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.
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.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
However, the most interesting flower was 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.