Date - 18th March 2020 Distance - 7.25 miles
Ascent -
Map - 287
Start point - Hurst Green village hall (SD 6844 3820)


Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk



Allen, Southey and Tetley were sitting reading their Cumbria and Dalesman magazines.

"There are some really interesting articles in the Cumbria", remarked Allen.

"Yes", agreed Southey. "I am enjoying it, and it is thanks to you two that I get it, as you organised my subscription."

"No problem", said Tetley. "There are some good articles in my Dalesman too. "I'll swop with you when I have finished."

"Great", replied Allen and Southey together.

"Dad's at Elaine's as usual", remarked Southey. "Do you know which of our pals had gone with him today?"

Tetley replied, "Lenny lemur, Mei Li our red panda, and Zebadee the zebra. And our course our new pal Summer, who was only adopted yesterday on the East Lancashire Railway."

"I am sure she will get plenty of fuss", said Allen. Then looking out of the door he spotted Shaun, Grizzly and Little Eric. "Ooh tea and cakes", he cheered.

He and Southey went and got the plates and mugs, then Allen helped Shaun pour the tea.

Grizzly said, "cakes today are raspberry slice that Little Eric has made, while I have done chocolate coated flapjack.

"Lovely", said Tetley helping himself. Then taking a bite he said, "the raspberry slice is delicious."

"And so is the flapjack", called out Southey.

So happy and contented, our thoughts turned to walking. "It's nearly two weeks since we were last out", said Little Eric.

"What's the weather prospects for this week?", asked Tetley.

Grizzly grabbed the iPad, and after a few taps said, "looks to be OK for Wednesday, and Dad is free."

"I'll go and ask when he gets back, but first we need to come up with a suggestion", said Allen.

There was quiet for a few minutes as we thought about this, while having another mug of tea and more cake.

Then Shaun said, "when we walked from Hurst Green at the beginning of February, Dad went to the cafe afterwards, and the lady who owned it suggested the Tolkien Walk."

"OK", said Allen. "Let's see if we can get the details."

Grizzly set to work and soon said, "here it is. There are instructions. I'll set them to print."

This done we all crowded round. "The first section is the same as last time to Stonyhurst College", read out Shaun. "But then instead of crossing in front we go right. Then there are sections by the River Hodder and Ribble."

"Looks to be really interesting", said Allen, "I'm sure I can convince Dad."

"There is just one problem", said Little Eric. "The print is so small, Dad will struggle to read it, even with his glasses, which he is very reluctant to take on walks due to his likelihood of losing them."

"Just like his sticks", laughed Tetley.

So later on Allen went to ask Dad, and explain about the small print.

"I like the idea very much, and sure we will do it on Wednesday", said Dad. "As for the print, I'll type the instructions out in a size I can read without my glasses."

"Wonderful. Thanks Dad", said Allen. "Roll on Wednesday."



The Walk

So Wednesday dawned, Little Eric checking the forecast. "It is not a settled as was forecast on Monday."

"Never mind", said Dad we are still going.

Dad's gear loaded, we dashed out and settled in the car.

An easy journey, and on reaching the village Dad turned left by the war memorial to then park at the village hall, where roof repairs were being undertaken.

As Dad got ready a gentleman, whose name we were to find out was Neil, asked, "where are you going?."

"To do the Tolkien Walk", replied Dad.

Neil was on the village hall committee, and was there to oversee the roof repairs. He said, "the village needs to exploit this walk to bring in visitors. Put some signs on the route to help walkers and issue a guide for instance."

Dad said, "I got the details off the Internet. I am taking some friends with me", showing us in the rucksack. "They have walked all over the Lakes and Yorkshire. They have a website too where they write stories of their adventures."

He laughed and said, "I like it that you are a but eccentric."

Dad asked about J R R Tolkien's connection with Stonyhurst College.

Neil said, "he was a regular visitor staying in the guest house with his wife and other children, while visiting his son John who was studying for the priesthood. One of his sons, Michael went on to teach here, and actually taught me."

