Plans to make Pendle Hill heart of communities

Pendle Hill
Pendle Hill

Exciting plans to reconnect people from neighbouring towns with the splendour of the surrounding countryside, and Pendle Hill in particular, are taking shape.

The Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership hopes to make the iconic hill a focus for bringing town and country people together.

And in doing so it aims to help people understand, restore and celebrate the distinctive landscape and heritage of the area on both sides of Pendle Hill.

The Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is spearheading the multi-million pound Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership and leading the Heritage Lottery Fund backed project.

Cathy Hopley of the Forest of Bowland AONB said: “This programme will increase pride in this special place and raise aspirations among communities and bring in new investment to support the environment and the economy.

“We will be providing opportunities for training and volunteering and supporting research and devising digital interpretation to inspire a new generation about our heritage.

“We will also be restoring important landscape features and work with people from throughout the local communities to retell the stories of radical people who had lived in Pendle’s shadow.”

Pendle is a constant backdrop to the lives of everyone who lives in that shadow, although that shadow has two distinct sides.

Folk from Pendle and Burnley have one distinct view of the hill while those in the Ribble Valley have an entirely different aspect.

Many of those differences come from the distinctly different geology on either side of the hill: limestones and shales on the Ribble Valley slopes and a mixture of millstone grit and other silt stones on the slopes facing Burnley and Pendle.

Those distinct bedrocks have led to different types of farming depending on the side of the hill to be farmed and also differing ownership patterns and even levels of industrial exploitation.

The Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership aims to celebrate the hill’s rich and distinctive past of medieval forests, pastures and early industry.

Some of that work will delve deep into the history of the hill itself and the surrounding landscapes and villages.

Other work will help repair the network of dry stone walls and hedges and look for new ways of protecting the natural habitat of a wide variety of both flora and fauna.

On Saturday, Cathy Hopley led a walk for interested people around the hill and explained some of what is potentially in store. From Barley through Ogden Clough and up to the summit, the walk then progressed to neighbouring Aitken Wood where Phillipe Handford, lead artist on the sculpture trail within the wood, spoke about the sculpture trail itself and also about his work on the iconic “1612” installation he created for the 400th anniversary of the Lancashire Witch Trials four years ago.

The walk attracted people from throughout the area as well as much further afield, many of them scaling Pendle for the first time.

And many other events which will be accessible are planned as important parts of the four-year programme.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has already earmarked £2m and the remaining £900,000 needed for the scheme will come from bodies like the AONB Partnership, Natural England, the Environment Agency and local businesse and grants.