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A moderate walk around an upland district steeped in the history of Lancashire, Yorkshire and the textile industry.
Distance 5.2 miles (8.4km)
Minimum time 2hrs
Ascent/gradient 538ft (165m)
Level of difficulty Medium
Paths Field paths, some rough tracks and quiet lanes, 19 stiles
Landscape Upland pastures, moorland and wooded valley
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer OL21 South Pennines
Start/finish SD 926395
Dog friendliness Mostly on grazing land, dogs must be closely controlled
Parking Car park just above Wycoller village (no general access for vehicles to village itself)
Public toilets In Wycoller village(1 user review)
© AA Media Limited 2013. © Crown Copyright Licence number 100021153
1 At the top of the car park are a notice-board and a sign 'Wycoller 500m'. Follow the footpath indicated, just above the road, until it joins it on a bend. Cross a stile on the right and slant right across the field to another stile, then up to a gate and into a garden. Follow the arrow through trees up the left side to another stile.
2 Bear right, cross a stream, then bear left, up towards a house on the skyline, until a footbridge and stile appear in a dip. Follow the hedge and then a wall in the same line. When it ends at open, rushy pasture bear slightly right (towards Pendle Hill, if clear). Cresting the rise, you'll see a stile and signpost by a corner of walls. The sign for Trawden points too far right. Aim slightly left, between two power line poles and again, once over a rise, you'll see a stile and signpost by the end of a fine wall. Follow the wall and then a walled track to Higher Stunstead. Go past the first buildings and into the yard.
3 Go left up a walled track to a cattle grid then ahead to a stile and follow the course of a stream up to Little Laith. Continue to pass the house on your left then go straight ahead, along field edges, to a large barn on the skyline by New Laith. Follow arrows round the farm.
4 Continue virtually straight ahead to a stile by a gate and over more stiles to Mean Moss. Go a few paces left up a track then follow the wall on the right and more stiles to Beaver. Go slightly right down a field to a stile near the corner then up by the stream to a track.
5 Go left, then keep straight on above the wall following a rougher continuation (Pendle Way sign). When the wall turns sharp left, the track bends more gradually, above a stream, down to another signpost.
6 Go slightly left to a stile by a gate then take the lower path, down towards the stream then up round a wood. From a kissing gate drop down to cross the stream, then follow it down and out to a lane.
7 Go left down the lane to the visitor centre and Wycoller hamlet itself. From here, go left up the lane and join the outward part of the route for the last 350yds (320m) back to the car park.
Everyone associates the Brontës with Yorkshire, but they had strong Lancashire connections too. As children the sisters lived in the north of the county, attending school at Cowan Bridge, only later moving to Haworth, where they wrote their famous books. Haworth is only 9 miles (14.5km) from Wycoller and today you can walk the distance on the Brontë Way.
Another hint of Yorkshire is the tradition of weaving wool, rather than the cotton usually associated with Lancashire. Trawden had several mills. Wycoller was a community of handloom weavers but as the Industrial Revolution developed they were unable to compete with the growth of larger, powered mills and the village became an isolated backwater.
Naturally sheep farming is important here, especially on the higher ground, but the area has a long tradition of cattle rearing too. The distinctive walls of large upright slabs that are seen in places are known as vaccary walls - a vaccary being a cattle farm.
The first half of the walk crosses these pastures, though you'll see more sheep than cattle today. For much of the way you climb gently, with wide views towards Pendle and the Yorkshire Dales, finally emerging on to the open moors. The route now follows an old trackway along the edge of the moor before swinging back down into Turnhole Clough. The path skirts above the woods before dropping into them and crossing the beck. Just below you meet the main Wycoller Beck. About 300yds (274m) below the confluence is the Clam Bridge, believed to be more than 1,000 years old and made of a single massive slab of gritstone. At least, it was a single slab until 1989, when an exceptionally heavy flood swept the bridge away. It was repaired and replaced, but damaged again the following year. Though the repair has been skilfully done, you can clearly see where the slab was broken.
Following the stream, you soon come into Wycoller hamlet. Despite its simple construction of stone slabs, the clapper bridge is a relatively recent affair, at most only 200 years old. The packhorse bridge is certainly more ancient, possibly over 700 years old. The low parapets, which sometimes alarm nervous parents (though usually not their children), are an essential feature for a packhorse bridge as the animals would be heavily burdened with huge bales of wool.
Near by stand the ruins of Wycoller Hall. Originally built in the 16th century, the Hall was considerably enlarged in the 18th century by Henry Cunliffe. Unfortunately the lavish works left him heavily in debt and after his death, in 1818, the estate was broken up. It's thought that the Hall was largely derelict by the time the Brontë sisters knew about it and that it inspired Ferndean Manor in Charlotte's Jane Eyre (1847).
Apart from a closer look at Wycoller itself, with its impressive new visitor centre, you could take a look at one of the more impressive sections of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Foulridge, just beyond Colne. Narrowboat cruises are available, some of which venture into the Foulridge Mile Tunnel.
There's a fine tea room in Wycoller itself, with a delightful garden. You can find pubs in Trawden and in Laneshaw Bridge on the A6068, where the Emmot Arms has a particularly good reputation for both food and beer.
Lively waters like those of Wycoller Beck are an ideal habitat for dippers. These small birds may often be seen perched on stones. The distinctive bobbing motion, which gives them their name, can make them hard to spot against the flickering background of running water. If you're lucky you may also see them 'flying underwater', as they feed largely on stream beds.
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Nice second half, but start has lots of boggy and tussocky walking between scruffy farms - worth waiting for a dry spell.
Reviewer: PeteB, Manchester
Visited: 03 March 2013