Ribble Valley Walk - Barley to Pendle Hill

Looking back to Barley

Looking back to Barley - Credit: John Lenehan

A summer walk from Barley takes in the mystical and magical Pendle Hill, writes John Lenehan

Pendle descent

Pendle descent - Credit: John Lenehan

I have written a walk from Barley before but on that occasion I didn't take in Pendle Hill. It was a cold January morning then, quite the opposite to the warm sunny morning when my friend and I did this walk. The obvious way to the top of Pendle is straight from Barley up the Big End, but we preferred to take a different route. It is long and explores the more remote area of the vast upland that is Pendle, but is an extremely beautiful way to enjoy some of the finest views in Lancashire.

1. Leave the car park by the main entrance and turn right towards the village then turn left following the sign to Newchurch. Go uphill and then turn left into Bridge End and pass some cottages on the right then keep on as the road becomes a narrow track and follow this. It is stony underfoot at first.

Note: Barley grew in population when textile mills were built there. The abundance of water in the streams from Pendle and the surrounding hills helped power the mills at first. At one time Barley Green Mill had 200 looms. Narrowgates Mill still survives, as do the weavers' cottages which are now private houses.

2. The track starts to go steeply downhill, there is a wooden gate on the left of the track and one on the right.

Barley from Pendle

Barley from Pendle - Credit: John Lenehan

Next to the one on the right is a stile.

Cross this and go uphill with a wall on the left, then reach a stile in the wall corner, cross this and turn right and then, with the wall on your right, carry on uphill.

Cross a stile by a steel gate and carry on with the wall on the right then as you start to reach pine woods, bear diagonally left away from the wall to a gate stile leading into the woods.

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Cross this and immediately the path forks, take the right hand fork and go uphill through the woods.

Looking up Ogden Clough

Looking up Ogden Clough - Credit: John Lenehan

Exit the woods and cross a stile in the stone wall in front then turn left. Note: There is a fantastic view of Pendle Hill from here.

3. Carry on with the wall on the left crossing a wooden gate stile then on to another gate stile that leads out to a tarmac track that in turn leads into the main road. Turn right and follow the road. Within a few yards of following the road a small gate stile appears in the wall on the left side of the road. Cross this and go diagonally right across the field to another gate stile. Cross this and follow the narrow path downhill passing a stone building on the right.

Keep on to a gate stile on the right with a yellow footpath arrow next to it. Cross the stile and the indistinct path starts to bear right and go uphill then to the left there is a marker post with a yellow arrow, aim for that and once past it go uphill heading slightly diagonally right to reach a stile in the wall corner ahead. Cross the stile and carry straight on with a wire fence on the right. Ignore the two stiles on the right as you follow the path. The wire fence then gives way to become a wall on the right. Follow this to a step stile over another wall straight ahead. Cross this then keeping a wall and a pine woods on the right keep straight on.

Eventually the path meets a bit of a track that goes through a metal gate. It seems obvious to follow the track but don't be tempted.

As you reach the gate turn left and with the wall on the right keep onto a stile in the wall corner. Cross the stile and follow the path straight on to reach a marker post with a yellow arrow pointing right. Ignore this and carry straight on past the post and head for another marker post ahead and pass that to a stile in a wire fence, cross that and keep on and follow the path to a metal gate with a stile to the right. Cross the stile and start climbing uphill.

There is a marker post ahead, aim for this and pass it going uphill on a very indistinct and pretty wet and muddy path.

If you look straight ahead uphill there in the distance is a ladder stile crossing a wall. Aim as directly as you can to that.

4. Reach the ladder stile and cross that then turn left and follow the path until it reaches a ladder stile over a wall. Do not cross the stile, turn right and with the wall on the left follow this as eventually it bears left downhill to a stile on the left. Do not cross this stile, turn right and cross the stream on the right then follow the path straight on.

5. The path reaches a larger track at Badger Wells Hill. At the junction turn right and go uphill and follow the track as it leads over open moor to reach the upper reaches of Ogden Clough then follow the undulating path keeping the stream on the right into the valley.

6. Eventually the path reaches a crossing over the stream on the right, cross the stream and the stile opposite and climb the path to reach a flagstone path and follow this all the way to the summit Triangulation Pillar of Pendle Hill that stands at 1827ft /557metres above sea level.

Note: I did this walk once before and met a family from Philadelphia, America, who followed the Quaker Religion.

They had travelled on a pilgrimage specifically to climb Pendle Hill as the area was the birthplace of the movement. In 1652 George Fox climbed Pendle Hill and had a life changing vision that led to the establishment of Quakerism in the area and eventually the world. On a clear day the views are simply stunning. On Hallowe'en people gather on the summit as Pendle is strongly associated with the Lancashire Witches.

7. Leave the summit by turning right from the direction of approach and follow the wide track and follow it as it turns sharp left and goes very steeply downhill under the face of Pendle then zig-zags down to a gate and stile. Cross the stile then bear diagonally right and pass behind a cottage then keeping the wooden fence of this on the left carry on to a gate and a stile. Cross the stile then follow the good track down hill with a wall on the left to reach stile cross this and follow the path diagonally right across the field to a stile and cross this.

Follow a narrow track and cross a stile then keep on the track towards a corrugated roofed building and a house. Reach two stiles, go through the first stile and then turn sharp right. Follow the track to a gate that says 'Private No Access' and to the left of this is a stile. Cross the stile and, keeping the hedgerow to the left, follow the path as it passes a cattle grid on the left and enters a copse of trees, keep on the path, now with a stream on the right to a stile and cross this. Keep on the path and cross stile and follow the path between two wire fences and to reach a footbridge, cross this and carry on the track to a stile and cross this into a tarmac road and turn left and pass a white cottage on the left. Eventually a footbridge appears on the right of the road, cross this then bear left and follow the track to where it meets a larger track that leads over a bridge into a farm on the left. Cross this track and go straight on downhill to another footbridge, cross this and carry on to a stile and cross this into a cobbled track with the stream directly on the left. Follow the track to join the main road in Barley and turn right.

Follow the road passing the red telephone box on the left and towards a children's playground. Leave the road through a gap and take the path that leads behind the playground and over a footbridge and back to the car park.


Start and finish: Main car park and picnic area Barley

Distance: 8.25 miles/13.27km

Time: 5 hours

Terrain: Mainly track and footpaths though there are some very wet and boggy sections between points 3 and 5. There is also a very steep descent near the end. Good boots, gaiters in wet conditions and walking sticks if wary on descents. I know from experience it is easy to get lost on Pendle in mist and low cloud so avoid this route in those conditions.

A map and compass are essential in poor weather.

Map: OS Explorer OL41 Forest of Bowland and Ribblesdale.

Facilities: Public toilets in car park.




There are two excellent pubs in the village - The Pendle Inn and Barley Mow both sell real ale and great food. However, I chose the very busy Cabin Café on the car park. Temptation almost drove me to a bacon and sausage barm cake, the smell of which excited my senses as I entered the cafe but the day was so warm a large cornet of vanilla ice cream with a flake proved the wiser choice. The café does sell excellent food though and I have eaten there many times. 01282 696937.