Lush green valleys and outstanding fells, in the heart of Lancashire make the Ribble Valley a special place indeed. Such is the beauty of the area JRR Tolkien spent much of his time in the area, and in particular Stoneyhurst College. It is noted that he wrote the drafts of his books here and it is where he got his inspiration for his imaginary landscapes for his books Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Starting off from the village of Hurst Green this walk takes you on a circular walk of some of Lancashire’s finest countryside. A fly-past of Stoneyhurst College before walking along the river Hodder which is a Biological Heritage Site.
You can park in Hurst Green to start this walk given there is enough space to park, if not you can park on the Shireburn Arms car park. To start the walk, walk up through Hurst Green and then along Warren Fold until you reach the last of the houses on your left. Climb the stile and walk the perimeter of the field and then head right following the tree line which will take you through numerous fields until you come out at Stoneyhurst College.
You will then follow the lane to the right before taking the left at the farm. I actually walked around the grounds of the college before continuing my walk. The Jesuit Gardens and observatory are great for photography opportunities.
Once you have turned left at the farm follow the path for sometime until you come to the crossroads at Knowles Brow. Head straight across the junction and follow the lane until it bends to the left. Pass through the gate on the right and follow the left-hand side of the field next to the tree line until the path lead you into Over Hacking Woods.
Follow the path through the woods and over the little bridge across the brook until you come to the river Hodder. Take the path to the right which will head uphill until you come to the gate next to the little sewage works. Head through the gate and follow the lane all the way around until you reach Whalley Road. The path skirts the side of the River Hodder and to your right are high sided fields.
At the bridge come onto the main road and you should have Cromwell’s Bridge in view just on the other side of the bridge. Head Right up Whalley Road until it comes to the junction with Knowles Brow. Cross the road and head over the stile and follow the path through the field until you come to another lane near some buildings. Head left down the lane which will take you through woods and eventually through Winckley Hall Farm.
Once through the farm follow the lane to the right until it brings you out at a field by the side of the river Ribble. Follow the river path and past the house and you will eventually start to pass through farmers fields with cattle. Keep following the path until you come to the Aqueduct across the river. Head past the Aqueduct for a few hundred yards before heading right into Raid Deep Wood.
Walk through the wood and uphill until you eventually reach the main road by the Shireburn Arms. Depending on where you have parked, you are now back where you started from in Hurst Green.