This Cistercian monastery was founded in 1147 by monks from Newminster Abbey in Northumberland. It survived for almost 400 years until Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536.
For centuries after the dissolution the abbey provided a handy supply of stone for local farms and buildings. Little now remains other than its foundations and a few structures such as the night stairs used by monks to walk between the first floor dormitory and the church for evening services. Its setting is however fabulous and offers great views of Pendle Hill.
The site is maintained by English Heritage and admission is free. Information boards provide details of its history and images of how may have looked when complete.
Sawley Abbey is situated in the village of Sawley, on the edge of the Forest of Bowland and around 3 miles northeast of Clitheroe.
The Spread Eagle Inn is just a couple of hundred yards down the road, next to the River Ribble, and offers a restaurant, bar, and accommodation.
To drive to the abbey from Clitheroe, take the A671 out of the town and when it joins the A59 turn left (signposted for Skipton). After driving for 2½ miles turn left at the brown tourist sign marked ‘Sawley Abbey’. Sawley Abbey and the village are ½ mile down the road. Visitors with satellite navigation systems can use the postcode BB7 4NH to find it. There is no official car park for the abbey but there are plenty of free spaces to park on the roadside verge.
To get to Sawley Abbey by bus catch the C2 service from Clitheroe town centre. The journey takes around 30 minutes. The nearest train station to Sawley Abbey is Clitheroe.