago from LaLa Land

      I was born in England. Looking at these photos makes me want to go back. Beautiful pictures travmaj, thanks for sharing.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      Thanks Gwenny - somehow our birth place draws us back - I'll be visiting very soon - but then I miss my second home! LOL

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 2 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      That was superb. The photos are really stunning and inviting. What a beautiful place it is. Thank you for sharing. Expect more such ones. Wish you the best.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      sunilkunnoth - very pleased you enjoyed your visit to the Ribble Valley - it is indeed beautiful. Thank you for commenting - best wishes...

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Love the title :) Sounds like a truly beautiful place.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      SheGetsCreative - thank you - yes, The Ribble Valley s beautiful and for me it's still like going home.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 2 years ago from Texas

      Lovely! I wish I could travel, but I'd have to have a transporter! I hate getting from one place to another, especially with all the security mumbo jumbo at the airports these days! Voted up and beautiful! :D

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Thank you again suzanne - it is a beautiful valley. Yes, travelling is a hassle and even though I am committed I dislike the whole experience. It is definitely the destination - not the journey! Best wishes.

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