Tag Archives: lancashire witch trials

A Washed Out Witchy Wander.

My sister, niece and nephew and I ( and Hugo, of course) had planned to do the Walking With Witches Trail , a 4 mile loop starting at Barley Car Park. The pretty villages of Barley, Newchurch and Roughlee lie in the shadow of Pendle Hill. The area is famed for its spooky associations with The Pendle Witches , a group of individuals who in the 1600s were sentenced to death for witchcraft. Of course the day we set off on our witchy wander it was chucking it down with rain and the foreboding bulk of Pendle Hill was enveloped in mist.

We only managed to follow the trail from Barley to nearby Newchurch over boggy fields, before calling it a day and turning back. I didn’t take many photos, but still thought I would share with you what we did see between showers. The scarlet and yellow waxy cap mushrooms we spied along the way are a fairly good indicator of ancient meadowlands.

Newchurch is named after its ‘ new church’ of St Mary’s consecrated in 1554. The west side of the churches tower is unusual for its Eye Of God. Can you see it? Maybe the eye was there to watch over the locals, more likely it was used as a window by the bell-ringers, so they could view approaching service goers. Whichever, it is a little bit spooky on a grey Lancashire day.

St Mary’s Church with its Eye Of God.
Leaning head stones in the churchyard.

To the right of the churches porch is a Nutter family grave, inscribed with a skull and crossbones, athough it is unlikely that Alice Nutter herself was buried here. Alice Nutter was a land owning gentlewoman from nearby Roughlee. She had been involved in a boundary dispute with her neighbor , local magistrate Christopher Nowell. Maybe the dispute was easily solved when Alice herself was conveniently found to be one of the 12 people in the area sentenced to death for witchcraft.

Nutter family grave.
It is unlikely Alice was buried here as ‘ witches’ were not buried in consecrated ground.

Although the superstitious times of the 17th century are thankfully over, there is a little shop in Newchurch that sells all things witchy, so we couldn’t resist a mooch…and shelter from the rain.

Snap of Witches Galore from their website.

Inside Witches Galore there is certainly plenty to look at. My sister purchased a painted Pendle witch pebble and as for myself? An ornamental toadstool. 🙂

Witches above.
Witches all around.

If only we could have used Pendle Transport ( broomsticks!) for our journey back to the car. We settled on walking to Barley along the road instead of through the muddy fields. Another time we will do the whole Walking With Witches Trail. There is so much more to explore!

🧙‍♀️🎃

New sculptures on the Pendle Sculpture Trail.

Pendle Sculpture Trail in Aitken Wood near Barley is a great little walk that is brimming with eye catching sculptures. I’ve blogged about this trail before here , and it’s now somewhere we love to bring Hugo. Over time some of the sculptures have naturally eroded but a few more have recently been added too. We visited on a foggy Monday morning, driving through the village of Downham and over a misty Pendle Hill.

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Witches on the trail.

There is ample parking in the car park in Barley ( £1 charge) which has a cafe & information centre. No maps featuring the new art installations were available on our visit ,but hopefully this will be remedied soon. To access the Sculpture Trail we made our way through the village , passing the Pendle Inn on our left and then Barley Garage, before following the signs up past two reservoirs and on to Aitken Wood.

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Another witch on the garage.
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A collie keeps a watchful eye on us.

The original Sculptures are very much inspired by the tale of the Pendle Witches. In the 1600s nine local women and one man were accused of witchcraft and tried and hung in Lancaster, as part of the Lancashire Witch trials. Of course they were no doubt innocent victims of the superstitious times they lived in. Other sculptures are inspired by the natural world and there are yet more, with a hint of the supernatural about them.

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Could this be a fir cone?
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Bracket Fungi , maybe.
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Mischievous boggart.
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Bat.

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Any eye-deas?

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Witch Finder General.

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The fog really adds to the atmosphere of the walk don’t you think? At one point I heard some bizarre sounds, that Wil and Hugo seemed completely oblivious to. Some very strange clickings & chattering’s from deep in the woods. Maybe I was letting the surroundings get to me, but I didn’t investigate further. Wil said I had probably heard a toad. Hmmmmm!

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Into the woods.

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I was definitely starting to believe I was in a Grimm’s Fairy tale by this point. More and more supernatural beings were emerging from the fog.

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There were years written on the circular flags. Possibly denoting the time passed since the Witch trials.
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Black Dog.
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Dryad ( tree nymph).
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Unicorn.

Also dotted around the woods are several ceramic plaques, one for each of the accused witches.

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Ceramic sheep skull plaque.
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Tiny fairy on woodpecker.
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Loved this one of the Pendle Witches.
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One of a flock of male and female Crossbills.

As we were leaving Aitken Wood I heard a lot of activity in some conifer trees. Looking up, I saw a flock of crossbills , my first ever. A magic moment indeed.

Are there any interesting sculpture trails near you?