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Bowland & Pendle Walks

Beacon Hill & Sawley Abbey

Date: 12th Jan 2013
Distance: 8.6 miles
Ascent: 1650 feet
Time: 4 hours 10 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SD632511

Walk Summary:
A walk on to the Ribble valley's Beacon Hill including Grindleton Forest, the banks of the Ribble and Sawley Abbey.

Route Summary: Sawley - Ribble Way - Grindleton - Greendale Woods - Green Lane - Simpshey - Grindleton Forest - Shiverin Ginnel - Beacon Hill - Rodhill Lane - Sawley

Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

The River Ribble at Sawley
The banks of the Ribble between Sawley and Grindleton
Greendale Woods just outside of Grindleton
Green Lane
A close encounter with a muck spreader
The ruined farmhouse of Simpshey
Easington Fell and Grindleton Forest
In Grindleton Forest
Beacon Hill from a deforested part of Grindleton Forest
By the trig point on Beacon Hill
Pendle Hill and the Ribble Valley from above Rodhill Lane
A section of the muddy Rodhill Lane
The remains of Sawley Abbey
Sawley Abbey and a distant Pendle Hill


Walk Detail: Beacon Hill is one of two hills with that name in the Forest of Bowland AONB. The object of this walk was the Beacon Hill that is part of the upland wedge separating the Hodder valley from the Ribble Valley and which rises to its highest on Easington Fell. Beacon Hill sits very much on the Ribble side of the divide overlooking Grindleton Forest and the valley above the villages of Sawley and Bolton-by-Bowland.

Starting from Sawley itself I enjoyed two pleasant stretches alongside the Ribble itself to reach Grindleton Bridge. It was only when I reached the latter that I saw a notice claiming that the section of footpath I'd just walked along was closed until August 2013 due to an eroded riverbank. As it happens I had seen a badly eroded section of riverbank but it was easily avoided and judging by the number of footprints and a local walking her dog presumably most people aren't aware the path is closed or are just ignoring the fact.

From Grindleton I walked through the short but pleasant Greendale Woods then bravely crossed a field containing numerous cows to reach Green Lane which I followed for the next mile or so to beyond Cob House. Along the way I had a close encounter with a muck spreader (for some reason this only ever happens to me in Bowland!). Thankfully, due to the wind direction, I only had to hold my breath for a short while to avoid the worst of the stench.

Passing the ruined farmhouse of Simpshey I left the rolling farmland behind to enter more open ground to contour around Simpshey Hill to reach the large track that climbs up alongside the southern edge of Grindleton Forest almost to the summit of Easington Fell. I was tempted to head up to the latter but it would have added another two miles on to the walk so I instead plunged into Grindleton Forest using a route I'd found in Paul Hannon's 'Pendle and the Ribble'. After a few moments of uncertainty I finally made it to the official public footpath which led me to the brilliantly named 'Shivering Ginnel' which tool me to just short of the trig point on Beacon Hill.

Apart from the trig point, the only real reason to visit Beacon Hill is the view but sadly the longer distance views to the Dales were obscured. There were however good views, as indeed there had been for most of the walk, across the Ribble valley to Pendle Hill. While being no means a classic I had enjoyed the walk up to now but unfortunately the return route I'd chosen was mainly along sunken ways which all proved to be very wet and muddy, the worst being Rodill Lane an enclosed path littered with stones, dead wood and plastered in mud.

Much better was the finish to the walk - a visit to the remains of Sawley Abbey. I'm more than partial to having a potter around old ruins and while not as impressive as the remains of some of the larger northern abbeys it was still definitely worth a visit. To add to the atmosphere the sun finally made an appearance in the form of a brilliant patch of light shining directly on the abbey. It only lasted seconds but it made my day.

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