5 reasons to love Denby Dale

PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 September 2015 | UPDATED: 18:53 07 June 2016

Denby Dale's impressive landmark viaduct

Denby Dale's impressive landmark viaduct

Joan Russell Photography

There are lots of reasons to visit the Denby Dale district – here are just a few to get you started.

Photographs by Joan Russell

Community spirit is alive and well

When Kirklees Council announced that seven rural libraries would have to be run by volunteers to secure their long-term survival, some communities reacted with anger. But not Denby Dale.

The proactive, resolutely positive people who make this West Yorkshire village tick saw an opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. Not only would they take over the running of their library, they’d build a new one; a bigger, brighter, better community hub that the whole village could be proud of.

Denby Dale Community Project (DDCP) was established to bring the £250,000 plan to fruition. There was disappointment earlier this year when Big Lottery funding fell through but, while there’s still a way to go before the village gets its new library hub, fundraising and planning continue apace.

‘We are hopeful that we can still deliver a vibrant new, if smaller, community hub for the Denby Dale ward which will, of course, include saving our village library,’ said a DDCP spokesman. ‘Over the last three years, our trustees and volunteers have built up a wealth of knowledge about the project through hard work and dedication.’

Find out how you can support the project by visiting ddcp.org, where you can pledge your support (and maybe make a helpful donation).

Denby Dale is famous for its pies as  Eve Worsley and Jodi Moynihan from Gawthorpe's Butchers are happy to demonstrateDenby Dale is famous for its pies as Eve Worsley and Jodi Moynihan from Gawthorpe's Butchers are happy to demonstrate

There’s food, glorious food

Denby Dale is known as The Pie Village because of its penchant for producing enormous celebratory pies.

The tradition started in 1788 to celebrate King George’s recovery (ish) from mental health problems. But not all of the village’s pie-shaped schemes have been as successful, most notably a crusty treat baked to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee which spoiled before the big day and had to be buried in quick lime (makes a change from gravy).

There is now a permanent reminder of Denby’s long-term love affair with pastry in the shape of an eye-catching sculpture on the traffic island at the junction of Wakefield Road and Cumberworth Lane – so when a driver claims to be pie-eyed at the wheel, don’t feel you have to alert the traffic police.

When you’ve had your fill of pie (we can wait), you’ll probably fancy something sweet. And nothing tastes quite as sweet as locally-made ice cream.

The Mill Pond in ScissettThe Mill Pond in Scissett

Denby Dale artisan ice cream company Yummy Yorkshire is run by third generation farmer Jeremy Holmes and his business-savvy wife Louise. In the eight years or so since they decided to invest in an ice cream machine to make better use of their excess cream, they’ve taken on the hard-fought world of artisan dairy and made it their own.

‘Liquorice is probably the flavour most associated with us but we’re innovating all the time,’ Louise told us shortly after she scooped (pun intended) last year’s Woman in Tourism title at the Network She Foundation Awards. ‘We like to be adventurous. I’d hate it if a customer came in to the parlour and had tried everything on our menu. I want them to be surprised and intrigued by everything we do.’

They’ve since added beetroot, black garlic and dark chocolate, and basil to their flavours list.

It thinks big when it comes to landmarks

Denby Dale’s shops, pubs and restaurants sit in the shadow of its hugely impressive (and impressively huge) railway viaduct.

The prominent local landmark, which strides majestically across the Dearne Valley carrying the Penistone line, started life as a wooden structure in 1846. At 400 yards long, 112 feet high and as wobbly as a jelly in a high wind, it had to be checked every day by railway workers who were concerned it would either fall down or be consumed by fire.

Perhaps inevitably, it was replaced by a stone version in 1880 – although it took a further four years to completely dismantle to rickety old wooden one.

Not to be outdone by the giant of Denby Dale, Emley, a neighbouring village in the district, has its own supersized landmark. Here you’ll find the large Millennium Green and its surrounding shops similarly dwarfed by the not insubstantial presence of Emley Moor mast, which stands at a thrusting 330.4m (that’s 1,084ft in old money, in case you were wondering).

The countryside is close to its heart

Denby Dale Parish Countryside Project is a scheme run as a partnership between the parish council and Kirklees Metropolitan Council to involve the local community in sustainable planning, development, promotion and management of the lovely surrounding countryside.

It’s particularly concerned with improving access, developing urban green spaces, wildlife conservation and promoting environmental education.

And it’s not alone in its endeavours. There’s also Denby Dale Parish Environment Trust, an independent charity set up in 1997 to support, sustain and enhance the natural environment; Kaye’s Millennium Green, a four-hectare parkland in Clayton West on land given to the village by descendants of 19th century landowner John Kaye Bradbury; and Upper Dearne Woodlands Conservation Group, a very active band of volunteers set up in 1997 who continue to protect local woodland to this day.

It’s got a healthy respect for good health

The Denby Dale district, which includes 12 villages and has a population of around 18,000, is criss-crossed by a network of footpaths offering an array of splendid walks.

You can download 14 walks from denbydale-walkersarewelcome.org.uk, where there is something for all abilities, or tackle something a bit more substantial in the form of the Transpennine Trail (transpenninetrail.org.uk) or the 30-mile Dearne Way, which can be picked up at Birdsedge.

If the weather isn’t particularly tropical (in West Yorkshire?), you could exercise your right to exercise inside at the recently renovated Scissett Baths & Fitness Centre.

This vital community asset was opened by the Miner’s Welfare in 1928 and has been consistently well-used ever since. It has undergone numerous refurbishments and modernisations in its long history, most recently a complete overhaul just last year.

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