This is a walk that I put together for a “meet” at the walking forum that was to feature yet another alternate route up my favourite hill of Pendle Hill. However, the weather did intervene and the heavens opened for most of the walk, thus leading me to abandon the notion of ascending the hill via the ridiculously steep “Under Pendle” in favour of the more manageable Boar Clough.
We started at The Cabin café at Barley Car Park and turned right at the gate. We then immediately crossed the roads to put us on Barley Green – the lane which runs past the Lower Ogden reservoir, in essence this is the first climb as the gentle stroll begins to turn into a more concerted raise. The route levelled out for a short time and then got quite steep for a few yards after passing the lower Ogden reservoir. Again there was a nice general levelling out of our path until encountering the impressive overflow of the Upper Ogden Reservoir. We went up by the right hand side of the reservoir as the path now became considerably more “earthy”…let’s be honest it was downright muddy! I lost track of our original path and we hopped around by the side of a fence then over some very large gritstones until finally hitting the start of the testing ascent of Boar Clough.
The way ahead was now fairly straight forward and not too steep but it can drag on a bit as we begin to count the accompanying cairns. After a few hundred yards the cairns begin to get bigger as we stride on to the approach to Big End and the trig point at the heighest point on both the walk and the hill. Here although a break was necessary the wind was too fierce and cold to justify much standing around and as for the views…the mist had made sure that these were to elude us for today. It did seem a shame that after roughly a mile and an half of ascent we were to be granted to hilltop vista but at the same time my companions were happy to be able to drink in the full eerie atmosphere that is unique to this one iconic hill in the darkest corner of Lancashire.
Next began a yomp north towards the Downham wall at which we would turn right and drop down the tourist-laden, heartbreaking, sole-destroying, stepped, path down towards Pendle House. The views began to open up as the mist lifted somewhat. At the huge gate at the bottom of the stepped path we stopped for a lunch break and I for one gasped in awe at a strange man attempting to hike litterally up the middle of the hill instead of taking either one of the two well-defined paths to the left or right. Upon resuming our walk we turned left along a tarmac road towards and across Barley Road. From here we took a less obvious track towards the locally infamous farms of Windy Harbour and Salt Pie!
At Salt Pie we would take a right hand turn down a muddy and slippy path to Foot House Gate, follow the track in-between the two Black Moss reservoirs and on the right hand side take the multi-stone, steep path up towards Aitken Wood. This is our third and final major climb and boy it was one steep pig! Fortunately this didn’t last long and soon we got to cool off for a moment or two as we head off into the northen end of Aitken Wood which is every bit as creepy as Fell Wood at the other side of the village!
Next we took a left hand turn into the woods in search of tree statues. We spent a little time gazing at the weird and wonderful carvings and sculptings which have been hung in Aitken Wood. The sun decided to pay us a welcome visit and after such a fierce start to the day and ascension it was a real privellege to be able to carefully amble along at a very gentle and manageable pace as we gradually dropped down the hill and towards the hamlet of White Hough. There was a tense few moments as we spied a collection of animals in a field through which we would have to traverse and none of us could determine if these animals were bulls, cows or bullocks! Fortunately these animals paid us scant attention and we were able to cross the field, drop through a small glade of trees and pick up the shaded land through White Hough and ultimately through to the eastern entrance of the car park at Barley visitor center. The entire walk had taken roughly five hours over a distance of 5.72 miles with over 1,575 feet of ascension and descension.
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