THE CENTRAL LOOP
The Central Loop is the second part of the Lancashire Way. In comparison with the Southern Loop it is longer at 101 miles and ascends over 13,000 feet, which is almost twice that of the Southern Loop. Hence it is very much the bigger brother of the two loops. It is estimated that it will take on average just over 40 hours walking so can be completed in between 5-7 days and thus one complete week.
It begins and ends in Preston, as did the Southern Loop, which helps with logistics. There are twelve Stages in total, with the longest being just under 12 miles so can be completed in a day for most people. Other stages are shorter so can be combined with adjacent stages according to your pace.
The first four stages make their way from Preston in an easterly direction along the southern side of the Ribble Valley to Pendle Hill. The route then turns north crossing the Ribble and Hodder valleys before turning back west through the southern half of the Bowland Fells. The final three stages meander back to Preston via Longridge Fell along the northern side of the Ribble Valley.
This part of the Lancashire Way is very much more rural with some of the very best scenery that the county has to offer. There are real hills such as Pendle Hill, beautiful villages and magnificent rivers. There is history but it is dominated by the beauty of the landscape. Pendle Hill is the highest point of the Loop at 557m (1,827feet) but this is still technically not a mountain being below 2,000 feet. For that we will probably have to wait for the final instalment – see below.
The overall route continues to develop. Originally my aim was to compliment the Southern and Central Loops, with a “Northern Extension”. This would have been an additional 50 miles or so, which could have been added on to the Central Loop and both completed in one complete walk or walked separately over three days or so.
However, since having reconnoitred this extension, I began to appreciate the merits and beauty of the very north of the county. Therefore the Northern Extention became a full Northern Loop, which again is a full weeks walk and therefore the equal of the first two Loops!
But the route does not stop there – see the Blog on the Eastern Loop – which will be the final section of the Lancashire Way.
|Stage No||Stage Name||OS Map||Miles||Hours||Cum Miles||Cum Hrs||Highest Ft||Climb ft||Cum Climb ft||Grid Ref Start||Grid Ref End|
|17||Riley Green||LW N1||10.3||4.00||10.3||4.0||572||1110||1110||534 291||621 254|
|18||Mellor||LW N2||9.0||3.50||19.3||7.5||693||1118||2228||621 254||650 309|
|19||Whalley||LW N3||8.3||3.00||27.5||10.5||725||720||2948||650 309||733 362|
|20||Barley||LW N4||7.8||3.50||35.3||14.0||1497||1601||4549||733 362||489 184|
|21||Downham||LW N5||5.6||2.50||40.9||16.5||1827||1186||5735||489 184||784 443|
|22||Grindleton||LW N6||3.3||1.50||44.1||18.0||528||297||6032||784 443||759 454|
|23||Slaidburn||LW N7||9.0||3.50||53.1||21.5||1220||1258||7290||759 454||711 523|
|24||Dunsop Bridge||LW N8||10.8||4.25||63.9||25.8||1362||1313||8603||711 523||659 500|
|25||Chipping||LW N9||10.5||4.50||74.4||30.3||1701||1882||10485||659 500||622 432|
|26||Hurst Green||LW N10||11.5||4.75||85.9||35.0||1134||1655||12140||622 432||685 379|
|27||Ribchester||LW N11||4.0||1.50||89.9||36.5||335||187||12327||685 379||650 350|
|28||Preston||LW N12||11.5||4.00||101.4||40.5||235||748||13075||650 350||534 291|