Day 1. A weekend in the Ribble Valley

The scenic Ribble Valley is one of northern England’s best kept secrets being an area of outstanding natural beauty noted for its rural landscape and welcoming hospitality.  How do we find this hidden gem, you may well ask?  Well, it’s quite easy actually as the Ribble Valley is located in Lancashire and accessible from the M6 motorway, Junction 31.  For those travelling by train direct rail services operate to Clitheroe from Manchester Victoria.

The scenic Ribble Valley
The scenic Ribble Valley

The area, nestled between the Yorkshire Dales to the east and the Lake District to the north is equally beautiful but without the crowds and problems of driving around finding somewhere to park.  It’s also a foodies paradise so I couldn’t wait to explore.

Stunning scenery through the Trough of Bowland
Driving through the Trough of Bowland

Our first stop was to the Trough of Bowland, a valley and high pass reaching 295m above sea level.  Driving along the road it is steep and narrow with passing places but it’s worth the drive up as this sparsely populated area is idyllic with spectacular scenery and heather moorland.

Langden Beck, Trough of Bowland walking trail
From where we took the walking trail to Langden Beck

We stopped at Langden Brook where we found some off-road parking and a food truck offering light snacks and drinks.  A ‘Welcome to Langden’ signpost leads down a tree lined track to a lovely stretch of riverside along the valley into the Forest of Bowland.

Langden Beck walking trail, Trough of Bowland
The tree lined path at the start of the trail

The path took us past the Langden Intake waterworks which has been in use since 1871.  It’s a collecting point for the unpolluted clear water, enabling it to be channelled along pipes to where it is needed.

Langden Beck, Trough of Bowland
The crystal clear Langden Beck

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t at its best and although the views were still stunning, I’m certain you can imagine how beautiful it looks when the sun is shining.  We were happy just to stretch our legs with a gentle stroll but there are opportunities to continue further and enjoy a scenic hike.

The Trough of Bowland
Stunning scenery through the Trough of Bowland

Returning to the car we stopped a couple of times to admire the breathtaking views before dropping down into Dunsop Bridge which has two car parks, one of which is free and located just over the bridge to one side of the cafe.

Dunsop Bridge, the centre of the United Kingdom
Dunsop Bridge, the centre of the United Kingdom

Dunsop Bridge is a very pretty little village with a big claim to fame as it is noted for being the very centre of the United Kingdom.  We’ve all heard of John O’Groats and Lands End at either end of the country but I suspect very few will have heard of Dunsop Bridge slap bang in the middle.  The BT phone box even has a plaque in it marking it as the one closest to the geographical centre of the British Isles.

The centre of the United Kingdom at Dunsop Bridge, Ribble Valley
We’d arrived at the very centre of the United Kingdom

The rain showers were still persisting so it was a good excuse to pop into the Puddleducks Tearoom overlooking the village green for a bite to eat.  I definitely recommend their cakes as our slices of Lemon Drizzle and Victoria Sandwich were homemade and delicious.  Alongside tasty snacks the cafe also sells duck food to feed the local webbed feet community on the village green opposite.

Puddleducks Tea Rooms, Dunsop Bridge
Puddleducks Tea Rooms, Dunsop Bridge

Feeling energised after our coffee stop we were ready for some more exercise, this time on an e-bike from Ribble Valley E-Bikes who are based just a few doors from the cafe.

Ribble Valley E-Bikes, Dunsop Bridge
Ribble Valley E-Bikes, Dunsop Bridge

After getting kitted out with our bikes we discussed a suitable route with a member of staff, put on our helmets and were ready to go.  The Forest of Bowland is an historic Royal Forest and an ancient hunting reserve with its rural trails being popular for both cycling and walking.

Ribble Valley E-Bikes from Dunsop Bridge
We started off along the scenic private road

It had been suggested that we start off by pedalling along the private road (no cars) beside the River Dunsop for 2.5 miles each way until it splits for access to two farms (5 miles total) as there were some beautiful valley views.  The scenery was so beautiful it still looked impressive under leaden skies.

E-biking through the Ribble Valley
Pausing to take in the dramatic views

From there, we cycled along the relatively quiet main road before turning up the steep Hall Hill which extends for 1.4 miles until just before reaching Cow Ark.  The beauty of riding e-bikes is that you can exert as little or as much effort as you wish and believe me, they are perfect for hilly terrain.

E-Biking with Ribble Valley E-Bikes
Enjoying the moorland scenery

We then continued along the hill tops on a country lane where there were no cars before descending through Newton-on-Bowland (4 miles) and then taking the relatively quiet main road back to Dunsop Bridge (2.7 miles).  The total distance we covered was 15.4 miles (5 miles along the private forestry road and then 10.4 miles on the loop to Whitewell, Cow Ark and Newton), taking us just under two hours allowing for photo stops.

Pretty villlages in the Ribble Valley
Our route took us through pretty little villages

This is just a suggested route as if you hire bikes for longer periods you can of course explore more of the surrounding area.  The hire shop are able to arrange for bikes to be delivered to numerous hotels in the Ribble Valley and can also organise guided cycle safaris taking in the local beauty spots.

Bowland Wild Boar Park, Chipping
Bowland Wild Boar Park, Chipping

After thoroughly enjoying our e-bike ride despite the inclement weather, we hopped back in the car to visit the Bowland Wild Boar Park around 20 minutes drive away, just outside the village of Chipping.  Standard adult admission £7.50.

