I couldn’t resist a decent hill day as the weather remained fine. All change next week. ‘Head east old man’ was my mantra as I sped along the M65. Everyone else was going west to Blackpool or the Lakes. Boulsworth Hill my objective. So far so good, but the last chapter of Mark Sutcliffe’s Lancashire Cicerone guide would have had me parking above Wycoller. If there ever was a honeypot then Wycoller deserves that title. A secluded village of agricultural and hand loom workers in the C16th to C18th. Along came power looms in the C19th in nearby Lancashire towns and the population moved out. By 1896 the majority of people had moved away from the village, and it was virtually deserted. But a renaissance occurred in the mid C20th, the area was incorporated into a Country Park and people started moving back into the village renovating the properties. I well remember Longridge acquaintances of mine telling me of their plans for one of the houses in the 70s. I suspect you would have needed a bottomless purse to go ahead. For more information look at Wycoller (abandonedcommunities.co.uk)
The village is a now a conservation area and is closed to outside traffic. The car park on Trawden Road is the one suggested for this walk. Today, Easter Sunday I suspect it would be probably full by the time I arrived and you have to pay. So I decided to park up in Trawden village on the line of the walk. This worked well, makes the walk more balanced and avoids backtracking at the end. I will give details at the end of the post.
Out of the car I was soon winding my way up a lane into the hills, slightly more directly than Mark’s route. Footpaths then led past isolated farms. I came across two unusual stone stiles with a circular centre and exits into three separate fields, difficult to describe and difficult to photo, but I have never seen anything like them before. On down an ancient track into Wycoller.
A good start to the day, although by now it was after noon. The expected crowds were milling around in the hamlet. Crossing and recrossing the series of bridges over the stream. For the record …
The information centre/café appeared closed, but some enterprising folk were running a mobile coffee shop, it was too early for me. This walk gives you the opportunity to explore Wycoller if you haven’t been before. I had a look around the remains of the hall and was reminded of the time when I slept in the fireplace Inglenook whilst on a two-day trip around the Pendle Way. At the time I was unaware of the phantom horse ghost story associated with the hall. If I had known I may have slept elsewhere.
You have had enough historical homework on the area so far, and it is time to move on. There are ways either side of the stream, but the important junction is well signed leaving the Pendle Way and the Bronte Way to take a concessionary path alonside Turnhole Clough. (the Bronte connection being that Wycoller Hall may have been the inspiration for Ferndean Manor Jane Eyre’s residence with Rochester after the fire at Thornfield. The Bronte Way is a worthwhile short/long distance way)
Families were enjoying the country park with Easter picnics whilst high above the sci-fi Atom, one of Lancashire’s panopticons, looked down on us.
I don’t think I have been in Turnhole Clough before and I enjoy strolling through the trees above the lively beck. This sort of concessionary path should be more commonplace, I can think of several areas crying out for access. It just needs the local authority and landowners to come to some agreement, maybe pushed by interested rambling groups.
Anyhow, eventually the Clough brings me out onto open moorland. Above on the skyline is a row of rounded gritstone boulders which look interesting. I have a hill to climb today, so I’m not keen to add extra height wandering off route to them. There is a path up towards them but when I later search on the UK database there is no mention of them being climbed upon. I now regret coming so close without visiting, all I have are some telephoto pictures. What are they 10, 20 or even 30ft high, it is difficult to tell? Another day.
The book states you come out at the bailey bridge and cross it, but the concessionary path actually brings you back onto the Pennine Bridleway/Bronte Way above the bridge. Now we head across open moorland on this ancient flagged mule track.
Up and down until the barn where a signed path heads upwards to Boulsworth. This is a relatively new way so tends to just head upwards, none of the characteristics of worn winding historic routes. All is well until a fence is crossed and then the brutal 1000ft climb rears up steeply in front of you. I’m too old for this game but plod on at a slow pace being glad I stopped for an energising bite to eat back in the clough. Sometime later I breasted the ridge at some prominent gritstone boulders, Little Chair stones. Onwards past more boulders, The Weather Stones, I give them names in my imagination or am I hallucinating? Any suggestions?
Up at last to the trig point at 518 m, Lad Law. There was nobody else here. Panoramic views over Lancashire and Yorkshire but now a little hazy. Am I actually in Yorkshire, well not quite but a stone’s throw away paths head deep into Bronte Country to the east. It all looks very bleak.
Turning back into Lancashire I head off downhill past the prominent Abbot Stone, too steep to contemplate bouldering.
Boggy ground has me back on the Bridleway where after a few yards a stile takes me into fields and alongside Gilford Clough. Farther over to the right is Lumb Spout waterfall, a hidden gem. Maybe Mark missed a trick there, worth a diversion if you know where it is.
I’m content to walk down the lane past an assortment of farmhouses, cottages, hen houses, barking dogs and allotments back into Trawden. A village where the residents run the library, pub, shop and community centre.
My parking was on Lanehouse Lane just past the bowling green area alongside an old cotton mill where there is adequate room close to where the route enters and exits the lane. SD916380
I was glad of this choice for it meant after a long tiring descent I was saved the climb back over to Wycoller completed earlier. The map makes sense.