Lancashire Walk - Read, Sabden and Pendle Hill

Keith Carter has a hare raising surprise on a walk around Read and Sabden in the shadow of Pendle Hill

This month’s walk visits Pendle country but doesn’t involve climbing Pendle Hill which might be a turn-off for some. I’ve described most of the walks to the summit on previous occasions but never the area of wooded, rolling country to the south of it bounded by Sabden and Read which looks enticing on the map as indeed it proved.

There’s a convenient car park and picnic site at Padiham Heights crossroads about a mile out of Sabden.

Just be careful of the potholes when parking, they are deep and wide.Turn right out of the car park and in 150 yards leave the road at a stile on the left just before a passing place. Cross the stile and head south looking ahead to the industrial landscape of Padiham in the middle distance.

On the fine day I researched this walk with my regular companion Jim we came upon a fully-grown brown hare resting in the grass by a stile, showing no sign of alarm at our approach and allowing itself to be handled gently as Jim checked for injuries. There were none. Hares are normally seen haring away to cover at the first sign of humans and we were quite surprised that it made no move to get away. If anyone can suggest why the animal should have been where it was I would be pleased to hear from them.

The footpath continues along the side of a line of trees that have grown over a sunken lane or the course of a stream and we keep the trees on our right until meeting a gate in a wall. I had to check the map here since there were no way marks, besides which a stone bridge to the right seemed to say “this way, lads”. Don’t listen to it. Go through the gate and continue, the land falling away to a boggy area which has to be crossed to reach the stile in the corner.

We emerge on a lane and go right to the yard of a farmstead in the process of conversion, Priddy Bank Farm. The builders looked in amusement at our appearance, thinking no doubt “what are these so withered and wild in their attire?” The builders round here are great lovers of Shakespeare.

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Look for a hand-gate beside a telegraph pole and enter a field, the farm house on your left. Strike across this field towards a wood and enter it via a stile. Go through the wood and out the other side and after one further field we meet a track by a gate.

By looking to your right you will observe the arched doorway of a restored barn. The style is ecclesiastical and one imagines that this was part of the demesne of Whalley Abbey which would have maintained cattle and sheep in these fields. If you divert to have a closer look, return to the point where you met the track and continue along it to meet the road.

Turn left and immediately opposite an iron kissing gate leads us into the trees for a short distance before emerging by a second and similar kissing gate into an open field. Keep alongside a stone wall to our right then, after crossing a stile, keep a line slightly right, heading for the bottom of this large pasture while remaining in touch with the left hand boundary hedge. By following it down we come to the corner where a slab bridge crosses a stream and meets a lane.

Turn left on the lane and look for a footpath on the right with a gate and stile. Enter the field then walk ahead with the boundary on your right to where a further stile is discovered under a hawthorn and a holly tree. Head across this next field, the houses on the outskirts of Read coming into view. You should aim to the left of the left-most house to find a stile and once across it we meet the road by the converted Haugh Head Farm. How do you say that? Half? Haw? Huff?

Turn left at the road and where it divides take the left fork, Straits Lane, into Read village. If it’s your intention to visit the pub in Read, there’s a short-cut via a ginnel on the left immediately past Lovely Cottage which takes us to the A671 Whalley Road. Turn left and the Stork Hotel is at the roadside, a welcoming watering-hole.

If you choose not to go into Read to sample the Thwaites beer on draught you will save yourself a round trip of half a mile as well as the cost of a pint. In any event, our route leaves the road at the fork on the road by way of the drive to two big houses, Wood Nook and Heightside.

Go up their drive then keep ahead between walls and at a hand-gate enter a field and keep forward along a fence to the right heading for a farm ahead. In the corner of this field an opening in the wall leads right to an access lane serving a large equestrian centre where we turn left then right past stabling. Climb a slight rise and just before the gate to an isolated cottage take the step stile on the left to leave the lane and enter pasture.

Cross towards a wood and as you get closer you will notice that the boundary wall dog-legs and a stile appears at the right-angle in the wall. Enter a wood shown on the map as Shady Walks where the path runs along the raised embankment above a sunken lane, now overgrown with mature trees.

Cross a road to a gate and after a short enclosed stretch cross a stile beside a gate then remain with the wood to the left passing through two more stiles before the wall turns sharp left. Here a wall stile leads us to the road which by turning right leads us back to the car park.

Compass points

Area of walk: Pendle District near Read and Sabden

Map: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors

Walk distance: 5.3 miles

Time to allow: 3.5 – 4 hours

Wheelchair/pushchair friendly: Some gates and stiles

Refreshments: Stork Hotel, Read

The print version of this article appeared in the October 2011 issue of Lancashire Life 

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