One route which should not be missed at this time of the year leads out from the pretty village of Hurst Green and along the River Hodder.
The walk passes Stonyhurst School, one of the most famous Roman Catholic Schools in England with a formidable list of ‘old boys’ including the film actor Charles Laughton and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who is said to have based part of his novel The Hound of the Baskervilles on the moors above and around the school.
More recent literary associations include the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, who was a teacher at the school, and JRR Tolkein, two of whose sons were educated at Stonyhurst.
This route follows the bank of the Hodder, the water of which is often stained brown with peat.
In Lord of the Rings the river is called Brandywine.
There is a Tolkein trail which I hope will become a major attraction.
The more of these trails there are the better. We have the Ferndean Way concentrating on the Brontës but what about the William Holt trail, based around Todmorden, and the Elgar music trail around Settle?
I’d love to know of others of the same theme.
1.Start at a point close to the Shireburn Hotel and ascend a gentle incline through the village and pass an attractive set of alms houses to the right.
At one time these were situated at Kemple End.
In 1947 they were all but derelict and they were removed stone by stone and relocated in the village as accommodation for school workers.
Continue to follow the narrow road through a woodland area to reach a religious statue on the left.
Look to the right to reveal a panoramic view of the wonderful old school.
Descend the drive to reach the school, which is overlooked by two large lakes.
2.Follow the winding road, keeping the school to the right. This stretch is of tarmac and it was here in 1826 that John L MacAdam first tried out his road building methods.
3.At the junction between the school track and a minor road turn left. Continue on for about ½ mile and turn right at a crossroads. On the right is a little car park at Kemple End. Look out for the foundries of the old alms houses.
The road descends to another T-junction. Turn right here and descend to the Higher Hodder Bridge.
4.Before reaching this complex look out for a footpath sign indicating Lower Hodder Bridge. Pass through a splendid stretch of woodland with the River Hodder below and to the left. This is a naturalist’s delight and it inspired Gerard Manley Hopkins (1884-1889) to write some of his best poetry.
5.Approach the Lower Hodder Bridge and cross the road. Look from the new bridge to see an attractive packhorse bridge. Locally it is called Cromwell’s Bridge but it was built in 1562.
It is said that in August 1648 Cromwell’s troops crossed the bridge on their way to win the Battle of Preston. Some may have crossed by foot but the span is too narrow to be used by horses or ordnance and they would have crossed by the ford which can be seen under the bridge.
From the Hodder Bridge follow the road back to Hurst Green and the starting point.
How to get there: From Clitheroe follow B6243 which links Mitton and Longridge. Hurst Green is set astride this road. There is parking all around the village and also public toilets.
Distance: Six miles. This is an ideal walk to celebrate the incresing hours of daylight.