As usual, I don’t get away as early as I had planned, there is rain forecast for after lunch. Allendale is quiet, the school bus has taken the local children off somewhere else.
At the bottom of the hill I rejoin the East Allen River next to an old corn mill, but soon I’m on paths through the meadows. Remote farm houses appear out of nowhere. One little cottage has no road to it, they have to walk down to the footbridge over the East Allen and up to the main road, the lady said she had just done her school ‘run’, what a place to find for a Bohemian lifestyle. They keep horses too. Eventually I reach that footbridge over the river at Peckriding Crags, a popular Victorian picnic spot.
The house with no road.
The morning drifts by as I follow carefully the waymarks through complicated fields, sometimes close to the river and others diverted away from it. There are rabbits and sheep everywhere.
I drop down to the river at Studdon Bridge where there is a shaft going down to the Blackett Level 25 m below. More isolated farms are passed. A farmer from one tells me of a successful scheme to introduce children to agricultural and environmental projects. At Rowantree Stob a bastle has been conserved and one is able to wander around it.
Rowantree Stob Bastle.
Spot the Curlew.
Slowly I start climbing out of the valley and meet The Black Way, at first a rough estate road but becoming a vague path through the heather. This route would have been busy in the mining days with ponies taking their loads of ore to the smelt mills. The weather is changing with a cold wind bringing in light showers and obscuring the views. I shelter in the lee of a peat hag for a bite to eat before carrying on over higher ground. It would be easy to go astray up here. Over to the southeast is Killhope Law in County Durham, I’m hovering between Northumberland and Cumbria. As I lose height, the enclosures and ruins of Coalcleugh come into sight – once a thriving village with chapel, library and pub. Not much remains, and today it feels a rather bleak place to be.
That provocative estate sign again.
KIllhope Law, been there … done that.
The last climb over the moors takes me to the highest point of the Tea Trail, 585m, on the county boundary. I don’t linger but press on down towards Nenthead where the moors are full of the evidence of the past – spoil heaps, hushes and ruined buildings.
‘Old Peter’ clock face from the tower on Nenthead market house until the early 1900s.
Bainbridge Memorial Water Pump. 1841.
The bike repair man is still busy but The Miners Arms no longer serves refreshments and the museum is closed, so there is nothing to keep me in Nenthead. My car is the only one in the carpark, thankfully it still has four wheels.
Isaac’s Tea trail has proved to be a classic little long distance way, all 38 miles of it. This is beautiful English countryside with a wonderful heritage. The villages are largely unspoilt and seem to retain a good sense of community often lost in today’s society. Accommodation and shops are plentiful. I’ve enjoyed the wildlife, even though I didn’t encounter any red squirrels, and learnt something of the lead mining industry which shaped the area. The ancient paths are clear but not heavily used, so are a joy to explore. I would highly recommend this as a short backpacking trip for the casual walker looking for exercise and interest. Where to next in this ‘staycation’ year?
From the terrace of the YHA the hills I would be traversing were all too obvious, it would be a day of ups and downs. The weather just got better and better as the day wore on.
A gentle walk up the lane brought me to Redheugh, a cluster of houses, Isaac Holden was born here in 1804 and baptised at Ninebanks church in 1806. The way followed a ridge across fields and through the remains of Keirsleywell lead mine, where he worked with his father and brother in the 1820s. At the road I walked alongside the low Mohope Beck watching Sand Martins coming and going.
The bridge in Ninebanks crossed the larger West Allen River. Some steep steps came out on the higher road, where I diverted to visit some buildings of interest. First was the old Hearse House, built in 1856 after fundraising by Isaac. It wasn’t long after that Isaac died and was carried on the hearse to be buried in Allendale. The little museum was filled with an eclectic collection of objects relating to mining, funerals and tea. A great deal of information was displayed about the Holden family. Not to be missed if you are walking the trail.
Along the lane is a terrace which was once Ninebanks school and Ninebanks church, St Marks, dating from 1764. A peaceful place for a short break.
From then on I used ancient tracks through rough farmland, there were lambs everywhere. I crossed two old bridges below Dryburn which would have been used by lead carriers with their string of ponies going to the smelt mill in Allendale. Most of these old bridges have been washed away in floods.
