We had been to Clitheroe a few years back and at the time I thought it was still somewhere in the 20th century – mid 80s to early 90s to be more accurate. However it’s amazing how just a few years can make a real difference to a place and drag it towards the 21st century.
In order to get to Clitheroe from the west side of Manchester you best take the M61, then the M65, turn off at junction 7, then the A6185, the A59 and finally the A671. The last bit can be a bit problematic, but have faith and keep your eyes peeled for the signs or just use your sat nav.
Parking on a busy Saturday can be a pain in Clitheroe. The car park by the Council buildings was packed and we managed to get 1 hour free parking space near the market. Although we later realised there is a car park at the Market and wish we’d parked there instead.
Clitheroe has a rustic, mill town feel with houses built from rough-hewn stone. It has a mix of architecture that reflects the age of the town. Looming large above the town is Clitheroe Castle. Its dour feel wasn’t helped by the fact it was an overcast day and had the type of constant drizzle that gets into your bones.
So what can you do in an hour in Clitheroe? We decided to concentrate on the charity shops. There are plenty in Clitheroe including two Age UK’s. One was really overpriced with a Barry Manilow album for £2.50 and the other one was much more reasonable. There was a fab one on Moor Street called the East Lancashire Hospice. It’s well worth a visit as it’s well organised and has a decent wedding section. It’s more like a dress agency rather than a charity shop. If you know your stuff, I’m sure you will find some collectables in these shops.There’s a mad mix of shops in Clitheroe which reflects the fact that there are plenty of independent shops mixed in with the usual high street chains. I did notice some of the shops multi-tasked too: Clitheroe Books had a crystal section; and Woolcraft had a Christian Book section at the back of the shop. Amazingly you can get customised hoodies from a shop called ‘Hoody Marvelous’. It’s the type of shop you’d find in Affleck’s Palace in Manchester, rather than a semi-rural back water like Clitheroe. I always like the look of Banana News with its bright yellow and black striped frontage. They too were multi-tasking selling Christmas trees on the pavement. Clitheroe also works its witches connection as there is one shop called ‘Pendle Stitches’ – I guess it had to be done.
You can easily spend an afternoon browsing the shops and you can easily find a café to put your feet up and have a coffee and a cake. Neil was a bit peckish and had a cake from Sayers. The lady in the shop took a shine to Neil and gave him the largest slice. The chippy on Moor Lane does haggis and chips as well as black pudding and chips, although I dare not think what John Bull Balls consist of.
The outdoor market was quite a revelation. It was a good mix of cheap tat, local produce and artisan food. I bought a nice rocky road from the deli. If we’d been here early I think we would have grabbed a bite to eat here at the Indigo Thai food stall. Although I did find it highly amusing that a barbers was operating out of a mini bus at the market. I have never seen such a thing. I reckon it must double as a taxi in the evening.
I did over hear a couple of conversations in the market. I noticed a dog had a shaved rear end and the market stall holder explained to his customer ‘The dog has had an operation on its bum’. There was a lady passing by who said to her companion ‘I could eat a scabby horse.’ Although we both got freaked out when the teddy bear a woman was holding started moving. It turned out to be a baby in a bear outfit.There were plenty of pubs in Clitheroe and I reckon it could be a lively night out here with people coming in from the nearby villages and farms. Part of me is quite curious to see what it’s like; then again part of me was scared too.
Our brief trip came to an end and we had to head off. In the space of a few years Clitheroe has definitely headed towards the 21st century, whilst still keeping hold of its heritage, which isn’t a bad thing. Clitheroe has a distinct, slightly surreal personality with a happy mix of the ordinary and the bizarre. In one word I would describe this place as ‘bonkers’, but I mean this in a good way.