It’s been 25 years since I started to get to know Clitheroe, and its people. The town now has an annual food festival, a thriving arts and culture scene including the Grand Theatre, galleries and the castle itself, of course. New destinations include Holmes Mill with its great food and beer halls and the Everyman Cinema.

For me though, it’s the small shops, restaurants and cafés run by passionate independent and local operators – with a real commitment to sustainability – that are the main reason to spend your time in one of the most vibrant town centres in the country.

The stars that make Clitheroe wonderful are often hidden away. So, here are a few of my personal favourites for you to explore.

Great British Life: The Castle Chippy is among the Clitheroe businesses to have Lucie's window artThe Castle Chippy is among the Clitheroe businesses to have Lucie's window art


Moor Lane has some of the nicest fashion outlets in town, including Elan, La Tete et Tout and the newly opened babies and children’s clothing mini-store, Hedgehog and Pear, alongside the popular Jungle café and fab Castle Chippy. County Vogue stocks well- known lingerie and swimwear brands Fantasie, Aristoc and Gossard, and has a ‘bra bank’ where you can deposit decent quality unwanted bras that are then donated to women in developing countries.

Two highlights (both with anniversaries this year) stand out, though – particularly for the 35-year-old-plus woman. Anne Louise Designer Dress Agency only offers new or barely used designer clothes, so there is none of that rather musty smell that can go with the traditional ‘vintage’ outlet. Celebrating 30 years in Clitheroe, Anne Louise has got to know her customer base really well and everything is colour coordinated, with occasion-wear in a separate section.

For casual separates and pretty dresses, there’s EQ Woman. Curated and run by another charming lady, Zilpah Oulson-Jenkins, the brands on offer include Masai, Fransa and One Life. EQ deservedly won the accolade of ‘Best Independent Retailer’ in the Ribble Valley Business Awards in just its sixth year of trading.

Great British Life: Giles Shaw of Wellgate Fisheries. Photo: Kirsty ThompsonGiles Shaw of Wellgate Fisheries. Photo: Kirsty Thompson

Food and flowers

Exchange Coffee, Beryl’s shoes and Brioche café are all located in Wellgate, along with Wellgate Fisheries. Another Clitheroe stalwart, Giles Shaw and Christina Kay offer what I think is the best seasonal fish and seafood in Lancashire, along with essential preparation and expert advice on cooking. Mostly sourced from Fleetwood, Wellgate supplies fish and shellfish many of the top local restaurants and gastropubs in the area.

Great British Life: Kirsten Southam of Beryl's Shoes and Accessories. Photo: Kirsty ThompsonKirsten Southam of Beryl's Shoes and Accessories. Photo: Kirsty Thompson

The Flower Shop next door has a fantastic array of beautiful fresh and artificial flowers, home and gift wares. Always busy, there are hand tied bouquets, vase arrangements and floral tributes from Linda and Jim Hardman and the team. They also produce sensational displays for Michelin-starred Northcote and the full range of wedding flowers. The shop strives to be as eco-friendly as possible, using Kraft paper and biodegradable ribbons. Local suppliers, including our own Downham Estate, keep customers really engaged with the changing floral seasons.

Great British Life: Some of the team at The Flower Shop. Photo: Kirsty ThompsonSome of the team at The Flower Shop. Photo: Kirsty Thompson

Gorgeous George at Georgonzola. George Hammond has loved food since the age of 14, when he was at Bowland High School and worked at local butchers and restaurants. When he lost his job during Covid, it was the spur to start this small boutique delicatessen which has just been named the area’s ‘Best Food and Drink Business’.

Great British Life: George Hammond of Georgonzola Deli. Photo: Kirsty ThompsonGeorge Hammond of Georgonzola Deli. Photo: Kirsty Thompson

A member of the Guild of Fine Foods, George ensures that everything possible is British (all his cheeses and charcuterie), or comes via northern companies. So, the olives are processed in Penrith and there is excellent Yorkshire pasta, Greenfields’ award winning Lancashire cheese, sodas from Manchester... the list goes on.

Great British Life: Joseph Byrne of D.Byrne & Co. Photo: Kirsty ThompsonJoseph Byrne of D.Byrne & Co. Photo: Kirsty Thompson

The southside

D. Byrne and Co, Clitheroe’s famous independent wine merchant remodelled and opened up its Victoria Brewery warehouse on Shawbridge Street during Covid to offer more space and, crucially, ample parking for customers. There is still the King Street shop, of course, but at Shawbridge, you can pick up multiple cases of lovely wine easily, and with the same level of service and choice.

Right next door is hairdresser Limelight, the town’s only Green Salon Collective member. Nicola Holloway and her colleagues recycle many kilos of waste every year, including plastics and aluminium foil. Cut hair from this salon goes to make mats and rolls that are used to clean up oil spills in our seas. All products are cruelty free, carbon neutral and wildlife friendly.

