The Ribble Valley has been hailed as one of the best places to live in the North West – but what is it about the area that makes it so well loved?

The Sunday Times mentioned the Ribble Valley in its annual Best Places to Live Guide. It was the only place in Lancashire to be mentioned.

The guide said: “There’s a reason this hearty corner of Lancashire has previously been named both the happiest and the healthiest place in the UK.

Lancashire Telegraph: Clitheroe Castle grounds and bandstandClitheroe Castle grounds and bandstand (Image: NQ)

"It has glorious countryside, excellent schools, community-minded locals and a well-deserved gourmet reputation, thanks to its local produce and stellar roster of gastropubs.”

The area is known for its scenic beauty, which is said to have inspired Middle-Earth in J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ novels.

This includes the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Gisburn Forest and picture-postcard perfect villages and hamlets dotted throughout the countryside.

The annual Clitheroe Food Festival pulls in huge crowds.

Lancashire Telegraph: Clitheroe Food Festival 2023Clitheroe Food Festival 2023 (Image: NQ)

As Mark French, leader of Clitheroe Town Council, said there are many beautiful walking spots in Clitheroe and beyond.

He said: “We are not surprised by the acknowledgement. There are many welcoming and friendly people [in the Ribble Valley].

“Yes, there are a lot of things we think we can improve but we think it’s a great place.

“Salthill Quarry, Brungerley Park and Cross Hill Nature Reserve are all within walking distance of Clitheroe.

“We have so many beautiful walking space and I love going to Gisburn Forest.

“There are some things we can improve on, including shop occupancy, but the council is looking at ways to change and improve this and make the area even more attractive.”

The area has also attracted some royal attention over the years and the Queen, who owned a large country estate in the Forest of Bowland, once said she would like to live in the Ribble Valley one day.

Back in May 2006, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited The Inn at Whitewell, near Clitheroe.

The Ribble Valley also has some famous faces who have lived there over for years.

Former World Superbike champion, Carl Fogarty, is originally from Blackburn but has spent the last 26 years living in the Ribble Valley.

Lancashire Telegraph: Former World Superbike champion, Carl FogartyFormer World Superbike champion, Carl Fogarty (Image: NQ)

He told the Lancashire Telegraph: “It’s an outstanding, beautiful part of the country. The scenery, with the rolling hills, is lovely.

“Clitheroe is a cool market town and Whalley is a great village, with some good bars. The restaurants, in particular, Yu Copster Green Restaurant and Bar, Northcote and Three Fishes in Mitton to name a few, are great, too.

“We have lived here for 26 years and never wanted to move, so that’s saying something.”

Businessman Dave Fishwick, whose life story inspired Netflix film Bank of Dave, is currently living in Sabden. He loves the Ribble Valley so much that he has chosen to film there for Bank of Dave: The Sequel.

Lancashire Telegraph: Dave FishwickDave Fishwick (Image: NQ)

Dave said: “The Ribble Valley is a wonderful place to live – and so is the whole of Lancashire.

“We are blessed to live in such a wonderful part of the country.

“I’ve lived in Sabden for many years and I am not going to move anywhere [other than Lancashire].

“Many people ask why I don’t have a house in London as I spend so much time filming and working there.

“London is a wonderful place to visit but I do like to come home. I feel like I am part of the area and I am proud to come from Lancashire.”

Bank of Dave isn't the only film to have been made in the Ribble Valley. Greatest Days, a musical based on Take That songbook, was filmed in Clitheroe.

Lancashire Telegraph: The cast and crew of Greatest Days following the filming of the final scene in Clitheroe town centre The cast and crew of Greatest Days following the filming of the final scene in Clitheroe town centre (Image: Elysian Film Group)

The Ribble Valley’s “gourmet reputation” has been highlighted by the Sunday Times – and once you see the eateries in the borough it’s clear to see why.

Langho’s Northcote is the place to go for a fine dining experience. It has held its Michelin star for an impressive 28 years.

Executive chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen maintained that people from the Ribble Valley are among “the best in the world".

She said: “When you are surrounded by beautiful countryside and dramatic landscapes like we are here in the Ribble Valley, it’s not hard to understand it's regarded as such an amazing place to live.

“It's more than just the surroundings though, it's the people that make this part of the world so special.

“From the suppliers and food producers we work with, to the regulars who visit us at Northcote time and again, people from the Ribble Valley are some of the best in the world." 

Owner of Sabden restaurant The Wellsprings, Zak Marhraoui, recently opened holiday lets at the site to take full advantage of the countryside views on his doorstep.

Lancashire Telegraph: View from Sabden restaurant The WellspringsView from Sabden restaurant The Wellsprings (Image: Zak Marhraoui)

He said: “We have new lodges with the best view of the Ribble Valley. Many guests have commented that they usually go to the Lake District but will come back here to our countryside.

“They like Clitheroe and surrounding villages with nice shops, cafes and bars as there is a lot going on without being too busy.

“The Wellsprings restaurant is busy with tourists in the summer who are amazed at how green and pretty Lancashire is.”

The Parkers Arms in Newton-in-Bowland has been crowned best gastropub in the UK, in the past.

Chef-patron, Stosi Madi, said the Ribble Valley is among the best places to work from, as a chef.

She said: “I moved to the Ribble Valley because as a chef the connection to land and produce is amazing. It is a beautiful peaceful place to live. The green spaces are invigorating and the produce is possibly the best to work with.”

Emma Turner, owner of award-winning glamping site Ribble Valley Retreat, said she left her Manchester home to embrace rural life in Ribble Valley.

Lancashire Telegraph: Emma and Peter Turner, who run Ribble Valley Retreat from their working farmEmma and Peter Turner, who run Ribble Valley Retreat from their working farm (Image: Emma Turner)

She said: “My background is hospitality and travel, so it seemed like a natural step to diversify into glamping on the working farm. Our guests enjoy the scenery and historical attractions in the area.

“We also find that the local food producers, and an abundance of good food establishments, are a real draw to the area. We are very lucky, as residents, to have all these wonderful things on our doorstep. I cherish all of it, and think it's a wonderful place to live and visit.”

Marshal Scott, chief executive of Ribble Valley Council, hopes the Sunday Times publicity will attract guests from around the country.

He said:  “I am really pleased that the Ribble Valley has been recognised by the Sunday Times for the wonderful place that it is.

“We feel that it is a hidden gem. We hope this publicity will attract more people to the Ribble Valley who will also see what an exceptional place it is.”