A highlight of a very enjoyable week-end was my first ever visit to Pendle, home of the legendary witches. I live only an hour’s drive from Pendle Hill, so there’s really no excuse for the fact that I’ve never visited this fascinating – and very attractive – part of Lancashire before.
All the more so since, back in 2005, I wrote a story for one of Mike Ashley’s anthologies of historical whodunits, the plot of which was influenced by the story of the Pendle witch trials. However, I set the events in familiar territory, my home county of Cheshire. The story was called “The Witching Hour” and it's one of my least well-known stories, though maybe one day it will enjoy a new life thanks to digital publication.
As it happens, now is an especially good time to go to Pendle. 2012 sees the 400th anniversary of the famous trials and I was startled to see the date “1612” picked out, very noticeably, on the hillside. Some locals, I gathered, are not thrilled about this, but it certainly made for a striking image.
Saturday also saw massive celebrations in the nearby village of Barley. The little place was full of life – and witches in full regalia. When we there, some of the women in pointed hats were boogying to the music from a band. A typically quirky English scene, and all the more pleasing because the weather was – for once – fantastic.