The walking information told us that Tolkien spent a lot of this time here working on his epic trilogy, 'The Lord of the Rings'.

Just as Shaun was about to issue the initial directions, Grizzly said, "the print out contains information about various places we will see. So, if you like I can act as narrator to tell you all about them."

"That is a good idea", replied Allen. "Of all of us you are most interested in historical aspects, and over the years have done so much research for inclusion in our accounts."

Ready now Shaun said, "the actual instructions start from the war memorial and down Warren Fold. However it will be quicker just to go right, then right down Smithy Lane, and through the gate to join the route."

Almost immediately Little Eric called out, "a wall postbox. It will be a bright picture to start off."

"That's an impressive building", pointed Allen.

Peering at the plaque over the door, Grizzly said, "these are the Shireburn Almshouses. They were originally built at Kemple on Longridge Fell in 1706. Then rebuilt here in 1946 and named Shireburn Cottages."

Over the doors we could see the names of each of the cottages. "They correspond with local towns and villages", commented Tetley.

"All of them are in the two plaques on the gables", pointed Little Eric.

Although in rather fancy lettering, with Dad's help, they are as follows

Left gable - Mitton, Wiswald, Guiseley, Esholt, Leagram, Wigglesworth.
Right gable - Aighton, Bailey, Chaidgley, Ribchester, Dutton

Above these are roundels representing cocks in plain stone surrounds.

Then Southey pointed to the sign on the grass. "That's a really good play on words."

Beyond the gate at the end of the path from Smithy Lane, we strode on by the hedge, passing through kissing gates. By one was this sheep.

"Oh no..." cried Allen, "there goes the sheep picture free story."

"Well I have been refraining from such on recent stories", replied Dad.

"You have", agreed Southey. "This sheep should be with the rest of the flock in that field behind the hedge. Hard to see how it got here as the fence seems very secure all the way along."

Reaching the last kissing gate we had this fine view of the impressive red brick cricket pavilion.

The path dropped down to join a track and keep along by the edge of Fox Fall Wood. The track led to a grassy path across the boggy field, and to a gate into the grounds of Stonyhurst College.

"We go right past the Observatory", called out Shaun.

Referring to the walk instructions, Grizzly said, "this is known as the Dome Observatory and was completed in 1868 and is still in use by students. It houses a larger telescope than that of the original built between 1838 and 1845."

After a few yards Tetley pointed, "those are the pavilions. Very stylish."

Grizzly said, "these were added together with a formal walled garden by Sir Nicholas Shireburn in the late 17th century. The octagonal building beyond is the old observatory. It is now used as a tea room."

Soon we reached Hall Barn Farm. "It's left along by the buildings", called out Southey.

"So Grizzly what have you got to say about this?", asked Little Eric.

"Well pal the barn, which is the middle building we can see, is in part probably medieval as the roof in supported on 5 massive oak cruck frames."

We found this photograph on the Pendle Heritage Centre website.

"I wonder if they will mind us using it in the story", said Little Eric.

"I tell you what lads", said Dad. "I'll make a donation to them, to assuage our consciences."

Past the buildings we strode along the track with away to the left St Mary's Hall that is the preparatory school. This was formerly the Jesuit seminary where Tolkien's son John studied for the priesthood, after being evacuated from the English College in Rome during world war two.

The track ended at the road by Woodfields, a small cluster of houses.

Looking at the notes, Grizzly informed us, "the houses here are owned by Stonyhurst College and provide accommodation for the staff."

This was born out because as we walked along the lane between the houses, we were followed by a gentleman who lived in one of the houses and worked at the college.

Coming to the point where the track bent left, Shaun called out, "it's right over that stile, and then over the field beside Over Hacking Wood.

Almost at the field end Shaun pointed, "We go over that broken stile into the wood."

The clear path led down a series of steps...

...that became steep down to the bridge...

...over the hurrying stream and take the right fork in the path.

This brought us close to the River Hodder that was flowing fast having been topped up after the heavy rain last night.

"We go right across that bridge", pointed Shaun.

Pointing left, Tetley said, "what's that by the river?"

Little Eric was quick to suggest. "If I was a betting bear, which I am not, I would say it is a cross base. There is definitely evidence that something has been broken off the top."

"I agree", said Grizzly. Later he searched for more information admitting after some time, "sorry pals, I cannot find anything more about it."

The track climbed steeply to pass Hodder Place. Grizzly had the notes in paw. "Hodder Place dates back to 1780 when it was the home of a cotton mill owner. There are no traces of the mill that was once sited on the river bank. The building was greatly extended by the Jesuits in the nineteenth century when it was used as a Novitiate and then as a preparatory school until its closure in 1971. It has since been divided into privately owned houses and flats."

Beyond the track descended and emerged onto a wide surfaced track beside the River Hodder. Quick to continue with our education Grizzly informed, "the Hodder marks the historic county boundary between Lancashire (this side) and Yorkshire (far side). Much of the land in the Hodder Valley further to the north is owned by the Queen as the Duke of Lancaster."

The track followed the river as it curved gently right. Light rain was falling now, but it did not last too long and we soon dried out again.

"Look at that tree", pointed Southey. "The river has washed away the ground around the roots. After all the rains earlier this year the river must have been much higher, even covering the track."

Finally the track came to the road at Lower Hodder Bridge.

Grizzly called out, "although are route is right, I suggest we go onto the bridge to view and admire Cromwell's Bridge, just downstream. This packhorse bridge is also known as Devil's Bridge. It was built by Sir Richard Shireburn in 1562, replacing a wooden bridge dating from at least 1331. Legend says that is was used by Oliver Cromwell during his march from Skipton to intercept the Royalists at the Battle of Preston in 1648. However it is far more likely that he would have crossed the river at Higher Hodder Bridge."

As we made to set off again, Allen pointed, there's a narrow path that leads to Cromwell's Bridge. Let's go and have a closer look."

There, Shaun said, "let's venture a little way onto it and have our picture taken. Time we appeared in the story."

At the road we walked away from the bridge, Shaun giving instructions, "opposite the road junction we go left into the field."

This was very muddy after all the rain over the weeks and months, Dad ploughing his way across. The route then and led on, as can be seen, through the two kissing gates. This is part of the Ribble Way, denoted by this signage,

Onwards then over the brow drifting away from but parallel to the boundary with Spring Wood, to a kissing gate in a fence.

"Oh heck!", exclaimed Little Eric. "What a muddy mess. Glad we are inside the rucksack."

"Paddling time", replied Dad.

"We go half right to that white kissing gate", said Shaun. "This will take us onto a tarmac drive where it is left past the secluded Winckley Hall, and then on to Winckley Hall Farm.

"Look" called out Southey. "There's your brother Dad", pointing to the pig statue.

"Huh", cried Dad. "I might as well say the same about you and Allen, the way you stuff cake down."

Numerous arrows and waymarks left us in no doubt as to the route through the yard. "That must be the best signed path we have ever seen", laughed Tetley.

Out of the farm the track went right, by the River Hodder once again.

"Ahh look primroses", pointed Allen. "They will always remind us of our dear Uncle Brian."

Very soon then we passed the confluence of the River Hodder and River Ribble.

As we approached a gate, Shaun said, "the instructions are to take the path left round the gate, passing a seat and then over a stile onto a wide surfaced track."

Dad did as he said, but then commented, "the gate is wide open, so I just cannot see the point of the diversion."

So Dad strode out purposefully along by the River Ribble for over half a mile the track becoming grassy and for once firm ground.

"That makes a pleasant change", commented Southey.

"Yes lad. Long may it continue."

Soon now we came to another river confluence.

