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‘The Atom’ Panopticon on the hillside overlooking the village of Wycoller

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Route No. 749 - Thursday 15 November 2018
Wycoller, Gt Thorn Edge Fm, Raven Rock Fm,
Wycoller Hall, Parson Lee Fm, The Atom view point
6km circuit - Lancashire, South Pennines . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL21 South Pennines


Leaving the Wycoller car park at the start of our walk
Leaving the Wycoller car park at the start of our walk

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Following the lane westwards from the car park
Following the lane westwards from the car park

It was a perfect day for a walk with clear sky, a light breeze and moderate temperature. From the car park entrance we turned left away from Wycoller and walked along the lane for about 600m. Here we turned left to follow the farm access track towards Great Thorn Edge Farm.

This morning my friend, Jim, and I drove to the village of Wycoller near Colne in the South Pennines. Wycoller village is at the heart of the Wycoller Country Park. We parked in the 'Pay & Display' car park about 500m west of the village at map ref. SD 926 395.

There were a few paths off the lane before  our turning
There were a few paths off the lane before our turning at . . .

Our turning off the lane on to the access track to Great Thorn Edge Farm
Our turning off the lane on to the access track to Great Thorn Edge Farm

Access track to Gt Thorn Edge Farm and Little Thorn Edge Farm
Access track to Gt Thorn Edge Farm & Little Thorn Edge Farm

Path from Wycoller crosses the track
Path from Wycoller crosses the track

Nearing our turning to the left off the track
Nearing our turning to the left off the track

The path to our right goes to Germany Farm and the grassy track to our left goes past Raven Rock Farm. At this junction in the tracks we turned left and headed along the edge of the fields towards Raven Rock Farm.

We walked along the public footpath following a long straight farm access track past Great Thorn Edge Farm at the edge of the fields for about 900m from the farm to map ref. SD 924 385. Here two public footpaths cross at right angles. the track from Great Thorn Edge Farm continues straight on to Great Hill Farm.

Track heading south east from Great Thorn Edge Farm
Track heading south east from Great Thorn Edge Farm

We followed the track towards Great Hill Farm
We followed the track towards Great Hill Farm

Turning left off the farm access track on to a grassy track
Turning left off the farm access track on to a grassy track

View to our right over Trawden from the farm access track
View to our right over Trawden from the farm access track shortly before our left turn

Following the grassy track towards Raven Rock Farm
Following the grassy path towards Raven Rock Farm

Platform of the three-way stile
Platform of the three-way stile

From this stile there is a public footpath bearing right to Raven Rock Farm but we kept straight on to by-pass the farm. After 200m we came to another three way stile at the corner of some woodland. At this stile we kept straight on following a public footpath in the edge of the woodland, dropping down the side of the valley towards Wycoller Beck.

After about 300m we came to an unusual three-way stile in the corner of the field where three stiles led onto a stone platform from which we could leave by any of the three stiles. This is a clumsy way to describe it but see the photograph of it.

Three-way stile in the field corner
Three-way stile in the field corner


Platform of the second three-way stile at the corner of the wood
Platform of the second three-way stile at the corner of the wood

Path by the edge of the woods down towards Wycoller Beck
Path by the edge of the woods down towards Wycoller Beck

Path about to join the access road from Raven Rock Farm
Path about to join the access road from Raven Rock Farm

Clapper Bridge over Wycoller Beck to the ruins of Wycoller Hall
Clapper Bridge over Wycoller Beck to the ruins of Wycoller Hall

Fortunately there was no livestock in them so there was no real harm done, but we did not see the owner again and just assumed that he would be reunited with his dogs. About 150m from the edge of the woodland we joined the access road coming down the hillside from Raven Rock Farm. We walked down the access road to Wycoller Beck opposite the ruins of Wycoller Hall.

It was a pretty path down through the woods. A frantic dog owner came puffing up the hill towards us. He had let his two beagles off the lead for a run in the woods and they had promptly absconded. We had not seen them and so he dashed back down the path still calling after them. We continued down the woodland path at a more leisurely pace. Where the path came out of the woodland we could see across the fields towards Wycoller village and there were the two beagles running a full tilt across the three fields next to the village.

Path by the edge of the woods down towards Wycoller Beck
Path by the edge of the woods down towards Wycoller Beck

Access road from Raven Rock Farm down to Wycoller Beck
Access road from Raven Rock Farm down to Wycoller Beck

Pack Horse bridge over Wycoller Beck
Pack Horse bridge over Wycoller Beck

The ruins of Wycoller Hall
The ruins of Wycoller Hall

Following the lane southeast out of Wycoller village
Following the lane southeast out of Wycoller village

A glimps of The Atom on the hillside above us
A glimpse of The Atom on the hillside above us

The lane turns left at the access road to Dean House Farm
The lane turns left at the access road to Dean House Farm

Approaching Parson Lee Farm along the lane
Approaching Parson Lee Farm along the lane

After a good look at the ruins of Wycoller Hall we turned to our right and followed the access track along the valley bottom next to the beck. We continued along the access track next to the beck for about 1.1km to Parson Lee Farm. Just before the farm we turned sharp left off the access track to follow a public footpath across a wooden footbridge over the beck.

There was a stone slab clapper bridge across the beck which we crossed to the access road along the valley in front of the hall. About 100m to our left there was the old pack horse bridge over the beck which we planned to cross later in our walk.

The lane next to Wycoller Beck
The lane next to Wycoller Beck

Another stone slab bridge across Wycoller Beck
Another stone slab bridge across Wycoller Beck

Waterfall on Wycoller Beck
Waterfall on Wycoller Beck

About to turn left off the lane just before Parson Lee Farm
About to turn left off the lane just before Parson Lee Farm

Our left turn over the footbridge across Wycoller Beck
Our left turn over the footbridge across Wycoller Beck

Path from the footbridge up to Fosters Leap Farm
Path from the footbridge up to Fosters Leap Farm

Entering Fosters Leap Farm
Entering Fosters Leap Farm

Continuing along the path towards The Atom
Continuing along the path towards The Atom

Way-marked path up to The Atom
Way-marked path up to The Atom

From Fosters Leap Farm the path led out to the fields once more and we continued along the well marked public footpath for another 500m and up the final climb to the view point at 'The Atom'.

From the footbridge the public footpath climbed diagonally up the hillside marked by prominent waymark posts to Fosters Leap Farm. Here the public footpath passed through the well kept gardens of two properties.

Path from the footbridge up to Fosters Leap Farm
Path from the footbridge up to Fosters Leap Farm

Path across the lawn leaving Fosters Leap Farm
Path across the lawn leaving Fosters Leap Farm

Pendle Hill in the hazy distance, about 15km away
Pendle Hill in the hazy distance, about 15km away

Way-marked path up to The Atom
Way-marked path up to The Atom

The Atom sculpture at the view point
The Atom sculpture at the view point

A vaccery wall down to Wycoller Beck
A vaccery wall down to Wycoller Beck

Another section of a vaccery wall
Another section of a vaccery wall

Path from The Atom down towards Wycoller
Path from The Atom down towards Wycoller

These cattle farms were called Vacceries and these walls are the Vaccery Walls where cattle were kept next to the village over the winter before being grazed on the high moorland in the summer. From the view point we could see across the valley of Wycoller Beck to the distinctive shape of Pendle Hill about 15km to the west.

There is a car park off the road and below the car park there is the sculpture called 'The Atom'; a sculptor's interpretation of an atom? This is one of several view point sculptures named 'Panopticons' at locations in Lancashire. The walls of the fields down this hillside to Wycoller below are unusual. They consist of stone slabs set in the ground and apparently date from about the 1200's when the land here was used for cattle rearing.

The Atom with a vaccery wall in the forground
The Atom with a vaccery wall in the foreground

Jim inspects The Atom
Jim inspects The Atom

Looking back to The Atom as we started back to Wycoller
Looking back to The Atom as we started back to Wycoller

The path back down to Wycoller village
The path back down to Wycoller village

As we started to descend the path entered a cutting
As we started to descend the path entered a cutting

A vaccery wall next to the path
A vaccery wall next to the path

The right hand fork goes directly to the pack horse bridge in Wycoller about 120m away. We took the left hand for along a track down to the visitor centre in a redeveloped barn next to the ruins of Wycoller Hall.

From the Atom Sculpture we followed the path north west to a gate and through the gate the path continued in a deep cutting for about 150m and turned left to head straight down the hillside next to one of the ancient vaccery walls. At the bottom of the slope the path forked.

The sunken path heading down towards Wycoller
The sunken path heading down towards Wycoller

Path along a wide grassy track next to a vaccery wall
Path along a wide grassy track next to a vaccery wall

Just beyond this gateway the path forked and we took the left fork
Just beyond this gateway the path forked and we took the left fork

Track down to the Visitor Centre in the Aisled Barn
Track down to the Visitor Centre in the Aisled Barn

Stone slab Clapper Bridge over Wycoller Beck
Stone slab Clapper Bridge over Wycoller Beck

Worn stones over the pack horse bridge
Worn stones over the pack horse bridge

We recrossed the beck on the road bridge near the end of the village and continued along the road towards the car park.

From Wycoller Hall we walked along to the pack horse bridge. We crossed the beck on the bridge and followed the road through the village.

Aisled Barn Visitor Centre
Passing the Aisled Barn Visitor Centre in Wycoller

Pack horse bridge over Wycoller Beck
Pack horse bridge over Wycoller Beck

Following the road back over the beck leaving Wycoller
Following the road back over the beck leaving Wycoller

Following the road out of Wycoller village
Following the road out of Wycoller village

Start of the footway on the left of the road on this bend
Start of the footway on the left of the road on this bend

Following the footway back to the car park
Following the footway back to the car park

We walked along this pleasant path in the afternoon sunshine for about 400m back to the car park and the end of our walk. The whole route had been 6km and it had taken us about two and a half hours to walk including a long stop at the view point.

About 200m from the edge of the village there was a sharp right hand bend in the road. From this bend there is a footpath off to the left hand side of the road and separated from the road by a narrow band of trees.

Following the footway next to the road
Following the footway next to the road

Approaching the car park along the footway
Approaching the car park along the footway

The footway turns left away from the road and into the car park at the end of our
The footway turns left away from the road and into the car park at the end of our walk

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