The village of Sawley is steeped in history and that’s particularly obvious at the ruins of the Cistercian Sawley Abbey. Renovation work was being carried out when I did this walk and fencing stopped me from getting close to the ruins, but it is still impressive. It was built around 1147 and was dissolved in the reign of Henry VIII around 400 years later.

Great British Life: Stones from Sawley AbbeyStones from Sawley Abbey (Image: John Lenehan)There is a collection of some of the remaining carved and decorated stones on in the abbey grounds and many more can be seen around the nearby villages after they were taken away to be used in the building of cottages. These were not stolen as the crown encouraged the use of the dissolved abbeys stonework throughout the country to be used for building. The valuable materials such as lead, roofing stones and wooden beams were taken by the crown.

The north and the west sides of the village are bounded by the river Ribble and this is crossed by Sawley Bridge. The Spread Eagle is particularly good for walkers’ sustenance and there can be few better places to finish a walk.

Great British Life: The gateway to Sawley AbbeyThe gateway to Sawley Abbey (Image: John Lenehan)

1. Leave the car park by crossing a stile at the back of it, then turn right and follow the fence until a footpath arrow appears on it. At this point turn left and bear diagonally left across the open field, passing the abbey on the right and eventually reaching a gate stile. Cross this and a track and go through a wooden gate and follow the path through a small wood then cross two stiles to reach the main road, the A59. Cross the road, taking great care.

Enter the drive of a house and cross the stile straight ahead and then cross the field and two more stiles into an open field. Keep straight on to another stile and, after crossing this, enter an open field and carry on going downhill to reach a stile and cross this. The path goes steeply downhill to reach a path junction.

2. At the junction turn sharp left and go up to and through a metal gate and, keeping the fence and hedgerow on the left, carry on following the path to reach a house but do not go through the gate. Instead, turn right and keeping the fence on the left carry on passing through a wooden gate and on to a through a second wooden gate.

Keep on the path heading towards a barn and follow the path as it goes to the left of the barn and go through a wooden gate then follow a track up to a stile by another wooden gate. Cross this, turn left and follow the fence on the left to reach and cross another stile and bear left heading towards a small wood of pine trees.

Reach this and cross the diversion gate stile on the left, then turn right and keeping the wood on the right, press on to a stile on the right, cross this and turn left passing the radio mast on the right then pick up a track leading to Old Sawley Grange. Cross a stile into a path that leads between the buildings to reach a tarmac road, turn right, and follow this to the A59.

Great British Life: Weets Hill can be seen from our route. Weets Hill can be seen from our route. (Image: John Lenehan)

3. Cross this again to a stile on the opposite side. Once over the stile, head downhill passing a ruined metal shed on the right then bear diagonally left down to a metal gate in the field corner. This is a slight diversion of the footpath as the proper route to the right of the metal gate is blocked by a rickety wired-up wooden gate. Go through the metal gate and turn left and go through two metal gates then on to a third that leads into a tarmac lane.

4. The lane is part of the Ribble Way. Turn left and follow the lane back to Sawley, eventually passing the fence of Sawley Hall on the right and as this ends there is a stile on the right, cross this and follow the road back to the car park.