Ribble Valley Walk - Barley circular

Pendle from above Barley

Pendle from above Barley - Credit: Archant

The pretty village of Barley sits in the shadow of Pendle Hill but John Lenehan chooses a gentler route

Barley Village in Winter by John Christopher Wood

Barley Village in Winter by John Christopher Wood - Credit: Archant

This walk was published in March 2018, so the details of the route may no longer be accurate, we do advise these articles should only be used as a guideline for any potential route you take and you should double check an up to date map before you set off.



AT the foot of the steepest face of Pendle Hill, the pretty village of Barley is probably the starting point for most of the walks in the area. It has a large car park with a café and toilets and a picnic area and play park for the children. In summer it's packed with families, walkers, runners and mountain bikers. There are a couple of good pubs as well.

Lower Ogden Reservoir, Barley by Jon Clare

Lower Ogden Reservoir, Barley by Jon Clare - Credit: Archant

The main challenge is the notorious climb from the village up the extremely steep Big End path to the summit of Pendle Hill. It is virtually a staircase at its steepest point but that's a walk for another day. Instead, this circular route takes in Lower Black Moss Reservoir and skirts under the Big End to Upper and Lower Ogden Reservoirs.


The Walk

1. Leave the car park along the path behind the toilets and follow this towards the village and cross a footbridge. Turn right and follow the path until it joins the main road opposite the Pendle Hotel then keep right and walk along the road past the Barley Mow pub.

Note: Barley probably wasn't as welcoming in the early 17th Century during the infamous Lancashire Witches. It was regarded as a hotbed of sinful goings on. Imagine a visitor from today appearing back then in a bright cagoule with a mobile phone - they'd be on a one-way trip to Lancaster Castle.

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2. At the prominent sign post turn right and follow the sign for Blacko. Keep on the track as it passes Lower Black Moss Reservoir.

Note: During construction near Lower Black Moss Reservoir a 17th century cottage was found contain a mummified cat. Of course, this was deemed to belong to one of the Lancashire Witches.


3. At the end of the reservoir turn left and follow the track then turn left and follow the track up towards a farm. Just as the track reaches the farm there is a stile on the left. Cross this and head diagonally left towards the reservoir then, with the wall on the left, follow the path through two stiles. Eventually the wall bears left and there is a stile. Ignore this and keep straight on to a stile by a gate. There is a wooden electricity pole by the gate as a guide.


4. Cross the stile then turn right and keeping the wire fence on the right go uphill and cross another stile. Keep going uphill with the fence on the right until reaching a stile, leading to a lane. Cross and then turn left and follow the lane past a nice house on the right.


5. Just past the iron gates of the house on the right there is an opening between two walls that leads to a stile. Cross this and go uphill for a few metres and come to a wooden post with footpath arrows on it. Follow the arrow diagonally left then cross the field to reach a stile that crosses a wall onto the road. Cross then turn right and follow the road uphill.


6. Turn left and follow the track that says Pendle Side. Just before the house there is the word PATH painted on the track tarmac and NO PATH on the track into the farm. There is also and a sign saying Pendle indicating the path goes to the right of the house. Keep on the track and eventually it reaches Pendle House. Do not attempt to follow the drive up to the house but keep right to a gate with a footpath sign and follow the path left that leads behind the house.

Note: There is a stile to the right of the gate and this leads to the path up the Big End if you fancy putting a big climb in the walk.

Follow the path behind the house and it passes a large wooden fence on the left. At the end of the fence there is a worn footpath marker post. Do not be tempted to follow the more obvious path through a gate and stile on the left but keep straight on and follow the path. It reaches a stile in a wall coming down Pendle from the right, cross the stile and keep on the path to a metal gate with a yellow sign saying 'Please Close the Gate'. Go through the gate and follow the path with a wall on your left to reach another metal gate with a stile on the left. Cross and keep on the path that now climbs uphill. Eventually there is a stile and gate in a wall to the left and a stile, and a gate in a wire fence straight on. Cross the stile in the wire fence straight on and keep going until the path forks. At this point keep left and follow the path downhill until eventually it drops down into the beautiful Ogden Clough.


7. The path joins a main path leading up from Barley and into Ogden Clough. Join the main path and turn left through a stile then follow the path past Upper Ogden Reservoir and then down past the dam keeping to the left side of it.

Note: The dam is particularly interesting with an almost vertical overflow waterfall. The water from the Ogden reservoirs supplies drinking water to Nelson.

From this point simply keep on the path then track and follow this past the larger Lower Ogden Reservoir on the right and keep following it until it reaches the village. Cross the road by the Village Hall then turn right and walk to the car park.

Note: There was a textile mill at Barley Green that at one time had 200 looms and probably employed a high percentage of the population of the village.


Watering Holes:

The Barley Mow (Tel: 01282 690868) serves good food with an equally good selection of real ales. There is also the café at the visitor centre at the car park that offers good home made food. I'm told the Pendle Hotel in the village also serves very good food.


Compass points

Start and Finish: Main car park Barley village.

Distance: 5 Miles/ 8.04Km

Time: 3 Hours

Terrain: Track and footpaths that can be very wet and muddy in or after bad weather. Good boots essential and good clothing. Pendle in bad weather even at lower levels can be tricky especially in mist.

Map: OS Map OL21 South Pennines

Facilities: Everything you need can be found at the car park.