Clitheroe to Morecambe
From the lush green Ribble Valley to the liveliest of seaside resorts
Clifton to Morecambe itinerary
Follow the route - Clitheroe to Morecambe
> From Clitheroe follow the B6478 north for 8 miles (13km) to Slaidburn.
The little village of Slaidburn, on the River Hodder, was for centuries the administrative ‘capital’ of the Forest of Bowland. This wild region of grouse moor and high fells was one of the ancient royal forests of Saxon England. At the centre of the village is an inn called Hark to Bounty. Legend says Bounty was a foxhound belonging to a local vicar, and that its barking was easily distinguishable from the rest of the pack. Gisburn Forest, northeast of the village, is an extensive coniferous plantation sloping down to Stocks Reservoir, that takes its name from the village which was drowned to create it during the 1930s.
Places to stay in Slaidburn
> Take the B6478 back to Newton, then branch off on to unclassified roads through Dunsop Bridge, Whitewell and over Longridge Fell to Ribchester.
The country round Ribchester was guarded by a Roman fort called Bremetennacum, built around ad 70. In the 18th century a schoolboy found a Roman ceremonial helmet, and since then the extensive remains have been excavated and you can see many of the finds, including pottery, coins, a bathhouse and granaries, in the Ribchester Roman Museum. Two Roman columns support the oak gallery in 13th-century St Wilfred’s Church, and the pillars at the entrance of the White Bull Inn are said to come from a Roman temple.
Places to stay in Ribchester
> Take the B6245 to Longridge and then the B5269 west via Broughton and Elswick to join the B5266 to Blackpool.
Blackpool stretches in a long, multicoloured ribbon by the sea, punctuated with three piers and dominated by its 519-foot (158m) tower. Built between 1891 and 1894, Blackpool Tower was for many years the highest building in Britain, and it gives a breath-taking view of the surrounding coast. The heart of Blackpool, the Golden Mile, is more like a quarter of a mile (0.4km). It is possible to walk the whole length of the seafront between Fleetwood in the north and Squires Gate in the south, but it is more fun to go on one of the trams which still run along the promenade. During autumn evenings, the whole front is ablaze with more than 375,000 bulbs, laser beams, animated displays and tableaux.
Places to stay in Blackpool
> Follow the trams to Cleveleys, before turning inland on the B5412 then right taking you on to the A585. Turn left on to the A588 to Lancaster via Pilling and the Cockerham marshes.
This county town was England’s chief port for the American trade throughout the 18th century. The elegant Customs House, designed by Robert Gillow now houses the Lancaster Maritime Museum. The massive Norman keep of Lancaster Castle now serves to keep people in rather than out: it is the county gaol. It contains a well tower where prisoners languished while awaiting trial – including 10 Lancashire witches convicted and hanged in 1612. On show are grim relics such as the clamp and iron used to fasten a criminal’s arm while the initial ‘M’ (for malefactor) was burned on to his hand.
The City Museum in Market Square is also the Museum of the King’s Own Royal Lancashire Regiment, and the Judge’s Lodgings on Castle Hill is a museum of Victorian times.
Places to stay in Lancaster
> Cross the River Lune on the A588, and a short drive takes you back to Morecambe.
Morecambe’s rail link to West Yorkshire made it a popular holiday resort for people from the Bradford area, but it saw a serious decline in the 1980s and 1990s. More recently, it has turned itself around. The town’s revival has included the conversion of the former promenade railway station into the Platform Arts Centre, a stylish restoration of the gracefully curved art deco Midland Hotel, and transformation of the remains of the 1850s harbour into the Stone Jetty walkway. You can walk along here and enjoy the sculptures, games and poems carved in the stone and then watch a breathtaking Morecambe Bay sunset.