As October the 31st neared I thought to myself ‘where can I go for a walk to celebrate Halloween?’. Actually that isn’t anywhere near true! In truth I had always wanted to have the ‘Pendle Hill at Halloween’ experience and last year Chris and I set off to participate in what is essentially a muddy slog up a really steep and stepped path to a summit where the view litterally fails to appear! And I love it!
We aimed to do the walk last year but cried off owing to there being just too many people en route and us not having space to ourselves…realistically it was a cold, damp, misty day and neither one of us could summon up the (considerable) effort required to ascend the arduous path from Barley.
This weighed somewhat heavily on my mind and I resolved to do it in 2010. This time I have had the advantage of an entire year to dwell on possible capitulation causes and have thus spent many hours formulating and plotting potential routes that didn’t involve the Barley ascension. One of my main motives for this particular route is that we will be walking past three alleged ‘haunted’ farmsteads. This goes hand in hand with my watching (some would say obsessively) repeats of Living TV’s “Most Haunted”. On Halloween 2004, the show visited Pendle to investigate ghost sightings and other phenomena at Lower Wellhead, Bullhole and Tynedale farms in what was quite an entertaining live broadcast.
Now I’m not declaring any belief in ghosts, let me state that for the record. Also, I don’t believe that Most Haunted’s investigations were authentic, genuine, unbiased or unstaged. However, anyone that has known me well throughout my life would back me up in my claim to be drawn to “spooky” houses and buildings, not that I get the chance to visit many of these types of dwellings any more but I used to love getting “creeped out” walking along Grange Road in Bradshaw when passing Monksfield and Langtry (pictures will follow at a later date) and even the duldron that is Ormskirk has a fine spectacle of an house of zero charm next to an A-road of all places!
So the natural conclusion to solving the enigma of how to get to the top of Pendle Hill from Barley without going past Pendle House and Ings End but taking in my fixation with Spooky houses was to set off in the opposite direction than normal!
We set off from the large car park at the Barley Visitor centre and turn left ultimately onto Cross Lane. From here there was something of a long slog on tarmac roads to Newchuch in Pendle where we called into the delightful Witches Galore. After spending some time here we then set off back on the tarmac of Cross Lane heading towards a place named “Near Tinedale” for our first peak at “Tynedale Farm” now owned by the Nutter family – descendents of one of the twelve accused Pendle Witches; Alice Nutter.
An elderley lady emerging from Tynedale Cottage (hey who knew that there was one?) obviously caught sight of the ordnance survey map dangling around my neck and asked us to where we were heading, I told her “To bull hole” and she sent us for a mud bath! The path that leads from in-between both Tynedale properties north towards Well Head is not one for us stay-clean walkers. At times it felt like we were walking along a river bed, I hadn’t experienced such sinking sensations since I attempted Rivington Moor after a week’s worth of rain! After some moments we picked up the pace a little and headed north towards the oddly-named “Bullhole farm”, where a rather boistrous pooch considered chasing us – the fact that it had just the three legs seemed not to have affected its’ confidence and it put on quite a display until I stamped my feet!
This was the second location visited by Most Haunted and I believed it to be in the same state of delipidation as when the investigation took place six years ago (unlike Tynedale which now looks genuinely charming and not at all spooky). Finally a further half a mile down the road and an estern turning should have had us right outside Lower Wellhead farm – Most Haunted revisited this one after the live Halloween episode and Yvette Fielding suffered an involuntary past-life regression – allegedly! Amongst the web of confusion that is the internet, it is claimed that this was the original residence of the afore mentioned Alice Nutter – the only one of the Pendle Witches to plead her innocence – allegedly. The anit climax here is that we decided not to go outside Lower Wellhead farm as there was a driveway full of cars and the watchers (us) would have turned into the watched and we didn’t want that. It’s one thing to snoop through a total stranger’s living room, it’s an altogether different thing to have them stare right back at you!
So from here we turned left onto Wellhead Road and after a hundred yards or so observed the sheer enormity of the slope which we now had to ascend to take us up to Fell Wood. Never before have I uttered the phrase “Oh my God, you’re having a laught aren’t you!” with such gusto! Thankfully, the hike up the slope was soon tackled. It was with no hint of thanks at all to the guilty party that we navigated our way passed the remains of a dead animal – the limbs of which were so scattered that one could only assume a chainsaw wielding maniac had been on the loose. I have many pleasent memories of this walk – that sight will not be counted as such!
After talking to another elderley couple at the summit of the slope we decided to hit Fell wood from the path that the Pendle Way takes as opposed to sliding our way through its’ entirity. The path was well defined but extremely slippery yet within five minutes we were into the gorgeous Fell Wood. Amongst the conifers we felt glad to be out of the slight but ever present rain and made our way gingerly down towards the next section of the walk that I would refer to as The Reservoirs. The steep and tiny steps that guided us down towards the bridge over the stream between Upper and Lower Ogden Clough reservoirs came into view and just a matter of moments later we located a convenient stone bench to sit upon and have our lunch.
At this point, with the clouds above gathering I made the executive decision to gracefully bow out of the ascent of Pendle Hill. We had been walking for a good two hours and were both a bit worse for the walk thus far. We ambled our way up to the name-less lane which would take us past Lower Ogden reservoir, to the left of Barley Hill and into Barley and hence the car park / visitor centre.
I would love to try again at this route see this post