Monday, May 18, 2015

Foulridge to Nelson

We are now on our way back down the Pennines on our way to Liverpool.  Yesterday we transversed the seven Barrowford Locks, passed the Barrowford Reservoir, and made our way into Nelson.

Image result for leeds liverpool canal town of Nelson ukImage result for leeds liverpool canal town of Nelson uk
Nelson is a conglomerate of several small villages that were combined in 1800's to form an industrial city whose main industry were the weaving mills that lined the waterway.

We are now heading into the textile towns of East Lancashire and leaving the beautiful rural open spaces of Yorkshire.  As we get into Nelson the industrial nature of the area is easy to see when you observe all the rubbish that floats in the canal, as if the locals use the canal as a garbage can.  It is so unfortunate since they are converting something that could be a positive attribute to build upon into an unattractive and uninviting area to tourists and holiday makers alike.

Nelson was historically part of the weaving tradition although now only one mill is still actively in use by William Reed producing material for parachutes and hot air balloons.

Nelson is an awkward mix of old and new with cobbled streets and mill chimneys cheek and jowl with the not so attractive aspects of a more modern urban area.  There are shops selling clothing catering to the local Pakistani population, take out fooderies, green grocers, and Halal butchers but not the normal quota of  good pubs or restaurants.  There is also an impressive mosque to serve the areas predominant migrant population.

The area has a somewhat forlorn aspect with redundant mills and the terraced housing that went with them in their glory days.

Image result for nelson uk abandoned mills         Image result for nelson uk abandoned mills

  Image result for nelson uk terraced housing

The Barrowsford Reservoir, at the summit of the canal, holds surplus water to be doled out to the canal as needed.

Image result for barrowford reservoir images
The seven Barrowsford Locks dropped us 70 feet down towards the valley below and were named for the weaving village to the west of the canal.

This area also gives access to Pendle Moor, Pendle Forest and Pendle Hill.  The phrase Pendle Hill is rather
redundant in that pen is Welsh for hill, del is Old English for hill and the final syllable is the modern English word, hence hill,hill, hill.

Image result for pendle moor

Image result for pendle witchesThis area is also known for its tales of witchcraft and sorcery: the famous Pendle Hill Witches of 1612.The trials of the Pendle witches in 1612 are among the most famous in English history. The twelve accused were charged with the murders of ten people by the use of witchcraft. Of the eleven who went to trial (one died in prison awaiting trial) ten were found guilty and executed by hanging; one was found not guilty.

Many of those who did indeed consider themselves to be witches, in the sense of being village healers who practised magic, probably in return for payment, but such men and women were common in 16th-century rural England, an accepted part of village life.  One of the accused had been regarded in the area as a witch for fifty years.

Some of the accused Pendle witches seemed to have genuinely believed in their guilt, but others protested their innocence to the end.  Elizabeth Southerns died while awaiting trial.  Alice Grey, was found not guilty. The rest were hanged as was then the law for those convicted of witchcraft.

In modern times the witches have become the inspiration for Pendle's tourism and heritage industries, with local shops selling a variety of witch-motif gifts: a beer called Pendle Witches Brew, a Pendle Witch Trail running from Pendle Heritage Centre to Lancaster Castle, where the accused witches were held before their trial, the X43 bus route run by Burnley & Pendle has been branded The Witch Way, with some of the vehicles operating on it named after the witches in the trial and, Pendle Hill continues to be associated with witchcraft, and hosts a hilltop gathering every Halloween.

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