Along the Hodder – Part 1

On Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago, only a few days after my little break in the Lakes, I was up early and drove over to Dunsop Bridge in the Forest of Bowland. The fine weather was continuing and I fancied getting out for another walk. At one time I used to be up on the moors in Bowland fairly regularly, but I hadn’t been up that way for a few years. Reading posts by Bowland Climber overthe past few years had given me an appetite to rediscover the delights of this Area of Outsatnting Natural Beauty again.

I’m still not fell fit but had sussed out a low level walk following the Hodder starting from the small honeypot village. I parked up in the car park before 9. There were already a number of vehicles parked up and there seemed to be a rush of cars arriving. It was a walking group gathering for a wander on the fells.

I booted up but before setting off decided to get myself a shot of caffeine as the Puddleducks cafe was already open. The smell of bacon frying was tempting, but I resisted the siren call.

Dunsop Bridge is a tiny place but has the distinction of being declared as the geographical centre of Great Britain and its associated islands by the Ordnance Survey. BT, celebrated this by the installation of a telephone box, its 100,000th payphone, in 1992. In fact the “true” centre is 7 km north west of the Village, by Whitendale Hanging Stones on Brennard Farm

The claim can be disputed – it depends on how you define the British Isles and whether you only include the main island. In that case the OS gives the location as 4 km north west of Calderstones Hospital near Clitheroe.

Refreshed and energised I checked the map and set off. At first a short walk beside the River Dunsop to where it joined the Hodder at Thorneyholme Hall

then the route followed the left bank of the river to Whitewell.

It’s an attractive river with clear water and a backdrop of some of the high fells of Bowland

The first obstacle of the day was a group of calves clustered around the stile I had to cross. Luckily they shifted as they saw me approach.

Looking back at the little herd of calves after I’d crossed the stile.

After Burholme Farm the route became less interesting following a flat farm track and then a stretch allong the tarmac to Whitewell after Burholme Bridge.

It didn’t take long to reach the small hamlet of Whitewell where there’s a small cluster of houses, a church and the Inn at Whitewell


The building used to be a manor house but was converted into a hostelry sometime during the 1700’s according to the Inn’s website. Today it’s not exactly a humble tavern, but an upmarket restaurant and hotel. It was the first place visited by Steeve Coogan and Rob Brydon for one of their gourmet meals during the first series of the Trip. No time to stop and indulge for me, however!

I did stop to have a quick look at the little church, though. According to their website there’s been a church here since sometime between 1478-1521. The current building, however, was re-constructed in 1817. It’s quite a simple structure with some, no doubt Victorian, Gothic Revival touches.

Tomb with a view!

I had to cross the river here but there was no bridge marked on the map. There was a simple explanation for this – there isn’t one! Instead I followed a sign descending down through a field to the riverbank where I reached a set of stepping stones.


Knowing how unstable I am these days, I’d brought my walking poles with me. However, the river was quite shallow after a dry period and running quite smoothly. I still used my pole to make sure I didn’t end up getting wet.

The route now climbed up through the fields, passing the farm at New Laund

and then crossing over a minor road. Then crossing another field on a path up towards Tunstall Ing I heard the distinctive call of curlews, and there they were circling above me. I’d never seen so many in one place at one time. I reckon they must have been nesting in the fields and had been disturbed by my presence.

A tarmac track took me through the fields where I saw and heard yet more curlews. There were good views towards Totridge, on of the high fells.

After about a mile I stopped for a bite to eat, taking in the views on a beautiful day

and then followed the path through a plantation of pine trees

From gaps in the trees I could see down to the Hodder and across to the fells

I emerged at Whitmore into more open countryside.

A view across the valley

Looking ahead I could see Mellor Knoll. Unfortunately “out of bounds” on private land not included in the Open Access area. The path on the map skirted across a field below the hill which would block the views across the valley.

Any thoughts I had of tresspassing up to the top of the small hill were soon discarded. I had to climb a stile to get into the field and approaching it I spotted a herd of cattle including some calves.


One of the group looked a little different than the others – well, actually considerably different. Bigger, more muscular and with a ring through its nose.


What was a bul doing in a field with a clear right of way? There wasn’t even a sign warning of its presence. The Health and Safety Executive have clear guidance for farmers about bulls

However, Apparently

The general rule set out in statute is that it is an offence to allow a bull in a field crossed by a public right of way, but there are exceptions to this.

No offence will be committed if either: the bull in question is under 10 months old or it does not belong to a recognised dairy breed and is at large in any field or enclosure in which cows or heifers are also at large.

Farmer’s World Website

So as it was with cows and calves the farmer may not have actually been commiting an offence, but there was no way I was going to take a risk so took a diversion following the other side of the wall around the field rejoining the path further up.


Crossing the moorland I was treated to the sight of a lapwing circling above me, calling out in its distinctive peewit cry.

The path descended down through a field towards Hareden farm and the Trough of Bowland


After a short walk allong the farm track I crossed over Langden Brook


and reached the road

I had a short stretch allong the road, which ran parrallel to the river

The road went back to Dunsop Bridge, but just after a sheep fold

I clambered over a stile and followed a path through a field of sheep (no bulls thank goodness!)


towards Closes Barn where there was a small group of dwellings that looked as if they had been converted into holiday lets.


I followed the track that took me back to the village.


On such a fine day the village was heaving with visitors gathered around and in the river. There were cars parked all along the road through the village

However, after quite a long walk I was in need of refrehment so decided on another visit to Puddleducks


I was lucky. there was one person in front of me so I soon got served and found myself a table to enjoy my tea and a (naughty) cake.

Straight after a lengthy queue had accumulated

It was only about 1:30 and I wanted to make the most of a good day. So after my brief rest, rather than head back to the car I set off again – I had another walk in mind.