Swanside Bridge and Sawley Abbey

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

Technical sheet
No. 18458959
A Sawley (Lancashire) walk posted on 14/01/22 by Walks from the Door. Update : 14/01/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 1h20[?]
Distance Distance : 4.17km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 42m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 42m
Highest point Highest point : 112m
Lowest point Lowest point : 71m
Easy Difficulty : Easy
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Sawley (Lancashire)
Starting point Starting point : N 53.914964° / W 2.341501°
Download : -


(D/A) Walk to the rear of the Spread Eagle car park opposite the pub, and in the far left-hand corner, behind the trees, climb a concealed stile into a field.

Cross the field behind Sawley Abbey, keeping well to the left of the abbey grounds. Go through a gap in a broken wall and cross the next field to a kissing gate into a farm track.

(1) Cross straight over through another gate and follow a tree-lined path alongside a small stream, which it shortly fords. Continue uphill to a kissing gate into a field. Cross the field to another kissing gate (next to a farm gate) which leads out to the A59.

Cross with care and join the farm drive opposite. The drive bends left but the path crosses a stile in the fence and continues straight ahead to a gateway, and then to a stile at the far side of the next field. Climb the stile and walk down the left-hand side of the field with views ahead of Pendle Hill.

In the far corner, climb another stile and cross the next field diagonally, still heading directly towards Pendle. A further stile leads to a steep valley side; bear left then right down to Swanside Bridge, before which is another stile.

(2) Beyond the bridge bear left and climb a stone step-stile in the wall. Climb the bank then turn right across the field to a footbridge over a side-stream. Follow the right-hand field edge uphill, above a wooded bank.

Cross a stile in a fence and continue along the top of the bank. By a tree in the field, turn right over a stile into the wood. Follow a narrow path down through the wood, which may be overgrown, and ford a small side-stream.

(3) Bear left with the main stream on your immediate right. Cross another stile and follow the narrow fenced path with the stream still on your right. Continue through pastureland, keeping between fence (left) and stream (right) wherever possible, erosion permitting.

(4) As you approach the A59, you go through a kissing gate and pass a farm bridge; ignore the underbridge below the main road, instead of going through another kissing gate go on the right and climbing a few steps up to the road.

Cross with care and turn right along the pavement, crossing the stream and passing a farm.

(5) After 550 metres, turn left at the turning for Sawley. Follow the road through the village for half a mile, passing the abbey ruins, to return to the Spread Eagle. (D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 74m - Spread Eagle
1 : km 0.56 - alt. 92m - Swanside Bridge
2 : km 1.55 - alt. 88m - Side-stream
3 : km 2.25 - alt. 83m - Stream
4 : km 2.78 - alt. 71m - A59
5 : km 3.4 - alt. 81m - Abbey ruins
D/A : km 4.17 - alt. 75m - Spread Eagle

Useful Information

Wet grass after rain, several stiles and occasional uneven sections and overgrowth in high summer. A short section follows the pavement alongside the busy A59 road. Livestock likely.

Pdf link : http://walksfromthedoor.co.uk/i/walks/La...

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.

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