THIEVES have stolen large flagstones from a £600,000 heritage trail through Pendle.

Six large yorkstone flags were swiped from the Stream and Steam route through Clough Park, Barnoldswick, overnight on Thursday.

The path was re-laid and improved in 2007 as part of the award winning scheme, which traces industrial development in the town, beginning with handloom weaving then water and steam power to state-of-the-art jet engine technology at Rolls-Royce.

Cash was invested in buildings like the corn mill, the Ribblesdale buildings, Bancroft Mill and the old town hall were refurbished, while footpaths at Valley Gardens and the Forty Steps were improved and the Butts was resurfaced.

The project was funded by grants from English Heritage, the North West Development Agency and Pendle Council, as well as the buildings' owners.

Pendle borough councillor David Whipp said: “The path is part of our Stream and Steam Trail through the town.

"By the looks of it, the thieves may have been disturbed, as several more flags have been loosened, but not taken.

“The thieves took the flags towards Forty Steps and probably loaded them onto a vehicle at the bottom of Longfield Lane.“ Coun Marjorie Adams said local residents were ‘shocked’ by the thefts.

She said: “This is the latest in a list of stone thefts in Barnoldswick.

"Recently, stone flags were stolen from a path off Gisburn Road on two separate occasions.

"The missing flags at Clough Park are from a very dark section of the path. There a risk that someone could injure themselves badly if they trip and fall.

"It’s disgusting that criminals are just helping themselves to our heritage.

“These thefts have a massive visual impact on the area as well as financial repercussions for the taxpayer."

Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.