It is not what most people expect when they picture Burnley, but in less than five minutes from the middle of the town centre you can be surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in England. The landscape surrounding Burnley tempts walkers, cyclists and riders to take to the hills and the heather covered in moorland, for not only fresh air and exercise but also for a splendid view of the town below and the chance of seeing some of the wildlife of the area.
The South Pennines Heritage Area
No longer just the ‘bit in the middle’ the South Pennines, which straddles the Lancashire-Yorkshire border and includes Burnley, is an official designated heritage area. This sweeping landscape of vast open moorland and hills was one of the birthplaces of the industrial revolution. Visit Burnley’s South Pennines to enjoy Worsthorne Moor, the charming Elizabethan village of Hurstwood, Cant Clough and Hurstwood Reservoirs and the fascinating limestone hushings at Shedden Clough.
Dominating the landscape for miles around is magnificent Pendle Hill, 1,831 feet of it. Not quite a mountain, yet big enough to inspire all who see it, including George Fox, whose vision from the top of Pendle of a new way of life led to his founding of the Quaker movement.
This “brooding” hill of Robert Neill’s classic story ‘Mist over Pendle’ is home to an abundance of wildlife, from grouse and curlew to hare and fox, and it provides endlessly fascinating walks over its springy turf and tussocks of moorland grass. For the more energetic it is the ideal place for hang-gliding where the thermals can pick up up and whisk you away like a bird in flight, or for dry-skiing on the purpose built slope.
However, it is the mysterious magical tales of the Pendle Witches that often attract today’s visitors.
The Pendle Witches
1612 saw the birth of the legend of the Pendle Witches. In a time of superstition and paranoia, accusations of witchcraft were levelled against several families in the villages around Pendle Hill. These women were accused, confessed, tried, found guilty and executed by being hanged on the Gallows at Lancaster. The names are famous to this day Old Chattox, Alice Device, Alison Nutter and old Mother Demdike. They were no more witches than you or I but the stories surrounding them give a fascinating insight into the climate of the times.