Explore the Ribble and its tributaries, find three medieval crosses, and visit a pretty village.

Technical sheet
No. 18458983
A Sawley (Lancashire) walk posted on 14/01/22 by Walks from the Door. Update : 14/01/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 2h20[?]
Distance Distance : 7.5km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 61m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 60m
Highest point Highest point : 110m
Lowest point Lowest point : 72m
Easy Difficulty : Easy
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Sawley (Lancashire)
Starting point Starting point : N 53.914849° / W 2.34431°
Download : -


(D/A) From the front door of the Spread Eagle pub, bear left along the riverside road to Sawley Bridge. Cross the river and take the footpath through a gate on the right.

Follow the obvious path along the field boundary to a metal kissing gate then continue in similar fashion. Sawley Hall, prominent on the opposite side of the river, belies its traditional appearance, having been built in the 2010s.

(1) Cross a side-stream, then cross the next field diagonally until you reach the main river in the far corner. Go through another kissing gate and follow the bank upstream for a short distance, before leaving the river and crossing the field on your left to a kissing gate.

Cross the next field to another kissing gate by an old hawthorn.

Cross a track and bear half-right to a narrow footbridge over Mear Gill. Bear left along the top of the far bank, following fences to left then right as far as a kissing gate. Continue along a field edge parallel to the stream, then bear right to a track.

(2) Turn right along the track to a farm gate, then descend to another stream, Tosside Beck. A long footbridge crosses the beck next to the ford.

Rejoin the track and follow it up the valley side alongside a wood full of rhododendrons. Beyond a kissing gate, when you reach a tarmac drive by a cattle grid, turn left and climb to the brow of the hill, where you pass a cross base in the field on your right.

Continue along the drive to the gate leading out to Bolton village.

(3) Turn left past the church and pass between the Coach and Horses and the war memorial, old cross and village stocks on the green. At the end of the village, cross Skirden Bridge and turn left into a metalled farm drive to the right of a sports pitch.

When the driveway bends left towards Bolton Mill, take the path over a stile straight ahead. Ignoring a path to the right, climb the hill ahead, passing to the right of another ancient cross base.

At the end of the field, go through a wooden kissing gate in a hedge, then bear slightly left across the next field. Cross a stile in the corner and follow the field edge above the wooded bank of Tosside Beck, then cross a field to a kissing gate into a track (at which point you meet the outward route).

(4) This time, turn right, and follow the track down to a footbridge next to a ford. Rejoin the track and follow it up the valley side to a road.

Turn left and follow the road for half a mile, passing Bow Laithe Farm on the left about halfway.

(5) Turn right up a metalled farm track, with a public bridleway fingerpost and signs for Hague Farm and Rodhill Gate Farm. At a junction before a cattle grid, turn left and walk up to Coldor House. Beyond the house, turn left onto a footpath that runs alongside the property to a footbridge.

(6) Bear right (uphill) to the top of the field, then turn left along the fence towards Lawson House Farm. In the corner, go through a farm gate on the right and follow the signposted footpath along the left-hand field edge, diverting to the right of and above the farm.

Go through another farm gate, and turn left, back down to the farm. Go through a gate to a barn, then turn right through another. Follow a track along the top of the field, passing through another gate.

(7) At the end of the next field, a wooden kissing gate leads into woodland. On meeting another path, turn left to a gate and descend between buildings (the house on the right is the former Friends’ Meeting House). Follow the drive out to Sawley road. Turn left, and then right over Sawley Bridge. Follow the road round to the left and back to the Spread Eagle. (D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 72m - Spread Eagle
1 : km 0.6 - alt. 75m - River Ribble
2 : km 2.21 - alt. 83m - Wood full of rhododendrons
3 : km 3.51 - alt. 96m - Bolton village
4 : km 4.82 - alt. 85m - Bow Laithe Farm
5 : km 5.99 - alt. 79m - Coldor House
6 : km 6.74 - alt. 104m - Lawson House Farm
7 : km 7.15 - alt. 87m - Sawley road
D/A : km 7.5 - alt. 72m - Spread Eagle

Useful Information

Mostly gentle valley walking, but with a couple of moderate climbs. Livestock are likely to be encountered, and there are a couple of stiles. Some road walking.

