Ski Club of Manchester Late Summer Walk, Saturday Sept 14th 2013, Forest of Trawden Area

By Ian Harford

"A toilet! But why's the entrance that keyhole shape?" asked someone. "Was it a reminder to guests on the way in to hold their legs together, or simply to keep the animals out?" We never got a definitive answer though the curators of the site had suggested that the nook beside the giant mediaeval hearth might have been for food storage, cloak hanging or even wig powdering!

SCoM walks aren't always what you expect, which is why they attract people of an enquiring mind. Dave and Vanessa Miller had decided it was time for a change from walks in Cheshire, Derbyshire and Manchester. Now it was to be Lancashire's turn with a weekend visit to the Forest of Trawden and the fells behind Colne. Just over an hour's run on the motorway from Manchester, the Saturday walk was to show just how much we had been missing. The Sunday walk was another matter! See later.

A good car park awaited us about half a mile from the medieval village of Wycoller, which was to be our first port of call. Bought by Colne Corporation in 1896, this delightful valley and village was scheduled for flooding - like Thirlmere in 1894 in the Lake District - but a reprieve was given when a borehole was found instead. In the 1970s Wycoller was bought by the Department of the Environment and became a country park and nature reserve.

Just recently a Friends Group has been set up to raise grants to support a scheme for visitors and provide volunteers to maintain the area with its range of fascinating buildings. These include cottages, barns, clapper bridges and the half ruined manor hall, where the alleged wig powdering took place!

After a short stay looking round the site, our group of eleven plus a dog set off past the old packhorse bridge in a south westerly direction, climbing gently past a few houses and across open fields with wide views. The weather was as good as the forecasts had predicted with plenty of sun and blue skies.

We soon hit the small country lane running SE from the village of Trawden and had to avoid just one vehicle - the small red PO van delivering letters to this far flung community of sheep farmers and second home owners. Vanessa and I wondered if their letters would still cost the same to be delivered as mine in a busy street in Manchester, when the Royal Mail is sold off by the Government next month.

After about 90 minutes we were up on the track, running NE to SW above Gilford Clough, with just one final push to our lunch time destination, Lad Law (517 m) and Boulsworth Hill. The 360 degree views from the top were stunning and experts from the group suggested increasingly far flung sitings of hill tops, stone monuments and cooling towers. Ingleborough, Whernside to the north and Kinder Scout in Derbyshire were certain but the jury was out on whether we could see the Howgills in Cumbria as well.

With lunch over and Dolly satisfied with a good few leftovers from the sandwiches, we were off again at a fast cruising pace set by Dave. Picking up the track at Spoutley Lumb, we now descended the delightful Turnhole Clough, its sides bedecked with berry rich rowan trees and blackberries waiting for the adventurous. Soon we were picking up the beck from Smithy Clough, which later becomes Wycoller Beck. Two old clapper bridges, made with just one stone slab to cross the stream, kept the whole group marvelling for a good ten minutes at this early method of bridge building.

We were now in reach of Wycoller again and all settled down after a 7.5 mile walk to cups of tea and slices of lemon drizzle cake at the local cafe. It had been a great day, with great company.

When you have read this article, why not write to me ( and tell me if you would like to be reminded about the next walking trip we organise for SCoM members? You will not regret it!