In the early 1600s, a new monarch sat on the English throne following the end of Elizabeth I’s lengthy reign. This new King was a King already, and his Westminster coronation had allied his first throne of his homeland, Scotland, with the throne of Scotland’s enemy, England. Elizabeth I had appointed him her successor on her deathbed. Elizabeth, who had battled and, eventually, executed Mary Queen of Scots for the threat Mary’s lineage held, had voluntarily chosen her enemy’s son to receive her vacant crown.
James I of England, already James VI of Scotland, knew his rule began in dangerous times. He had lived his whole life in dangerous times, and suspicion and paranoia had become ingrained deeply within it. In taking over the throne of England, he knew he would face opposition from the hidden Catholics and survived the Gunpowder Plot already early in his reign. He was a man conflicted between his firm Protestant faith and his native superstition; his heightened fear and his educated skepticism. A King who had feared a more specific assassination plot against him and his wife for two decades already; not one of sword, poison, or slander, but one of magic.
A King who had translated the bible for common use, and in it had included the as yet unseen phrase thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
Outside of the world of crowns and parliaments, the provinces of England were areas so far removed that the lives and the notorious impacts of lineage and alliance would never really affect them. Day to day life was hard, and would always be hard, and out in the wild and lawless ways of rural Lancashire life was lived in ways that many would see as archaic. The provincial life was very much still ingrained in the approach of charms and tonics and wise women; greater aid or remedy for everyday harms and slights would be a long time coming if ever so the villages turned to their own and the old traditions that had been steadfast for centuries.
The events that would occur when accusations in a village far away from the gilded throne rooms were goaded by officials desperate for notice from a suspicious and superstitious new King would lead to the deaths of ten people on the words of a nine year old child. How the law operated would change in response and the eyes of the newly allied kingdoms would watch together the strange customs of rural places fall under national scrutiny and stir new breath into a fear or magic, of curses, of witches.
The Pendle Way leads 45 miles around the area of the Pendle Witch Trials, through the villages that still remain villages, and the wild moorland that remains wild moorland, up onto the great looming slab of Pendle Hill who has cast its shadow for all of our written history on the events of centuries passing below.
The Pendle Way would be the shortest trail I had done this year at only 45 miles. Whilst in midsummer the amount of light could easily have allowed it to be done in just two days and one night, the advancing darkness made it necessary to stretch my itinerary over three days with two nights camping.
Whilst the guidebook for the circular route begins and ends in Barley, the trail is more usually begun in Barrowford. As it would already take me nearly three hours to get to Barrowford, despite being barely one countyline away, I would start from there.
The distance was easily seperated into three blocks. I would be wildcamping on open access land the first night, and booked a campsite for the second. I expected to arrive in Reedley as it was getting dark and the sprawl around the motorway seemed like a difficult place to find a wild pitch.
My itinerary is below:
October had already granted me one (unfinished) trail; the weeks turnaround in between coming off the Peak District Boundary and leaving for Barrowford meant I could easily refine the bag and gear I had already anticipated for a fresh autumn schlep.
My down bag had been plenty warm on recent nights that, whilst dark and wet, were not yet shiveringly chilly, so the mini hot water bottle and the midlayer of gloves were put back into their box for proper winter. The Pendle Way is a pretty short trail at just 45 miles so I only brought one set of walking clothes and cut down the snacks to nowt figuring it would be easy enough to just pick up a bag or bar of something as I passed through the Lancashire villages.
|Tent plus extra pegs||1031g|
|2L Water Bladder||80g|
|Clothes Bag:||1 x shirt|
|1 x leggings|
|1 x waterproof hiking socks|
|1 x liner socks|
|2 x pants|
|Hair ties and clips|
|Electrical Bag:||Power bank|
|3 x charging cords|
|Journal With stamps and pen|
|Miscellaneous:||First aid kit|
|Water purification tablets|
|Garmin InReach and Navigation device|
|Base Weight = 7.25kg|
|Food Bag:||Stove and fuel|
|Instant pasta meals|
|Instant noodle meals|
|Instant mashed potato|
|Mushroom soup sachets|
|2L water (in water bladder)|
|Pack Weight = 10.8kg|