A road was crossed alongside High House Wesleyan chapel, now a private residence but the graveyard is still there. I had difficulty finding the path in the next group of fields, but received a friendly reception from a farmer’s wife and dogs when I wandered into their yard. She showed me a way and complained that the RofW hasn’t been maintained.
After a few more difficult fields I was ready for a sit down and some lunch overlooking the valley. There was a long stretch in Monk Woods high above Whitfield Hall and Church. The Whitfield Estate belongs to the Blackett-Ord family, it was their moorland I tramped across yesterday and it is their woods I’m walking through today. Every hundred yards are pheasant feeders and the estate is very proud of its ‘sporting’ pheasant shooting, which I find abhorrent.
Baby pheasants, what a life.
I was glad to be away from the woods and on the final climb to take me to The East Allen valley. I passed limestone quarries and was in the heart of Curlew and Lapwing territory. Lovely open upland walking territory.
Heading down towards the river I passed Keenly Wesleyan Methodist Chapel established in 1750 after John Wesley had preached nearby. It is said to be the oldest chapel in the world in continuous use.
Without checking, I followed a very steep path down to a footbridge and steeply up the other side to find myself lost in field. I could see my mistake on the map and decided to follow the edge of fields until I could join up again without backtracking. This involved some risky crossing of barbed wire and then some very steep descending to reach the RofW by the river. The path alongside the East Allen wasn’t straight forward with irritating diversions.
Going off track.
East Allen River.
A large Weir appeared by a road bridge and alongside was the site of Allendale Smelting Mill. There are some ruined buildings, but a lot is now a small business park. From the C17th, the Blackett family owned the mineral rights to the Allen Dales. Ore was extracted by levels driven into the mineral veins with horses pulling carts along the tunnels. In addition to lead, the smelting mill produced silver, it closed in 1896. The trail crossed the bridge for the final mile. Of note was the opening to the Blackett Level which in 1855 was to run for miles in search of new veins of lead ore. It never fulfilled its promise.
The Blackett Level.
Leaving the East Allen River a steep hill brought me into Allendale, a small market town. The central square was busy with many taking advantage of the sunny weather to enjoy a drink outside one of several inns. I was staying at the King’s Head and my room had a bath which I much appreciated after a longish day.
After a rest and a brew, I wandered around the village, which had several Isaac Holden connections. First and foremost was St. Cuthbert’s Church where Isaac is buried with a fitting memorial.
On the edge of the marketplace is Isaac’s Well, 1849. He raised funds for its construction to bring clean water to the town.
Across the road is the old savings bank, of which Isaac was a founder member. He also raised funds for two of the Methodist chapels in the town. On the edge of town is a row of cottages, Wentworth Place, where the Holden’s grocery store was. A busy man.
I wandered around the quaint cobbled streets and alleyways of Alston in the morning sunshine. There are a variety of small shops, some are aimed at the arts and crafts end of the market, but thankfully there are grocery and bakery outlets so I was able to buy a picnic lunch.
St. Augustine’s Church where Isaac’s parents married in 1796.
The Tea Trail follows the Pennine Way out of town but I decided on a different route, The South Tyne Trail which runs alongside the South Tynedale Railway. This narrow gauge track once linked Alston to Haltwhistle and the rest of the network. It has been partially restored for tourist trips. I therefore headed to the Station just out of town. The café was just opening and volunteers were busy with odd jobs, but alas no trains were running today. I had to be my own pretend train as I followed alongside the single track a couple of miles to Kirkhaugh Halt, where I picked up the official Tea Trail once again. It had been a pleasant diversion alongside the South Tyne.
The path dropped to the South Tyne and a new footbridge replacing one washed away in 2018 floods. This one looks built to last, confirmed later by a local resident living next to Kirkhaugh Church who had watched the whole progress. The church was where I was heading next.
Note the church steeple.
To give its full title – The Church of the Holy Paraclete. (Holy Spirit- I had to look it up.) The church has symbols of the dove inside, there are nine to seek out, I managed a measly three. Isaac married Ann Telfer here in 1834. The church was subsequently rebuilt in 1869 by the Rector Octavius James, inspired by Bavarian churches – hence the needle steeple. A bench outside was ideal for an early lunch.
