An Old Sign to a Narrow Way

Around Barnoldswick are two eighteenth-century road markers or milestones. One stands at the crossroads where Brogden and Greenberfield Lanes cross Gisburn Road. It points to Skipton as 6 miles in one direction and ‘Clithrow’ 6 miles in the other. Modern distances are 9.3 and 12.6 miles respectively. Those sign-makers may not have felt overly burdened by the need for accuracy; alternatively, their older and narrower country routes might have been rather more direct.

The second sign is on the back lane from Salterforth leading to the cemetery, which the sign describes as Musghyll Gate. The writer had a rather quaint disregard for standard lettering, switching around his letters S and N. A modern school would have provided him with some dyslexia support, though I wonder if he was just a little eccentric. The sign assures the traveller that Coates and Cross Lane lie in one direction, and ‘Salterford’ in the other.


Both signs are very old, their spellings dated and their lettering less clear than their modern equivalents. The other, significant commonality is that they are both still correct. Few use the backroad to Salterforth and no-one but the most patient lover of back lanes would travel Brogden as the route to Clitheroe, preferring instead the quicker, wider A59. Yet those directions are still valid, their way still passable.

We tenants of the twenty-first century are apt to think new is better than old, novelty superior to the proven, the latest gimmick more desirable than the tried and tested. Yet the old way to God through Jesus Christ is still accessible, the Holy Spirit patiently directing seekers of truth. Godlessness, false religion and sin have the best-lit signage and the broadest, best-kept roads, but the old path to heaven via the Cross of Calvary remains open still.

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,

“This is the way, walk in it”

-Isaiah 30:21a

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay