STEWART BINNS is a Bafta-winning filmmaker and author.
A former SAS man, Stewart’s new novel Betrayal (Michael Joseph £7.99), his seventh, is published to mark 20 years since the Good Friday Agreement and 50 years since the start of The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Stewart, 67, and wife Lucy live in Somerset and have twin boys Charlie and Jack.
Through my work in television I’ve been incredibly fortunate to travel to many countries, most packed with holiday locations of which dreams are made.
Even so, my favourite place in the whole world is no more than a stone’s throw from where I grew up, in Burnley, Lancashire. Now a slightly forgotten little place, it used to be called King Cotton, the centre of Lancashire’s cotton industry.
I remember the countless mill chimneys belching thick soot, the stark pitheads and the dark, dank atmosphere. But Burnley sits high in the Pennines, where the air is clean and the views spectacular. Cutting through those Pennines is my own little piece of heaven, a place to which I love to return whenever I can.
To those who know the relatively unsung Ribble Valley, a number which apparently includes no less than the Queen herself, it is a haven of serenity.
To diehard Lancastrians, the only flaw in the River Ribble’s sedate progress from the High Pennines to Preston, where it meets the Irish Sea, is that it begins its journey in Yorkshire!
It has many claims to fame: rugged moorland, quintessentially green and pleasant pastures, picture-postcard villages and Pendle Hill, the brooding lair of its legendary witches.
Tolkien is said to have based The Shire of Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings on the area around Stonyhurst College, where his son studied for the priesthood.
Tolkien must have known what the Ordnance Survey has recently announced, that the geographical centre of the British Isles is located in the middle of the Valley.
On its northern boundary is the historic Forest of Bowland, one of England’s most remote regions.
An area of wild moorland, its lower slopes used to provide excellent deer hunting and is still overseen by a hereditary Bowbearer.
We like to call it God’s own country and don’t take kindly to anyone disagreeing with us!