The stretch of minor road running back along the S Tyne was tree lined and the habitat of red squirrels but I didn’t see any. I left the road near Randalholme, and climbed steeply through fields to reach the few houses named Ayle, a remote spot. Some flower filled meadows followed before a steep drop through hawthorns came to a footbridge over the gentle Ayle Burn, another bridge replacing one washed away in 2002.
A new waymark appears.
It was a steep pull up to Clarghyll Hall, a good example of a bastle, a fortified farm. Rector Octavius James had a hand in its restoration.
Various lanes and tracks took me through remains of mines and a colliery all reverting to nature. Bits of old machinery are evidence of recent attempts at mineral extraction. Curlews and Lapwings provided entertainment, but with little success with the camera. Then it was out onto the open heather moor.
Plantings on old colliery.
A large notice proclaimed the virtues of the management of this moor which is of course for grouse rearing and shooting. I can’t agree with the propaganda and patronising information put out by the shooting fraternity. Anyhow, it was a good upland walk with skylarks singing above, no doubt any resident birds of prey have been done away with. Northumberland does not have a good history on raptor persecution.
As it descended to West Allendale the track became very rutted and stony, I spotted a field on the edge of the open access land which avoided all this and took me straight to the door of Ninebanks YHA. What a splendid hostel this turned out to be. Dating from the C18th during the lead mining bonanza, all around are visible reminders of that era, open shafts, spoil heaps and hushes down the hillsides. Sitting outside on the terrace, looking out over the Moors with the only sound that of birds – what a place to forget the Covid problems.
I pull off the motorway at Tebay services, it’s chaotic. There is virtually no parking space, the whole area is like Blackpool front on a Bank Holiday. So they were correct when it was hinted that all the Benidorm crowds would be let loose in the British countryside. Not that I have anything against Benidorm. I wasn’t going to queue to spend a penny, so I drove out and headed for what I thought would be a quieter area of the country – the Northern Pennines as they are signed off the motorway at Penrith. Nenthead was my starting point for a few days walking Isaac’s Tea Trail
Nenthead was a major centre for lead mining from 1750 to the end of the C19th. The London Lead Company was founded by Quakers, and they built decent houses (considering the period) for the workers, complete with a free lending library and schooling for the children. There was a brief spell of reworking the mines for zinc, but that ceased in 1940. The village clings on as a quiet backwater with little to attract the tourist.
It is however on one of the c2c cycle routes and there in the centre of the village is the bicycle repair man. He is tinkering with the gears on a lady’s bike. I stop to ask him where it might be safe to leave my car for three nights. He points across the way to the mining museum, which looks closed, but there is a large car park with no overnight restrictions, so that is where my car is I hope. I leave Nenthead as quickly as I arrived, I’ll look around when I return.
From the village centre an Isaac’s Tea Trail finger post points along an ordinary looking street but at its end I’m surprised to see a model village of Nenthead with added features from around the world, obviously the lifetime’s work of a local. Along the riverside path, presumably the Nent, I meet a man walking his dogs, I notice one is attached to a harness and wheels. Apparently he has a form of a neurological disorder where they lose the use of their back legs before even worse symptoms develop. The owner is giving his dog some sort of life for now.
The whole area has signs of past mining with the spoil heaps now reclaimed by nature. There are lime kilns and mine entrances scattered across the hillsides. The soft sand from reworked spoil heaps is riddled with rabbit holes. Apart from the grazing sheep, I come across a group of alpacas.
The path is well signed as it crosses from field to field along the valley side on stone stiles. There are a few farms still working, but many have fallen into ruins. At one time up here was a thriving village, Nentsberry, with pub, chapel and school. An old man out walking looks as though he comes from that period, they are probably bred tough up here.
Down some steps the road is reached at a bridge. The Hare and Hounds is ruined, but a once blacksmith’s shop is still standing. Across the bridge is Nent Hall built from the proceeds of the rich Hudgill mine and now a country house hotel.
I meet a woman coming along the riverside path and she warns me of a closure farther along due to flood erosion repairs. So my brief spell by the water comes to an end at the Path Closed sign. I suspect that people are still using it, but I decide to be sensible and follow an alternative FP up past the neglected Lovelady Shield Hotel. I climb steeply up the hillside to meet a quiet road and then a rough mining track contouring the valley. There are a few farms up here, but most of the surviving properties are holiday lets. All around are signs of past mining, I’m getting good views of the valley and stride out purposefully.
