Where is this walk?

Witches of Pendle Hill walk

July 15, 2018

The splendid views from the isolated summit of Pendle Hill disguise a more morbid secret. The witches of Pendle Hill walk follows the journey six of the poor Pendle witches took before being killed. Hopefully it is safer now.

The Walk

I can see Pendle Hill from where I live. It has an iconic presence well beyond the reality of any walk on its slopes. There are two reasons for its fame. It stands isolated and shapely from nearly all directions except the west. Furthermore the famous historical legend of the Witches of Pendle is based on the villages around the hill. Twelve witches were killed in 1612 for witchcraft (they were hung not burnt as tradition usually dictates) and created a national outcry at the time.

An enjoyable climb is from the village of Barley (a second alternative is to climb Pendle Hill from Downham to the north). I climbed it recently in mixed weather and was blown off the summit by the strong winds. However the scrambling up the V shaped gill of Boar Cough is fun thereby avoiding the rather tedious ascent on the path next to it. The empty reservoirs of Upper and Lower Ogden and in particular Lower Black Moss keeps the interest on this walk, As did the scurrying clouds over Burnley. This certainly speeded my descent back to Barley in order to discover more on the legend of the witches.

However the most peculiar element of the witches story to me is that all seemed to have willingly confessed and signed their own death warrant (they were not even being ducked at the time). Barley village was home to one of the witches, from the Device family. It is worth exploring this attractive village and pub. Imagine the brews and potions of one of the most famous witches in the land!


The village of Pendleton is home to what must be the most unusual dry ski slope in England. I have tried it once and it is a very agricultural experience!

Navigation Tips on Pendle Hill walk

After Upper Ogden Reservoir cross through the wall on to access land. Climb initially on the west side of the deep ravine before crossing to the west when it starts to flatten out. The path then heads in a north easterly direction to the main summit track.

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