Adventures in Lancashire; Following in the footsteps of the Pendle Witches

Sunday

Gandalf the Campervan is nestled on a lovely pitch at a C&MC CL on the outskirts of Burnley, Lancs. He’s done us proud today. We left home bright and early- with alarms set at 4:30am and us on the road just after 5am. Our first destination was just under 5 hours away- Lancaster Castle – and we wanted to get there in time for the first tour of the day so it wasn’t too hot to leave Jazz in the van (no dogs allowed in the grounds of the castle). We needn’t have worried it rained continuously from home to Lancaster, but happily on arrival we were greeted with sunny skies and a cool breeze. Perfect conditions to leave Jazz in the van at Dallas road car park (no height restrictions) for an hour or so.

Lancaster Castle blew us both away- the grounds and the keep are in great condition and it almost felt like a mini Windsor. The Lancashire sandstone against the blue sky was really dramatic.

The castle is steeped in history. It holds one of the oldest court rooms in the UK and many historic dungeons too. (Sadly these were out of bounds). The most famous trials which took place here were those of the Pendle Witches; 10 witches from the Pendle hill area of Lancashire were famously tried and found guilty of witchcraft in 1612. They went on to be hanged at the nearby park. No pics allowed inside whilst on the tour but we really enjoyed the hour or so.

Following our castle visit we retrieved Jazz and went for a walk to the Roman bath site, and then down Church street and Moorgate. We walked through Lancaster’s city centre and past the pub in which it was said the witches had their last drink before they were lead to their execution. (There is some debate on the truth of this though as historians say the pub building wouldn’t have been there in 1600s)

We enjoyed a delicious burrito lunch before getting Gandalf and following the “Pendle Witch trail” from Lancaster to near Burnley. This self guided driving tour takes you directly across the Trough of Bowland, which is absolutely stunning with views over to the sea. The lush green grass and rolling hills were a welcome sight after so much drought in Norfolk recently and our grass turning yellow across East Anglia- a sad sight indeed.

The villages we passed through were so traditional and unspoilt. The river that we followed throughout the Forest of Bowland AONB was charming and every twist and turn on the road kept us on the edge of our seats as the view changed constantly.

The route follows the journey (in reverse) in which the witches took from Pendle Hill to Lancaster castle to learn of their fate and is largely followed by following the brown witch signs.

Dunlop Bridge was a highlight as was Barley. The minor road skirts around the base of Pendle Hill… a large imposing hill, which falls short of a mountain by just 140ft, and then drops down into Barley. Barley is a good place to base yourself for some time as there are two walks that leave from here- up Pendle Hill and to Pendle Sculpture trail. We fancied doing both but didn’t do either – both took 2-2.5 hours and time was ticking on for us, plus my ankle/ heel injury has flared up again so I need to take it a bit easy.

We did however enjoy a pint in the Pendle Inn, a pretty pub in the centre of the village.

From here, as it was get close to 4pm and we had been up almost 12 hours, we decided to make our way to our campsite, just on the outskirts of Burnley, about 5 miles from Barley.

The small C&MC CL is called Lower Cockden farm. The pitches are hard standing and fully serviced, and there is a small toilet with washbasin. It’s really quiet and just what we were looking forward to.

We enjoyed a chill, soaking up the last rays of the day, plotting our cycling route for tomorrow and getting attacked by pesky wasps. Dinner was steak (a yellow label bargain!) and chips. Yum!

Really looking forward to a good nights sleeps and another day exploring this area tomorrow.

Monday

After a great night’s sleep, we enjoyed a lay in and then a cooked breakfast. I washed up whilst Keefy prepared the bikes and by 10:30 we were off on an adventure.

Within two miles we reached the Liverpool to Leeds canal, and joined the towpath.

We then followed this with lovely views to the hills to our left and pretty houses and old mills to our right.

Whilst we could hear the hum of the motorway it wasn’t intrusive and we really enjoyed the 5 miles of following it until we reached the turn off for the Pendle Heritage Centre.

We were surprised but pleased to learn that it was entirely dog friendly so we all went for a look inside. The heritage centre is in a historic timber house that has been through a number of structural transformations and extensions over the years. It has a pretty walled garden too which was fully in bloom. We enjoyed the exhibition upstairs about the witches and watched a short film which helped to bring the story to life.

After our visit, we had lunch across the road at the White Boar, before returning to the Canal and carrying on as far as Barrowford Locks.

We really enjoyed the scenery along the canal, and enjoyed the flat path. Sadly all good things must come to an end though, and the gradient was one of them! Our country road loop back to the site was less flat/ in fact the majority of it was up hill! We gave our E bikes a work out and were very thankful for them let me say!

Our Go Pro video Timelapse of our bike ride

Once we were on the home stretch, the last 0.5 of a mile, we stopped for a refreshment break at the pub before gliding downhill again to the campsite.

We had a great day, and are so pleased we picked this as our base for a couple of days.

Dinner tonight is pulled pork done in the slow cooker, with parmienter potatoes and veg.

Tomorrow it’s time to move on!

Until then

Lx

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