Ribble Rides – Trough of Bowland

Ribble Rides – Trough of Bowland is the latest instalment of our Ribble Rides series. This latest route takes in the quiet country lanes of the picturesque Forest Of Bowland. An area of outstanding natural beauty that also happens to include the iconic climb of the Trough of Bowland. ‘The Trough’ as it is known to locals is a firm favourite with cyclists and indeed with Tour organisers. After all, it’s a regular feature in the Tour of Britain when it visits the North West.

Ribble Store -Trough of Bowland – Scorton

Distance: 26.81 miles

Difficulty: 3.5 out of 5.

The North West of England is blessed to be crisscrossed with a multitude of backcountry lanes and trails. This offers some world-class riding opportunities. Here at Ribble, we’re lucky enough to have the Forest of Bowland right on our doorstep. An area of outstanding natural beauty, it forms a stunning backdrop to Ribble Rides – Trough of Bowland. We recommend this ride for riders of intermediate ability who like a climb but aren’t looking to conquer Mont Ventoux! At least not in the short term!

Ribble’s flagship Clitheroe showroom sits in the heart of the Ribble Valley and forms the starting point for this ride.

The ride starts at the new Ribble concept showroom situated in the heart of the Ribble Valley. Or to be more precise, in Barrow which is just on the outskirts of Clitheroe. With easy transport links to the M6 (15mins), M65 (5mins) and with plentiful parking, it’s an easily accessible point to start the ride. You’re more than welcome to pop in and say hi to the team. You can even check out Europe’s largest indoor 4k high-resolution video wall too!

Exiting the store car park, head right and back to the roundabout. Take the last exit to continue down Hey Road which leads you back down the side of the Ribble showroom. Then take your first right into Oak Lea Gardens.

See the path at the end? Head on through and turn left onto Whalley Road. Continue all the way into the town that lends its name to the road. At the mini roundabout turn right to head towards Whalley Railway Station. Pass the station and climb gently out of town. Follow the B5246 past Mittton Hall and over the River Ribble until the junction with the B5243. Turn right and travel a short distance to where the road bends sharply to the right. Take the left turn here to continue following signposts for the Trough.

The lightweight Ribble Endurance SL and SL Disc make short work of the climbs.

Follow this peaceful country lane as far as the crossroads with Chipping Road. Continue straight over the crossroads and enjoy the peace and quiet of this equally rural country lane. All good things come to an end and so must this lane for it eventually merges with a larger road to Cow Ark. Head left, following the signpost for Whitewell and the Trough.

Shortly after passing Browsholme Hall the road veers left before summiting in Cows Ark. Immediately upon reaching the brow of the climb you will see a junction with the road to Whitewell off to the right. Turn right, and be prepared for a short sharp climb before the road evens out and descends gradually into Whitewell.

Upon entering Whitewell the road forks, take the right fork (not the wrong one badum tisss) and right again onto Dunsop Road. Continue towards Dunsop on a road that criss-crosses playfully over the River Hodder. As you approach the village (signified by a rock bearing the village name) you will encounter a large cottage situated on a bend. Take the left turn here to follow the signpost for the Trough.

This is the road that leads directly over the Trough. Shortly after the turn, the picturesque St Huberts RC Church will materialise on your left. This lovely little church makes for a wonderful picture opportunity. Upon exiting the embrace of the trees that enshroud the roadway, you will emerge into a natural ampitheatre formed by the green slopes of Haythornthwaite Fell to your left, Wolfhorn Crag in the far distance and White Hill off to the right.

The quiet backcountry lanes make this route a firm favourite with Ribble staff and locally based cyclists.

You may also notice the babbling notes of Langden Brook in the near distance. This pretty watercourse provides pleasant company as you head further into a valley overshadowed by the imposing presence of the natural behemoths that surround you. Just after Smelt Mill Cottages (where there’s a cattle grid to navigate) is Langden Brook car park. A scenic little spot for a quick breather and refreshment. There’s even a takeaway food truck there most of the time.

This car park also signifies the start of the climb over the Trough and from hereon in, the road climbs. Albeit, not too strenuously. The gradient will gradually steepen as the road cleaves its neighbouring fells in two. Eventually you will reach a section where the road winds sinuously ahead of you. It’s at this point that it reaches its steepest gradient. Drop into as low gear as you feel comfortable with and stomp on those pedals to power your way through this section.

After clearing this relatively steep section the road thankfully eases and another cattle grid signals the most difficult part of the ride is over. Well done, you have conquered the Trough! As the road starts to descend, the landscape opens up before you. Keep an eye out during this this descent for the road to Scorton branching off to your left. A signpost at the junction indicates that your eventual goal lies a mere 6 1/2 miles down this road.

Turn left onto Long Lane (you’ll see why it’s called this) and continue as it twists and turns towards Scorton. Cross the M6 motorway and soon enough you will enter Scorton. Head into the village centre (The Square) to find the ever popular Barn café (a regular spot for cyclists) or the Priory café. Or head 700m up the lane to your left for the equally cyclist friendly Applestore café. As you will see for yourself, Scorton is very welcoming of cyclist’s and there is plenty of choice for where to relax with the old cyclist’s favourite. Coffee & cake!

Don’t worry it’s never as steep as it looks- well almost never!

We hope you enjoy Ribble Rides – Trough of Bowland. We have many exciting plans in the pipeline for organised rides from our Clitheroe showroom. We’ll post details to our social channels once we finalise the details and Covid restrictions relax fully.


Looking for a relaxed ride that the whole family can enjoy? Ribble Rides – Whalley to Leeds/Liverpool Canal is just the job with plenty of historic landmarks lining the route. View the route here.


Up for another challenge? Ribble rides – Garstang to Beacon Fell is another great route for riders of beginner to intermediate abilities.


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