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The atmospheric brooding bulk of Pendle Hill, (or “Pendleside” as it is sometimes known), forms part of the Forest of Bowland, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.The hill dominates the skyline to the east of Clitheroe, the summit of the plateau rises to a height of 557 metres (1,827 ft) and is the second highest point in the Forest of Bowland.
The name 'Pendle Hill' is formed from three different languages. In the thirteenth century it was known as Pennul or Penhul, deriving from the Cumbric pen and Old English hyll, which both mean "hill". The modern English "hill" was added later, after the original meaning of Pendle had become opaque. Pendle Hill's history dates back as far as the Bronze Age, an ancient burial ground was discovered at its summit.
Pendle is a popular location with paragliders and hand gliders. The hill is home to a wide range of of wildlife, from grouse and curlew to hare and fox, and provides excellent walks with stunning views over the Forest of Bowland, Yorkshire and across Morecambe Bay to the distant Lake District Fells. The most often used route to the summit starts at the village of Barley, situated just to the east of the hill. This route also provides the steepest ascent. (Parking is available in the village at a cost of £1 per day)
Pendle Hill, the “brooding” hill of Robert Neill’s classic story ‘Mist Over Pendle' is famous for three events which occured there in the seventeenth century, the infamous Pendle witch trials of 1612, Richard Towneley's barometer experiment, which took place on the hill in 1661 and the reported vision of George Fox in 1652, which gave rise to the Quaker movement.
'As we travelled, we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered.' George Fox: An Autobiography, Chapter 6.
Today Pendle is still strongly linked to the Quaker movement, and gives its name to one of their centres for religious and spiritual study and contemplation in the United States.
The notorious Pendle witch trials of 1612 are among the most famous witch trials in English history. Twelve people from the area around Pendle Hill were charged with the murder, by witchcraft. A seventeenth century cottage was discovered by water engineers from United Utilities during a routine construction project. The cottage lay under a grass mound near Lower Black Moss reservoir by the village of Barley, in the shadow of Pendle Hill. It is thought that it could have been the home of one of the Pendle witches.
The hill continues to be associated with witchcraft; large numbers of visitors climb to the summit each Hallowe'en, although in recent years this has been discouraged. The area is popular with ghost hunters after Living channel's show Most Haunted visited it for a live investigation on Halloween 2004.
A walk to the summit of Pendle Hill from Barley
Distance- around 5 miles
*Commencing at the car park in the village of Barley (car parking costs £1 per day), exit the car park and follow the the main street in a northerly direction through the village, passing the Barley Mow restaurant. After passing the village tea room, follow the sign post on the left, which leads to a path beside a stream on the right.
*Follow the signs, crossing a footbridge and houses to emerge into farmland. Continue along the path, passing through another field and curving to the right, then diagonally until joining the paved path up to the shoulder of Pendle Hill.
* The path turns sharply to the left when it meets a wall, with a pillar which indicates Downham is in the direction of the stile. Don’t cross the stile but continue in a south-westerly direction to the trig pillar.
*After reaching the summit and taking in the superb views descend via the path that runs in a south-easterly direction. After continuing for around 500 metres, take the right-hand fork. A grassy path leads round to the right and joins Boar Clough which it then follows to the left.
*Follow the clough with its stream until it joins Ogden Clough. Turn left and proceed along the track which leads to Upper Ogden Reservoir. Join the path by the reservoir, which leads past a wood to reach Lower Ogden Reservoir.
*Continue along the road, passing the old Nelson Waterworks building and through Barley Green before joining the main road into the village. Turn left to return to the village car park