The Atom at Wycoller

Thursday 17th April.


The Atom is one of four Panopticons situated in East Lancashire. By definition, a Panopticon is a structure, space or device providing a comprehensive or panoramic view.

01 Towards the Atom

The Atom is situated on a hillside overlooking the historic village of Wycoller. It is constructed of ferro-cement with the surface coated in metallic paint and has several round apertures cut into it. The structure is supposed to represent a molecule and atoms were supposed to have fallen out of the apertures.

The structure can be used as a shelter or viewing platform and the apertures were placed to frame the best views of the surrounding countryside. The view from the window to the right of the entrance is probably the best, looking over towards Pendle Hill.

03 Pendle

There used to be a large stainless steel sphere in the centre of the room that represented the last remaining atom. The reflection of the views from the apertures could be seen in this shinning ball. Unfortunately the sphere seems to have disappeared and all that remained on its plinth was an empty plastic water bottle. Why is it that people can carry the full bottle up the hill but cannot be bothered to take the empty bottle back with them. The effect was ruined.

04 Inside the Atom

                                                         Inside the molecule

Some people think that the structure resembles a pebble left on the beach, but I thought of it as a spaceship. Perhaps it was still the effects of too much red wine but my imagination ran away. With a bit of help from photoshop I transported one of the Iron Men from Crosby beach to complete the illusion. He seemed to say “take me home”

08 Take me home


So. what about our walk. We followed a footpath along the valley towards Foster’s Leap. It is believed that in1714 Foster Cunliffe made the daring leap from the cliff to the top of the rocky outcrop. We were not sure which was the particular rock but there were several interesting shaped rocks along the ridge.

11 Near Fosters Leap

The next six miles were spent on rough moorland paths following bits of the Pendle Way and the Bronte Way. We realised what they mean by the term ‘windswept moor’ It was freezing. As always the walk directions left much to be desired and eventually we gave up and plotted out own way back to Wycoller.

The village of Wycoller can be traced back over a 1000 years to Anglo-Saxon times. It was named after a prominent tree, the ‘wyc-alr’ – meaning the dairy farm among the alders. In the centre of the village are the remains of Wycoller Hall, built in the later part of the 16th century by the Hartley family. Nearby the baronial barn has been converted to a visitors centre. Wycoller Beck runs through the village and crossing it are several interesting bridges. The double arches packhorse bridge is over 800 years old but even older than this is the ‘Clam Bridge’ This bridge consisting of a single slab of stone is thought to be over 1000 years old.

18 Clam Bridge

Along side the beck were several species of wild flowers, always an excuse for me to get my camera out. I spotted ‘Forget me not’ and some Primrose, both good signs of Spring.

25 Forget me not26 Primrose

However, the most interesting flower was Butterbur.

21 Butterbur

Butterbur, Petasites hybridus, is often found on the banks of streams. It is a perennial and its flowers appear before the leaves which can grow up to 3 feet in diameter.

Back in the village we visited the ‘Wycoller tea rooms’ for tea and cake. The chocolate cake I ordered was enormous and delicious. We had been walking for over five hours and I reckon that I had burned off at least 2000 kcal. It was all going back on in an instant.

Another great day out. 9 miles.

About crosbyman66

My aim is to create a photo diary of my walks and my travels. I have two main hobbies, walking and photography and these complement each other. I am a senior citizen, what used to be called an old age pensioner, but I don't feel old. Since retirement I have had more time to pursue my hobbies and the opportunity to travel more. My philosophy now is - Do what you can, while you can. My other interests are fine wines and keeping fit. These may not complement each other but keep me happy.
This entry was posted in Gym Walks, Lancashire, Natural History, Photography, Walks, Wild Flowers. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Atom at Wycoller

  1. wendy says:

    I love the image with the iron man. This was a good walk, varied countryside and good tea shop at the end.

  2. david says:

    I thought it was just me who was freezing! Singing ringing tree topped the atom-where re the other Panopticons?

  3. crosbyman66 says:

    Hi David
    I am glad you enjoyed my blog.
    The other Panopticons are :- Colourfieds, in Blackburn’s Corporation Park and
    The Halo at a relandscaped former landfill site on Top O’ Slate above the Rossendale Valley.

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