From the mill villages and the moors to the seaside settlements of the coast, Lancashire has a wealth of little places to explore.
Here are some of our picks for the best Lancashire villages.
Beloved of location scouts and directors, Downham has no village sign, satellite dishes or TV aerials, making it a popular choice for filming period dramas. Located in the Ribble Valley, the village forms part of the Downham Estate, managed by the Assheton family.
Found in the Forest of Bowland, Slaidburn was historically part of Yorkshire until boundary changes in 1974 reassigned it to neighbouring Lancashire. The war memorial stands on the site of a whipping post, while its church boasts a Jacobean screen and Georgian pulpit.
The village of Hest Bank is popular with walkers who come to enjoy the views across Morecambe Bay. Beside the Lancaster Canal you’ll find its oldest building, the 16th century Hest Bank Inn.
A 14th century Cistercian abbey is Whalley’s most important landmark. The village stands on the banks of the River Calder, which the monks cut into a weir which provided a source of drinking water and fed a wheel at the Corn Mill.
Famed for its annual agricultural show, the village of Chipping also boasts the oldest shop in England. A local wool merchant opened a store on the site of what’s now the Chipping Craft Centre in 1668.
Barley sits close to the Pendle Hill and made its money from agriculture and textiles. Excavations a decade ago unearthed a cottage buried under an earth mound, which some believe may have belonged to one of the Pendle witches who were tried for murder by witchcraft in 1612.
Croston can trace its history back to the 7th century and the arrival of St Aidan. It gets its name from the cross erected for people to worship by, as there was no church. Other notable landmarks include Croston Old School, now a community centre, which dates from 1660.
Located in the Ribble Valley, Ribchester is built on the site of a Roman settlement called Bremetennacum, a cavalry fort. Later, it was a centre for cotton weaving. Today, the looms no longer clack and instead, villagers commute to Preston, Manchester and Blackburn for work.
Heysham is a charming seaside village on the edge of Morecambe Bay. Its 17th century workers’ cottages have bags of character. The acclaimed landscape artist J.M.W. Turner would have agreed; he painted Heysham in the 1790s while touring the area.
Well-kept Blacko is a regular winner of awards for best kept village and the Britain in Bloom contest. Visitors shouldn’t miss Stansfield Tower, built in 1890 to offer a view over Ribblesdale, though sadly a little too short to achieve that goal. However, a 3500 year old axe was once found nearby.
Higham, a village in the borough of Pendle, is known for “The Spout”, a natural spring that rises in the centre of the village. Near it you’ll find the poundfield, a walled grassed area use to hold animals. The mathematician, astronomer and surveyor Sir Jonas Moore, the son of a yeoman farmer, was born in Higham in 1617.
Located in the Lune Valley, people have lived in and around Caton since Roman times; a millstone found in Artle Beck bears Emperor Hadrian’s name. West of the village you’ll find the Crook O’Lune picnic site beside the river.
The village of Brookhouse, neighbouring Caton, is home to a beautiful parish church, which features a 12th century door and a 16th century tower. It takes its name from Brookhouse Hall but in fact was originally called Caton.
The seaside village of Baycliff, centred on a village green, grew up in the 17th and 18th centuries. Originally a farming and fishing community, it later diversified into quarrying limestone and iron ore mining.
Silverdale lies on the coast at the intersection of Lancashire Coastal Way and Cumbria Coastal Way. There are several opportunities for birdwatching close to the village, notably at the RSPB Leighton Moss and spotting the peregrine falcons which nest at the nearby Warton Crag Nature Reserve.
Wycoller is probably most famous for its connection to the Brontes – its ruined hall was the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in Charlotte’s novel Jane Eyre. Wycoller Beck flows through the village, now a country park. Seven bridges, the first built over 1000 years ago, cross it.
Located in the Rossendale Valley in East Lancashire, Edenfield nestles in the shadow of Scout Moor. Up on the moor you’ll find a memorial to 19th century local poet Edwin Waugh, worth the climb.
In the heart of the Ribble Valley, the village of Hurst Green is home to Stonyhurst College, where J.R.R. Tolkein wrote some of The Lord of the Rings in an upstairs classroom. The ghost of highwayman Ned King who died near the Punch Bowl Inn also reputedly haunts the village.
Scorton lies in the Forest of Bowland. This pretty little place is a popular destination for walkers, many of whom climb to Nicky Nook, from where the views over Lancashire’s coast, Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland fells are breathtaking on a fine day.
People have lived in this area for over 4000 years. Tockholes was the site of serious fighting in the English Civil War – during the battle here more than 40 horses were killed. Later, the village was a centre for silk weaving.