Monday, August 27, 2018

My Pendle Hill - by Cathy Hopley, scheme manager of Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership

Welcome to our new blog!

The landscape partnership for Pendle Hill (consisting of the Forest of Bowland AONB team, colleagues from our partner organisations, and the many volunteers, contractors and artists who will be involved over the next 4 years) will be posting blogs twice a month to keep you interested and involved in what is going on in this very special place.

Having worked locally for the Forest of Bowland AONB (that's Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) Pendle Hill has long been a landmark for me, and a beautiful place to visit. 
My first trip was many years ago, from the other side of Lancashire with a group of friends in the snow, and I seem to remember 'poly bagging' down at least part of the hill before enjoying a pint in a nearby cosy pub. 
Next time I went up it was with my two young children, the usual family 'rite of passage' that you see most days up there. We met a family of Nutters, yes really, at the trig point, celebrating their old man's 80th birthday!

Architecture students from Manchester University enjoy the view

More recently, and specifically over the last four years that I have been involved in the development of the Pendle Hill LP Programme, I have become a more frequent visitor and have explored the many routes to the top of Pendle, as well as discovering other beautiful and less-visited places within what is now the landscape partnership area. 

I have come across many people who treat their climb up the hill as some sort of obsession - some walking every day, others running up and down several times a week, many as part of a family or friends day out. I've met people who have climbed Pendle every day during Ramadan, no mean feat whilst you are fasting; and there is a man who helped to build the stone steps back in the 1980s, who likes to climb them regularly to check they are still ok; we have also got to know several individuals who take it upon them selves to collect litter left behind by other less thoughtful visitors - thank you!

Maybe this obsession is a continuation of the fact that Pendle Hill has inspired many many people over the centuries. We believe there are many Bronze Age burial mounds on Pendle or nearby. These people probably venerated the hill and recognised it as an important place to remember their dead. We also know that this is where George Fox came to in 1652 for a period of reflection. He had a vision of gathering people together from all the places he could see from the top of the hill, and he took this forward in his preaching and development of the Religious Society of Friends. He drank from a well near the summit - see if you can find it, many people still stop and take a drink there.
George Fox, founder of the Quaker movement

Other preachers and protestors have used the area as a place to gather together and to share new ideas. We haven't worked out if this is because the area was regarded as remote and distant from authority; or because of the locals' radical nature and forward thinking!

The hill was also used historically as a site in the nationwide network of beacons, spreading the news of major events such as the threat of the Spanish Armada, and numerous Royal Jubilees. 

So, whether we climb this big old hill to exercise the dog, to train for a major race, to dream up new ideas, or simply to enjoy the view and to make it to the top: we all feel that exhilaration and sense of achievement as we reach the trig point, invariably with the wind in our hair and a smile on our face.

Brierfield Action Group Youth Panel celebrate making it to the top

We hope we have something for everyone coming up in our exciting programme of work over the next four years, and so we look forward to meeting you - maybe one day at the top of the hill?

The Landscape Partnership staff team