Starting in the heart of Lancashire’s most glamorous little village you can begin one of the most picturesque circular walks in Lancashire through what Tolkien described as ‘Middle Earth’ with some Hollywood excitement.
Downham has been a top location choice for many film and television series’ over the years. In 1961 they shot ‘Whistle Down the Wind’, starring Alan Bates and Hayley Mills and more recently they filmed the very popular BBC television series ‘Born and Bread’. So before you embark on your travels into Middle Earth why not take a look around the village we in Lancashire call ‘Little Hollywood’. There is even a museum at the starting point to the walk where you can discover exactly why so many famous productions have fallen in love with the quaint Ribble Valley village of Downham.
After a relaxing browse over Downham’s wall of fame, you are ready to start your circular walk from Downham and through the quaint little hamlet of Twiston. Leave the car park and head towards Downham Bridge where you can watch the countless amounts of visitors feeding the ducks by the beck. Turning directly left after crossing the bridge and heading up the hill you will reach St Leonard’s Church on your left. Parts of the church date back to Norman times and in the 15th Century the tower housed the bells removed from Whalley Abbey on the orders of Henry VIII when he broke from the Catholic Church. Henry’s link to the church continues inside where you will find a font given by John Paslew, the last abbot of Whalley to be executed for defying the will of Henry.
On leaving the church take the road directly in front of you to pass the post office on your left. Continue on this road for about one mile where you will reach the village of Twiston. Twiston is a tiny Hamlet with a fascinating story to tell. For any history buffs out there it is thought the Ings Beck in Twiston was the one time boundary between the ancient Kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria. The beck is also home to an old corn mill, once powered by water and used by the local monks in 1327. Passing the old mill area on your right and the beck on your left you will reach a footpath. Follow this and the stiles until you reach Downham mill.
On reaching Downham mill continue on the footpath however be careful here as the footpath can be difficult to follow. If you end up at the Downham to Rimington Road you are on the right track. When reaching the minor road turn left, leaving the footpath for the road. When you reach the Chatburn to Downham road you should be able to spy Downham Hall in front of you. The Assheton family, who have had control of the Downham estate since 1558, still remain the current-surviving owners. However the halls history pre-dates the 16th century, with historical dates of the hall being placed pre-Norman conquest when it belonged to a Saxon by the name of Aufrey.
Whilst on the Chatburn to Downham road you will come across a large stone that will look somewhat out of place. This is said to be a Roman gravestone, however it is still a hotly debated topic with historians as to the date of the stone. Turning left at the stone you will descend into Downham and return to your starting point where you can relax after your long walk on Downham beck feeding the infamous mallards. Just don’t forget the bread!
After why not take in some more R&R at the Shireburn Arms, just a short drive away, in the neighbouring Ribble Valley village of Hurst Green where fabulous, fresh food is served all day on Saturday and Sunday. Click to take a look at the food and drink menus.< Back to the blog archive
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