We were supposed to go up the OMC today, but cold weather and low cloud (and a dose of old age on my part) made me wimp out of that idea in favour of a low level walk by the River Ribble. Don and Liz, not to mention Sue, would have been up for the OMC trip, but that will have to wait. Postponed. Not cancelled.
So we met up in Hurst Green and set off down Lambing Clough Lane. "My old boss lives somewhere near here" quipped Sue. A car drew up behind us in the narrow lane, waiting patiently for a passing opportunity. Drawing up alongside, the driver's window wound down. "Hello Sue" - it was the aforementioned Ashley. We were virtually outside her house. We'll call in when Sue and I repeat the excellent Longridge Fell walk.
Soon we reached a splendid new footbridge spanning the River Ribble. Storm Desmond wrecked the old bridge in 2015, and it took four years to provide this replacement, which uses the original bridge's support pillars, raised by two metres in an effort to avoid a repeat of earlier flood destruction.
The river was benign today - quite difficult to imagine what it must have looked like when in spate.
The entire route taken by this walk - Walk number 22 in Mark Sutcliffe's Cicerone Guide, Walking in Lancashire - was more or less on the banks of the Ribble. On this south bank, we enjoyed our stroll through Marles Wood, well sheltered from the cold breeze.
Walking via a short stretch of tarmac past Salesbury Hall and a small but well appointed trading estate, we reached our turning round point - the narrow Ribchester Bridge.
Hastening across to avoid getting in the way of traffic, we joined the Ribble Way walking route, turning right back towards Hurst Green rather than heading into Ribchester to explore the Roman Fort and Bath House. (This could easily be added to the walk by way of a 'there and back' diversion.)
There's an almost impercepible sheen of green on some of the hedgerows. It won't be long before spring asserts itself. There are already birds nesting in our leylandia trees at home.
After a coffee and cake break sheltered from the cold breeze by a solid stack of pallets near Dewhurst House, we moved on close to the river bank, crossing narrow wooden footbridges where tributaries flow into the main river.
Whether the debris is from Storm Desmond, or more recent flooding, there's a tide mark of rubbish that has been deposited a good few metres higher than the river's current level. There are lots of large items - like the rubbish bin that has become rubbish itself.
Below Hey Hurst, the Ribble Way is forced by private land away from the river, up slopes that entertain a good view towards Pendle Hill, lording it over Clitheroe and resplendent in the winter sunshine on the clear day. (Click on any image to see it properly and access a slideshow.)
It's rare that it's so dry underfoot in Lancashire at this time of year. I wonder whether there's a drought in store for us.
After a while we rejoined our outward route on Lambing Clough Lane and we finished our walk at Millie's Cafe in Hurst Green, chatting over a light lunch after our pleasant morning's stroll.
Some plaques acknowledging Hurst Green as the best kept village in Lancashire in 1992 and 1993 have been joined recently by an impressive chunk of stone that commemorates the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in 2022. Locals informed us that a bench will be placed behind the dressed stone.
Here's the route we took. It would be a nice one to do in spring when the bluebells and wild garlic proliferate in the woodland before the trees are fully in leaf. It's about 10km with just 150 metres ascent. It took us rather less than 3 hours.
Next in this series:Friday 31 March 2023
Barrowford and Foulridge - a 15km circuit from Pendle Heritage Centre, Barrowford (SD 862 397). Meet at 10am. There's a car park next to the Heritage Centre.
This is Walk 27 in Mark Sutcliffe's Cicerone guide - Walking in Lancashire