After a traditional Lancashire breakfast at The Inn at Whitewell we were soon ready to see more of the beautiful Ribble Valley. Our first stop of the day was just up the road in the charming small village of Chipping. Narrow winding country lanes lead into the village centre, its attractive stone cottages bedecked with window boxes and hanging baskets brimming with flowers.
Along the main street we came across Brabins, Britain’s oldest shop which first opened in 1668 by John Brabin as a cloth makers in the centre of the picturesque village. During its three centuries of business it has seen life as a bakers, undertakers, general store and a butchers and is now the village shop/ post office and tea room. Looking inside it felt like time had stood still and it was lovely to view its old fashioned interior reminiscent of bygone days.
Located on Moss Lane on the edge of the village is Leagram Organic Dairy. Its entrance is through a small museum crammed full of old cheese making equipment including presses, moulds and churns.
Leagram’s was established in 2000 by Bob Kitching as it was his dream to set up a dairy in the same place where Lancashire cheese was first commercially made. Sadly Mr. Kitching died in 2013 and since then the business has been run by his wife and daughter.
Visitors are welcome to come and see how cheese is made today using traditional methods. On the morning of our visit a creamy goat’s cheese was being produced and we donned our protective footwear and hats to watch the cheese being turned. We then looked in the Pressing Room where the moulds are placed onto hydraulic presses and left for 24 hours to dry before being hand waxed. Finally, we moved into the Cool Store Room where the cheese is placed and turned on a regular basis to maintain an even flavour.
We learnt that Leagram’s cheese is made from organic raw milk sourced from local farms, sheep’s milk from a local herd of Cheviots and goat’s milk from a small farm in neighbouring Cheshire.
I absolutely love cheese and Lancashire is one of my favourites or should I say three of them as it comes in crumbly, creamy and tasty varieties and I adore them all! I was actually born in Lancashire and maintain the local tradition of serving a slice of apple pie or rich fruit cake with a wedge of Lancashire cheese – to me it’s a marriage made in heaven! Do give it a try and let me know what you think! There’s also a small shop where visitors can buy cheese to take home, it’s a great place to visit and we learnt so much!
Leaving the dairy, we then took a short but scenic drive to the summit of Jeffrey Hill (also known as Longridge Fell) which rises to 1148ft (350m). From the small car park we enjoyed outstanding views down to the Vale of Chipping and across the fells of the Forest of Bowland. The scenery is breathtaking and it’s no wonder that the district is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
After a short walk, it was back in the car towards Clitheroe to visit Browsholme Hall a Grade I listed historic house set within the Forest of Bowland. The Hall is approached by a sweeping driveway and is surrounded by gardens and parkland. It’s open each Wednesday from May to October and as luck would have it, as we were visiting the area mid week we could include a visit. Standard adult tickets are £10 for a one hour guided tour including access to the extensive grounds.
Tours are run by volunteers and our guide was very knowledgeable explaining the history of the Hall and the significance of many of its antiques. The first thing we learnt was that although it’s spelt Browsholme it’s actually pronounced ‘brewsum’. The house was built in 1507 by Edmund Parker and has been occupied continuously by 16 generations of the same family. The tour took us through the Main Hall, into the Library, the Regency Drawing Room, Portrait Gallery, Ante Room and then upstairs into the Yellow Room and finally the Oak Parlour.
It was all very interesting and although the house is filled with antiques and paintings, it felt more like a home as there were no ropes preventing access and visitors are welcome to sit on the sofas in some of the rooms. There’s an attractive cafe in the Grade II Tithe Barn and a small selection of souvenirs, maps and guidebooks are available to purchase in the foyer. Browsholme Hall is now a popular wedding venue and has recently installed The Woodland Glade, a luxury glamping site of 10 self-contained en-suite lodges, perfect for wedding guests and visitors to the area.
It was then time for a late lunch and as it was only a ten minute drive to The Red Pump country inn and steakhouse at Bashall Eaves, we called in there. I’d already heard about its reputation for steaks so was keen to visit. Stepping inside, the cosy welcoming inn oozed character with its real fires, antique oak furniture and stone flagged floors.
Although I was tempted to order one of the Red Pump’s renowned steaks, it was a little too early in the day for me, so instead I was more than happy with my choice of creamy fish mornay loaded with prawns and gently poached fresh and smoked fish. My husband was unable to resist the pie of day, another of the inn’s signature dishes. The day’s offering was meat and potato and Mr. C. declared it one of the best he’d ever eaten. This was accompanied by proper chips which were so delicious I pinched a few!
We lingered awhile over our drinks after a very enjoyable lunch and then stopped off at two places nearby. The first, Bashall Barn is a large farm shop and restaurant/ wedding venue. We looked around the shop where locally made products were attractively displayed and peeped into the wedding venue where tables were being laid for an upcoming celebration.
The second place we’d planned to visit was Melt just a few minutes further on, along Twitter Lane in the village of Waddington. Melt have been making scented candles in the Ribble Valley for almost 20 years and have more recently expanded into luxury skincare products and perfumes. Their attractive on-site showroom showcased their products beautifully and it was a good opportunity for me to sample some of their gorgeous moisturisers and creams.
Our short break was nearing its end and looking at the map, we decided to make one final stop at Holden Clough Nurseries nestled in the small village of Holden as it was sort of on our way back home being just off the A59 east of Clitheroe. My husband recalled visiting this garden centre with his father a very long time ago as it was then, and still is, one of the country’s leading Alpine nurseries. He was in for a big surprise as it has changed beyond recognition with more redevelopment work being undertaken at one end of the nursery when we visited.
Annoyingly, there was a heavy rainstorm as we left the car so we looked in the indoor greenhouses and gift hall, just peering out through the windows as the rain continued to fall. A sign seemed to sum up the weather which read ‘if it will grow at Holden Clough then it will grow anywhere with 6 feet of rainfall per year’! Clearly, a visit on another day beckoned as we were even too late to enjoy a pot of tea in their attractive Garden Cafe.
Our two days in the Ribble Valley had been lovely. The area is a hidden gem just waiting to be explored. It’s got everything, stunning scenery, picture perfect villages, heritage sites such as Clitheroe Castle and Browsholme Hall, the thriving market town of Clitheroe and its a foodies paradise – what more could you ask for, it certainly ticked all the boxes for us!
During our stay in the Ribble Valley we were guests of Visit Ribble Valley and, as always, all views and opinions are entirely my own. You might also like to take a look at their own excellent website for more inspiration on visiting the area.
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