Peak & Northern Footpaths Society (est.1894)

Parish Notes ~ Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley

Shirley Addy, Editor and Footpath Inspector

This article is from Signpost 62, Spring 2020

The world-famous Stonyhurst College is just outside the village. It was founded by the Jesuits in St Omer during the 16th century but moved to Hurst Green two centuries later. Many of its pupils became well known, such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Laughton, Henry McGee, and Bill Cash. It is believed that Doyle got the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes' arch enemy from two brothers named Moriarty. Photo shows one of the college's three crosses that is near a PROW.

J R R Tolkien's son, Christopher was also a pupil, although it was not until after the blockbuster movies of The Lord of the Rings was made that the Ribble Valley Borough recognised the potential of this connection to attract more visitors to Hurst Green. Tolkien visited his son at the college and it is believed that parts of the surrounding countryside inspired him while he wrote his trilogy. There is a six mile Tolkien Trail.

Hurst Green has a Second Boer War memorial. A few minutes walk south of the village is Dinckley bridge (see Signpost, winter 2019) and the Ribble Way runs through this pleasant part of the river. Not far from here the rivers Calder and Hodder join the Ribble. North of the village is Longridge Fell, which is England's most southerly fell.

The parish has 66 kilometres of footpaths and bridleways over a varied and beautiful landscape, some of the best in the Ribble Valley. I have walked much in it, but recently I decided to inspect all of its PROWs. I found myself being dismayed at the dilapidated condition of numerous stiles, several untidy farmyards and obstructions (see photos). It is more of a let-down when one considers that the area is part of an AONB and which is promoted as the inspiration of Tolkien's masterpiece.

I have one more visit to conclude my inspection of Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley. As I have resolved to take a much robust view of its faults I report to the Lancashire County Council, if I do not get any results I shall ask Jenny Allen, PNFS Courts and Inquiries Officer, to pursue the more severe ones.

This article is part of a series of Parish Notes which will be published both on the website and in future editions of the newsletter. Any readers who would like to contribute are encouraged to contact Mel Bale at

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