The track drops me into Blagill, another old settlement clinging on.
The last stretch into Alston is a delightful path alongside the River Nent as it slides over limestone slabs and tumbles down small waterfalls. Along here there has been flood damage from Storm Desmond and repair work has been carried out using European money. What’s the future for funding these projects now?
Curlew are making a commotion as I pass through their fields. I forgot to mention that I spotted a red kite early on.
Alston is reputed to be the highest market town in England and I enter it on twisted cobbled alleys, arriving at the Market Cross. I’ll explore farther tomorrow as I’m ready for a brew and a rest. My Inn for the night is run rather incongruously by a Chinese lady who is most welcoming and full of laughs. I think I’m going to enjoy this walk.
The memorial stone to Isaac Holden in the churchyard at Allendale states –
IN MEMORY OF ISAAC HOLDEN
A NATIVE OF THIS PARISH
WHO DIED NOVEMBER 12TH 1857
HE GAINED THE ESTEEM
BY HIS UNTIRING DILIGENCE
IN ORIGINATING WORKS OF CHARITY
AND PUBLIC USEFULNESS
UPWARDS OF 600 PERSONS
SUBSCRIBED TO ERECT
Isaac was born to a poor family in the West Allen valley NE of Alston. He naturally started work in the lead mining industry from a young age but at some stage in the 1830s when work was hard to come by he and his wife opened a grocery shop in Allendale and he began selling tea in this local area of the Northern Pennines. Tea was becoming popular, its price had dropped meaning the less prosperous could afford it. Methodist Chapel tea bazaars were a means of raising money. Around the same time he became devoutly religious and started fundraising for local projects. It is for his charitable deeds that he is mainly remembered.
This 37 mile long distance walk has been established to explore the scenic area of these Northern Pennines and introduce one to the rich mining and religious history still to be found in the villages. Isaac would walk these very paths, selling his tea to the local lead miners and farmers.
The Wesleyan Chapel, Allendale, 1839, Savings Bank, Allendale, 1840s, Isaac’s Well, Allendale, 1849, Hearse House, Ninebanks,1856 are some of his legacies visited en route.
It is a circular walk and thus can be started anywhere, there are sufficient accommodation opportunities in the villages to support the walker on what is described as a strenuous route. There is a website with all the information you need and downloadable directions and maps. https://isaacs-tea-trail.co.uk/ The route is marked on the OS maps. A guide book has been written by Roger Morris and is available from the Allenheads Trust Ltd.
The forecast remains fair for another week, so time to put on my boots again; follow in Isaac’s footsteps; explore this quiet region; soak up some history and maybe drink some tea.
What am I doing here? In the middle of a field halfway to a trig point on Duckworth Hill with a farmer cursing us for trampling his private land. We retreat to placate him, fortunately I know most of his family and acquaintances, so after some gentle banter he leaves us to the futile pursuit of visiting trig points. We visit point 217 m and complete the day of a triple of trig points on these West Pennine Moors. Incidentally, not all were necessarily on the highest ground in the vicinity. It wasn’t my idea, but it actually provided an enjoyable walk, yes you’ve guessed it, I’m out with Sir Hugh again.
Sir Hugh on Duckworth Hill, 217 m, Pendle in the background.
Our meeting place at Immanuel Church turned out to be a large car park for our sole use. The first helpful bystander we met was cutting the cemetery grass, he suggested a route beyond our comprehension but visiting a splendid waterfall. After a brief walk in the wrong direction, we eventually reached open ground. Today most stiles and paths were adequately marked, any diversions were our mistakes. The wind turbines on Oswaldtwistle Moor watched our progress all day. At Jackhouse, an old farmhouse, we received more directions this time including a nature reserve.
Immanuel’s graveyard and our first ‘guide’
Jackhouse and our second ‘guide’
It being a sunny day we decided to visit the said reserve and walk around the lake. Unfortunately, we took our own path through the undergrowth, a waterfall was passed, and then further progress was impossible, an escape route was taken to find the correct path. This was pleasant with views over the lake, a former mill feeder. Onwards through a cluster of barn conversions, Cockerly Fold.
The ‘wrong’ waterfall.
Escaping from the jungle.
A better view of the nature reserve lake.
A barn being converted in situ.
