The June Ramble – Downham and Sawley Abbey
The pretty village of Downham, famous as a location for film and TV and a little gem on the Lancashire landscape, was the starting point for our walk in the Ribble valley.
Starting from the car park, with its unique gent’s toilets (a converted pig sty), we started walking up the steep hill towards the Assheton Arms in glorious sunshine, passing behind the pub and climbing up a hill to the highest point of the walk. Here, the views were stunning in all directions. Now it was steadily downhill, along fields, farm tracks and passing under a railway bridge and arriving at a barn. This barn will be met again on the return leg. Now it was following a lovely hawthorn and hazel hedge towards a pack horse bridge, part of the Roman road and featured in the TV series, “Born & Bred”.
Eventually, we arrived at the very busy A59, and with the traffic fast moving it took us some time to safely cross. Now followed a pleasant overgrown sunken lane which took us into Sawley and a short stop to have a look at the l2th century Cistercian Abbey.
Our happy band of ten walkers, including two new faces from the Bolton group and, as always, the entertaining dogs, now headed for the River Ribble and the Ribble Way, which we followed briefly before joining the road for a mile or so until we came to a sign which pointed us back onto the Ribble Way and a notice informing us that the path was closed due to the erosion of the river bank! Of course, we took no notice and carried on walking down to the river and our lunch stop.
Lunch over, we now followed the river for a couple of miles and noticed that the river level was very low, but there was evidence that the river had been over the embankment during the winter. Birdlife was abundant here, particularly Oystercatchers, a lone Heron and various ducks. We now left the path, crossed a road bridge and continued along the opposite bank towards Chatburn, the dogs deciding to have a cooling dip here and then climbing steeply away from the river and heading for the steeple of Christ Church.
Leaving Chatburn, it was now uphill and getting hot. We crossed the A59 via the very high road bridge, turned off to the left and followed the Roman road back to the barn that we passed earlier and re-traced our steps back to Downham and a much needed ice cream stop at the Post Office.
Walking in this part of our county is always a particular pleasure. Throw in perfect weather and you can’t go wrong. And Downham is always worth a visit in itself.
Linda & Eddie Grange