The Pendle Sculpture Trail walk is 4.5km long and takes about 1 hour 15 minutes, but allow yourself more time to explore the trail and enjoy the many sculptures.
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|Pendle Sculpture Trail walk from Barley
|Andrew Forrest - March 2023
|Walk start point:
|Pay and display car park in the centre of Barley (grid reference SD 823 403) - it can get busy at weekends and bank holidays.
|Directions to nearest parking place:
|Google Maps: get directions here / What3words: clays.label.found
|Estimated walk time:
|1 hour 15 minutes
|Easy - as determined by our interpretation of the Ordnance Survey guidance on technical difficulties. Potentially Easy / Moderate as one small climb.
|Peaks / summits:
|None of note
|Ordnance Survey - Explorer OL41 (Forest of Bowland & Ribblesdale)
Buy this map from Ordnance Survey
|Facilities / refreshments:
|Toilets and the Cabin Café in the car park at Barley. Pubs: Pendle Inn and Barley Mow in Barley
|Walk starts in Barley
|View accommodation close to the start of this walk from Sykes Holiday Cottages or Holidaycottages.co.uk
Estimated walk time
Walk time estimates used are from the Ordnance Survey mapping app, which uses a refined Naismith's rule, adjusted by OS overlaying their own data collected from more than one million people using the OS mapping app. Naismith's rule allowed one hour for every three miles walked and added pro-rata an additional hour for every 2000ft of ascent - roughly one hour for every 5km, plus one hour for every 600m of ascent.
Ordnance Survey Mapping App
Use on any device and make it easy to explore the great outdoors for just the price of a coffee a month. Premium allows full UK access to all OS Explorer and Landranger mapping, along with the ability to import and export routes, save maps offline, aerial 3D, and print A3/A4 maps.
In this Pendle Sculpture Trail walk from Barley in Lancashire, we pass two picturesque reservoirs with views across to Pendle Hill, before entering Aitken Wood, a delightful woodland setting to show off the sculptures.
There are about 25 sculptures along the trail including the Magic Chair, the Witchfinder, the Ceramic Column, the Black Dog, and the Chained Witches amongst many others. Ceramic plaques representing 10 Pendle witches also provide additional entertainment for children for them to work out 'which witch is which'!
We head back to Barley along the outward route, passing again by Upper and Lower Black Moss reservoirs.
This Pendle Sculpture Trail walk is shown in full in the video and the routes for the walks are shown on the Ordnance Survey map - both above. Below is a brief description of the walk. Places where you can eat and drink after the walk are shown at the end of the video.
The Pendle Sculpture Trail walk starts from the car park in Barley in the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire, on the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales and is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Car park in Barley, Lancashire
To start the walk, head past the toilets on which there is an information board telling you about Barley and the local area and around past the Cabin Cafe to then head away from the car park along the gravel path.
Cross over the footbridge where you can see the Pendle Inn and Pendle Hill directly ahead on the horizon, then head along the gravel path and then the pavement to pass by the Barley Mow pub.
Footbridge, stream and Pendle Inn
Keep on along the road to pass the Barley Methodist Church, shortly after which at a road junction we turn right following the Blacko sign. Pointing along the private road, there are also signs for the Black Moss reservoirs and for the Pendle Sculpture Trail. The road is private, so please park back in the village.
Road junction to turn off to Pendle Sculpture Trail
Pendle Sculpture Trail sign
Head along the walled lane. After an initial climb, the lane flattens. Over to the left, you can see the dam at Lower Black Moss reservoir with Pendle Hill in the distance and over to the right you can see Aitken Wood in which is the Pendle Sculpture Trail.
Pendle Hill and dam for Lower Black Moss Reservoir
You then reach Lower Black Moss Reservoir on your left. It was completed in 1903, is 41 feet deep and can hold 65 million gallons. It was originally built to provide drinking water to the towns of Nelson and Barley.
Lower Black Moss Reservoir and Pendle Hill
Continue now along the lane. Pendle Hill, which can be seen over the reservoir, is 557 meters high and it was on Pendle Hill in 1652 that George Fox had a vision of 'great people to be gathered' waiting for him, which inspired the beginning of the Quaker movement.
If the sight of Pendle is inspiring you to climb it, why not check out our Pendle Hill from Barley via The Pendle Way (short route) walk or our most picturesque (well in our opinion anyway!) Pendle Hill walk from Barley via Ogden Clough or Boar Clough.
Looking back along Lower Black Moss Reservoir towards Pendle Hill
To discover more about Pendle Hill, why not explore our Ultimate Pendle Hill Guide, where Lancashire's iconic landscape brings together history, nature and adventure. From the chilling narratives of the Pendle Witch Trials to invigorating treks, idyllic villages and places to eat and drink, this comprehensive guide is your gateway to uncovering Pendle Hill's secrets, ensuring that your visit becomes a truly unforgettable journey.
Continuing on, you soon reach a T-junction where straight over the gate you can see the dam for the Upper Black Moss Reservoir.
