Ribble Valley walk - Sabden and Apronful Hill

A do walker on the path up to Apronfull Hill

A do walker on the path up to Apronfull Hill - Credit: Archant

Ever wondered how Clitheroe Castle got that huge hole in its tower? John Lenehan might have the answer after this walk from Sabden.

Sabden once hummed to the chorus of mills

Sabden once hummed to the chorus of mills - Credit: Archant

The devil is said to have made quite an impression in this area, as you’ll discover on my latest walk. It seems hard to imagine anything satanic when you see the position of Sabden – the word nestling couldn’t be more fitting.

It sits in a valley and is surrounded the imposing Pendle Hill and Padiham Heights. In fact, there is only Whalley Road that enters the village on a level route, the other roads enter via very steep descents. That should give the clue that this walk has quite a bit of uphill and downhill in it but is very enjoyable with great views and, of course, there’s the devil’s footprint.


A close-up of the spot where Old Nick made an impression

A close-up of the spot where Old Nick made an impression - Credit: Archant

1. Leave the car park by the footpath on the right opposite the entrance and follow this until it joins Whalley Road and turn left. Follow the road until a road on the right called The Whins. It says private road, but it is the footpath. Turn right and follow this until a road on the right leads up to Whins House. Turn up the road. It is the drive of the house and doesn’t look like a footpath but on the fence near the gates is a yellow footpath arrow. Keep following the road as it bends to the left and pass a house on the left called Stable House. Keep the wall of this on the left and carry on to a gate with a gap on the left hand side. Go through the gap and on past an old farm building on the right to a metal gate with a stile on the right.

Note: It is hard to believe that given the rather isolated location of the village from major towns, there were once seven mills in the valley. The main one of these was a Calico printer and it employed around 2,000 people.

2. Once through the stile turn immediately right and climb the hill, still with the farm on the right up to a wooden gate with a footpath arrow on it pointing right. Do not go through the gate but follow the arrow. The path becomes a green lane with a wire fence on the left that ends at a wooden stile and gate. Cross the stile and keeping the stone wall on the left carry straight on. You will see a stone barn uphill to the right – follow the path towards that. Come to a footpath post with very worn, unreadable signs. At this point the path goes to the other side of the fence and carries on uphill towards a metal gate to the left. At the gate is a stile. Cross this and go uphill to a track then turn right and follow the track past the barn and on to a metal gate. Go through the gate and join the main road and turn left and follow the steep road to the Nick of Pendle.

X marks the spot of the Devbil's Footprint

X marks the spot of the Devbil's Footprint - Credit: Archant

3. At the brow of the Nick of Pendle, take the path on the right that leads up to Apronfull Hill passing the memorial stone to airmen lost during the Second World War. Reach the summit of Apronfull Hill and carry on along the track that leads on towards Pendle summit.

Note: Apronfull Hill is reputed to be the place that the devil filled his apron with stones and threw them in the direction of Clitheroe and one knocked the hole in the keep of Clitheroe Castle. The stones lying around are what he dropped when his apron split.

A memorial to lost airmen

A memorial to lost airmen - Credit: Archant

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4. The track splits take the path bears right heading over towards a stone wall. Follow the path until it reaches a stile in the wall and cross this then keep straight on and follow the path until it forks and follow the one that bears slightly right and eventually starts to go downhill. After a while, the crags of Deerstones appear away on the left. Keep following the path and when Churn Clough Reservoir can be seen, a small path appears going left heading towards Deerstone. Follow this and it eventually leads past the stone filled lower slopes of Deerstones. Keep on the small path for about 50 metres from where it first passes Deerstones and another very faint path leads left into Deerstones. From here you can make out the cevil’s footprint without the need to go up to it.

Warning: Deerstones has a lot of loose stone and boulders and you’ll need to negotiate them to get to the devil’s footprint. Care is needed if you attempt this section.

Note: According to legend the devil leaped from Hambledon Hill above Accrington and the footprint was formed when he landed before leaping up to Apronfull Hill.

5. Retrace the route back to the small path and then to the main path and turn left and carry on going downhill.

The craggy heights at Deerstones

The craggy heights at Deerstones - Credit: Archant

Pass through a stile by a steel gate and keep following the now track as it winds its way downhill and eventually passes a stone wall on the left to a wooden gate. Go through this and then shortly after a steel gate and carry on to a signpost on the right.

6. Follow the sign pointing right that says ‘Concessionary Footpath and Bridleway to Sabden’.

Go downhill to a stile and cross this and then down to a metal gate, go through this and carry on downhill to a stile on the right. Cross this and keep left with a wire fence on the left. Follow this downhill until a metal gate leads onto track.

Christine and David Moore provide perfect fare for walkers and cyclists

Christine and David Moore provide perfect fare for walkers and cyclists - Credit: Archant

Do not be tempted to go through the stile on the right a few feet from the gate. Go through the gate and follow the track as it carries on downhill and crosses a bridge and turns right down into Sabden.

Pass the school on the left and turn right and follow the road down past the church on the left and at the main road turn left and follow this to the car park entrance on the right.

Watering Hole: Sanwitches of Sabden.

A cracking little café just off Whalley Road up Watt Street (postcode:BB7 9ED) that serves ideal walking or cycling food. All ingredients are locally sourced and the pies are from Roy Porter in Chatburn. One of these with beef gravy and mushy peas after would have stopped the devil chucking stones at Clitheroe.

Tel: 01282 775006

Compass Points

Start and Finish: Sabden Village car park

Distance: 4.7 miles/7.56 kms

Time: 3 hours

Terrain: Track and footpaths and can get muddy at times. Steep downhill section to Churn Clough Reservoir. Good boots are best with gaiters for wet weather.

Map: OS Explorer map 287 West Pennine Moors.

Facilities: There are public toilets in Sabden

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