The once-magnificent Pendle Sculpture Trail (AKA Barley Sculpture Trail) has certainly seen better days. Overlooked by the impressive Pendle Hill, the ageing sculpture trail, which starts in the charming town of Barley, has started to show signs of wear and tear and even vandalism. In this guide, we’re going to provide all of the latest information about visiting Barley to do the Pendle Sculpture Trail. By reading this guide, we’ll give our two cents on whether it’s still worth doing. Whilst we’re at it, we’ll talk a little about the town of Barley and its famous Pendle Inn.
Anyway, before reading this guide, feel free to watch our Forest of Bowland hiking video (coming soon). The video features footage of the Pendle Sculpture Trail, starting from Barley.
We hope you find this guide helpful. For other great places to visit in the Forest of Bowland, read our guides about the Trough of Bowland, Tolkien Trail, Gisburn Forest and Stocks Reservoir. Otherwise, read our big Forest of Bowland Walking Guide, our Forest of Bowland Visitor’s Guide or our Lancashire Walking Guide.
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What Is the Pendle Sculpture Trail?
The Pendle Sculpture Trail was created in 2012 to commemorate the 400th year anniversary of the Pendle witches of 1612. Indeed, the family-friendly walking trail included sculptures inspired by the infamous Pendle witches and local heritage.
In 2019, some new sculptures and artworks were added to the trail. At this point in time, up to 26 sculptures could be found along the walk. These were created by the lead artist Philippe Handford. Whilst, other artists including Martyn Bednarczuk, Steve Blaylock, Ben Gates, Joe Hesketh, Nagaire Jackson, Sarah McDade, Victoria Morris, Lee Nicholson and Peter Naylor, also contributed.
Along the trail, there are also 10 story-telling ceramic plaques to be found. These were created by Sarah McDade. Each plaque symbolised one of the ten people from Pendle who were accused of witchcraft over 400 years ago.
Without a doubt, the Pendle Sculpture Trail was a hit with the locals and visitors alike. Even the new sculptures added in 2019 added a needed fresh touch. But, it’s now a few years down the line from the time the initial trail was developed.
Admittedly, in recent years, the trail has fallen victim to both natural erosion from the weather and also from vandalism. Safe to say, the Pendle Sculpture Trail isn’t quite as it once was. To that end, some of the original sculptures are damaged or are no longer to be found.
So, is it still worth doing the Pendle Sculpture Trail or should you simply visit Barley to do the Pendle Hill Walk? We’ll answer this question in-depth below. Otherwise, to help you make your mind up, let us tell you about what to expect during a visit.
Where Is the Pendle Sculpture Trail?
The Pendle Sculpture Trail is located in Barley, near Burnley, in Lancashire, in the northwest of England. You’ll find the trail falls in the sublime Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). To help you get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map on Google Maps.
FYI – as mentioned, the Pendle Sculpture Trail is also known as the Barley Sculpture Trail. Additionally, the trail is also known as the Pendle Witch Sculpture Trail.
Pendle Sculpture Trail Route Information
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 4.5km
- Time: 1–1.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 100m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Barley Car Park
- Pendle Sculpture Trail postcode: BB12 9JX (Barley Car Park)
Pendle Sculpture Trail Map (GPS-Guided) and GPX File
Here’s a map of the Pendle Sculpture Trail in Barley. In terms of Pendle Sculpture Trail directions, you could print and follow this map. Alternatively, you can follow this GPS-guided map – simply click on this link to access the downloadable GPX file. That way, you can upload the GPX file to whichever trails map app you use.
Pendle Sculpture Trail: Trail Description
Below, we’ll describe the Pendle Sculpture Trail, starting from Barley, which we completed many years after the trail’s creation.
After parking in Barley, you’ll pass the Village Hall and public toilets, following a quaint stream in a northerly direction. You’ll soon pass the Pendle Inn and Barley Mow pubs as well as the Barley Methodist Church. Soon, you’ll arrive at a private road leading to the Black Moss reservoirs. Follow this road and you’ll soon pass Lower Black Moss Reservoir.
Black Moss Reservoirs
From Lower Black Moss Reservoir, you’ll also enjoy splendid views of Pendle Hill. You’ll then arrive at Upper Black Moss Reservoir, near the official trailhead for the Pendle Sculpture Trail. You’ll enter a gate to commence the trail through Aitken Wood.
Pendle Sculpture Trail in Aitken Wood
Initially, the trail steeply ascends into the woodlands. You’ll soon arrive at the circular route. It’s recommended to complete the loop trail in an anti-clockwise direction. Once you’ve started following the circular route, you’ll begin to spot various artworks and installations. Some are in decent nick, whilst others are certainly worse for wear. As mentioned, some of the sculptures are completely missing. So, you might find the official map to be inaccurate.
The circular trail guides you through the peaceful woodlands, gently undulating and meandering. Even with many sculptures damaged or missing, the woodland trail is still a charming walk.
Once you’ve completed the circular route, you’ll simply retrace your steps to return to Barley to complete the Pendle Sculpture Trail.
How to Get to Barley For the Pendle Sculpture Trail
The easiest and quickest way to get to the Barley to do the Pendle Sculpture Trail is to drive there yourself.
