#11 Wycoller & the Forest of Trawden

25 03 2010
25th March 2010
with Mrs NLW
6 miles
Explorer OL21 (South Pennines)
Patchy cloud

For the third time in a week I’m off up the M65, this time all the way to the end (Colne) and then a short drive to Wycoller. The carpark here is in the middle of nowhere – half a mile outside of the village (so as not to compromise its loveliness), the carpark is decent but there are a number of worrying warnings regarding thefts from cars. We’ve come too far to turn back though.

As we walk down the lane into Wycoller the sky is black, we’ve had a few weeks of dry weather but the last two days have been wet. Fortunately, besides a bit of drizzle early on the rain holds off, and towards the end of the walk it a

The Clam bridge

ctually gets quite bright. Wycoller is a quaint chocolate box type village featuring a number of old bridges; on the far side is Wycoller Hall which we don’t look around at this point.  The walk s

tarts in earnest as we follow a brook eastward towards the clam bridge which is thought to be at least 1,000 years old. Beyond the clam bridge the path climbs gently into high farmland. Once we reach the most easterly point of the walk (and possibly even the book) we turn south and make our way alongs sidefrog-spawn filled pools towards Turnhole Clough. There are many points where we have to stop, test the ground, and then gingerly pick our way across boggy sections.

Clapper bridge, with Pack-Horse bridge beyond

At Turnhole Clough the path reaches the top of the moor and heads south with the clough far below. We’re not that far from Haworth here – the book suggests that Wycoller Hall is the inspiration behind Ferndean Manor in Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ – whether that is true or not this really is Wuthering Heights type landscape – barren, windswept and imposing. This path along the edge of the Trawden Forest is covered in pools and bogs, they cant be the result of the previous two days rain as they contain frog-spawn that has been there longer than two days – it must be permanently like this – and if that’s the case then the book should really have mentioned the muddy conditions (which it didn’t). There is probably 3/4 of a mile of slowly picky our way though pools.

Eventually we turn right back into farmland and easy pathway. In the fields here there are hundreds of lapwings: scurrying around on the ground, wheeling in the air, and always calling out, it is quite an impressive display. Just after Mean Moss farm we are surprised and elated to find a bench where we have our lunch. The next section of the walk (and this is a walk with noticeably different sections) involves walking through boggy fields, I’m not sure what my attitude to walkers would be if I were a farmer – but it is clear that some resent their obligation to grant access to their land, and so provide access in the least hospitable manner possible; the next few fields contain arrangements of gates, locks, streams and stiles that make it very difficult to get through without getting coveed in mud. I suppose it makes you appreciate the farmers that intentionally help the walker.

Eventually we reach the top of an embankment that drops back down to the stream near the clam bridge. The book is vague about where to descend and I think we got itt slightly wrong – ending up on a thin path descending steeply between a stone wall and a barbed wire fence. It’s not pleasant but it does the job.

Wycoller Hall

Once back in Wycoller we stop for a very quick look ay Wycoller Hall (and the rather convenient public conveniences). We pass a lovely looking tea room and meet a huge friendly ginger cat. Mrs NLW wants to pop ionto the tea-room, and also pop into Boundary Mill in Colne on the way back; I negotiate only doing one of those – her choice – and she selects Boundary Mill. The tea-room looked good though – and notices outside said that dogs and dirty walking boots were both welcome inside.

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