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Wycoller Panopticon Trail

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Wycoller Panopticon Trail
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 04 Jul 2015 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Wycoller Panopticon Trail Walking Guidestar1 Wycoller Panopticon Trail Walking Guidestar1 Wycoller Panopticon Trail Walking Guidestar1 Wycoller Panopticon Trail Walking Guidestar1 Wycoller Panopticon Trail Walking Guide
Lancashire, Pendle
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Wycoller Panopticon Trail
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot Wycoller Panopticon Trail Walking Guide boot Wycoller Panopticon Trail Walking Guide
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A 2 mile circular walk around Wycoller Country Park in Pendle, Lancashire. The walk begins at the Panopticon, a modern structure that acts as both a sheltered viewing point and a beautiful object in the landscape. The route takes in hillside sheep pastures, the pretty Wycoller Beck with its beautiful old bridges and the remains of Wycoller Hall, believed to have been the inspiration for Ferndean Manor, in Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The footpath across the hillside pasture between Fosters Leap and Parson Lee farms can be very boggy at times and can pose a danger of walkers getting stuck when at its wettest. For this reason, this walk is best reserved for the drier months of the year (when you will probably not even see a drop of mud). The walk has a gradual descent at the start of the walk and the equivalent climb at the end. You will need to negotiate several kissing gates, steps and a couple of narrow footbridges but there are no stiles. You will be sharing many of the pastures with sheep so take care with dogs. There are public toilets at the picnic site about two-thirds of the way round. Approximate time 1 hour.

The walk starts and finishes from the Wycoller Country Park Haworth Road Car Park, just north-east of Wycoller village in Lancashire. The car park is free, is marked with a brown tourism sign and is on the road between Haworth and Colne. Approximate post code BB8 7EH.

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Walk Sections

Start to Fosters Leap Farm
Start to Fosters Leap Farm

Start point: 53.8497 lat, -2.0967 long
End point: 53.847 lat, -2.0912 long

To begin the walk make your way to the Panopticon structure called The Atom, just in front of the car park. A Panopticon is defined as a structure or space providing a panoramic view, derived from the name Panoptes of Greek mythology, an all-seeing giant with a hundred eyes. This is one of a series of four, the Pennine Lancashire’s Panopticons, each a different modern design but all intended to draw people to these viewpoints and to catch the eye of walkers from afar. From inside The Atom, the circular viewing windows perfectly frame the unrivalled views of Pendle Hill and beyond.

Leave The Atom on the tarmac path heading back towards the car park. Just before you reach the car park, turn right onto the narrow stone path across the ridge within the hillside pastures. The path leads you through several gaps in the medieval lines of vaccary walls, stone walls built using large flat slabs set vertically into the ground. The walls were created to support the vaccary system of cattle farming, small scale commercial cattle farming, which operated in this part of Lancashire in the 1300s.

At the first fork, keep right and at the next junction keep straight ahead to reach a wooden kissing gate. Pass through this to enter a sheep pasture and cross the field at 1 o’clock. Go through the kissing gate, continue on the obvious path through the field and the next kissing gate leads you into the grounds of the private property, Fosters Leap. Walk ahead, passing to the right of the converted barn property and follow the tarmac drive swinging right, passing to the right of Fosters Leap Farm.

Fosters Leap Farm to Parson Lee Farm
Fosters Leap Farm to Parson Lee Farm

Start point: 53.847 lat, -2.0912 long
End point: 53.8449 lat, -2.0896 long

NOTE: As mentioned in the introduction, this next section of the walk crosses a grass hillside which is notoriously muddy and boggy in the wetter months and can be treacherous (even trapping walkers at its worst). If you are walking at these times please do take extreme care or consider returning to do the walk at another time. If you are walking at a dry time of year don’t worry, the bog disappears completely when it dries out.

Pass through the wide metal gate ahead to enter the next sheep pasture. Bear left, following the line of the stone wall on the left to reach a small gate. Go through this and walk at about 1 o’clock, passing a number of waymarker posts guiding you down the hillside. As you approach the bottom corner of the field, a gate on the right leads you to a footbridge. Cross this and at the far side you will emerge to a T-junction with the access track for Parson Lee Farm.

Parson Lee Farm to Clam Bridge
Parson Lee Farm to Clam Bridge

Start point: 53.8449 lat, -2.0896 long
End point: 53.8464 lat, -2.0987 long

Turn right along this track (part of the Pennine Way) with a stream running down to the right. The track swings right, leading you over the stream and continues with the water now running to the left. If you look up to the right you will be able to see The Atom perched high on the hillside, looking like a glacial boulder that might at any time start its roll down the hill whilst also resembling (in my eyes at least!) a traditional divers helmet.

Watch out within the stream for the beautiful cascades and waterfalls that form where the water has to negotiate the steeper sections of rocks. Further along, the stream switches back to the right-hand side of the track. Soon afterwards, you will come to a junction of paths signed with a fingerpost. Turn right, still on the main track, signed to Wycoller and crossing over a stone bridge. This marks the point at which two unnamed streams merge to become Wycoller Beck, which is now running to your left.

A little further along you will come to a single raised stone slab footbridge angled across the beck. This is known as Clam Bridge and is said to be more than 1,000 years old. The route does not cross the bridge but feel free to take time to explore it (and to wonder how on earth it was created such a long time ago) as well as the old stone ford alongside.

Clam Bridge to Wycoller Hall
Clam Bridge to Wycoller Hall

Start point: 53.8464 lat, -2.0987 long
End point: 53.8489 lat, -2.1041 long

Continue along the main vehicle track, with the stream still on the left. Fairly soon afterwards (where a stone wall begins on the right), you will come to another bridge over the beck, Copy House Bridge. Turn left over the bridge and then fork right to join the tarmac path swinging steadily right through the conservation area.

There is a bench along this stretch should you wish to pause and enjoy this tranquil setting. Continue past the pond on the right and then swing right over the wooden footbridge to reach the section of willow sculptures, created by local artists. The path leads you through a living willow tunnel, within which you will also find a beautifully carved bench. Continue just a little further ahead (with the beck on the right) and then cross over the beck via the Clapper Bridge (another narrow old stone bridge).

Directly ahead you will see the ruins of Wycoller Hall which you can take time to explore. Wycoller Hall dates from 1550 and was home to the Cunliffe family for six generations. In 1818 the hall was dismantled and much of the stone was plundered to support the building of other houses and mills as part of a repayment of debts. Charlotte Bronte is said to have visited Wycoller village on her many walks around the area and Wycoller Hall is thought to be the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in her novel Jane Eyre. The ruin hosts two ghosts, a headless horseman and a lady dressed in black.

Wycoller Hall to End
Wycoller Hall to End

Start point: 53.8489 lat, -2.1041 long
End point: 53.8498 lat, -2.0965 long

When you have finished exploring the hall ruins, return to the stone access track. Standing with your back to the hall and facing the beck, turn left. After the Aisled Barn Visitor Centre, fork left onto the paved path. Immediately before the toilet block and picnic site, turn left up the grass slope to join a path climbing steadily.

At the T-junction, turn right and join the stone track leading you uphill through the old stone gateposts. This is the old coach road that served Wycoller Hall. Simply stay on this path, climbing steadily and ignoring any paths off to the sides. Eventually the path swings right (still climbing) leading you through a gate and on to reach the top of the slope where you will find the car park where the walk began.

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network Wycoller Panopticon Trail Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2015 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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