ONE of the UK’s largest free walking festivals starts this weekend.

Pendle Walking Festival gets underway on Saturday and runs until August 18.

Friendly and experienced walk leaders will lead the way on each walk, sharing their local knowledge about Pendle and the area’s fascinating history along the way.

Pendle’s history includes the dramatic true story of the Pendle Witches of 1612 and walks include visiting Wycoller’s atmospheric ruined hall, the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

And this year more women have volunteered as walk leaders than ever before.

Festival organiser, Tom Partridge, said: “Pendle has some of the most stunning countryside views in the north of England including Pendle Hill, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Pendle’s tourism officer, Mike Williams, added: “Our annual festival, now in its 16th year, attracts people from across Britain and overseas as well as local people keen to discover corners of Pendle they have yet to explore.

“We are lucky to have hundreds of miles of footpaths across our varied landscape, from windswept moorland to lush valleys and alongside the historic waterway of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

“All walks in our nine day festival are led by experienced leaders who will take the strain out of map reading and route-finding.”

The full programme of walks is available via or pick up a copy from the Pendle Heritage Centre in Barrowford.

Council leader, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, said: “Our wild and wonderful landscape has inspired generations of free thinkers over hundreds of years.

“And this year we have a number of walks which introduce our area’s radical thinkers.”

They include 17th century mathematician Sir Jonas Moore, known as the Father of Tme - who played a pivotal role in establishing the Royal Observatory at Greenwich and Greenwich Mean Time.

The classic climb up Pendle Hill with countryside access officer Tom Partridge will follow in the footsteps of George Fox whose famous vision on Pendle Hill in 1652 led him to found the Quaker movement.

Cllr Iqbal added: “We’re so proud of Pendle and this year’s Walking Festival focuses on the people and places which make our area unique.

“As well as being good for the health and wellbeing of our local residents and visitors, walking is also serious business in Pendle,” he explained

“Over 2.7 million day and overnight visitors bring over £119 million into Pendle’s economy each year and our network of 100s of miles of footpaths are a big attraction.

“Latest figures from Visit Lancashire show that overnight visitors brought nearly £32 million into Pendle in 2017. This shows that our visitor economy is healthy and growing,” he said.