The Pendle Witches Way practicalities
prices as at June 2013, for a double room, usually with en-suite
This is a fine 48-mile walk. The theme - the transfer of the Pendle Witches from where they lived
to where they were tried and hanged - may seem rather ghoulish, but it sets off interesting
conversations, and the walk could stand alone as a traverse of the Ribble Valley and the
Forest of Bowland.
There are two upland sections - Pendle Hill and Hawthornthwaite Top - where there are
sometimes no paths; in practice, navigation was not difficult, as long as there is some
visibility. We hardly saw any other walkers; so this would be a good excursion for anyone wanting a taste of slightly wild
outdoors, but near to the facilities of charming little villages.
1. Walking days
We did it in five, plus two days for travel from and to London. If you don't want to follow the Witches' story, you could do it in three days from Clitheroe; however, we found the first two days a very interesting introduction to the Lancashire landscape.
2. Getting there & away
Train from London (Euston) to Burnley Barracks: 3¼ hours. Bus number 27 from near the station to Sabden, 40 minutes.
Train from Lancaster to London (Euston): 3½ hours.
3. Leaflet, Maps
This walk was devised in 2011 by Phil Bedson; his website is
His booklet (bought from the website) is essential for the route description, as there are
no waymarks (waymarks and marked paths on the OS map for The Pendle Way should be ignored -
this is a different path). Phil also has an interesting summary of the Witches' story, and
relates it to locations, particularly in the Sabden area.
The main map is OS Map OL41 (1:25000). Unfortunately you would also need OS OL21 and
Explorer 287 for day 1. We experimented navigating day 1 purely on Phil Bedson's
instructions, and it worked fine (see below).
4. The Route
Sabden: We stayed at Cobden Farm (£65), about a mile South West of town, and walked South through woods and fields to the
Higher Trapp Hotel for supper.
Day 1: Sabden to Barley (9.3 miles).
The route instructions in the booklet are fine, except that on page 10, after visiting the
location of Old Chattox's hovel, it's left downhill, not right. At the River Calder we got
a bit confused, but just followed the North bank upstream, and continued on the path into the wood
where the river turns South East. At the top of page 13, when it says 'aim for the mast',
you are on OL41, the mast is at 826 385. The next bit is easier using both map and
instructions (which is what we did for the rest of the walk).
We stayed at
The Pendle Inn (£60 for bed, no breakfast).
Day 2: Barley to Clitheroe (6.7 miles).
The instructions for going over Pendle Hill are clear; we found ourselves on quite a steep
descent on the Clitheroe side, but we were close to the valley above Little Mearley Hall and maybe should have been further East.
We stayed at the
Brooklyn Guest House (£65).
Day 3: Clitheroe to Dunsop Bridge (12.5 miles).
We stayed at Wood End Farm (£70) near the village, and got driven to a pub for the evening.
Day 4: Dunsop Bridge to Abbeystead (9 miles).
Again, the instructions for the pathless section over Hawthornthwaite Fell are clear, but
in 2013 the Trig point could not be seen as it had fallen over. After the summit it seems
risky setting off North because there is no view down, but there is a big margin of error - you would come to the river Wyre.
We stayed at Green Bank Farmhouse
(£60). It is 2½ miles West of Abbeystead and they offered to pick us up, but
we walked along the road, and later to the pub as well.
Day 5: Abbeystead to Lancaster (10.5 miles).
We picked our way through the fields to the Jubilee Tower, and then into Lancaster. We think
the place where the witches were hanged is marked as 'Park' on the OS map. There is no monument.
We stayed at the Penny Street Bridge Hotel (£71 plus £12 for two breakfasts).