We turn right here to head slightly uphill to quickly reach and then pass through the wooden gate. A few yards further on the entrance to the Pendle Sculpture Trail is reached on the right-hand side.
Over to the left here is the Upper Black Moss Reservoir, which was completed in 1894, is 31 feet deep and can hold 45 million gallons. Again, it was originally built to provide drinking water to Nelson.
Upper Black Moss Reservoir
We head away from the reservoir now to pass through the gate into Aitken Wood within which is the Pendle Sculpture Trail. The initial gravel path heading up to the trail is reasonably steep for about 300 meters. If you need a little rest on the way up, there are a couple of benches along the way that I'm guessing originally had a good view before the trees grew.
Gate into Pendle Sculpture Trail in Aitken Wood
Gravelled track heading up into the Pendle Sculpture Trail
A path comes in from the left - ignore this for now, as we will come back down that at the end of the trail. For now, just head straight on.
As the path flattens, this is the real start of the Sculpture Trail. Take time to explore all the sculptures and any paths off the main path. There is a leaflet available on the Visit Pendle website that sets out what sculpture is where.
Walking along the path, just off to the right, is the Magic Chair by Ben Gates.
Magic Chair in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
Back up on the main path, just before reaching the edge of Aitken Wood that you could see from the reservoirs, turn left following the Pendle Sculpture Trail sign.
Path junction in Pendle Sculpture Trail
Immediately on your left, you'll find the Witchfinder by Martin Bednarczuk. The Witchfinder was inspired by Roger Nowell, sheriff of Lancashire and a local magistrate at the time, who investigated and prosecuted the Pendle Witches in 1612.
The Witchfinder in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
If you cross over the path and head towards the edge of Aitken Wood again, you reach the Ceramic Column made by Sarah McDade. Sarah also made ceramic plaques commemorating each of the Pendle witches. More on that later.
Ceramic Column in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
Dappling light across the footpath in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
Walking back to the main path, we arrive at a couple of works by Philippe Handford, the lead artist for the Pendle Sculpture Trail when it was originally opened in 2012. Philippe used fallen trees to create these two works. The one on the right is called Reconnected 1, and then just a little further down on the left is Reconnected 2.
Reconnected 1 in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
Reconnected 2 in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
Through a few more trees you reach the Wishing Widow by Joe Hesketh. At the time, she also produced a series of paintings entitled 'Pendle Investigation' to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witch Trials in 2012.
Wishing Widow in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
A few yards past the Wishing Widow, you reach another Pendle Sculpture Trail footpath sign, which we will return to shortly.
Pendle Sculpture Trail footpath sign
Before that, head to the right of it and look up into the trees. There are 16 disks called the Rings of Time, 15 with dates on and one with the symbol for time, all commemorating local happenings.
Rings of Time in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
According to the Pendle website, on the rings the events the dates refer to are:
Back at the Pendle Sculpture Trail footpath sign, we now follow it, where shortly over on the right-hand side we reach the Black Dog by Victoria Morris and Lee Nicholson, the people behind Incredible Creations.
The Black Dog in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
Black Dog information sign
If you look close by many of the works, there are information signs telling you more about what the sculpture depicts. Demonic black dogs were familiar in English folklore and featured in the Pendle Witches trial, where Alison Device, one of the accused, said she carried out the curse with the help of a black dog.
Just a little further along the trail, if you look up, you'll see the Three Bats in Flight by Steve Blaylock.
Three Bats in Flight in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
A few yards further on over to the right, you can see the Life Circle, another creation by Philippe Handford.
Life Circle in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
Back across the path again, you need to look up for this one, is the Spider on Web, another creation by Steve Blaylock.
Spider on Web in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
The gap you can see ahead in the wall is where we will pass through shortly, but before that we'll keep to this side of the wall and visit the Dryad, another from Victoria Morris and Lee Nicholson.
Dryad in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
A Dryad in Greek mythology was a peaceful living nymph or spirit that lived in trees and took the form of a beautiful young woman. It is said that they are tied to the forest or wood they lived in and if they die, the forest will also die with her. Or if the forest is destroyed, the Dryad will fade away and die.
Head to and pass through the hole in the wall.
A few yards further on, follow the next Pendle Sculpture Trail sign, but just after this one, look up to see the Owl, another work by Steve Blaylock.
Owl in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
Heading further along the path, you'll glimpse another mythical creature over to the right. Before that though, we pass another of the ceramic plaques I mentioned earlier. The ten plaques are sited around the trail and represent the ten witches. The online sculpture trail leaflet, link above, gives you clues as to which witch is which.
Ceramic plaque - one of the Witches Clues
Just past the plaque on the right, is the mythical unicorn, another Victoria Morrison and Lee Nicholson creation. The Unicorn is generally depicted as a pony with a single white horn that has mystical powers.
Unicorn in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
There is another quiz in the Pendle Sculpture Trail online leaflet and the mythical exhibits have clues next to them for the answers.
