Gisburn Old Road

This is Gisburn Old Road, also known as Gisburn Track. It was once the main route between Colne and Gisburn and runs roughly parallel with the current A682 upon which our members from the south will travel to attend chapel. It runs past another member’s farm, connecting the Pendle and Ribble Valley districts. Nowadays it’s a pretty walkers’ path with interesting views. The lane disappears in the middle, becoming a bridleway so only hikers and horses may travel without having to turn around. It goes up over Weets Hill; the views there are spectacular and it affords an unusual glimpse of the more famous Pendle.

I cannot vouch for the route’s age, but like most ancient tracks, it will pre-date modern property rights. It fell out of favour when the A682 Blacko-Gisburn Turnpike road was constructed, in what I think was the eighteenth century. Unlike its ‘modern’ replacement, it doesn’t skirt around the hills but goes right over them. Ancient man often preferred the most direct, shortest routes, ones that would avoid boggy valleys with tree-cover for bandits. Hence, it goes up much of Weets Hill, sparing the traveller its summit by only a quarter of a mile. Meanwhile, the County Council has had to erect speed cameras on the modern road to prevent hotheads from exceeding 60mph.

Like the narrow path the Christian climbs, the Gisburn Track is rough and steep, often lonely, and the winds and rains lash it both summer and winter. The modern, broader road is far easier to travel, and its own views are not entirely lacking. Yet it is England’s most dangerous road: its 14-mile stretch from Nelson to Long Preston claims over 100 lives a decade, or the equivalent of 0.5 deaths per 10 miles. The Red Orbit site claims it be the ninth most dangerous road in the world, marginally safer than rivals in Bolivia, Paris and Baghdad.

Be encouraged! The narrow way and difficult path of which the Lord Jesus speaks in Matthew 7 has an excellent safety record. Though its climb is often hard, there are never fatalities and those who take it always arrive at their destination.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Matthew 7:13-14