Wild Boar in the Bowland Wild Boar Park
Wild Boar and piglets in the park

The park is set in 65 acres surrounded by fells and woodland and bordered by the River Hodder.  There are numerous family orientated walks and nature trails of varying lengths to follow from where we came up close to a variety of animals from wild boars to meerkats, goats, deer and eagle-owls.  It’s very well organised with friendly and welcoming staff and educational too as children can pick up a map, follow its route and search out answers to questions on the park’s animals, trees and other wildlife.

An owl in the Bowland Wild Boar Park
One of the owls we saw in the park

The park also includes an indoor petting area where we found rabbits, guinea pigs, etc. and nearby a picnic area, shop, cafe and ice cream parlour.  As our visit was late in the afternoon a quad-bike was being driven around the park supplying food to the animals who were all eagerly running to the edge of their pens to start eating.  I’d recommend visiting the park as a family activity as with the addition of an adventure playground and tractor rides, there is ample to keep young children amused for several hours.

Meerkats in Bowland Wild Boar Park
A meerkat in the wildlife park 

After a busy day of walking, cycling and visiting the Wild Boar Park it was then just a few minutes drive to the Gibbon Bridge Hotel and Restaurant on the edge of the village of Chipping where we had been invited to stay.  This privately owned hotel is nestled in 23 acres of beautiful gardens surrounded by the Forest of Bowland.  On arrival, we were shown to our spacious split level suite where we relaxed in the jacuzzi bath before having dinner a little later in the hotel’s restaurant.

Gibbon Bridge Hotel, Chipping, Lancashire
The Gibbon Bridge Hotel

From our window table in the restaurant we had splendid views of the beautiful gardens.  The restaurant has a reputation for its excellent cuisine and each of our dishes were beautifully presented and tasted delicious, coupled with faultless service.

The gardens of Gibbon Bridge Hotel, Chipping
The beautiful garden views from the restaurant

After enjoying a stroll through the gardens we returned to our suite and over cups of coffee and slices of the hotel’s irresistible homemade shortbread, we reflected on what a lovely first day we had spent in the Ribble Valley.


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Exploring The Ribble Valley, Lancashire


86 thoughts on “Day 1. A weekend in the Ribble Valley

  1. Pingback: Day 2. Treak Cliff Cavern & The Monsal Trail, Peak District – Love Travelling Blog

  2. Hola, Thank you! As usual, good photography and a well-expressed summary of what you discovered. How could you not have had tea and cake in the PuddleduckTea Rooms?!.
    Thank you for reading my post on humour – food for the soul…Take care. Safe travelllnig., Cheers. x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My Grandmother, Florence Smith, was from central England, and my parents were able to visit there late in their lives. Having read, with great delight, your description of the Ribble Valley and its charms, I hope more than ever that I’ll be able to visit in person someday! Thank you so much for bringing it to life for me with your words and pictures. (I’m a cool weather fan myself, so I’m delighted you had a grand time despite the clouds.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: The Gibbon Bridge Hotel, Chipping – A Review – Love Travelling Blog

  5. Wonderful post, so pleased you enjoyed Lancashire’s hidden gem, the scenery is breathtaking often reminds me how insignificant we are but in a good way if that makes sense 😂 so many excellent places to eat and you kinda get used to the weather 😂😂😂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Wow, what a stunning spot! Ribble Valley looks to be truly untouched, and that sinuous river among the lush greenery looks like something out of a computer screen-saver. It must be incredibly tranquil to stroll all the acres of the valley, and to come across such pristine, snowy owls is certainly a unique experience to be had. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Loved this post. Lots of scenery for hiking and biking and plenty of good food choices. The Gibbon Bridge Hotel looks like the perfect hotel to stay in. As to E-bikes, I can’t say enough good about them, whether renting or owning. We would not trade ours. Thanks for taking us along Marion. Allan

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Ah gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous Marion! I wasn’t at all familiar with the Ribble Valley, but just about every spot mentioned literally oozes with charm. A slice of Lemon Drizzle Cake at the Puddleducks Tearoom is surely what life is all about. Love the wildlife, the stunning landscapes and all the little slabs of quintessential Englishness in between.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. You are in my neck of the woods as I live in Clitheroe! I would love to try out an E Bike, and have seen the E Bike hire in Dunsop Bridge and wondered about it. Can you just turn up or did you ring up first? Looks like you made the most of your first day 🙂.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I think it’s preferable to call the e-bike hire shop first so that they can have the bike ready for you but it’s not essential as long as they are not all booked out. Clitheroe is a lovely town and if you continue reading my posts you will see it featured in Day 3. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, it’s much appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Wow Marion, how beautiful the Ribble Valley is! The scenery is breathtaking at Trough of Bowland (as you said, even on a cloudy day) – I would love to go hiking here! And cycling on an e-bike sounds great to me (especially on the hills 😉) … and even here you have beautiful views.
    The Gibbon Bridge Hotel also sounds like the perfect place to end a day after exploring – that jacuzzi should definitely be a winner! Lovely post and enjoyed it thoroughly!

    Liked by 5 people

  11. What a green and pleasant place to spend the weekend at, Marion. I love unspoiled countryside with gorgeous green rolling hills and glistening lakes without any of the crowds. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 6 people

      1. So I love reading travel blogs about the European countryside and honestly this takes me back to my Enid Blyton days. There is something so quaint and ethereal about this, it touches my heart. I’m moving to UK soon, Birmingham to be exact and I so look forward to such trips.

        Liked by 3 people

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