Play Hard

HLN explores… Clitheroe, Lancashire

Here’s why you need to visit this bustling, ancient market town...

Written by Rachael Nichol
Published 06.04.2022

Nothing’s better than a breakaway from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives in the beautiful British countryside.

It’s the perfect way to get away from it all, soak up that fresh rural air, stretch our legs and really recharge our batteries.


But that’s not to say we always want a staycation that’s too quiet – which is why we’ve fallen head over heels for the bustling, ancient market town of Clitheroe. Set in the picturesque Ribble Valley, right in the heart of Lancashire, Clitheroe is a thriving tourist destination where culture, creativity and character meets classic countryside charm.

Whether you want to get lost in a history dating back to Saxon times, discover specialist gift shops, or explore Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland – one of England’s 36 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – Clitheroe has something for everyone.


As a town, Clitheroe dates back to Saxon times. When the impressive 12th century Clitheroe Castle was built, the town had already existed for nearly 1,000 years. Said to be the smallest Norman castle in England, here you’ll get lost in the panoramic views across the Ribble Valley. Beyond the castle walls, you’ll find a museum, gift shop and café and 16 acres of landscaped gardens, featuring Lancashire’s first and only labyrinth.

If you want to continue taking a step back in time, make sure you visit Browsholme ­ Hall and The Tithe Barn– Lancashire’s oldest ancestral home and estate that’s been the home of the Parkers, Bowbearers of the Forest of Bowland, since Tudor times. Today, it’s still the family’s home, but visitors are invited to enjoy its magnificent architecture, fabulous interiors and antique furnishings, all set within the stunning landscape of the Hodder Valley.

If you’re an art lover, there are plenty of art shops and galleries in Clitheroe – including the Platform Gallery,which sits within the old railway station building and dates from 1870. There’s a selection of contemporary craft exhibitions hosted throughout the year here. Longitude Gallery also showcases the best of Northern artists and selected artists from the UK.


Clitheroe’s shopping centre is an indie shopper’s dream, with markets held in the town every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday boasting bargains aplenty if you have a keen eye.

The centre is also home to some of the county’s favourite local stores. Award-winning D Byrne & Co’s wine shop is famous for its enormous underground cellar bursting with unique and unusual vintages from all over the world. Cowman’s Famous Sausage Shop sell more than 75 sausage varieties for you foodies, and the Exchange Coffee Company stock more than 35 coffees and 60 specialist teas to get your caffeine fix.


Sporting fans can enjoy a day at Clitheroe Golf Club, named as one of the country’s best inland courses. It’s a parkland course with water hazards and good scenic views of Waddington and Longridge Fells from all sides, so there’s plenty to tempt and to trick.

If you fancy letting loose with the kids (or maybe just your mates), visit Lancashire’s leading indoor laser tag arena, Battlestorm Indoor Laser Tag. Offering all-year-round entertainment for every weather condition, their purpose-built 4000 sqft arena gives the most in-depth close quarter combat we’ve ever seen.


Award-winning Top Hat Tours offer tailored tours to meet your needs, as well as scheduled tours open to everyone. Explore Clitheroe on foot while learning a whole load of interesting tales and facts on their haunted and heritage walking tours.

A great way to soak up Lancashire’s stunning scenery is by e-bike. Ribble Valley E-Bikes are based in Dunsop Bridge, at the very heart of the Hodder Valley and Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. After all, there are few better feelings than free-wheeling through some sensational landscapes with the warm wind blowing through your hair.

If you’d prefer to stretch your legs to blow those cobwebs away, enjoy a walk through the picturesque Ribble Valley countryside with this route, which takes you from Brungerley Bridge to Grindleton Bridge. Or, if you’re really wanting a wander with a difference, The Ribble Valley Sculpture Trail now has over 20 permanent works of art that can be found on the route from Brungerley Bridge to Crosshill Quarry, along part of the Ribble Way.

For you nature lovers, Cross Hill Nature Reserve is a perfect day out. Abandoned as a working quarry in the early 1900s, Cross Hill is a good example of how a man-made site has since become an exceptional refuge for wildlife – it’s ideal for nature spotting.

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