Witches of Pendle…Hill

  • Hill of historical significance
  • Far reaching views
  • A good scramble up the dry gills

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 2 reasons for its fame; it stands isolated and shapely from nearly all directions except the west and the famous historical legend of the Witches of Pendle is based on the villages around the hill. My favourite ascent is from the village of Barley. I climbed it recently in mixed weather and was blown off the summit by the strong winds. However I enjoyed scrambling up the V shaped gill of Boar Cough 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 (which certainly speeded my descent back to Barley in order to discover more on the legend of the witches.) 12 witches were killed in 1612 for witchcraft (they were hung not burnt as tradition usually dictates) and created a national outcry at the time. However the most peculiar element of the story to me is that all seemed to have willingly confessed and signed their own death warrant (they were not being ducked at the time!). Barley village was home to one of the witches, from the Device family, and it is worth poking around this attractive village and imaging the brews and potions of one of the most famous witches in the land!

Recommend: 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!

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Pendle Hill map

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OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. OL41 Forest of Bowland & Ribblesdale. Buy Map
Start Point: SD 822403. From the car park cross the road and up the lane to Barley Green. I then prefer to follow the higher footpath rather than walk on the bridleway beside the reservoirs. It does mean a small descent.
Height to Climb: 324ms (1,063 feet)
Terrain: Clear tracks but the path up the hill may be very muddy after rain.
Eating & Drinking: Barley offers a real choice. The Pendle Inn is a quirky pub, great value and full of interest but the twee and wee tea shop is also worth a stop.
Similar Walks Nearby: Longridge Fell
Sawley & the Ribble Valley
Fells above Slaidburn
Places to Stay:


Spread Eagle, SawleyTempest Arms, nr Skipton