We disturbed a lady sunbathing at Cocker Lumb Cottage, no picture this time. Cocker Lumb is the beck coming down this valley. Not many people come this way and she suggested heading for “the trees up there” – there was of course a profusion of arboreal growth. Rough meadows followed, in fact most of the land up here could be classified as rough meadow with little modern agricultural use, hence the profusion of horsey establishments. I’ve no idea how most residents arrive at their remote houses, there are many rough lanes which must communicate with the outside world.
Down by the beck a concrete obelisk in a field took our notice, it seemed to have a plaque on one side. There was no way of entering the field so we had to be content with futile zoom shots and futile internet research later.
Our unknown obelisk.
An unavoidable but short stretch along a busy road and we were at Mt. Pleasant Farm and our first trig point of the day, 308m. There wasn’t anything aesthetically pleasing about its position.
308 m – we didn’t investigate the blue thing.
An easy stroll took us across Accrington Moor alongside a golf course, Green Haworth, with lots more stables and horse enclosures all around. A little lateral thinking had us into the field containing our next trig but to our amazement it was totally enclosed by a fence keeping the horses away from a large manure pile. It didn’t take Sir Hugh long to breach the defences and claim 257m.
Green Haworth course.
Accrington in the valley.
a pile of ….
Our intrepid trig raider.
Getting out of the field meant following the boundary until a gate appeared. The one we used brought us out onto the road exactly opposite our onward footpath. It was time for lunch. Lanes took us back into the outskirts of Ossie where a large litter pick up was in progress, one lady was in Whams Brook unearthing all kinds of treasure. A wander around the graveyard and we were back at our car park after about five hours fresh air, there is more to visiting trig points than you realise.
Stiles -ancient and modern.
A remaining mill.
Classic mill terrace.
On the way home I drove over Longridge Fell and was surprised to see a parapenter circling and landing in the field above the caravan park. He had glided over from Parlick, 5 miles away, and was trying to reach his home in Longridge. He was pleased with himself and packed up to walk home to ride his bike back to Chipping to collect his car. I’ve never seen anyone land here before, but he told me he made it to Scarborough on one occasion.
The plan was to visit three triangulation pillars haphazardly scattered on Sheet 103 of the OS 1:50,000 Landranger map. For the record. Rushton’s Height 324 m, Hog Low Pike 383 m and Rushy Hill 377 m. Sir Hugh knows these things, I’m not sure how many that leaves to visit. Some of the time we were on The West Pennine Way some time on The Rossendale Way but most of the time on our way, I shall try and make three trigs as glamorous as possible.
Our trials commenced shortly after getting out of Hoddlesden onto the moors. Stiles were missing, blocked or dangerous. Gates were locked. Waymarking virtually non-existent. It took us much longer than anticipated to reach the first trig point of Rushton’s Height. There were views to the nearby Darwen Tower.
Sir Hugh records RUSHTON’S HEIGHT.
Getting through the next farm which was spreading like a rubbish dump tried our patience even more, we gave up on our original line and took to some easier tracks to Aushaw Farm. Then we were on the more open moor at last and following little used paths, The West Pennine Way, on rough ground. Small abandoned quarries scattered the moor, what a desolate life it must have been. Ahead of us was a rounded hill sticking out of the moor, we speculated that it may be our next trig point. A little ingenuity was needed to get around Broadhead, we almost took to canoeing the boggy sections. On the map we should have been walking through a forest but it had all been felled. A steep pull up fields, then we had a stroke of luck – part of the moor ahead has been planted with trees and opened up for our enjoyment. It led straight to the trig point of Hog Low Pike. Another group of walkers was just leaving it. Cold weather was blowing in with spots of rain, we didn’t linger, but the backside of Pendle was visible between showers.
HOG LOW PIKE.
A look at the map for our way forward showed we were on open access land, a glance at the moor showed little paths everywhere so we were able to take a direct route towards the Grane valley, it was steeper than expected but led through newly planted trees. There has been a programme of tree planting in the Burnley and Rossendale areas where sheep grazing had denuded the slopes. We came upon a deserted farmstead, many were abandoned when the Grane valley reservoirs were established and the land became water catchment. Farming began to decline but many of the smallholdings set up loom shops which kept them going but by the turn of the 20th Century most of the old farms were deserted and the people moved to the rapidly expanding mill towns, We passed many more later when on the Rossendale Way but by then we were in rain and not stopping for pictures. Lunch was taken amongst the mossy ruins to the sound of bird song and some warming sunshine. I later found some history to our resting spot on Haslingdens Blogspot.