Grizzly told us. "This is where the River Calder empties into the River Ribble. Here a ferry service used to operate to take travellers across the River Ribble." (We acknowledge Lancashire Museums for the picture below)

He went on, "historians date the first service as about 1686. In more recent times it carried holiday makers and ramblers, finally ceasing operation in 1955. Thus is was operating while J R R Tolkien was staying at Stonyhurst and while he was writing 'Lord of the Rings'. Although there is no actual proof it is speculated that this may have been the inspiration for the Buckleberry Ferry, across which Frodo, Sam, Merry & Pippin escaped from the Black Riders."

Looking across the river, Little Eric said, "what is that old building?"

"That is Hacking Hall", informed Grizzly. "The de Hacking family occupied this site from at least 1200, until it passed by marriage to the Shuttleworth family in the 14th century. The present house was built in 1607 by Sir Thomas Walmsley of Dunkenhaigh the noted circuit judge who had married the heiress Anne Shuttleworth. Turning to Tolkien again, it could be that this was the inspiration for Brandy Hall, the home of the Brandybucks in 'Lord of the Rings'. Once again this is just speculation."

Striding on we continued beside the river passing a modern house that stands away to the right at least 50 yards from the river bank. We were to find out later from Neil, who we saw again at the end of the walk, that this was where his brother-in-law lives. He told us that during the serious flooding recently there had been 18 inches of water inside the house. Good grief. We would not have thought it possible.

Shaun said, "where the path narrows by a stone building, it is through the gate then left along the access, then follow it left again by the river."

Further where this turned right, we kept ahead by the river across the boggy fields.

"I knew the dry firm grassy path would be too good to last", commented Allen.

Grizzly pointed, "the next thing of interest is that cross high on that hill. The base of the cross dates to the early Christian period and was originally sited to the north of Cross Gills Farm. It was moved on its present position in 1833 by the Rector of Stonyhurst. At the same time a new shaft and arms were cut to surmount the pedestal."

Then on and on via stiles by the river to reach this graceful three arched aqueduct.

"I guess you have something to say about this too, Grizzly", said Tetley.

"Yes pal. It was constructed in the 1880s by Blackburn Corporation when it carried water from Whitewell via an underground pipeline."

"We go over that stile to the right of the aqueduct and to the woodland ahead", advised Shaun.

There the path went right over a footbridge and then uphill following a well signed path between fences. This led us over two bridges, seen here after we had crossed, and out into fields.

A waymark then directed us slightly left along a low ridge between streams. Everywhere was really boggy underfoot here and instead of following the ridge to a bridge right, Dad crossed the stream earlier in an effort to get to firmer ground.

This was to no avail and just had to slip slide and slog uphill to the stone step stile into the car park of the Shireburn Arms.

"Phew!", exclaimed Dad. "I began to think I would never make it to the stile."

"I really felt for you, Dad, "said Little Eric. "With my little legs I would have sunk without trace."

Now it was just a case of walking to the main road and crossing by the war memorial and so to the car park.

"Such an interesting walk", said Tetley. "Thank you Dad as always for taking us."

"And Grizzly, thank you for imparting all the interesting facts about what we have seen", added Southey.

"No problem pal, I enjoyed it."

By the war memorial is Millie's cafe that Dad had been to last time. He had planned to go to today, but due to COVID-19 it was closed.

"Oh heck", said Allen. "what are you going to do instead."

Tetley said, "go to Elaine's at Feizor, where else."

"Spot on", said Dad.

Not knowing the route, the Satnav came to the rescue and we arrived 14:45.

Because of the virus crisis Dad was the only customer, but there had been others earlier. He enjoyed the fishcakes with chips and vegetables followed by his favourite blackcurrant crumble and custard and a pot of tea of course. During the visit he chatted with Elaine, Sharon and Sue and Jonathan.

As usual we got to go in too, and Dad took our picture.

Then home arriving about 17:00. We were all a bit tired but it had truly been a grand day out!!


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