Explore the Ribble Valley
The Spinnning Block sits at the heart of the thriving market town of Clitheroe – a vibrant, friendly community noted for its specialist independent retailers.
The surrounding Ribble Valley is a picturesque, rural oasis characterised by ancient woodland, rich pasture and fast-flowing rivers.
To the southeast, the 1800ft high Pendle Hill dominates the town while to the north; the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offers a wonderfully wild playground for outdoor adventurers.
Whether you set out on foot, on two wheels or by car, there is plenty to occupy a long weekend or short break.
You might have caught a glimpse of Clitheroe’s 12th Century Norman Castle – just an arrow’s flight away from the Holmes Mill campus. Step out of the hotel and turn right out of the Greenacre Street entrance then turn right again into Woone Lane. Cross the road and step into the castle grounds and climb the steps to the right up to the keep. There are a number of paths to the top and though you’ll be slightly out of breath when you get there, the panoramic views are well worth it. The whole of Clitheroe stretches out beneath you, while Pendle Hill and the Bowland Fells dominate the horizon to the south and north. Local legend tells how the huge hole in the southern wall of the keep was made by the Devil hurling rocks from the summit of Pendle, but it is more likely to have been Parliamentary Forces trying to render the castle strategically redundant during the Civil War. Surveying the Ribble Valley from the castle ramparts is a great way to get your bearings and deciding where you want to explore next…
Shop til’ you drop
Clitheroe is renowned for its specialist independent retailers, so it’s well worth a wander into town. The market is just a short walk through the castle grounds and is particularly busy on Tuesdays and Saturdays. D Byrne and Co fine wines on King Street is a must, as is Cowman’s famous coffee shop on Castle Street. Fans of retro collectables and shabby chic should head for the Time Train hidden away down an alley off Castle Street and for the best coffee in town, visit the Coffee Exchange on Wellgate. We’d also recommend a visit to the Bowland Food Hall on the Holmes Mill site – but then again – we’re a little biased!
Pendle Hill stands sentinel above Clitheroe and is visible for miles around. The views from the top are breath-taking and on a clear day, the climb up to the summit is a great day out. Set off from Downham or Pendleton for the full experience, but for those who want to avoid the strenuous ascent of the lower slopes, drive up to the ‘Nick’ of Pendle and follow the wide track along the main ridge northeast to the summit. Walking boots and waterproofs strongly recommended. Picnic optional.
Meander down the river
The River Ribble is just an easy 20-minute walk from the Spinning Block: simply turn right out of the Greenacre Street entrance and walk east for just under a mile. This will bring you to Edisford Bridge: a popular bathing point for the locals since Victorian Times. A path follows the river downstream for half a mile, or you could cross the bridge and take the quiet country lane through the fields to the gorgeous village of Waddington for a leisurely afternoon or evening walk.
Explore The Forest of Bowland
The Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a sparsely populated area of rugged moorland and verdant valleys between Clitheroe and Lancaster where hen harriers tumble on the breeze and hardy fell sheep graze among the heather. JRR Tolkien was educated at Stonyhurst College on the edge of the Forest and many Hobbit-fans believe the surrounding scenery inspired his vivid descriptions of the Shire in Lord of the Rings.
Follow the Bowland Food Trail
Starting at the Spinning Block, this 50-mile Food Trail takes in some of the area’s prettiest villages and finest artisan food producers. Heading northeast out of Clitheroe, first stop is the idyllic organic farm at Gazegill, nestling right under the flanks of Pendle Hill. We then head south to Chatburn, where as well as an outstanding ice cream shop, you’ll find Roy Porter’s butchers shop – purveyors of exceptional pork pies. Cross the Ribble to Hurst Green where the Shireburn Arms will welcome you for a spot of lunch, then it’s out to Chipping, on the edge of the Bowland Fells, to taste some tangy organic Lancashire cheese before heading to the friendly farm shop and café at Little Town Dairy and Farm Shop.