West Yorkshire walk - Hebden Bridge and the Calder Valley
PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 July 2019
James Austin from York is the delivery officer for The Ramblers. Here he leads a walk through the Calder Valley from Hebden Bridge
The steep valleys, wild moorlands and huddled towns of the Calder Valley give the area a feel very distinct from Yorkshire's other great walking areas. Until the 19th century this was a remove, a relatively unpopulated area whose small settlements were clustered on the high ground away from the marshy valley floor.
With the industrial revolution, however, that changed as the River Calder's fast flowing waters proved an ideal power source for the burgeoning textile industry. The area slowly gained a distinctive character with towns clustered around the mills at the valley's base and with the construction of the area's characteristic 'over and under' terrace houses.
This walk aims to give you a taste of both sides of the Calder Valley; the wild, windswept moorlands and the crowded, steep valley. It begins at Hebden Bridge, in many ways the prototypical Calder Valley town with houses clustered around the old mills in the valley's centre. The town epitomises the charm of Calderdale's setting and architecture as well as the valley's odd journey from former industrial heartland to becoming a centre for alternative culture.
1. This walk begins from Hebden Bridge's railway station. From the station turn right onto Mayroyd Lane and cross under the railway tracks. Continue up Wood Top road, the track which climbs the hill ahead of you to the right, and then take the path to the right which runs behind the houses. Follow this path along as it steeply climbs up through woodland to New Road.
Cross the road and then follow the path opposite, south-west up the hill and through fields. It runs straight along the wall until you hit Horsehold Lane. Cross the lane and continue straight along the track for the next mile, keep following the track past a quick dog-leg, and continue straight with Stoodley Pike looming on the horizon.
2. The path will hit another road, go left here and then immediately right. Follow this path through the fields for half a mile and then turn left where the path hits the Pennine Way path, cutting across it. Follow the Pennine Way along and cross the track, continuing along the Way as it climbs up towards Stoodley Pike. When the path hits a T-junction turn right, towards the Pike. The landscape around you will now have turned from farmland to classic, windblown Yorkshire moorland.
3. Keep following the path until you reach the Pike which will slowly loom into view. This magnificent, 37m high monument dominates the valley for miles around. It is the second (or possibly third) such edifice to be built on the site. The original was constructed to celebrate Britain's victory in the Napoleonic Wars but collapsed following a lightning strike in 1854. The replacement was swiftly constructed and completed in 1856, just in time for completion of the Crimean war.
The view from here is outstanding; to your north and west the Calder Valley spreads out beneath you, just past the plunging hillside. To the south and east the classic Pennine moorland runs away to towards Withen's Clough Reservoir.
4. Once you've had your fill of the view go west and follow the path as it goes straight down the steep hill. Be careful with your footing here as the path is steep and descending can be treacherous, particularly in wet weather. Once you're down, continue along, then turn right just before the path reaches a patch of woodland. Follow the path as it emerges onto a track and continue north, following the track around to your left when it turns.
5. Turn right when the track terminates at Lee Bottom Road and bear right where the road splits, following the path into the woods. Cross the beck and continue along the track to the left as it runs along the base of a steep hill and into woodland. Follow the path as it runs along to the river bank and then cross at the first bridge to take the path along the other side of the river. Follow this path along the Calder for the next two miles until you return to Hebden Bridge.
This part of the walk is a serene river ramble, far removed from the river's former use as a vital thoroughfare for industry. You should see remains of this industrial past as you walk, alongside more natural sights such as geese, heron and wild flowers on the river banks.
Once you re-enter Hebden Bridge, keep following the towpath as it crosses the river and then take a right hand turn at Station Road to return to your start point. Alternatively, you can turn left where the path crosses the bridge to head into Hebden Bridge proper and sample its myriad of independent cafes, shops and pubs. The perfect place to rest your feet!
Start/finish: Hebden Bridge Railway Station
Distance: 6.8 miles, 11km
Terrain: Road and paths with some inclines and a steep descent
Time: 3½-4 hours
Refreshments/Facilities: Hebden Bridge - at the start and end of the walk.
Map: OS Explorer Map OL21, Burnley, Hebden Bridge, Keighley & Todmorden