Bentley House Bentley House does have some striking history, especially in regards to “illicit whisky distilling” which took place during the mid , 1800’s – Here is an article published in the Blackburn Standard – May 20th 1857:
ILLICIT DISTILLATION OF WHISKY….. On Saturday at the Court-house, Haslingden, Jonathan Haworth, farmer, Bentley House, Haslingden Grane, was charged by Mr. Ellis Heath, supervisor of the Inland Revenue in the Blackburn Division, with being the proprietor of an unlicensed still for the manufacture of illicit whisky. Mr. Clough, who appeared for the Board of Inland Revenue, stated that this was one of the most compact and connected private distilleries which had been brought to light, at any rate in this neighbourhood; and but for the vigilance of the officers of the Board, it might have been carried on for a length of time without detection. At eleven o’clock on the night of 3rd April last, Mr. Ellis Heath, accompanied by the officers, went to the house of the defendant, which is situated at an unfrequented and isolated part of the township of Haslingden. On going into the house, the officers proceeded to a square weaving shop, but observed nothing there by two pairs of looms. On examining the room above that they found it was a much larger room. They descended again to the weaving shop, and tapped the wall, which defendant said was a gable end of the house. They found the mortar soft, but yet it corresponded with the other walls of the chamber. On looking at the flags they found that they had only breen freshly laid. A few were taken up and after taking up a quantity of earth, an arched entrance cut out of the solid rock was discovered with an aperture just sufficient for one person to enter in a creeping position. On the officers entering the chamber by this, the only entrance, they found a new still and every apparatus requisite for the manufacture of illicit spirits, with a number of tubs, a quantity of wash, &c., which were immediately seized and conveyed to a place of safety. The flue of the fireplace in the room had been cut out of the rock and taken below the floor of the weaving shop and house until a junction was formed with the chimney of the house, so that one flue only could be seen to emit smoke. With the stone cut from the flue the partition wall of the weaving shop had been built so that no material had to be brought to the house, –Mr. Ellis Heath and others proved the case and the bench inflicted a mitigated penalty of £50 and costs, in default of payment to be imprisoned during her Majesty’s pleasure. — On the 7th ult., the defendant had been convicted of being on the premises where illicit whisky was found and convicted in £30 and costs, in default to go to prison for three months. The prisoner then sold ten head of cattle and went to prison. The seizure reflects great credit on the vigilance of the officers and will do much to check illicit distillation in this neighbourhood.
There was a substantial stone post aside the ruins with a faint inscribed word, again with later research this turned out to be ‘To Bolton’, the farm had been alongside the ancient road.
As I said black clouds had built up and we were in rain for the next mile as we followed the Rossendale Way past many ruined farms at the head of the Grane Valley, the reservoirs could just be made out in the mirk under the steep quarried heights of Muswell. We safely crossed the busy road and were back on open moor and soon at the last trig point of the day, Rushy Hill. Nearby wind turbines were about all we could see.
RUSHY HILL. Some sort of ritual.
A boggy track took us back to the road and on to Pickup Bank. We left the minor road to follow an even more minor lane down the hillside past various farmsteads, many with attached horse paddocks. The lane was steep and rough, I can’t believe I actually tried to drive down here as a shortcut to Hoddlesden on our last ill-fated meeting.
Not recommended for my Mazda.
Arriving back in the village we passed the remains of the cotton mills which once provided all the employment, now occupied by the usual assortment of ‘dodgy’ workplaces. In the village itself we were surprised at the quality of the stone terraces and cobbled streets, some effort had gone in to making the mill workers’ lives bearable.
The Ranken Arms.
An excellent days outing. What will Sir Hugh come up with next?
As an aside, my first aid kit came into action on the drive home. Some plastic from my front number plate started flapping alarmingly above the bonnet but a quick stop and application of a blister plaster solved the problem. I wonder how long it will remain there? I did consider an Aspirin in the radiator at the same time.
As I lazed away this morning reading I came across a comment about Fox’s well on Pendle Hill.
