First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
Trawden lies in a narrow dale – the name signifies a trough-like valley – between the old mill towns of Nelson and Colne and the high empty moors of the Lancashire/Yorkshire border. We left this cheerful, friendly village gearing up for a festival with stalls and silver bands, and climbed a cobbled lane south towards the open country under a blue sky.
Out in the fields, well-tended gritstone walls divided the large square pastures. The cockerels and dogs of Trawden made Sunday music far below, their cries fading under the sharp alarm calls of curlew in the sedge clumps as we gained height towards the twin Coldwell reservoirs. The water sparkled in little sandy bays where oystercatcher parents piped their fledgling chicks in line astern along the shore.
An old moor lane led east at the foot of the rough slopes of Boulsworth Hill. Rutted and walled, paved with slabs deeply indented by boots, hooves and cart wheels, it gave superb views north over the walled fields and farmsteads of the Forest of Trawden, a Saxon hunting forest gradually overtaken by farming, milling and mining. Back west rose the shapely bulk of Pendle Hill, burdened with legends of witches and evil spells, today just a beautiful hill in plain sunshine.
Deep brackeny cloughs brought hill streams twisting down from the heights to the south. We crossed Turnhole Clough and followed the Brontë Way down to the sprawling shell of Wycoller Hall, Charlotte Brontë’s model in Jane Eyre for Mr Rochester’s lonely house of Ferndean Hall. A melancholy ruin – blank windows, chilly stone halls – in a gorgeous leafy dell.
A glass of pink lemonade, cold and refreshing, in the little tearoom at Wycoller, and we found the homeward path through fields where sheep lay panting in the shade of upright gritstone slabs that served for fencing.
The pale blue shoulder of Pendle Hill rose on the far skyline as an aiming point, and from down in Trawden the thump and blare of a silver band came in atmospheric blasts across the still, sun-scorched fields.
Start: Trawden Arms PH, Trawden, Lancs BB8 8RU (OS ref SD 912388)
Getting there: Bus M3, Trawden-Accrington
Road – Trawden (B6250) is signed off A6068 in Colne.
Walk (8 miles, field paths and moorland tracks, OS Explorer OL21): Fork left off B6250 at Trawden Arms, up lane. In 450m cross road (912384); path to right of Trawden Literary Institute, past garages (fingerpost) into fields (911383). Ahead uphill beside wall; past radio mast (909378). At Pasture Springs Farm dogleg right/left (908377). At Moss Barn, right along front of house (907374); through gate (yellow arrow/YA); cross field to stile into plantation (YA).
Left; in 30m, ahead (YA); follow path through trees. At wall (906372) bear right through plantation to stile/footbridge onto moor (905370, YA). Half right, aiming a little left of wind turbine, to ladder stile overlooking Lower Coldwell Reservoir (903367). Ahead to gate onto road (903364); left for 350m; left onto bridleway (903361, fingerpost), following ‘Pennine Bridleway’ and ‘Wycoller’. After 3 miles, cross Turnhole Clough (941379); in 300m, left (943381, ‘Brontë Way, Wycoller’) for 1 mile to Wycoller.
Pass Wycoller Hall ruin (933392) and packhorse bridge; follow Trawden road out of village across road bridge. In 200m on right bend, go through wooden gate on right of farm track (930394, fingerpost). Diagonally across field to stile; on with fence on left; through metal gate, and fork left uphill (928393, YA) past Bracken Hill Farm. On west across fields (YAs, ‘Trawden’ fingerposts), aiming for Pendle Hill ahead.
In ¾ mile cross farm track at Higher Stunstead (916390) and on along lane down to Trawden. At B6250 (912389), left to Trawden Arms.
Lunch: Trawden Arms (01282-337055, trawdenarms.co.uk) – cheerful, popular village pub.
Tea: Wycoller Tearoom.
Accommodation: Old Stone Trough, Kelbrook, Barnoldswick BB18 6XY (01282-844844, oldstonetrough.co.uk) – convenient, great value.