Barley, Lancashire Sunday 25th November 2012

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Dag Griffiths   Distance: Approx. 9.5 miles

This walk, taken at short notice, is based on the walk Rowland led from Downham in November 2011 but in reverse and cutting out Downham. From Barley we head past the Ogden Reservoirs and onto Barley Moor before heading for the summit of Pendle Hill (557m). The descent takes us across Downham Moor to join the Downham road. On reaching the road we head back on footpaths to Barley via Ravensholme, Coolham, Twiston Moor and the Black Moss Reservoirs. There is scope on the last section to extend the walk by a mile or so – depending on conditions.

Moderate Leader: Leo & Jean Keenan   Distance: 8 miles

Leaving the village, we head towards Blacko passing Lower and Upper Black Moss Reservoirs towards Mountains Farm and Firberr House. From here we go towards Jacksons House, Higher Wheathead and then down to Lower Briercliffe. We then return to Barley via Hollin Top, Roughlee and White Hough along the river. A lovely walk with good views all the way, but there will be muddy parts.

Leisurely Leader: Joan McGlinchey & Norma Carmichael.   Distance: 7 miles

This walk was extremely muddy and slippy underfoot on the recce, so we are hoping for it to be better today! There are lots of hills and descents as we follow the Witches Trail into Thorney Holme and then on to Newchurch. Once we arrive at Newchurch we can either continue on the Witches Trail to the woods, or make our way back to Barley via the road, where there is a nice pub for a well earned tea or pint.

Easy Leader: Sue Daniels   Distance: 6 miles

Today’s walk will mainly be keeping to the Pendle Way and I have tried to keep it as flat as possible. We leave the car park and head towards Roughlee, taking a gradual walk up Offa Hill and down the lane into Roughlee. There is then a bit more road walking where we meet Pendle Water and follow the river all the way through to Barrowford. This part of the walk is a change to the recce as the way we went ended up too steep and muddy! There is the Heritage Centre in Barrowford and, I would think, plenty of places to take refreshment. From here we get back on to the Pendle Way over open pastures back down into Roughlee, along the river and back to the same path to the car park. The day we did the recce it had been raining all week and the ground was extremely muddy so you have been warned!

Notes On The Area

Nestled below the Big End of Pendle Hill is the tiny hamlet of Barley Booth, once an ancient vaccary carved out of the Forest of Pendle. The word ‘booth’ is an old dialect word referring to a cow house or herdsmans hut, a very common term in these hilly districts. The oldest house in the village is the barn opposite the Post Office. This 17th century building, known as Wilkinson Farm, was used as a chapel for the Irish labourers during the construction of the local reservoirs.

Barley earned its livelihood from agriculture until the 18th century when textiles were manufactured and handlooms were installed in attics of many smallholdings as an extra source of income. Barley’s brooks – an effective source of waterpower – attracted cotton factories. There was a small mill at Narrowgates and one at Barley Green, which is now the site of the water treatment plant. At it’s height Barley Green Mill worked 200 looms until floods destroyed the building in 1880. A cotton twist mill at Narrowgates was built by William Harley to spin cotton warp thread. Weavers’ cottages were built adjacent to the mill and are still occupied to this day.

The Whitehough area is now the Camp School established in 1938 and run by the local Education Authority. Today Barley acts as a magnet for the many tourists who wish to discover the area and enjoy the fine recreational facilities provided. A small visitor centre, cafe and picnic site can be found at the village car park.

The lion head of Pendle, with its tail resting in Mellor and its forepaws gripping Barnoldswick, stands sentinel at the eastern portal to Lancashire. Friendly and welcoming on a fine clear day, menacing and towering on those darker rainswept days, legend and myth mixed up with fact have conspired to impress this hill deep in the northern mind. In the early days of settlers, Pendle gave shelter and life to farmers and workers in stone and bronze, who later moved from their hilltop to clear and settle the valley floors. Signs of that early life are to be seen in the number of mounds and ring-banked cairns scattered over the high ground. The summit, 557 m above sea level, is marked by a triangulation point that stands on the site of an old fire-beacon, which in turn was said to stand upon an ancient burial mound. It was from this summit, in 1652, that George Fox had his great vision that moved him to found the Quakers, or Society of Friends, one of the earliest meeting places being founded at Twiston.

Pendle Hill also has associations with the Pendle Witches. Legend has it that in the early 1600’s, on the slopes of Pendleside, lived two peasant families that were divided by hate, and which possessed supernatural powers. Both families were led by old women, old Demdike and Chattox. Both were accused of misdeeds and sent for trial at Lancaster by Roger Nowell of Read Hall. Both Demdike and Chattox were found guilty along with other Pendle witches, including Alice Nutter from Roughlee Old Hall. The hangings took place on 20th August 1612. In Newchurch the “Eye of God” is to be found on the tower of St Mary’s Church to ward off evil. The church is said to house another of the Pendle Witches, the family grave of Alice Nutter. Chattox was alleged to have desecrated graves in this churchyard to collect skulls and teeth! Should you like a souvenir too, please use Newchurch’s own Witches Galore shop in the village!