There is a quiet thunder where the Hodder and Ribble ram. You feel it more than hear it. There’s a constant wet tumbling, but also a silent thudding, sensed more than detected.

Two great water serpents slide together, the lesser knocking the greater off course until, immediately, they both go the same way, south at first, then west, nudged towards the sea by another interloper: the Lancashire Calder.

It was the only place to go to determine what should be done.

Looking down the throat of the Ribble, its tumbling tongue reaching back sixty miles to a spring on the moors, and to a time when it was known as Bremetonā (roaring); and even longer ago than that, when it had no name, just a meaning; gave perspective to all that had gone before.

The calming Hodder is more westerly in source, forever called a boundary and always bending, giving the lean, they say, to the name Bowland. Once it always went west, quietly splashing through the Loud valley and perhaps finding the sea by fastening on to the River Wyre, or thumping the Ribble further downstream in cahoots with Savick Brook.  Something changed its mind and its direction, as it decided to punch the more grown watercourse in its solar plexus in preference to its muddy ankle.

The Hodder in February

At Winckley Hall the Hodder ends.  Being more settled it slides sedately, while the Ribble, much older but less mature, charges like a middle-aged athlete ostentatiously attempting to fabricate lost youth.

They collide. 

The Ribble takes the name, but the Hodder gives the gravitas. The inheritance is all. The Ribble gobbles, the Hodder infuses. They grab the tail of the Calder, and march on towards the Roman fort and bathhouse at Bremetannacum, these days known as Ribchester.

The Hodder left, the Ribble centre and right.

Even after they leave their confluence, the two great Lancashire rivers continue to arrive, marking time by moving on.

One hurries, one strolls.

I looked and listened, and decided to retire.

The confluences of the Ribble and Hodder, and Ribble and Calder, can be viewed from the footpath linking Hurst Green and Winckley Hall Farm, now part of The Tolkien Trail.


The Ribble/Hodder confluence influenced a change in direction, and a few scratches in the Papercuts paperback.

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