£1.8m Lottery windfall will help Pendle shed its air of mystery

The much-visited trig point at the top of the hill.
The much-visited trig point at the top of the hill.

Pendle Hill is getting ready to shake off its air of mystery and share some of its secrets and stories.

The launch of a new landscape partnership which aims to re-connect people with their heritage and this special landscape has now been given major backing.

Pendle Hill from Downham by Anne Spencer.

Pendle Hill from Downham by Anne Spencer.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £1.8m towards the scheme led by the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and work will start in a few months’ time.

Sue Bowers, HLF Deputy Director of Operations, said: “Pendle Hill is famous for its eerie past and tales of the witch trials draw in many visitors every year.

“But there’s a lot more to Pendle and thanks to National Lottery players this project is designed to open up, preserve and share other parts of the areas incredible heritage including the founding of the Quaker movement by George Fox.

“The benefits of this project are far reaching and will offer a range of apprenticeships and trainee positions for local people helping to reconnect them to their natural heritage.”

Members of the Landscape Partnership board celebrate news of the 1.8m grant.

Members of the Landscape Partnership board celebrate news of the 1.8m grant.

The Pendle Hill landscape partnership is planning to uncover the area’s lesser-known heritage and to share it with a wide range of visitors and local residents.

Plans include improving access to the hill, celebrating the area’s social history, improving wildlife sites, and offering opportunity to volunteers and trainees.

Pendle’s history is summed up in its name: “Pen” is Celtic for hill, whilst “Dhull” is the Saxon word for hill – so the place is really called “hill hill hill”.

This shows us just how important the landmark has been throughout the history of the area.

It provided safe haven for pre-historic travellers and settlers with burial cairns, enclosure patterns and trackways still remaining today.

The landscape partnership includes a number of archaeological explorations, plus training for budding archaeologists, and heritage open days for everyone to learn more.

Similarly there will be opportunity for people to learn more about the area’s radical past and the impact of groups such as the Chartists, non-conformists, suffragettes and socialists.

The natural heritage of the hill will also be improved by the scheme.

Old walls and hedgerows will be restored to bring back the patchwork pattern to the landscape and to revive an interest in these traditional rural crafts.

Important grasslands and woodlands will be restored and managed and there will be plenty of opportunity for farmers to get involved through a new farmers group being set up by the AONB.

Volunteers can also get involved and there will also be special day visits and activities planned for people who do not normally get the chance to benefit from the landscape.

There will be new apprenticeships offered to young people interested in a career outdoors; and learning opportunities for visiting schools and other groups will also be on offer.

There are plans to improve and waymark walking routes and to open these up for people of all abilities.

Information hubs at Barley, Downham, Spring Wood and the Nick of Pendle will be improved and local tourism and food providers will be encouraged and supported to promote the area more.

The project will generate more creative activity and digital interpretation such as a “heritage app”, village treasure trails and downloadable walking guides.

A number of artists in residence will be involved in the projects helping to interpret the stories of the hill, its nature and its past.

There will be opportunity for people to get involved with the artists’ work and they will also help to run annual Gatherings to celebrate and guide the scheme throughout its four year life.

Chair of the landscape partnership and local landowner Ralph Assheton said: “I am very excited that after all the hard work put in by the team and partners, that we’ve secured our National Lottery funding. Now the hard work really begins!”

Find out more about the scheme at www.forestofbowland.com/Pendle-Hill-LP or visit the project’s Facebook page “pendlehillproject”.