Five reasons to visit Barrowford

PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 December 2013

Pendle Water and Gisburn Road

Pendle Water and Gisburn Road

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You shouldn’t need an excuse to visit this perfect Pendle village but in case you do, here’s five of the best

Whatever you look for in a place to visit, you’re likely to find it in Barrowford. Good shops? It’s got plenty of them. Fabulous food? Yep. Places of interest? Tick. Things to do? A rich history? Definitely. Great views? Some of the best.

Though technically a village, it has the range of facilities and amenities you’d expect to find in a town, but has retained the friendly everyone-knows-each-other feel of a small community.

The shops and businesses – where that friendly atmosphere is much in evidence – stand along the main road through the village meaning you have a bit of a walk if you want to visit each of the shops, cafes, galleries and beauty parlours.

But if you’ve got the stamina – and if you do find you’re flagging there’s plenty of places to stop and recharge the batteries – you’re in for a treat.

So here we present, in no particular order, five great reasons to visit Barrowford. The list is by no means exhaustive though, and we encourage you to visit for yourself and find your own find favourite.

Shop to your heart’s content

Although Barrowford is not a big place, it can take the dedicated shopper (and you know who you are) a long time to move from one end of the main street to the other. On a stroll along Gisburn Road you will be able to buy clothes for all the family, have your hair styled, invest in a treasure chest’s worth of bling, pick up all the fresh food you need for the evening meal and have your nails done. In a few different salons, should you need to.

It’s a retail selection which even the less keen shoppers among us can recognise as being a cut above most places and it is easy to see why Barrowford has developed such an impressive reputation for its designer and independent shops and boutiques. It is even claimed that David Beckham is among the celebrity fans of the shops here, although on Lancashire Life’s visit we didn’t see him.

And the shopkeepers here – aside from being among the most friendly you’re likely to encounter anywhere – regularly hold events in their premises such as last month’s Hudson Jeans fashion show at the ever-popular Michelle B boutique.

There’s also workshops being held this month at Patchwork Chicks haberdashery shop where the numbers signing up for beginners courses are testament to the surge in interest in crafts.

And if all that’s not enough, there’s a farmers’ market and craft fair at the Pendle Heritage Centre on December 9 from 10am-2pm.

The art of the village

Barrowford was once key to Lancashire’s textile industry but while most of the mills have now gone, one remains and is still a hive of activity and production. The results of the labour here are rather different now than in the boom years of the cotton industry though – a group of artists now occupy Higherfield Mill and create a wide range of pieces.

Working in individual units, an eclectic mix of almost 30 people make art with glass, ceramics, wood and all manner of other materials. Among them is Helen Oxley who opened her studio in the 19th century mill about four years ago when she returned north after working in London galleries.

‘Everyone here is doing something different so it’s a very interesting place to be and we hold open days and other events throughout the year,’ said Helen, who recently exhibited her three dimensional paintings in Rugby. ‘

This month there will be Christmas open studio days on Friday December 6, from 6.30pm-8.30pm and on Saturday December 7 from 10am-4pm, with mince pies and mulled wine available.

Get some heritage

One of the most famous places in Barrowford is the Pendle Heritage Centre, a series of Grade II listed buildings which was once Park Hall, the family home of the Bannisters. Roger Bannister, who ran the first four minute mile, is a descendent of the family and it’s clear that he didn’t train on Gisburn Road – he’d have been stopping every twenty yards or so to pop into a shop and would have been too weighed down with bags by the end of the mile to run anywhere.

But his old family house now houses a museum, tea room, shop, tourist information centre and art gallery and is a must for anyone who wants to explore the countryside or find out more about the village’s history. There’s also an attractive walled garden which produces impressive quantities of heritage apples.

The heritage centre is open every day except Christmas Day and is the starting point for the Pendle Witches Trail, a 45 mile countryside route which can be followed by bike or car, to Lancaster, and is the ideal first port of call for any new visitor to Barrowford.

The centre stands at the top end of Barrowford Park which was created in the 1920s when local cotton manufacturers Samuel Holden and John Dixon donated the land and villagers raised money to build the recreation ground. Today the park hosts events such as the Barrowford Show and has children’s play areas, a nine hole putting green, bowling green and an ornamental lake.

Fill your boots

Whether your idea of a good walk is a multi-mile trek over hill and muddy dale or a gentle canalside stroll, bring your boots when you visit Barrowford. There is no shortage of great routes to explore – you’ll find one of the best on our website, and others listed in Exploring Barrowford, a rather guide introduction to the village pit together by the local councils and available from the heritage centre. The centre is the natural starting point for many good walks, and its café and toilets make it a good place to finish too.

If you’re walking through the town, be sure to keep your head up and look out for the charming 17th and 18th century buildings, including the White Bear pub once home to cotton baron John Hargreaves and where John Wesley once sought refuge. We visited – in the interests of research of course – and can confirm it’s a good place to seek refuge.

If your route takes you through the park, look out for salmon and trout using the new fish pass on Pendle Water, one of Lancashire’s shortest rivers. Once you’ve passed under the M65 and crossed Colne Water, you can head back towards the heritage centre along the towpath of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and past seven of the locks which take it up through Barrowford.

Eat, drink and be merry

Whatever you do on your visit to Barrowford, going hungry is simply not an option. In addition to the impressive butcher’s, baker’s and greengrocer’s shops, there are cafés, delis and pubs offering high quality, locally produced food and drink.

Many of the businesses here are long-standing favourites but one of the newer kids on the block has already established itself as a very popular venue. In fact, business has been going so well at Turners – a bistro, deli, wine bar, coffee bar and café, all in one – since they opened in 2010, that they expanded the shop earlier this year, and have taken on the White Swan at Fence. Gareth Ostick said: ‘I think we’re proof that it is possible to survive and succeed if you are offering good quality.’

The choice of food on offer in Barrowford will be given an extra boost when Booths open their new store here. Changes to the plans mean the doors will not now open until late 2014.

And while there’s much here to get your teeth into, Barrowford’s most famous foodie contribution came – as our columnist Charles Nevin is fond of recalling – in the shape of jelly babies which were first made here before production moved down the road to Nelson.

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