Great British Life: Nicola Holloway, owner of Limelight Hairdressing. Photo: Kirsty ThompsonNicola Holloway, owner of Limelight Hairdressing. Photo: Kirsty Thompson

Cycles Recycled is a Community Interest Company (CIC) which, since 2010 has been encouraging more people to enjoy cycling more often. Bikes donated by the community are recycled and lovingly brought back to life by a team of mechanics and volunteers and sold at a fraction of the price (typically 25%) of buying new. Top adult and children’s brands are available from the shop and online. Sales of donated bikes and income from servicing allows them to offer cycle training and maintenance courses.

High street heroes

Castle Street is Clitheroe’s High Street and has suffered with the closure there of three large banks and the M&Co store. But the independents are fighting back. What was Yorkshire Bank is now home to Vareys Town and Country Wear and family jeweller Nettletons is still going strong.

A new concept in eating and play – Violets – was started by Donna Neely in 2021. Named after her four-year-old daughter, it’s clearly designed by someone who appreciates that going out to eat with babies and toddlers can be stressful. The sign on the door introduces: ‘A space that offers delicious food and drink for you and the kids, and just the right amount of play space to keep them entertained… we’re OK with tantrums, noise, mess and fussy eaters.’ I just wish Violets had been around when mine were small.

The courtyards leading off Castle Street are home to two of the best places to have a meal in Clitheroe. Multi-award winning Tom’s Table has proved incredibly popular. The feel is of a proper Bistro as Tom Drinkall worked in France for nine years – but there are also culinary influences from his time in Australia and Switzerland. Local produce is at the forefront, and the ever-changing seasonal menu can be enjoyed at lunch and dinner with summer afternoon teas outside with views of Pendle.

Great British Life: Brizzola Bar and Grill; Jayd Bennett, Rachael Matthews-Moreau, Presley Nuttall, Sarah Matthews-Moreau and Joanne Janes. Photo: Kirsty ThompsonBrizzola Bar and Grill; Jayd Bennett, Rachael Matthews-Moreau, Presley Nuttall, Sarah Matthews-Moreau and Joanne Janes. Photo: Kirsty Thompson

Brizzola in Swan Courtyard is owned and run by Rachael Morau and offers colourful and fresh Greek-inspired food. Another local, who trained at Accrington and Rossendale College, she had a ‘lightbulb’ moment when on holiday in Mykonos, feeling that the food variety in town could do with a bit of pizzaz. It’s a tribute to the light, healthy and value-for money menu that Brizzola, and Tom’s Table, are both frequented by many of their fellow traders.

Great British Life: The Shop of Hope, Katy Holden and Julie Young. Photo: Kirsty ThompsonThe Shop of Hope, Katy Holden and Julie Young. Photo: Kirsty Thompson

Back on Castle Street, just up from the old Barclays Bank building is the Shop of Hope which opened in 2019 as a CIC. Julie Young and Katy Holden and a team of volunteers stock a range of environmentally-friendly, Fairtrade and local products from artists, craftspeople and wood turners. A friendly welcome and a fascinating and eclectic range is on offer to browse and they describe it as a ‘Beacon of hope for the world’. I think it’s a bit of a beacon for Castle Street’s future too.

Marvellous market

My mother-in-law’s favourite outing is to Clitheroe’s busy market, open on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9-4 (fitting in a visit to Booths next door, of course). There’s an array of super traders, but our picks are Burneys for fruit and veg, Pots and Petals for plants and butcher David Bolton for top quality meats and cheeses. There’s always a queue at Oliver’s fish stall and on Tuesdays Jo’s pies and scotch eggs, homemade in a small bakery in Chipping, are a treat.

On King Street, and open from noon on all market days, is the Beer Shack – a great new place to relax after a morning in the market, with a range of local and international craft beers and a lovely open beer garden to the rear.

Great British Life: Lucie Cook with one of her colourful windowsLucie Cook with one of her colourful windows

Window art

When experienced clothing designer and illustrator, Lucie Cook, was asked by a friend to decorate a Clitheroe store window for fun, she didn’t realise how her ‘window art’ would take off.

Her fabulous, quirky, hand drawn illustrations in chalk pens, using glass as the canvas, have become a feature of many of our shop and restaurant windows. Her reputation has now spread far and wide, but Clitheroe, where she lives with her husband, toddler and cat, is her first love. Look out for her artwork as you walk around the town.

Great British Life: Nicola Holloway, owner of Limelight Hairdressing. Photo: Kirsty ThompsonNicola Holloway, owner of Limelight Hairdressing. Photo: Kirsty Thompson


Olivia Assheton’s husband Ralph is former High Sheriff of Lancashire whose family have deep roots in the Ribble Valley. The family took ownership of the Downham estate in 1558 and it has been in their hands ever since Downham, which stands about three miles from Clitheroe, is a fascinating village which is notable as much for what it doesn’t have as for what it does.

There is a pretty main street, a church, some glorious views and a pub – the Assheton Arms – which has recently been given an impressive and sympathetic renovation by Clitheroe-based James’ Places who run a number of venues around the county.

What Downham doesn’t have is overhead wires, satellite dishes, road markings, plastic double glazing or even a village sign. It has remained largely unchanged since the 1950s because that’s what successive Lord Clitheroes have wanted.

READ MORE: How Downham preserves its heritage while looking towards the future