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What's going on at the top of Pendle Hill?

All action on Pendle Hill.
All action on Pendle Hill.
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A four-year scheme aiming to re-establish links between Pendle Hill and its surrounding communities is up and running.

And one of the first priorities of the scheme is already progressing well.

The views are no less stunning.

The views are no less stunning.

The Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership is funded by Heritage Lottery and run by the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

And one of its key early aims is to make the hill which dominates the local landscape more accessible.

More than three decades ago extensive work was done on the steps which take walkers up the “big end”.

Around 20 years ago flagstones from derelict mills were air-lifted in to make a firmer path from Boar Clough to the summit.

All hands to the pump.

All hands to the pump.

And for several weeks recently industrial plant has been visible at the top of the hill as new paths are laid.

Those paths have twin aims: the first to make life easier for walkers aiming to get to the top of the hill and enjoy the breathtaking 360 degree vistas and the second to keep walkers concentrated on defined routes to help prevent further erosion.

One of those paths runs diagonally away from the steps and will make using an old cart or pony track much easier.

From that path some of the hill’s past leaps into view, including a disused quarry which must have been the source of hundreds of tons of the millstone grit which was such a common building material in the area.

The work is part of the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership.

The work is part of the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership.

I took a stroll up the hill last week with Cathy Hopley, development officer for the Landscape Partnership.

As we enjoyed the walk she said: “Having diggers on the hill might seem a little incongruous, but when the work is finished it will help protect the hill.

“They will clearly define routes away from the summit to the various paths off the top and make the top of the hill much more accessible whatever the weather.

“We have had some really positive feedback from people who have seen the work in progress and understand what we are trying to do.”

While work on the paths has progressed, master craftsman Phil Dolphin from Skipton has also been working on stretches of the wall which effectively acts as the boundary between the boroughs of Pendle and the Ribble Valley.

Much of that wall is now safer and he has also built seating areas into it which provide both shelter and a great place to catch your breath before moving on.

One of the focal points of the entire project is to introduce people to new skills as well as attract volunteers who want to put something back into the community.

Their efforts are clearly visible in the work that has been done on Pendle itself, but they are also helping to make many of the public footpaths on the approach to the hill safer and more easily drained.

This is just one of the first stages of the project which has already involved archaeological excavations looking at various historical sites including trying to find Malkin Tower, supposed home of one of the Pendle Witches.

But there is much more history to the hill than the witches and the Landscape Partnership aims to show people how life has changed on the hill ever since it first started to dominate our landscape.

Everything about what the project hopes to achieve over the four years it is funded for will be announced at an official launch later in the year.

But the early work on schemes such as this one show there is plenty to look forward to as we all get the chance to find out more about the hill many of us hold close to our hearts.