The latest in our Ribble Rides series is Clitheroe loop via Slaidburn, Whitewell, and Longridge Fell. It’s best suited to seasoned cyclists or anyone with a decent level of fitness, who doesn’t mind a bit of climbing. To be rewarded by some of the most spectacular scenery to be found anywhere in the Forest of Bowland.
Clitheroe Loop Via Slaidburn and Longridge Fell
Route Distance: 31.88miles/51.3km
Elevation: 2131ft Ascent / 2213ft Descent
A few weeks prior to the Tour of Britain, Matt Gibson of Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling visited our flagship Clitheroe showroom. He was to be the first lucky recipient of Ribble’s all-new groundbreaking aero bike – the Ultra SL R. It was to make its debut on the world stage at Britain’s most prestigious multi-stage race, the Tour of Britain. But first, he would need to put it through its paces. The route he chose was around the local lanes and climbs of the Forest of Bowland. This Clitheroe Loop via Slaidburn and Jeffrey Hill ride follows Matt and teammate Cam Jeffers test route.
You can literally start this ride from anywhere in Clitheroe. For the purposes of this ride, we have selected the Railway Station as a recognisable landmark. With the Railway Station on your left, continue along Railway View Road until it curves around to the right to become Waddington Road. Follow Waddington Road a short distance until you reach the roundabout with the A671. Turn left to head north along the A671 towards Chatburn.
Chatburn to Slaidburn
As you enter Chatburn village, you will see a Spar store on your left, turn left here. The road is signposted for Grindleton. Head over the River Ribble and continue to the t-junction at the end and turn right onto Sawley Road. It’s out of the saddle for a short climb up Grindleton Brow into Grindleton. Ride on through the village and past Bowland High School. As you gradually descend, the River Ribble appears on your right to greet you like an old friend.
Soon enough you will arrive at another t-junction where Sawley Road continues to the left. That also happens to be the direction you’re headed. So turn left and follow Sawley Road for approximately 3km. At the Copy Nook Free House, take the left turn for Holden here. The road starts to climb gradually for 2km or so. Keep left when the road forks to continue following the signposts for Slaidburn. At the latest of the rides numerous t-junctions, turn left and follow the road a short distance until you drop into Slaidburn. Top tip: The Riverbank tearooms is a great option if you fancy a café stop.
The Ribble Valley
Continue through the village, and follow the road as it hooks left in the direction of Lancaster. This road will take you on a 10km excursion of the villages of the Ribble Valley. Starting with Newton in Bowland, then continuing through Dunsop Bridge and Whitewell. Interestingly, though these villages are now considered part of Lancashire, they actually fell within the boundary of the West Riding of Yorkshire until 1974.
Upon reaching Whitewell the first thing you will see is the 18th-century former coaching inn. It’s now a popular venue for weddings and affords guests spectacular views of the surrounding fells. Continue on through Whitewell and after approximately 5km you will once more cross the River Hodder to arrive at a T-Junction. Turn right here, followed by your next left. You will know you are on the right track when you pass Carr Side Equestrian centre. Follow the road to its end and turn left for a short climb up Rock Brow (signposted Clitheroe/Whalley).
As you near the summit of Rock Brow, keep your eyes peeled for a turning on your right. There should be a rusty, once white fence and signpost for Jeffrey Hill to mark the way ahead. Turn right here and prepare yourself for the testing climb that is Jeffrey Hill. With gradients topping out at a maximum of 20% it’s advisable to find a gear that’s comfortable and grind or spin as per your preference.
Eventually, you will see a house directly ahead of you which sits across a fork in the road. Stay left and follow the road round to the left side of the house. It is only a matter of a couple of hundred yards or so after turning left that you summit the climb. Well done, you can now cross Jeffrey Hill off the climbs you have conquered.
Your efforts are amply rewarded, with a breathtaking panorama of Lancashire laid out before you seemingly as far as the eyes can see on the clearest days. A nice descent awaits, as you continue to drop down the other side of Jeffrey Hill as far as the crossroads. The White building which sits across the crossroads was until recently the New Drop Inn. However, like many country pubs, it is sadly a pub no longer. Turn left onto Old Clitheroe Road/Higher Road and follow this lovely rural lane as it meanders in the direction of Birdy Brow.
The home stretch
When you reach the bottom, turn right at the junction to cross over the ever magical River Hodder. The junction at the end of this road indicates that Clitheroe lies off to the right. Turn right and follow the road to its end by Edisford Caravan and Camping site. Turn left, cross the Ribble and you have arrived back in Clitheroe.
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