George Fox was born in 1624 and was in his 20s by the time of the civil wars between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians. This was also a time of questioning the established religious ideas. Fox was travelling the country preaching an alternative simpler Christian message. By the 1650s he was in Northern England and in 1652 according to his journal…
“As we travelled we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high” “When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered” “As I went down, I found a spring of water in the side of the hill, with which I refreshed myself, having eaten or drunk but little for several days before”
Hence, the name, Fox’s Well, in memory of his visit. He went on to found The Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers. Many parts of the North became Quaker strongholds and because of his vision Pendle Hill became a special place for Quakers.
Well no time to lose. The sun was shining but it was already 11am, I’m slow to get going these days. The well is not marked on the OS maps but I had a grid reference SD 80494200, I must have walked past it on my last visit here. As I drove across I was planning a route in my head, park in Barley and walk the hill on its steep side, the Big End. Coming down the road that cuts across the east side of Pendle I was astonished to see a line of parked cars stretching for half a mile, negotiating past them wasn’t easy. Things were even worse in the village with the car park full to overflowing and lots of desperate drivers cruising about. So this is a Covid-19 day out for half of Lancashire. I curse myself – I shouldn’t have come to a honeypot on a Sunday.
Just as I’m thinking of going elsewhere I remember a safe and legal pull in on the road perfect for my little car. So Just after mid-day I’m walking back up the hill past all those badly parked cars. I then join the crowds along to Pendle House and then up the steep stepped path. Not really my idea of a day’s fell walking but I have an objective so it’s a matter of head down and grin and bear it.
As if by magic as soon as I cross the stile at the far end the masses disappear, they are on the way to the crowded Trig point which I can happily miss today. I pick up the track heading down the north side and before long I can hear running water. It becomes a gushing sound and there on the hillside is flowing water from a spring. Just above is the metal cover of the well and lo and behold when I lift it there is the goblet to fill with the clearest of water to quench my thirst. The best water in Lancashire it is said, I wouldn’t disagree.
Feeling pleased with myself I ponder my onward journey. I have no intention of joining the masses on the summit, so I pick up a traversing path going west. This takes me to a stone shelter on the edge of the northern escarpment where I’d planned a lunch stop. Perfect. As I’m finishing a youthful foursome from Liverpool arrive. I share the seating with them and enjoy their banter. Onwards to the Scouting Cairn and then I decide to go over Spence Moor, Pendle’s little brother. I forgot to mention that the views are outstanding today in all directions. I have a birds eye view of Clitheroe in the Ribble Valley. Over towards Longridge Fell and Bowland parapenters are circling. The Three Peaks, Skipton and East Lanc’s hills, Winter Hill and the distant Welsh mountains complete the panorama.
I’m surprised to find a recently improved track heading my direction, probably coming from The Nick of Pendle. Reluctantly I soon have to leave it to maintain height to Spence Moor. There is nobody about and on the rough pathless ground I put up grouse, snipes and skylarks.
On the way across boggy ground I come across a sheep on its back – riggwelted. Riggwelter takes its name from Yorkshire dialect with Nordic roots; “rygg” meaning back, and “velte” meaning to overturn. A sheep is said to be rigged or ‘riggwelted’ when it has rolled onto its back and is unable to get back up without assistance. You can experience the same by drinking a few pints of Black Sheep Brewery’s Riggwelter beer. Anyhow, I came to the rescue of this girl although she didn’t seem very appreciative.
There are no markers to announce my arrival at the rounded summit of Spence Moor. A little further and I pick up a soggy path going east. Down to my right are the East Lancs towns of Nelson and Colne. While over to the left is a different view of Pendle, my steep ascent path is clearly seen on the right.
I decided, perhaps wrongly, to drop steeply down to the two Ogden reservoirs, it would have been better in retrospect to have carried on high towards Newchurch.
A tarmacked lane descended to Barley Green where there has been a tasteful conversion of old Nelson Waterboard 1930 buildings to living accommodation. And then I was back into Blackpool, err no, sorry – Barley. There were no-parking signs everywhere and I can only imagine the hassle that the locals have had during this strange pandemic when the world and his dog have to go walking. Normally this is a pleasant village to wander through.
