Monday, September 24, 2018

Barley Car Park for Pendle Hill... by Jayne Ashe, Community Engagement Officer

If you look on Google Maps it refers to the main car park in Barley as 'Barley Car Park for Pendle Hill'. And I don’t really think that it should. Yes, Barley Car Park is a very popular starting point for walking to the top of Pendle Hill, but that doesn't mean it’s the only car park for the Hill. Due to our recent Pendle Summit project, myself and colleagues have been making many trips up the hill from Barley, to check the works restoring the path and the construction of the dry stone wall shelter – but most walkers know there is so much more to the hill than just the popular route up from Barley.

My favourite route up to the summit starts in Downham – just as steep in places but more varied in landscape, and you can circle along the plateau, past the Shelter Cairn and Scout Cairn and back down the sometimes waterlogged paths on the aptly named Burst Clough.  I wouldn't park in Barley to do that route. If you have never reached the summit from Downham I highly recommend giving it a go. If you are coming along to our Meet You At The Top event on Saturday 6th October, we have the perfect opportunity because we will have volunteer marshals walking all the way up this route so you can become familiar with it.
On some days you can be walking above the clouds!

Beyond that the hill offers so much more than just a route to the trig point. The Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership area covers 122sqkm of Ribble Valley, Pendle and Burnley landscape –with the summit the focus in the middle, but with so much more around it. Over the past two years working for the AONB, I have been lucky enough to walk through woodlands, across valleys and along becks, discovering public footpaths which see very little footfall, some hidden local secrets but most with the hill as a back drop.

We are so lucky to have such a choice of walking routes in our area – and I love them even more when they are associated with local folklore and stories, or features which have colloquial names. Have you heard about the boggarts and treacle mines of Sabden? Or the fairy bridge over Swanside Beck (actually an old packhorse bridge but somewhere along the way I have picked up the name fairy bridge). Other routes are more embedded in our history – the coffin trail over towards Whalley from the Nick o' Pendle or the archaeological mysteries and popular walks and picnic sites at Watermeetings.
The beautiful 'fairy bridge' near Downham. Photo taken by Graham Cooper
(he can take much better photos than me!)

I have met lots of local people - and hope to continue to meet many more – some who have lived in the area for many years or others who have a passion for the history of the area. I have always been very appreciative of my opportunity to trek across the landscape with these individuals: learning new things every day. And I hope that through our work within the Landscape Partnership, we can show others these routes and tell more of these stories.

Through some of our projects, such as 'Volunteering and Learning' and 'People Enjoying Nature', we do get the opportunity to take people to areas of the landscape where they may never have been before, or may not have even considered exploring. By having the support and guidance at certain sites or on routes, the aim is that people will make return visits or have the confidence to explore new walks – even if it may just be a new route to the summit!
Volunteers and staff enjoying a different route earlier this year

So hopefully you may agree with me that Barley Car Park for Pendle Hill isn't necessarily correct – instead it could just be Barley Car Park? Don’t get me wrong, that trip up to the summit is an important one – something that we may first do as a small child, and do again and again either at Easter or on Boxing Day, with family and old friends – but there is also so much more out there that doesn’t necessarily include the steep climb up the steps, but with views and in a landscape that is just as rewarding. I encourage you to go out exploring!
We have a few of these great stone markers across the area

Please always remember to follow the Countryside Code and keep dogs under close control, preferably on a lead. Only ever stick to Public Rights of Way or Bridleways when not in an Open Access area, and please always park safely and considerately to home owners and land owners. There are a number of car parks, some smaller than others, some free and other pay and display in places like Sabden and Rimington, Barrowford and Whalley – all great places to start walking.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Pendle Summer Adventures Blog 
By Alison Cross – Outdoor Learning Officer - The Ernest Cook Trust

The Outdoor Learning project is led by the Outdoor Learning Officer, who is employed through the Ernest Cook Trust. ECT was founded as an educational trust by Ernest Cook, grandson of Thomas Cook (the travel agent), in 1952. The head office is based on the Fairford Estate in Gloucestershire. ECT's vision is inspiring young people to achieve better education and life outcomes by learning from the land. In order to increase this reach they have begun to partner with a range of organisations in different parts of the UK, hence their involvement with the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership (PHLP). The Outdoor Learning Officer will provide a key role in broadening learning aspects of the PHLP, providing additional family activities and formal education methods to engage with the PHLP community.

I have had a great summer, exploring the local area, running family events and taking advantage of the lovely weather we have had. I am not a Lancastrian (home is originally Cheshire), so getting to know the local stories, wildlife, heritage and people of Pendle Hill has been really important.

Leading on from Cathy's blog, my first trip up Pendle Hill was more recent. The Pendle Hill Landscape team took me up in June. It was one of those beautiful clear days, and you could see for miles from the summit. Being able to see the Yorkshire Dales and Darwen Tower (which I have since been up), was spectacular. Of course I stopped many times on the way up to catch my breath and take in the views. I have since been up in the famous mist, where the new footpaths have helped me find my way to the trig point. Being able to hear fellow walkers, but not see them, was quiet eerie. The surprising moment is when people appear out of the mist just a few meters in front and you are able to say "oh we must be keen to walk up here in this weather!"

Summit back in June, during the path restoration work

I have had lots of meetings with the landscape partners, local teachers and community groups over the summer. This has provided me with ideas for the next four years of outdoor learning. To kick start the project I delivered some free family nature events at Spring Wood near Whalley and Victoria Park in Nelson. Thanks to all who attended with their children and grandchildren (and big kids too), over the six sessions.

At the start of August the children were inspired by natural art, such as Andy Goldsworthy's creations. (Do look him up, there are a few of his pieces nearby within the natural landscape.) We made our own land art work such as faces, houses and even a jungle. Hopefully these children have since made more land art in their own wild space. It is a lovely activity to do all year round.

Land art smiley face, inspired by Andy Goldworthy

The second event theme was minibeasts. For this we were joined by Emily from the Ribble Rivers Trust (one of our partners). She kindly brought along some water invertebrates, and these fascinated children and adults. We all loved watching the freshwater shrimps whizzing across the water surface. The underwater world is fascinating, as is the woody world. Children found lots of insects including woodlice, which interestingly have lots of colloquial names, such as billybuttons (do let me know what you call a woodlouse). Children then created some wonderful alien insects using natural resources and clay.

Looking at water invertebrates with the Ribble Rivers Trust

Minibeast creations from natural resources and clay,
one is a caterpillar, the other is a new species

Woodlice regional nicknames in the UK
Our last session was den building, we had a great attendance. Small and big dens were created, and I had the joy of pouring water over them to test if they were waterproof. Luckily most of them were. I hope the families became inspired to make their own dens at home and in local wild spaces. Just remember to return the wood to its natural habitat (take down the big dens), as it might be a billybuttons house.

Mini den building for little clay people the children made

Now the summer holidays are over, I am busy thinking about schools, planning Little Saplings sessions for under 5s, and many other outdoor learning opportunities as part of the landscape partnership scheme.

Our next Free Family Nature Events will be in October half term, follow us on our Facebook page or keep an eye on our website for the dates and details. We also have a big event on Saturday 6th October 'Meet you at the top', suitable for families and people of all ages. Look out for posters and more info.

I hope you have all had a great summer (with or without little humans at your feet). I look forward to meeting more people either up the hill on October 6th, at our future family events or just out and about in the Pendle hill area. Now, where did my pet billybutton go?