The Vault Regulars

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Pendle Hill 557 metres.

 THURSDAY 17th MARCH 2022.

From wherever you may be in Lancashire there is a good chance that you can see Pendle Hill. At a height of 557 metres it is the most climbed hill in Lancashire. There are numerous trails to get you to the top and the hardest route on the legs is from Barley village and is generally called “The steps route”.

The route we took is less severe on the thighs and calf's but it has the added bonus of being a far better route for scenery even though it is slightly longer and needs care with map reading in bad weather. It takes the summit in a clockwise direction, starting from the large car park in Barley village.

From the car park entrance (£1.50 for 3 hrs or £3.00 all day) take a right and at the T junction cross over and take the lane beside the Mountain rescue centre and through Barley Green, passing the old Nelson Waterworks building which has been tastefully converted to housing.

Walking gradually up hill you come to the first of two reservoirs in Ogden Clough. Carry on a good path which becomes part of the Pendle Way with the witch emblem on it’s arrow post. The overflow from the 2nd reservoir comes into view and depending on the water height can be a good photo opportunity. The steps going up the dam wall warm those calf muscles up and at the top another photo.

At the base of the reservoir I spotted this Fallow Deer staring right at us.

The trail is to the right of the reservoir, between a fence and a wall and gradually gets narrower as you leave the reservoir behind and access open country. At the point where the track splits into two take the upper path. The lower path to the left of the fence goes down towards the river and if you take this by mistake will mean retracing your steps.

Lower Ogden Reservoir
Lower Ogden Reservoir
Upper Ogden Reservoir overflow.
Upper reservoir and path to the right following the wall.

Looking up the valley the rising path is clearly seen following Boar Clough. The views here unfold and looking back you get to see the height gained and the rough landscape of the upper Ogden Clough.

Route ahead strikes up the shoulder on the right.
The Common Frog, which is getting rarer every year.

A Kestral photographed from quite a way off. (a little too far for the lens I had on)
The wilder, more rugged upper Ogden Clough.

As the climb starts to level out, the stream is crossed and you will start to see cairns located at intervals to help you navigate towards the summit. The trail takes on a curved course to the right but also you can carry on following the stream itself if you wish. I do recommend following the cairned track if this is your first time as the flat moorland landscape is not for beginners in bad weather.

Heading North to the OS Trig Point (Number S2161).

The cairns run out as you join the grassy path heading in a northerly direction which leads to the summit. Hopefully the weather will be kind to you and the views extensive. It can get very windy at the top even on a good day in the valley. We measured wind speeds of 36km/hr today and temperatures down below freezing with the wind chill.

Carrying on in a northerly direction from the os trig point and in approx 450 metres will will come to a wind shelter built into the wall. A word carved into the stone work reads Kpacota. It means beauty and music in Russian. I have no idea why it is here. 

Recently built wind shelter
Russian for Beauty and Music. A little ironic at this moment in time.

Happy 60th Birthday Sheila.

There is a stile in the wall just to the left of the shelter. Ignore this as we do not cross the wall. Follow the wall round to the right hand side until you come to an obvious path down to the right. This is the top of the Steps route. Follow the steps down, taking care if conditions are slippery.

As a point of interest, if time will allow, there is a spring on the hillside at grid reference  SD 80494200. It is known as Fox’s well after George Fox who ad a vision whilst climbing Pendle Hill in the mid 1600’s. He went on to found the Quaker Society. (Many thanks to Bowland Climber blog for this information)

Typically it started to rain so we didn't hang about at the top. We donned wet gear and headed off.

At the bottom of the steps go through a gate and bear diagonally right and follow the fence of Pendle House to a field gate. Through the gate the path follows a wall on the left to another gate adjacent to a small stream. The path is obvious and should be followed all the way back into the village. At a bridge on the village road opposite the Methodist Chapel bear right and walk past the bus turning circle which will probably be full of parked cars. A path behind the wall on the left leads across a bridge and into the car park where the trail started.

Below are some of the relics we passed on the way down.

The not so rare David Brown 885. 2wd. Built 1971-1980. 2,7L 3 cal engine. 47hp.

The route is 8km and took us just over 3 hrs total. We did stop to take quite a few photographs too. In my opinion this trail is the nicest route to ascend the hill.

The route, walked in a clockwise Direction.


  1. Nice one, Alan, and Happy Birthday to Sheila.

  2. Cheers Martin, Sheila says thanks too.

  3. Belated birthday wishes to Sheila....I'm sure there was good cake!
    That looks to be a nice route up Pendle, I've only ever gone up from the Pendle House side. Looks like you had lovely weather!

  4. Thanks JJ. Sheila gives you a thumbs up. We think this is the nicest route with varied scenery but we haven't done every route. The weather was mixed and very cold on the tops as you will know from your jolly to the Howgills.


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