In the footsteps of witches

Let the hills cast a spell on you!

Walking with Witches Trail

I have walked a number of trails abroad now, as I tend to like the adventure of finding my own way in the UK. Recently though I have been fascinated at the idea of getting some of these trails done.

Sat at home wondering what to do on a slightly grey and bleak December morning I managed to pull myself from the sofa for a much needed outdoor fix. I wouldn’t do just sitting here watching films, series and whatever else was there to distract me. It took me longer than expected to find something, but ‘The Walking with Witches Trail’ sounded great.

A circular walk of two halves, like a figure of eight, and approximately 12km/7.5miles long, and returns to Barley at the half way point, it was a nice straight forward afternoon. I threw some snacks in a bag, and got going. Before I knew it, it was already 1:30pm when I arrived, I needed to get moving.

Walking with Witches Trail Map

Starting from Barley I headed the opposite way round to the map suggestion around Upper Ogden Reservoir, just so I could get the road section out of the way first and get the legs warmed up, plus I find roads boring. The views weren’t great as there was a low cloud base at about 450m covering the infamous Pendle Hill. Pendle Hill is supposed to be there, but refrained from showing it’s face all day.

Pendle Hill has tonnes of history associated with it, I was one in the past for looking up history prior to visiting somewhere, but as I have got older I have definitely become quite interested. In my case I am always drawn to myths, legends and quirky history as opposed to local historical industry and modern day developments.

Alice Nutter grave

The leaflet above is great, and provides some nice little bits of information without boring you with details. I was really looking forward to getting to Newchurch, the church there fascinated me. I was keen to see the ‘The Eye of God’ and the grave of Alice Nutter, a landowner who was accused and tried as a witch on the 20th August 1612. She isn’t buried here, as she was executed in Lancaster, but family members are believed to have been buried here instead. The grave itself is full of fascinating carvings, and it’s sad to read how she was tried, and found guilty, very different times. I managed to get a picture of the grave, and then due to the cold, my blasted phone died.

The path as I leave the church is only a short walk and straight up some steps. It was unbelievably wet underfoot as I headed back on to the farmland, and as I started heading down the fields in to Barley the mud became a small issue, only reaching up to about mid-calf. Basically I was getting coated.

Arriving Barley, I headed straight off on the second half of the walk. The walking was pleasant underfoot in comparison, but the route finding initially is a little difficult with footpath signs either not existing or having been moved. I walked around the first set of houses and headed up towards White Hough Outdoor Centre back on to what is also the Pendle Way. This little stretch of woodland walk, was super pleasant, and can imagine in summer this is really nice. From here to Rough Lee it almost felt like I was walking on the continent, good signage, though views weren’t as good, not that I had many to start with.

Pity I couldn’t take any photos, not that they would have been amazing. The last photo I would have taken though would have been the statue of Alice Nutter in chains in Roughlee. It was made by the local artist David Palmer, Alice originally being from Roughlee. It has great detail, and is really well thought through. Just wish I’d had a working camera or phone on me.

As I walked back in to Barley in the gloom I was truly surprised that walk was on my doorstep, only 20 minutes drive. There was a little too much road walking for my liking, but for a family it is great, can be broken down in to two manageable chunks. Due to the roads, especially coming in to Newchurch it’s quite narrow, I would take care with little ones. Otherwise it’s great for kids bringing history alive, and getting some fresh air at the same time.

Map required is OL21, start in Barley (GR: SD40,82)

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