The West Craven Way is described as “a dramatic walk through some of Lancashire and North Yorkshire’s most beautiful countryside” by Pendle Borough who produce a leaflet and internet download of the route. 24 miles in two halves, I decided to start at East Marton anti clockwise on the western half, spend the night in Barnoldswick [just off route] and complete the eastern section the following day.A rainy morning delayed my start from E. Marton but with an improving forecast I was soon wandering up the lane to the impressive 17th century Ingthorpe Grange. Met a man using the metal coat hanger water diviner trick trying to discover the blocked drains causing flooding to the track. Hope he was successful. The rolling countryside hereabouts apparently is mainly composed of drumlins, deposited by the last ice age, overlying the limestone – very picturesque in the sunshine. The lanes here have an antiquity about them… Passed by Marton Scar, a limestone outcrop, alas too low for any climbing. I do wonder about the environmental impact of some of the modern farming practices, all too common in the area, is this really necessary… Tracks wound through fields full of sheep and lambs to enter the old hamlet of Horton, now mainly gentrified farms and barns. Crossing the busy A59 was not easy. A lazy stream, Stock Beck… …was followed into another small hamlet, Bracewell, where the second person I met was in the garden of the old post office. He was proud of his village and pointed out the plaque on the wall stating it was originally built in 1867 for the village school master. with funds from the sale of an organ and collections in church.Opposite was the church with its Norman tower and I sheltered from the wind in its porch for a snack. A little further on I passed through what appeared to be a motor cycle scramble circuit, agricultural diversification, god knows what the noise and disturbance will be like on a race day.Narrow lanes and fields took me towards Weets Hill where I joined The Pennine Bridleway up to an isolated house on the shoulder from where I couldn’t resist the climb to the top at 397m. Here I met my third person of the day, an elderly fell runner enjoying the sunny weather. One gets a 360 degree view from here [Pendle, Longridge Fell, Bowland, Three Peaks, Barden Moor, Kelbrook Moors and Boulsworth Hill.] all a little hazy today and as the wind was ferocious I didn’t hang about.
Along the ridge was a house with giant heads, why? I found some lovely little paths down from the hill and into the former mill town of Barnoldswick. The terraced houses harp back to that period but now there is Rolls Royce, Silent Night, smaller industries and a remaining textile mill. Barlick, as the locals know it, was once in Yorkshire but was transferred to Lancashire in 1972. As one wanders in this area you are never sure of which county you are in.
I would like to give a big thanks to Fountain Inn, my accommodation for the night, lovely people – great ales – good supper – comfy room – spot on breakfast. http://fountaininnbarnoldswick.com/