Pdf link :

Sawley, Clitheroe,
Lancashire BB7 4NH
Tel 01200 441202
Nestled within the Forest of Bowland on the banks of the River Ribble, we’re a dog-friendly coaching inn with stylish accommodation, an amazing menu and a warm Lancashire welcome.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

  • Downham is one of the prettiest villages in Lancashire, with its stone cottages running down the hill from the church to the bridge over the beck.
  • Swanside Bridge is a fine example of a packhorse bridge. Such bridges are typically narrow and lack parapets, which would have fouled on the panniers of the ponies. The Grade-II-listed bridge dates from the

17th century if not earlier, and is likely to have been built by the monks of Sawley.

  • Three medieval crosses are encountered in the vicinity of Bolton-by -Bowland. The most complete is on the village green, alongside the village stocks.
  • Pendle Hill (557 m/1,827 ft) is a peat-topped gritstone hill which is isolated from the rest of the Bowland fells by the Ribble valley. Its association with the Pendle Witch Trials makes it a popular destination for Hallowe’en walks.
  • The River Ribble rises in the Yorkshire Dales near the famous Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle–Carlisle railway, and flows through Clitheroe and Preston before entering the Irish Sea between Lytham and Southport.

Other walks in the area

distance 6.42km Vertical gain +113m Vertical drop -113m Durée 2h10 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Sawley (Lancashire) - Lancashire

Three highlights: Swanside packhorse bridge, the idyllic village of Downham, and the ruins of Sawley Abbey.

distance 16.95km Vertical gain +564m Vertical drop -564m Durée 6h25 Difficult Difficult
Starting point Starting point in Sawley (Lancashire) - Lancashire

Over the hill to pretty Downham and onwards to the top of the iconic Lancashire landmark.

distance 4.17km Vertical gain +42m Vertical drop -42m Durée 1h20 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Sawley (Lancashire) - Lancashire

A medieval packhorse bridge, a pretty stream, and a stroll through the village past the abbey ruins.

Downham Circular Walk via Chatburn
distance 6.81km Vertical gain +110m Vertical drop -102m Durée 2h15 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Downham - Lancashire

The walk starts from St Leonard Church on Downham main Street and follows the clockwise circular route via Worsaw Hill, Chatburn and packhorse bridge.

More detailed route info :

Pendle Hill from Downham (short version)
distance 10.25km Vertical gain +462m Vertical drop -461m Durée 4h15 Average Average
Starting point Starting point in Downham - Lancashire

This Lancashire walk starts from the pretty village of Downham and provides a relatively easy ascent of Pendle Hill. In good weather the views are extensive over the Ribble Valley to the Yorkshire Dales and the Southern Lake District, across Burnley to the Southern Pennines and across Clitheroe to the Trough of Bowland. The route is fairly easy to follow although do be careful during the descent as paths shown on maps are not very accurate.

Downham Circular Walk via Worston
distance 9.49km Vertical gain +119m Vertical drop -110m Durée 3h05 Average Average
Starting point Starting point in Downham - Lancashire

The walk starts from Information Barn Downham and follows the anticlockwise circular route via Worsaw Hill, Worston and Little Mearley Hall.

More detailed route info

distance 7.76km Vertical gain +329m Vertical drop -331m Durée 3h10 Average Average
Starting point Starting point in Barley-with-Wheatley Booth - Lancashire

This Lancashire route in the Forest of Bowland starts from the attractive village of Barley Green and climbs to the summit of Pendle Hill using the direct route. The descent is easier in mist or poor visibility. With strong associations to the witches of Pendle this walk also provides superb views over parts of Lancashire and the Yorkshire Dales.

distance 15.78km Vertical gain +461m Vertical drop -470m Durée 5h50 Average Average
Starting point Starting point in Bowland-with-Leagram - Lancashire

Without the optional ascent of Totridge this is a fairly long but mostly undemanding walk, apart from a moderate climb to the shoulder of Mellor Knoll. The fellside climb to Totridge is steep and the trig point is on high peat moorland (avoid in poor visibility), but the reward for the effort on a clear day is an exceptional view that includes Pendle Hill and the tops of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. The stepping stones may become impassable after heavy rain.

For more walks, use our search engine.

The GPS track and description are the property of the author.