Hardcastle Crags Walk

Whoopee – another sunny day! It was pretty windy but it was fairly mild again. I was just thinking that I fancied walking round Hardcastle Crags when Lisa rang and asked me if I, er, fancied walking round Hardcastle Crags! Great minds think alike…

Hardcastle Crags is a lovely wooded valley just to the north of Hebden Bridge. At one time Yorkshire water tried to get a bill through parliament to allow a compulsory purchase order for the land in order that a dam be built to flood the valley. Fortunately, the House of Commons rejected the bill and 250 acres of land was donated to the National Trust by its then landowner Lord George Halifax Lumley-Savile. A further 168 acres was bought by one Henry Mitchell Ingham and donated to the Trust.

Hardcastle Crags is now a big visitor attraction because of its 18 miles of scenic woodland walks and the visitor centre at Gibson Mill. National trust information for visitors to Hardcastle Crags.

There are various ways to walk to the Crags from the centre of Hebden Bridge. We chose to walk on the footpath along the bank of Hebden Water. The path starts off on the left bank of the river and eventually there is the choice of crossing the river on a small footbridge, or going up to the left – we chose the latter option.

Weir on Hebden Water

The path climbs slowly up beside some farmland. We could see the Pecket Well war memorial in the distance above the woods. It is a smaller replica of the famous local landmark of Stoodley Pike. Both monuments will no doubt feature in walks later in the year.

Pecket Well Monument

Lisa had by now taken over the camera and proceeded to snap such masterpieces as “Bird’s eye view of muddy walking boots”, “Very dark, creepy steps (no flash)”, and “Sheep, scared by strange woman waving camera”. I think next time I’ll lend her my other camera so I can take ‘ordinary’ photos for this blog while she takes arty ones for her imaginary exhibition! 😉

We wandered on past the scout hostel and descended back to the river on the fringes of Hardcastle Crags. We crossed the river on some big stepping stones. They are perfectly safe as long as the river isn’t in spate and the temperature is above freezing point. I wouldn’t risk the crossing if there was ice about though.

There were quite a few families about in the Crags, but it wasn’t like it is in the summer. I usually stay away at weekends at that time of year because it gets too busy.

Woodland path in Hardcastle Crags

Soon we got to Gibson Mill where there is a nice cafe and visitor centre. The prices in the cafe are fairly high for those on low incomes, such as the two of us! Every time, Lisa says that she won’t go in there again, but she likes her little treats such as coffee and cake. I’d worked on the assumption that we’d be having a little stop there as usual. We did.

We decided to go home by a different route to usual so we climbed up through the woods towards the Widdop Road. That’s on one of my favourite cycle routes – you’ll definitely be seeing some pictures taken round Widdop reservoir once I’m cycling again.

Path from Gibson Mill to Widdop Road

The time was getting on and hours of daylight are still limited at this time of year so we decided to head back along Widdop Road rather than taking a longer route on cross-country footpaths. There are some nice views over the valley, such as this one towards Old Town (above Hebden Bridge)…

Old Town from Widdop Road

You can see that the light was already fading by then. Onwards!

Oh yes, I must tell you about this one! I always point it out to people because I think that it is so funny. Have a look at the boarded up house in the next picture…

House? No, it's a horse's stable!

Wrong – that’s supposed to be a horse’s stable! There are very strict planning regulations in that area. You can’t just put up new dwellings without authorisation. Someone started renovating a farm building, and you tell me – does that look like horses were going to live in it? 😉 The council got wind of the changes and told the owners that it was okay to do up the stable as long as it remained a stable. “Oh no, we definitely aren’t trying to change the building into a house!” Strangely, work on the stable then ceased…

Lisa showed me a footpath that I didn’t know over to Heptonstall. It surprises me that there are still paths that I haven’t walked before. Mind you, we are blessed with many footpaths and bridleways in this area, so I suppose the odd one is bound to have escaped my attention. I took a picture of Hebden Bridge because I hadn’t seen it from that angle before.

Hebden Bridge at dusk

We passed quickly through the old village of Heptonstall which sits on one of the hilltops above Hebden Bridge. After that we descended into the town using a ridiculously steep old cobbled path known as ‘The Buttress’. What is even crazier is that the powers-that-be have made this part of a national cycle route! 😮 It’s impossibly hard to ride up, and lethally dangerous to ride down. Apart from that – it’s great!

Down The Buttress

And that was another nice walk finished. I forget sometimes how lucky I am to live in a place like this. I am only 5 minutes away from really nice countryside, but I’m not stuck away in some remote village.

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2 Responses to “Hardcastle Crags Walk”

  1. this is a wonderful place for a quite walk.
    my uncle use to own the white bungalow across the river from gibson mill we spent alot of time there in the summer holidays when we where kids i have relatives that still live in heptonstall.

  2. I know that building, Paul! I’ve never seen anybody using it though. It is in a really nice location.

    I walk up to Heptonstall quite frequently. Towngate Tearoom is a good place to stop for coffee and a chip butty!

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