Strenuous Leader : Malcolm Chamberlain Distance : 10.00 miles
We head north west from Hebden Bridge and climb through the woods to pick up the Calderdale Way past Heptonstall – some of this section is steep and narrow but the views across the valley are worth it. After leaving Eaves Wood we are into flatter countryside, but a bit muddy, as we head west to join the Pennine Way at Lower Pilling. We stay on the Pennine Way until the more open moorland at Green Hill, where we head across to the sheltered valley of Hebden Dale. We follow the path through the vale past Gibson Mill to New Bridge (facilities available, bring 20p) and a final small climb through the woods on the way back to Hebden for a cuppa/pint. (And the chippy is open on Sundays.)
Moderate Leaders: Garry & Emma O’Toole Distance : 7,50 miles
The walk goes through Hebden Bridge. We will then climb sharply uphill, the path is very steep and hard under foot. It can also be quite muddy and slippery. After the climb we pass through Heptonstall village, then beyond towards Gibson Mill. The walk back towards Hebden goes through Hebden Beck and follows the river. Again, this is quite hard under foot and is very muddy. As we arrive back towards Hebden we climb sharply before a long downhill walk into the town Centre. There are plenty of shops, cafes and pubs to enjoy. The climbs make the walk seems further than the 7.5miles.
Leisurely Leader: Pam Chamberlain Distance : 6 + miles
We will take the road out of Hebden Bridge town centre via the church up to the rear of Calderside. This is a circular route using footpaths, bridleways and fields and back to the town via a canal-side walk back into town. The climb is circa 600ft, there are a couple of stiles, the ground underfoot will likely be boggy and slippery in places. Bring a pole if the weather is not good.
Easy Leader : Jackie Gudgeon Distance 4.50 miles
Today’s walk will be along the canal, either a linear walk from Todmorden, or out and back from Hebden Bridge, to be decided on the day as Jackie has taken over from Derek.
Notes On The Area
The original settlement was the hilltop village of Heptonstall. Hebden Bridge (Heptenbryge) started as a settlement where the Halifax to Burnley packhorse route dropped into the valley and crossed the River Hebden and where the old bridge (from which it gets its name) stands. The name Hebden comes from the Anglo-Saxon Heopa Denu, ‘Bramble (or possibly Wild Rose) Valley’.
Steep hills with fast-flowing streams and access to major wool markets meant that Hebden Bridge was ideal for water-powered weaving mills and the town developed during the 19th and 20th centuries; at one time Hebden was known as “Trouser Town” because of the large amount of clothing manufacturing. Drainage of the marshland, which covered much of the Upper Calder Valley before the Industrial Revolution, enabled construction of the road which runs through the valley. Before it was built, travel was only possible via the ancient packhorse route which ran along the hilltop, dropping into the valleys wherever necessary. The wool trade was served by the Rochdale Canal, (running from Sowerby Bridge to Manchester), and the Manchester and Leeds Railway (later the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and running from Leeds to Manchester and Burnley). The location being in a narrow valley makes the town vulnerable to flooding and the town was quite badly affected by the heavy rains at Christmas 2015.
Hebden Bridge Town Hall and adjoining fire station is a Grade II listed building, built in 1897. Following local government reorganisation, it became underused. These days it is used as a café and exhibition centre.
At one time the town had a well-known clog factory and also a factory making asbestos items. But that closed as the risks of asbestos became known and the factory moved to Cumbria,
Nowadays the main economy comes from tourism helped by the fact that it is near The Pennine Way.
The town is known as a very desirable place to live with lots of artisans coming there and property is in short supply and so quite expensive. When you go past the ends of the terraced streets you may see pots of flowers out front and bikes propped up against the walls.
Space is limited due to the steep valleys and lack of flat land. In the past, this led to “upstairs-downstairs” houses known as over and under dwellings. These were houses built in terraces with 4–5 storeys. The upper storeys face uphill while the lower ones face downhill with their back wall against the hillside. The bottom 2 storeys would be one house while the upper 2–3 storeys would be another. This also led to unusual legal arrangements such as the “flying freehold”, where the shared floor/ceiling is wholly owned by the underdwelling.
There are lots of great little shops with a high proportion of independent businesses and most stay open on Sundays for the tourists. It also has a lively social life. Ed Sheeran was born here. An unusual fact is that it is known as the lesbian capitol of the country!