The best things to do in the Ribble Valley including eating local, high quality food, taking walks around the beautiful countryside, bike riding, visiting historic sites and wandering the many pretty towns and villages in the Ribble Valley!
The Ribble Valley is somewhere I hadn’t even heard of until recently, let alone been to, but when I realised getting to the Ribble Valley is really easy from Manchester where I live, and it’s located between the majestic Lake District and Peak District, I had to go!
I loved my time there and I was totally shocked by the rolling countryside, the countrylanes, the iconic points like Pendle Hill and Clitheroe Castle, the famous names like J.R.R Tolkien, and the huge amount of high quality Ribble Valley Restaurants!
The Ribble Valley is a must visit in Northern England and is full of gems that you might not have heard about!
Best explored by car the Ribble Valley a great place to visit for a day if you’re looking for days out in Northern England, or for a weekend if you’re looking for a UK Staycation.
In this post I’m going to give you the best things to do in Ribble Valley, where to eat in Ribble Valley and Ribble Valley activities based on my trip there!
Things To Do In Ribble Valley
Map of Ribble Valley Things To Do.
Use the below map of Ribble Valley to help you plan your Ribble Valley itinerary and trip based on where you’ll be visiting or what you want to do!
1. Climb Pendle Hill
Pendle Hill is one of the best Ribble Valley Walks to do because the hill is iconic for a few reason!
Firstly, it can be pretty much seen from all around and although it’s height of 557m isn’t really high, it is a challenging and rewarding hike for many giving amazing views of the Ribble Valley below.
Secondly, you may have heard of the Pendle Witches?? Well, Pendle Hill.. Pendle Witches.. see the connection? Here’s the story of the Pendle Witches if you wish to read more and visit for this reason.
Related Post: How to do the Pendle Hill Walk, easy and hard routes!
2. Walk the Pendle Sculpture Trail
Just below the start of the walk up Pendle Hill is the Pendle Sculpture trail. This is one of the great things to do in the Ribble Valley for families with children who might not be able to climb Pendle Hill itself.
However, it’s more than just an easy walk. According to this post about the Pendle Sculpture Trail, it was created in tribute to the people hung for the in the Pendle Witch Trial over 400 years ago with various plaques and unique structures to see along the trail.
3. Visit Clitheroe Castle & Museum
Clitheroe Castle and Museum needs to be high up on your list of Ribble Valley things to do!
The castle has dominated the skyline of Clitheroe for 800 years and it continues to tell the story of the town and the formation of the landscape in the area.
Because I visited during the winter, the Museum wasn’t open on the day I visited (check here for opening times and prices) however I was still able to walk around the grounds for free and get up close to the castle.
So if you are trying to save money or don’t have much time, you can visit the Castle for free and avoid the museum which is what the ticket price is for.
4. Drink & Eat in Holmes Mill
So many people on Instagram told me to visit Holmes Mill when I shared I was in the Ribble Valley and Clitheroe specifically.
Holmes Mill is in the centre of Clitheroe, one of the popular towns in the Ribble Valley.
It’s a Beer Hall and Food Hall which is quite unique and it celebrates the food and drink of Lancashire! I told you the food in the Ribble Valley is of a really high standard and this is one place to experience this.
5. Take a Bowland Brewery Tour
A lot of people love a Brewery Tour on holiday and it’s possible to take one in the Ribble Valley at Bowland Brewery in Holmes Mill.
Definitely get this added to your list for things to do in the Ribble Valley and booked in advance, especially if the weather looks like it might be a bit wet and grim and you need indoor activities in the Ribble Valley.
6. Holden Clough Nursery
Visiting a garden centre might not usually be something you want to do when on a trip away but the Holden Clough Nursery is not a normal Garden Centre.
Made up of The Glasshouse, The Potting Shed and The Botanical Room for looking at beautiful plants, as well as The Shepherds Hut and The Garden Room for food and drink throughout the day, it makes for one of the best places to visit in Ribble Valley for something different and for some home and garden shopping.
7. Eat or Stay at the Coach & Horses
I stayed at the Coach and Horses Ribble Valley which I really recommend if you are still looking for Ribble Valley accommodation.
If not, then I still recommend passing by for a drink, lunch or dinner (be sure to prebook) to take a look at this historic and traditional Coaching Inn located in the pretty and quaint village of Bolton by Bowland, which has been restored into a boutique hotel, bar and restaurant.
The Coach and Horses is really close to Holden Clough Nursery and Sawley Abbey (detailed later on this list of what to do in the Ribble Valley) so be sure to visit them at the same time.
Related Post: My Review of The Coach & Horses Ribble Valley.
My 3 course dinner was absolutely amazing as the food is of such a high quality but in a comfortable homely setting so I really recommend it as one of the best Ribble Valley restaurants and places to eat in Ribble Valley!
I’m still dreaming of this Blue Cheese Soufflé!
8. Hike Longridge Fell
When it comes to what to do in Ribble Valley, walking and hiking are great options! Longridge Fell is a good hike to do, it’s the most Southerly Fell in England and is therefore easy to access from cities such as Manchester.
Longridge Fell is 350m so a lower and easier option than Pendle Hill but it’s similar to Pendle Hill in that the summit can be seen from all around and it offers fantastic views from the top.
