25 Hebden Bridge – Haworth

Hebden Bridge to Haworth 11 miles (17.6Km.)

Hebden Bridge from the path to Heptonstall

Hebden Bridge from the path to Heptonstall

Steps help the climb to Heptonstall

Steps help the climb to Heptonstall

A second stab at volume two and now it’s March 2011. Spring is here and the weather is kind, bit cool on the tops but getting there warms me through. I’d walked up to Heptonstall before, I knew I had a good climb immediately from the old bridge so I wandered around the town to limber up. The old cobbled road is attractive and the steady plod gives ample time to study the setts, each one set so that the upper edge creates a small step above the next one, perhaps to assist grip and slow the descent of water. The section of real footpath has some steps an easier climb I find.

Ridge path out of Heptonstall

Ridge path out of Heptonstall

The rows of houses below start to take on a pattern created by the contours of the steep sided valley into which the town is moulded. The view down onto the town is now so familiar to us with Google Earth but here it’s for real with tiny cars moving along the roads and specks of people. I think I followed the correct route around the churches but feel that we should be offered a glimpse of the village having made the effort to get here. On my last visit I did walk up the village street so missed the alternative stunning views down into the Calder valley and across to Stoodley Pike standing on the route of the Pennine Way.

Crossing Hebden Water

Crossing Hebden Water

As I dropped into Hebden Dale I couldn’t make sense of the bleak ‘houses’ in this lovely setting until a sign by the stepping stones revealed Hebden Hey Halifax District Scouts. Not houses but a hostel and campsite and what a perfect location for adventure. Here we have the stepping stones from the front cover of volume two. Was it my imagination or increasing fear of slipping from such a crossing, the stones looked far more uneven today than when Margaret posed on them in 1997. Had they been tossed and tilted by the storms and torrents in the last fourteen years?

Gibson Mill

Gibson Mill

Given a choice by the guide I don’t know what I’ll miss on the alternative route but I like walking among trees alongside moving water so opted not to climb the hill. I asked two locals what I had missed on the other route and was relieved to be told “nothing”. Both routes met at Gibson Mill a delightful National Trust property, closed on my visit but I enjoyed the scene before pressing on to the elusive Hardcastle Crags.

Lumb bridge and waterfall

Lumb bridge and waterfall

Another choice to escape the valley but our guides are decisive this time leaving the Recreational Route so that we pass Walshaw Lodge where “luxury self-catering accommodation” can be had with a view too. The slog around Shackleton Knoll offers some decent views then before dropping into Crimsworth Dean we briefly head south to view the tower of Heptonstall church and on the horizon Stoodley Pike. Having just crossed a recreational route linking the same locations as this stage of the Great English Walk it’s a surprise that the former fails to pass Lumb Hole waterfall, inspiration for Ted Hughes poem ‘Six Young Men’. Too cold today for a wild swim but a good spot according to Kate Rew founder of the Outdoor Swimming Society.

Haworth Old Road and Leeshaw Reservoir

Haworth Old Road and Leeshaw Reservoir

Our route soon joins the Old Haworth Road to cross the moor which offers easy walking and good views as it descends to skirt Leeshaw Reservoir then enters Penistone Hill Country Park where signs in Japanese and stone books create an Alice in Wonderland feel as we approach the unreal ‘Bronte Village’ renamed in deference to the daily onslaught by tourists. We enter through the churchyard stacked to overflowing with memorial stones to the good and wealthy, no unmarked graves here so where did they bury their poor?

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Great English Walk map of section 25

Great English Walk map of section 25

 

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 25

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 25


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