If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Rental Cars for reasonable prices. The website is user-friendly and booking online is super easy.
It’s possible to get to Barley using public transport. You could get a train to Clitheroe or Nelson from Manchester. You’d then need to catch a Ribble Country bus service to Barley. Feel free to check the train times and prices here. We recommend using Trainline and Google Maps to help plan your journey. Overall, this type of journey could take around two hours one way. Despite public transport being an option, we recommend driving (if that’s possible) as it’s much less time-consuming.
Parking For the Pendle Sculpture Trail: Barley Car Park
As mentioned, the Pendle Sculpture Trail actually starts from the town of Barley. That’s because the road leading to the official trailhead at Aitken Wood is a private access-only road.
Most visitors to Barley will park at the Barley Parish Council Car Park. In terms of opening hours, the car park is open from 8am to 6pm, October to March, and from 8am to 9pm, April to September. Because the walk takes around 1–1.5 hours, you’ll need to pay £1.50 for parking. This is the rate for parking between 30 minutes and three hours.
Otherwise, you’ll find free street-side parking in Barley. But, these spaces tend to fill quickly, especially on the weekend and during summer.
Where to Eat in Barley
After finishing the walk, you may be looking for some food to eat or something to drink. We highly recommend heading to the well-known Pendle Inn in Barley.
The Pendle Inn, Barley (The Best Restaurant and Pub)
The Pendle Inn is often the go-to restaurant and pub for those who have completed the Pendle Sculpture Trail or Pendle Hill Walk. Located near the Village Hall and near the main car park, the Pendle Inn is the most popular pub in Barley. This dog-friendly pub has a fantastic menu and a decent variety of beers on tap. On a sunny day, you’ll find ample space in the beer garden to relax.
Also, the Pendle Inn is one of the best places to stay in Barley. In terms of value for money and location, we highly recommend staying at the Pendle Inn in Barley.
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about the Pendle Sculpture Trail in Barley.
Is the Pendle Sculpture Trail Open?
Yes, it remains open all year round. The trail was only closed briefly in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How Long Is the Pendle Sculpture Trail?
Starting in Barley, the walk is around 4.5km, taking around 1–1.5 hours to complete.
Is the Pendle Sculpture Trail Pram Friendly?
No, the actual trail in Aitken Wood isn’t pram-friendly.
Is the Pendle Sculpture Trail Worth Doing?
This is the millionaire dollar question. Unfortunately, in recent years, the Pendle Sculpture Trail hasn’t been sufficiently maintained. The weather has naturally eroded many of the sculptures, whilst vandalism has also sadly occurred. So, the trail isn’t as good as it used to be.
But, it may still be worth doing. Of course, this comes down to personal preference. But, we still found the woodland trail to be a quiet and charming trail. Additionally, the trail offers an easier walk from Barley compared with the challenging Pendle Hill Walk.
Other Nearby Walks in the Forest of Bowland
If you’re in Barley, you should definitely do the Pendle Hill Walk, which is one of the most popular walks in the Forest of Bowland. Otherwise, there are many other great walks to do in the area. Below, you’ll find a list of our favourite walks to do in the Forest of Bowland.
- Tolkien Trail: follow this historical trail in the eyes of J. R. R. Tolkien.
- Stocks Reservoir: located next to Gisburn Forest, the reservoir provides a lovely natural setting for a circular walk.
- Trough of Bowland: we recommend experiencing the epic Trough of Bowland by doing a circular walk in the area.
- Bowland Knotts: this underrated rocky outcrop should be high on your to-do list in the Forest of Bowland.
- Clougha Pike Walk: one of our favourite walks in the Forest of Bowland which provides great coastal views.
- Parlick Fell Circular Walk: a walk that visits both Parlick Fell and Fair Snape Fell.
- Nicky Nook: visit Wyresdale Park to summit Nicky Nook and then head to the charming Applestore Cafe afterwards.
- Longridge Fell: the southernmost fell in England is great to visit for a sunrise.
- Beacon Fell Country Park: there are many brilliant trails in this country park.
- Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone Walk: summit the third highest fell and also the highest point in the Forest of Bowland!
These are our five gear essentials for doing the Pendle Sculpture Trail in Barley.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: you’ll want decent footwear when walking in Aitken Wood. The trail can get muddy and slippery during winter.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket. After all, this walk does take place in the north of England!
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for walking and exploring, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
Make sure to also pack water and snacks! Read our 66 Travel Items You Must Travel With for a longer hiking gear list. For a list of everything else you’d need for travelling, read our Packing Checklist.
Additional Information and Bonus Tips
- Visit Barley Mow: if the Pendle Inn is full or booked out, we recommend heading to Barley Mow, which is another awesome pub and accommodation choice.
- Other accommodation options for a weekend stay: other than staying at The Pendle Inn or Barley Mow, there are plenty of quaint holiday cottages in and around Barley. Use booking.com to find yourself a humble abode in Lancashire.
- Explore other sculpture trails in the north of England: if you’re keen on sculpture trails, why not check out the Grizedale Sculpture Trail in the Lake District (coming soon)?
Please leave us a comment below – do you also think the trail is looking a bit worse for wear?