Just before midday on Wednesday I was driving back from Barnoldswick, a small town between Colne and Skipton. There had been an accident on the M65 so I was coming down the A55 towards Clitherow when I decided to stop off at Sawley for half an hour to stretch my legs and get a bit of fresh air on a nice Spring day.
Sawley’s a small village on the banks of the Ribble a few miles east of Clitheroe. Historically just inside the West Riding of Yorkshire but in Lancashire these days since the borders were changed as part of the local government reorganisation in 1974. the main attraction is the ruined Cistercian Abbey, which is owned by English Heritage.
I parked up the car and went to have a look at the ruins. It’s free to enter, although the site is locked late afternoon. It’s open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. (4 p.m. during the winter)
The abbey founded in 1148 and lasted until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1536. Since then, as was usually the case with deserted castles and religious sites, the site was used a quarry by locals and stones from there will no doubt form part of many of the local buildings. Nevertheless, there are still some substantial ruins left to explore and today it’s a Grade I listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument.
It was very quiet, and I had the site to myself while I looked around.
These are the ruins of the Abbey Church.
Remnants of the refectory, where the monks used to take their meals
Remnants of the refectory and Monk’s living quarters with the church ruins in the background
Stone-lined drains for the monastic latrines at the south-west corner of the site.
The great bulk of Pendle Hill dominates the skyline to the south
After I’d looked round the ruins, I walked down through the village (very quaint with some old houses) and for a short distance along the river. It was a beautiful sunny day, quite warm in the sunshine even though the air temperature was still quite low.
Looking west along the Ribble
Looking east along the Ribble
The bridge over the Ribble
View from the bridge looking west