After the unicorn, head back onto the path and follow it as it bends around to the left. On the bend, there is another one of the ceramic plaques.
Then just past that on the right, is the last sculpture on the trail, which is Chained Witches by Peter Naylor. In 2010, Peter won the Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture, the UK's most prestigious prize for public sculpture for his memorial to the 158 Squadron. The Marsh Award has been won in the past by the likes of Antony Gormley.
Chained Witches in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
If I had to pick a favourite sculpture, I think this would be it. I think it's apt that they can look across to Pendle Hill in the direction of Lancaster, where they eventually met their untimely death in Lancaster Castle after the witch trial.
This whole area is synonymous with the Pendle Witches and the witch trials. If you would like to find out more about the Pendle Witches and walk around some of the places associated with them, check out our Pendle Witches Walk from Barley.
From the Chained Witches, we just continue down the track. On meeting the junction we were at earlier, we just head around to the right and continue downhill.
This was the majority of the sculptures, but there are a few more that I'll leave you to explore. Sadly, from the previous time I did this walk a few sculptures are missing and from what I've read online that's down to vandalism and theft. The ones I noticed have disappeared are the Quaker Tree by Philippe Handford and the Boggart by Victoria Morris and Lee Nicholson.
Quaker Tree in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
Boggart in the Pendle Sculpture Trail
Pass back out of the wood through the wooden gate to arrive back at Upper Black Moss Reservoir. We turn left now to head back along the outward path.
Gate out of the Pendle Sculpture Trail looking across Upper Black Moss Reservoir to Pendle Hill
Pass through the gate, then at the T-junction head back around to the left to pass back by Lower Black Moss Reservoir.
Gate by Upper Black Moss Reservoir
Looking back across Lower Black Moss Reservoir towards Pendle Hill
If you have any thoughts about this walk that you'd like to share with us, or find any issues with any of the footpaths used, please share that with us in the review section below.
Upon meeting the road, turn left.
Road junction in Barley
You will soon arrive at the first of the places to eat and drink after the walk, The Barley Mow. The Barley Mow pub is dog-friendly, has a range of different menus and also serves breakfast. It has a varied drinks menu and generally has three cask ales on the bar and outside seating.
Barley Mow Pub
Just a few yards further on across the road is the dog-friendly Pendle Inn. You can eat and drink in the Pendle Inn and around the back there is a conservatory providing additional seating room. Out at the front when the weather's fine there are plenty of beer tables, or you can maybe pop inside and on the cooler days, maybe just sit next to the fire.
Pendle Inn in Barley
Back out on the road in front of the Pendle Inn, pass again down the side of the children's play area, then head back over the footbridge next to it to arrive back in the car park.
In the car park, there is also the Cabin Cafe that serves alcohol, teas, coffees and cakes, amongst other things.
Cabin Cafe in the car park in Barley
We do sometimes get asked questions about this walk, so we've set out the common ones below.
The walk is 4.5km (2.8 miles) long from Barley car park to the Pendle Sculpture trail and back.
Using the Ordnance Survey guidelines on technical difficulties for a walk, we have rated this as an Easy walk. There is a moderate gradient up into the woods, so possibly it could lie between Easy and Moderate.
It takes approximately 1 hour 15 minutes to do the walk, but we'd say allow longer to take in the views and explore Aitken Woods and the sculptures
There were 26 sculptures originally on the trail however a couple of them are now missing or destroyed.
That would be telling 😊. Download the leaflet and try to work it out for yourself. The leaflet does say that the answers are available on the Visit Pendle website.
The Pendle Inn and Barley Mow both in Barley and on the walk both provide accommodation, food and drink.
The Barley Mow and Pendle Inn in Barley both serve food. There is also the Bay Horse in nearby Roughlee.
The Barley Mow and Pendle Inn in Barley both serve food and drink. There is also the Bay Horse pub in nearby Roughlee.
You can download the from the Visit Pendle website.
There is no train station in Barley, the nearest ones being Colne, Nelson and Brierfield. Barley is on the Clitheroe to Nelson bus route though.
Yes, the Pendle Sculpture Trail is dog-friendly. There are no stiles to climb, just a couple of gates to pass through.
Maybe a pram with wide wheels and someone strong enough to push it up the slope into the woods – check out our video. The initial path is a road, then gravel, then rough gravel. There is a gravel slope into the woods and then the woodland path can get muddy in places at times.
Yes, the Pendle Sculpture Trail is suitable for children. The sculptures, especially the mythical ones, give them things to look at and they can do the quiz on the way around, albeit a few of the ceramic plaques are now a little weathered.
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What to wear and take on your walk or hike
Whether you are a seasoned hiker or new to walking, wearing and taking suitable hiking kit and clothing is essential for a day hike for your comfort and safety. So we have put together a hiking essentials checklist to cover all you'll need. Our Hiking Essentials checklist for 2024 takes you through planning your walk, the hiking essentials checklist itself, optional extras, explanations, and recommendations for all the hiking essentials.
Check out the reviews for this walk: