Wycoller Country Park is one of the prettiest country parks in Lancashire and is famous for its association with the Bronte sisters. The village is located four miles east of Colne in the Borough of Pendle. If arriving by car leave the M65 at Junction 14 and follow signs for Keighley and on reaching Laneshawbridge take a minor road to the right signposted Wycoller. Only residents vehicles are allowed into the village but there are two pay and display car parks on the edge of the village where a token charge of £1 per day is payable, fees going towards the upkeep of the village. The absence of cars and the preservation of many of the old buildings in the village makes it an attractive place for a stroll and to settle down for a relaxing picnic. Wycoller was known as the Valley of the Seven Bridges but just three remain unchanged today, these being the Clam, Clapper and Pack Horse. They have varying ages but the Clam is thought to be more than 1000 years old.
We followed a leafy narrow path from the car park to the village taking around ten minutes. The village is quite small and comprises a handful of attractive stone cottages, some of which have been turned into holiday homes and B & Bs. In the above photo the stone steps outside the front door can be seen which were used when mounting a horse.
In the village centre we came across the Wycoller craft centre and cafe. Here we found a selection of local arts and crafts for sale and a cosy tea room with an original Victorian range.
The area has several marked trails to the local beauty spots of Bank House and Wycoller Beck. The paths weaving their way over seven old stone bridges across the rambling stream with the most famous being the Pack Horse twin arched bridge in the village centre and a shallow ford. Towards the end of the nineteenth century the village and its surrounding land was bought by the local water board with a view to flooding the area to create a reservoir to power the local mills. However, these plans were abandoned and in 1940 the Friends of Wycoller were established with the aim of preserving the desolate village and its Hall.
In 1973 the village was declared a conservation area and the surrounding 350 acres of farmland were designated a country park. Approaching the derelict remains of Wycoller Hall we learnt from information boards that the Hall had been built at the end of the 16th century by the Hartley family. Charlotte Bronte is thought to have been a frequent visitor to the Hall on her regular walks over the moors from nearby Haworth. Parts of the Bronte Way run between Haworth and Wycoller on the same route that Emily, Charlotte and Anne would have travelled over 150 years ago. The Bronte Way is a 43 mile long distance footpath starting at Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham, Lancashire and finishing at Oakwell Hall in Birstall, West Yorkshire linking the locations associated with the lives of the Bronte sisters.
The Hall is believed to be ‘Ferndean Manor’ in Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre and the building was actually used to illustrate the 1898 edition of her book. Wycoller Hall remained reasonably intact until the early 1900’s when it became unoccupied and neglected. Adjacent to the Hall is the Five Aisled Barn which has been converted into a visitor centre with informative displays detailing the history of the village and its surrounding wildlife. It wasn’t staffed when we visited but it was well stocked with useful leaflets and walking maps.
Continuing our stroll through the country park we found plenty of picnic tables overlooking the village duck pond making it a tranquil setting for a lazy afternoon in the east Lancashire countryside. On our way back to the car we stopped to admire the ancient clapper bridge.
I would recommend a visit to Wycoller Country Park if you are visiting Haworth, Hebden Bridge or parts of East Lancashire.
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