Pendle Hill

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For other uses, see Pendle Hill (disambiguation).
Pendle Hill
Pendle Hill and the Ribble Valley - - 72304.jpg
Pendle Hill from the Ribble Valley
Elevation 557 m (1,827 ft)
Prominence c. 395 metres (1,296 ft)
Parent peak Kinder Scout[1]
Listing Marilyn
Pendle Hill is located in Lancashire
Pendle Hill
Pendle Hill
Location in Lancashire
Location Lancashire, England
OS grid SD804414
Coordinates 53°52′08″N 2°18′00″W / 53.869°N 2.3°W / 53.869; -2.3Coordinates: 53°52′08″N 2°18′00″W / 53.869°N 2.3°W / 53.869; -2.3
Topo map OS Landranger 103

Pendle Hill is located in the east of Lancashire, England, near the towns of Burnley, Nelson, Colne, Clitheroe and Padiham. Its summit is 557 metres (1,827 ft) above mean sea level. It gives its name to the Borough of Pendle. It is an isolated hill, separated from the Pennines to the east, the Bowland Fells to the northwest, and the West Pennine Moors to the south. It is a detached part of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).


Pendle Hill is separated from the nearby main bulk of the Bowland Fells by the River Ribble. This isolation means that Pendle Hill is in fact the most prominent child summit of Kinder Scout, far away in the Peak District, rather than a child of Ward's Stone, the highest point in Bowland.[1]


The sloping plateau summit of Pendle Hill is formed from the Pendle Grit, a coarse Carboniferous age sandstone assigned to the Millstone Grit Group. It overlies a thick sequence of Carboniferous Limestone beds.

Much of the lower slopes is mantled by thick deposits of glacial till or boulder clay dating from the last Ice Age. The historic decomposition of sphagnum moss on the hill has led to it being covered in peat.

The steep slopes of its eastern and southern flanks have given rise to a series of landslips.


The name "Pendle Hill" combines the words for hill from three different languages, as does Bredon Hill in Worcestershire. In the 13th century it was called Pennul or Penhul, apparently from the Cumbric pen and Old English hyll, both meaning "hill". The modern English "hill" was appended later, after the original meaning of Pendle had become opaque, although traditionalist locals insist on "Pendle".

A Bronze Age burial site has been discovered at the summit of the hill.[citation needed] The hill is also famous for its links to three events which took place in the 17th century: the Pendle witch trials (1612), Richard Towneley's barometer experiment (1661), and the vision of George Fox (1652), which led to the foundation of the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) movement.

The most popular route for ascending the hill begins in the village of Barley, which lies to the east. This route also provides the steepest ascent. Other nearby villages include Downham, Roughlee, Newchurch-in-Pendle, Sabden and Pendleton.

A local saying suggests the area around Pendle Hill experiences frequent rainfall: "If you can see Pendle it's about to rain, if you can't, it's already started." When the weather is fine Pendle is a popular hill-launch for paragliders and, with a north-westerly wind, for hang gliders.


Pendle Hill in winter 2010

In 1652, during the early years of the Quakers, George Fox claimed to have had a vision while on top of Pendle Hill:

As we travelled, we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered.

George Fox: An Autobiography, Chapter 6

Today Pendle remains strongly linked to the Quakers, giving its name to one of their centres for religious and spiritual study and contemplation near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States.[2]

Witches and the supernatural[edit]

Pendle from the west. (Longridge Fell is to the right.)

The story of the Pendle witches is one of the best-known and well-documented examples of alleged witchcraft in 17th-century England.[3] The hill continues to be associated with witchcraft; large numbers of visitors climb it every Hallowe'en, although in recent years people have been discouraged by the authorities.

The area is popular with ghost hunters after Living channel's show Most Haunted visited it for a live investigation on Halloween 2004.[4] The show's presenter, Yvette Fielding, said it was the scariest episode they had made, and is widely considered to have been the scariest of the entire series. On 30 October, the programme visited Clitheroe Castle, Church Brow and Trinity Youth Centre. On Halloween it visited Lower Well Head Farm, Bull Hole Farm and Tynedale Farm; the investigation ended on 1 November at Waddow Hall.

Pendle Hill and the surrounding area are the setting for the fourth book in Joseph Delaney's The Wardstone Chronicles, called The Spook's Battle.

A panoramic image of Pendle Hill in 2012 showing the northeast slopes, known as the Big End, overlooking Black Moss Reservoirs on the edge of Barley-with-Wheatley Booth. The footpath from Barley (not pictured) to the summit can be seen ascending from left to right. (The full-size image is 10 times larger.)



  1. ^ a b Mark Jackson, More relative hills of Britain,, pp 140-41
  2. ^ "Home - Pendle Hill, a Quaker study, retreat, and conference center near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania". Pendle Hill. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Sharpe 2002, p. 1
  4. ^ 'Most Haunted' crew has a spooky visit to Pendle Clitheroe Advertiser, 5 November 2004. Accessed 29 March 2008.


  • Sharpe, James (2002), "The Lancaster witches in historical context", in Poole, Robert, The Lancashire Witches: Histories and Stories, Manchester University Press, pp. 1–18, ISBN 978-0-7190-6204-9 

External links[edit]