Pay a call to the centre of the kingdom

Weekend Walk: The Dunsop Bridge Tramper Trail

Weekend Walk: The Dunsop Bridge Tramper Trail

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In recent years Lancashire County Council, working in partnership with the Countryside services of its boroughs, the Forest of Bowland, United Utilities, the Forestry Commission and others, have opened up a number of ‘Tramper’ trails over the county.

A tramper is a robust motorised buggy especially designed to travel on off-road tracks. Across the county, but particularly in the Forest of Bowland, there are a number of sites where trampers can be hired (often at a nominal fee) allowing those that use them access to Lancashire’s wonderful (and under-rated) countryside. This week we feature a tramper trail in Dunsop Bridge.

Whenever I entertain visitors from abroad I always try to include a visit to Dunsop Bridge in the itinerary. Some years ago, the wizards at the Ordnance Survey decided upon the spot that represented the centre of the United Kingdom. Their answer turned out to be SD6418856541. This grid reference will put you on Whitendale Hanging Stones above Brennand Farm. The nearest settlement to this central location is Dunsop Bridge.

BT sited its 100,000th public phone box especially in Dunsop Bridge to mark this special distinction. Lots of my friends and relatives have had their photograph taken beside this phone box.

The area has another distinction. HM The Queen once disclosed that if she were ever to retire she would choose this area of Lancashire to live. As Duke of Lancaster she would be very much on her estates in the heart of her realm in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Hodder Valley, especially this section of it, often comes as a complete surprise to first time visitors because outside of Lancashire few people have heard of it.

Directions: The BT telephone box is opposite the car park. From there continue on the street towards the eponymous bridge but before you reach it turn right onto a farm road just after Puddleducks Tearoom and Post Office (you might consider sending a post card from the Centre of Great Britain but, alas, there are no commemorative stamps!)

The road crosses a large pasture and then after a children’s playground on the right crosses a cattle grid into the next large field.

There is a handsome field barn to the left. Keep ahead towards a terrace of cottages. Past these cross a yard to enter woodland at a gate. Now close to the River Dunsop which flows into the Hodder keep ahead to a wooden bridge.

Now comes the moment of decision. After crossing the bridge turn left and a utility road will take you back to Dunsop Bridge. After a slight uphill climb after a farm on the right the road descends to reach the main road opposite the war memorial. However, if time allows turn right at the bridge and venture up the valley to reach, in a mile and a half, an impressive array of utility buildings there to harness the water.

This is a wonderful place to experience taking you close to the heart of Bowland.

The exact centre of Great Britain follows the left valley and given the terrain that expedition should not be undertaken at this time. From here retrace the outward route back to the bridge and keep ahead from there.

Further Information: Check out www.forestofbowland.com for more information about this and other trails. To check the availability of a tramper telephone 01524 793429. Before use a short lesson will be given on how to operate the vehicle.

Route devised by Lancashire County Council in partnership with Forest of Bowland. Described by Bob Clare. For more walks go to www.lancashirewalks.com