Clitheroe lies at the heart of the Ribble Valley. A bustling market town, it is dominated by a huge limestone rock crowned with the Norman keep of Clitheroe Castle. This proud town has accommodation, a range of shops and plenty of character.
Just before Gisburn the Ribble Way meets the Pennine Bridleway, and from here until Cow Bridge near Long Preston (well into the next stage) the two routes mostly coincide. The Pennine Bridleway is one of the newest of the National Trails, its latest section having been opened by actor and horseman Martin Clunes in 2012. It starts near Wirksworth in Derbyshire, which means that (unlike the Pennine Way) it takes in the full length of the Peak District. It currently finishes near Kirkby Stephen in Cumbria but may extend further north at some future date. It’s the first National Trail specifically designed to be fully accessible by horse and bike as well as on foot.
From Edisford Bridge turn right along Edisford Road. Keep straight ahead for the railway station or town centre; otherwise, turn left along a metalled path, passing right of the Ribbleside Pool, continuing to a riverside path. Skirt a football pitch then bear right and go between houses into the suburb of Low Moor.
Turn left on a street, which bends right, then go right at a fork and walk through a new housing development. Continue along a track to a stables, through a small gate and up to a stile. Follow a fence and continue to Boy Bank Wood. Descend through it and follow the riverside to Brungerley Bridge.
Turn right up the road then left into Brungerley Park with its Sculpture Trail. Follow the waymarked route through the park to Cross Hill Nature Reserve. Fork left at an otter sculpture and follow the river round to Bradford Bridge.
Cross the road and follow the riverbank until the path climbs to run above a wooded bluff. Continue straight ahead to a road. Turn left then follow a concessionary path and cross Grindleton Bridge. Follow the riverside path and continue along a flood bank. When the river curves right, go left to a ladder-stile. Climb fields to a road.
Turn right, pass Bowland High School, then descend to river-level. Cross a meadow to Sawley Bridge. Cross into Sawley then keep left at the Spread Eagle Inn, along the riverbank. Continue along the drive of Sawley Lodge then transfer right to another track and follow this to a large farm.
Continue on a rougher track through fields then bear right at a signpost and skirt the right side of a wood. Continue past a (modern) stone circle and follow waymarks along field edges into a vague track lined with trees. Near houses join a drive briefly, cross a field then bear right in the next one, descending to a farm. Take the track ahead, cross the railway and turn left. Just before another farm, turn left to recross the railway, then bear right to stiles left of a farmhouse. Go left on a track but soon leave over a stile and descend through Steep Wood (well named) to the Ribble.
Turn right upstream, soon following a green track up again. Bear left at the higher level then go right and left among new trees in a side valley. Continue along field edges then join the drive of an isolated house. Approaching another farm, go left, over a stile, then bear right and descend to cross a stream. Go through a narrow wood then bear right to gates leading into a large yard.
Here the Ribble Way meets the Pennine Bridleway; follow Pennine Bridleway signs through the yard and along an estate road to a public road. To reach Gisburn, turn right, follow the road to the A59 and turn left into the village. To bypass the village and continue directly, turn left and follow the Pennine Bridleway down to the Ribble, then up past Gisburne Park, over Stock Beck and along tracks to the A682.
Mostly clear paths and farm tracks
The theme of lush pastures continues, both beside the river and away from it
Lots of grazing land, so opportunities for dugs to run free may be limited
OS Explorer OL 21, OL 41
Pay-and-display car-park at Edisford Bridge and others in Clitheroe. In Gisburn, park off A682 (in direction of Nelson)
Transport: good bus service between Gisburn and Clitheroe.
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.