I picked up this leaflet at the cafe on Beacon Fell the other day, it looked interesting. Despite my friend Sir Hugh stating ” The ones I am not enamoured by are where some local authority has connected a lot of inferior paths around the edges of crop fields with no particular objective other than perhaps encircling their borough or domain and claiming this as The Whatevershire Way” to discover relatively new territory I was prepared to give The East Colne Way a chance.
I’ve driven along the A6068 Nelson to Keighley road many times on my way to walks in the Bronte Country and climbs on Earl Crag and familiar landmarks which I would visit today. This another of my short walks I’ve been doing recently to fit in with the weather and other commitments. I turn off the road to a lakeside carpark at Ball Grove Nature Reserve. This was the site of an C18th water-powered cotton mill which became in 1860 Sagar’s Tannery, the largest in Europe. Production ceased in 1970 and the buildings were demolished all but the present-day cafe.
I strolled alongside the lodges, now nature reserves, and Colne Water to a weir with a fish ladder.
An unofficial scramble brought me onto the road opposite the old cottage Hospital bequeathed by the Hartley family which has been converted into retirement accommodation.
Along the road are the Hartley Almshouses donated again by the Hartley family, yes those of jam fame. Talking to two residents one was very positive the other concerned about damp.
I cut up through some rough fields with ancient boundary walls and stiles, I’m surprised to find a waymarker for my walk, these continue to guide me around the circuit.
I pass the workers cottages at Bents without a photo and press on up Skipton road to pass the Georgian Heyroyd House, Apparently round the back are walled gardens.
More stone stiles led across fields to a lane alongside Colne Golf Course. A clapper bridge has had rails added to it – health and safety? It opened onto a lane that looked more like a stream.
The rocky ridge visible ahead is Noyna Hill, a real ‘green lung’ of Colne.
Farm lanes followed and I was soon crossing the causeway at Foulridge Upper Reservoir. The sun was quite warm and I lingered admiring the views over to Pendle Hill, Blacko Tower and round to Noyna and the Great Edge all Pendle walking areas par excellence.
The large gated property, Lower Clough owned by the Barnsfield Construction Co, had some impressive, well-guarded grounds. An open area The Rough is what remains of Lob Common, worryingly new housing seems to be creeping up the hill. Curlew are calling as I walk through. I come out onto a surprising lane lined on one side by handloom weavers’ cottages, several three-storied. Down at the roundabout is the old Turnpike House which I’ve driven past without realising its existence. Also on the lane is Lidgett Hall dated 1749. This delightful Conservation Area backs onto the open countryside where the housing development is occurring – so much for town planning.
Another open field heads towards a church with the hills above Wycoller in the background. I finish the day with a coffee in the lakeside cafe at Ball Grove Mill. This turned out to be a 5mile walk through beautiful northern countryside giving an insight into the past life of this area on the edge of industrial Colne. The only sour note is the lack of protection from developers to land unchanged from the C17th.
There aren’t many trees on the bleak Pennine Moors above Burnley but in 2006 one was planted on Crown Point south of the town. Architects Tonkin and Liu designed a structure composed of metal pipes which, as well as being a stunning visual feature, creates a musical noise from the wind playing through the pipes. The Burnley Way [which I walked in 2017] predates it and thus avoids it which is a shame, some minor re-routing would easily include this notable landmark.
JD mentioned he had never visited the ‘Tree’, not many of our friends have either. A walk was hatched to include this site, we procrastinated on several occasions during the stormy weather but today we set forth with a better forecast. Several suggested walks start off from Townley Hall but parking is charged there so we, or rather I, decide to park up on a street in nearby Walk Mill.
We pick our way up various bridleways, parts of The Burnley Way and The Pennine Bridleway, onto Deerplay Moor. I’m not saying it was all easy going, the farmyards were a mudbath but we got through. Views to our left are down towards the Cliviger Gorge where road and railway head for the delights of Todmorden. We come across a memorial stone to Mary Townley who was instrumental in establishing long-distance routes in the Pennines for horse riders. In 1986 she road from Hexham to Ashbourne to draw attention to the poor state of England’s bridleways. Today these improved bridleways probably benefit mountain bikers rather than those on horseback.
The quotation “The air of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.” is, in fact, an Arabian Proverb.
We had a bit of a depressing section on a road where there was evidence of fly-tipping every few hundred metres. I just cannot understand this blatant antisocial behaviour.