The more I explore the history of the Ribble Valley the more interesting it becomes.
In the last three weeks I have walked this route four times. The reason was that I led three lots of visitors from the south of England and on this occasion I went again because they gave me their collection of old postcards of the area. I wanted to see what had changed and the answer was — not much!
From the Three Millstones turn right and then right again along the road signed Clitheroe. Look out for the little stream which runs parallel to the streets and for the little bridges which provide access to a group of attractive cottages to the left. My visitors from the south expected to see Industrial Lancashire but were surprised to find an unspoiled village set in wonderful countryside.
Approach West Bradford Bridge and look out for a footpath signed right to Brungerley. Bear right and negotiate stiles leading into woodlands.
Cross a number of tributary streams leading down to the river. It was wet here and I was able to tell my visitors that this was why they had a hosepipe ban even in this summer but we did not. Also in this area are a number of small long disused limestone quarries which once provided work for many. Pass a farm complex to the right leading to the road to Brungerley Bridge.
Turn left and cross this bridge and beyond this look out for a sign pointing out the Ribble Way footpath. Turn left here into Brungerley Park.
Until the 1974 boundary changes this was the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Brungerley Park follows the banks of the River Ribble on the left. In the early 1900s this was a busy place in the warmer months of the year with boats for hire and little temporary shops lining the route. There are lots of photographs of this happy time. I wonder how many people reading this know just how popular this place was in the old days. During World War 2, however, the bridge area was cloaked in secrecy as the Royal Engineers practised building temporary bridges prior to the normandy landings.
Continue along the riverside path, passing a number of disused quarries to reach Crosshill Quarry which is now a nature reserve. Explore this impressive old quarry before returning to the path and descending along a steep but obvious track leading to a stile.
Cross the stile and follow the riverside path.
This has the river and fields on the right.
Ignore all stiles to the right and continue ahead to reach West Bradford Bridge.
Turn left at the bridge and return to the starting point. The last word has to come from my southern visitors. “I can’t believe you have so much unspoiled countryside”.
They can forget all about dark satanic mills and think about the real beauty of East Lancashire.
How to get there:
Turn off the A59 on the sign to Chatburn. Continue straight ahead at a roundabout with Clitheroe Hospital on the left. Pass Castle Cement works on the right. Cross a narrow bridge over the River Ribble and continue into West Bradford Village. At the crossroads turn left where there is parking by by the splendid old pub called the Three Millstones. This had once been a substantial farmhouse and from the outside it is easy to identify the old barn, milking parlour and the farmyard which is now the car park. Distance: An easy three mile circular.