9. Dunsop Bridge & the Centre of GB
When planning your Ribble Valley trip, be sure to stop at Dunsop Bridge.
It has fame as being declared by the Ordnance Survey as the nearest village to the centre of the British Isles (although I’ve seen another articles that claim it’s not), and there is a small sign to recognise this by the bridge.
Apart from this, it’s just a nice village in the Ribble Valley to visit to admire local country life and the countryside nearby. There are a few cafes by the bridge and plenty of places by the river to enjoy a sit down and possible picnic in the warmer months.
10. Hire an E-Bike
Hiring an E-Bike from Ribble Valley E-Bikes based at Dunsop Bridge is easily one of the best things to do in the Ribble Valley and Ribble Valley activities for all!
Explore the Forest of Bowland from Dunsop Bridge following a range of guided and self guided tours of the area.
I can’t wait for the warmer months to come back here with my family and rent e-bikes in the Ribble Valley!
11. Get Adrenaline doing Off Road Biking
If a normal bike seems a bit boring you to and you want a real adventure and some serious adrenaline on your visit to the Ribble Valley, check out Inch Perfect Trails where you can hire an Off Road Motorcycle for a taster session, a private lesson or an all day hire!
12. Dine at The Inn at Whitewell
The Inn at Whitewell must be on your list of places to eat in Ribble Valley for lunch or dinner.
It seems to be a bit of an institution in the area and has a very good reputation along with many awards for its food and drink.
Local produce is really important to Ribble Valley restaurants and this is exactly what you’ll find here all day long.
13. Do the Whitewell Walk
Before or after visiting The Inn at Whitewell, I recommend heading out on Whitewell Walk, a fairly short and easy 1 hour circular walk around the neighbouring countryside and lanes.
Follow this post for the Whitewell Walk, and look out for the Whitewell Stepping Stones which you can either start the walk at, or end it at.
Note that on the Novembers day I visited on, the water was too high to cross the stepping stones to start the walk, so keep the weather in mind when planning this Ribble Valley walk.
14. Find Gruffalo’s in Gisburn Forest
Gisburn Forest is one of the great places to visit in Ribble Valley for families if you are looking for days out in Ribble Valley because it offers plenty to do!
There are lots of Gisburn Forest walks to do but one I really recommend is the Gruffalo Trail if you have small children!
Here are tips for visiting the Gruffalo Trail, the app to download and where to start in Gisburn Forest!
15. Bike Around Gisburn Forest
As well as walking around Gisburn Forest, it’s also another place in the Ribble Valley great for bike riding!
Take you own bike, or check out Gisburn Forest Hub of how to rent a bike from the cafe which are also offered by Ribble Valley E-bikes.
16. Take a Photo on Cromwell’s Bridge
For a cool photo opportunity and unique stop as you drive through Bowland within the Ribble Valley, stop off at Cromwell’s Bridge – a thin arched bridge with no sides. It’s no longer in use other than for walkers and passers by.
Cromwell’s Bridge in Ribble Valley is named after Oliver Cromwell who marched his army over the bridge on the way to fight in the Battle of Preston in 1648.
You will pass by the bridge if you decide to walk the Tolkien Trail, more on that below, or you can stop in one of the few lay-bys on the road closest to it which is what I did and the bridge opposite it is where I got a good photo of it from.
17. Walk the Famous Tolkien Trail
The Ribble Valley really is full of famous names – old and (fairly) new!
As Visit Lancashire says here, the author J.R.R Tolkien certainly spent a lot of his time at Stonyhurst College working on The Lord of the Rings during the Second World War.
There is a 5.5 mile walk known as the Tolkien Trail around the countryside which is said to have inspired him and many have made connections to this landscape and college to his work.
Head to the Shireburn Arms in Hurst Green to start the walk, ask them for a map or use this guide.
18. Stonyhurst College
Stonyhurst College dates back to 1593 and students still attend the school today. It’s an incredible building and place to pass by when in the Ribble Valley and the village of Hurst Green.
If you don’t have time to do the full 5.5 mile Tolkien Trail but still want to do a little walk, you can start in Hurst Green and walk towards the college and back.
I got all the Harry Potter vibes from it!
19. Discover History at Sawley Abbey
There are many Ribble Valley points of interests when it comes to historic buildings and Sawley Abbey is one of them.
Sawley Abbey is the remains of a Cistercian abbey founded in 1148 with Pendle Hill in the background.
I recommend passing by Sawley Abbey whilst driving to the Coach & Horses and Holden Clough Nursery.
20. Admire the Whalley Viaduct
Before heading back to Manchester after my Ribble Valley trip, I stopped by the town of Whalley for some lunch and to admire the impressive Whalley Viaduct made up of 49 arches and completed in 1850.
If you have a drone and love cool drone shots.. a viaduct is a good place to fly it!
I hope this helps you plan your things to do in the Ribble Valley!
- For more of my posts from Northern England see:
- The Coach & Horses in Ribble Valley Review.
- How To Do Pendle Hill Walk in Ribble Valley! Easy & Hard Routes!
- 10 Easy Lake District Walks! Beginner, Circular, Flat & Short Walks!
- Full Lake District Day Trip! How to Spend 1 Day in the Lake District!
- How To Do Dovestone Reservoir Walk, Easy Circular Walk in Peak District.
- How To Do Thor’s Cave Walk! An Easy Walk In The Peak District.