Meet Leader - Frank Wilkinson
The area is a mixture of urban, rural and open access moor. Footpaths and bridle ways abound. I have found it wise to keep to public rights of way and established paths on the moors because of private ownership and avoiding the worst nightmares of tussocky ground. Part of the enjoyment of the day is in finding the way. Some of the ways may even be through peoples gardens, in woods in steep sided valleys or barely detectable in the heather or other vegetation. The OL 21 OS map is essential but even that does not give enough detail. A GPS can be invaluable when one is bemused by the maze of old lanes. The valleys are narrow and steep sided and a full day can involve considerable altitude gain plus perhaps a score of stiles to be climbed. Progress for the unfamiliar can be slow.
I give no claims on the accuracy of the distances involved, and know that these descriptions will need intelligent interpretation, and good map reading.
The ways in and out of Hebden Hey SD 9792 2912
The scout complex is in a wood on the steep valley side. Approach by other than the road or one of the 3 paths is inadvisable, and the paths are not easy, even in daylight.
The narrow road comes in from the east along the valley side. There are passing places; very much like the access to LHG. Parking is far better than at LHG, probably better than Lowstern, but of course there are 2 huts. Approach from Hebden Bridge up the steep road to Heptonstall, keep right at the fork and the access lane is the second on the right marked Hebden Hey.
Other than the road, there are 3 paths which leave from a finger post in the centre of the complex. The path first splits into either up or down, and the up one then splits right or left.
The path into the valley can also be gained from the side of the Tom Bell hostel, and leads over broken stones in 180 m to stepping stones across Hebden Water. Here it joins the National Trust tourist path up the valley just over ¾ mile from the NT car park at Midgehole. The stepping stones may be impassable in very bad weather.
Midgehole, with the WMC Blue Pig watering hole, can also be reached, in under ¾ mile, by following the road out of Hebden Hey about ½ mile to 98657 28978, finding an old stony track on the left with a path opposite, and descending 150 m to the watering hole. This route is feasible in the dark but a torch would be advisable.
Of the 2 paths up the valley side, leading eventually to Heptonstall, the right branch is easiest to follow and is another broken old stone path. In a short distance, it turns back left to reach the top of the wood above the huts and on an old lane leading to the tarmac road in Slack. The left branch, above the scout activity area, and reached alternatively straight up from the huts, the way could be lost. It starts at a narrow wet slit in the vegetation and rocks just to the left of a power line post. The way then traverses a bluebell patch climbing up the valley side, on leaf mold and over 2 fallen trees, to cross a major path, which taken to the right would take one to join the other upward route at the wood top. However, continuing in the same direction, brings one to stone steps and the wood top. Turning left, the obvious path follows the top of the wood, or the field bottoms, to come out on the tarmac 98554 28782. 50m to the left is a FP to Heptonstall across the fields. From this point, a very steep path leads down through the wood to join the hut road at the way down to the Blue Pig mentioned above. Crossing the fields to Heptonstall becomes a lane. Turn left down the cobbled lane at Whitehall Fold to find The Cross Inn on the right with The White Lion just beyond.
This route is not the shortest but perhaps the quickest and most suitable in the dark.
From the traffic lights in the centre of Hebden Bridge take the cobbled pedestrian area to the packhorse bridge. Cross it and head up the steep cobbles known as The Buttress. At the Heptonstall road at the top, turn right and follow the car route to the hut. i.e. keep right at the fork and take the 2nd track right, marked for Hebden Hey.
Just after the road fork it is possible to continue up steps and a steep cobbled path to reach Heptonstall. The hut can then be gained by the reverse of the path described above. This would avoid the road walk but involve more climbing and a difficult path in the dark.
This route is up the valley bottom. From Hebden Bridge centre take the pedestrian way to pass the packhorse bridge and cross the next bridge. Immediately take the path overlooking the river behind shop premises and when forced to return to the road follow it to the right passing the many storey Nutclough mill on your right. Do not follow this road to the end but a parallel one above it on the right leading to another packhorse bridge. Cross the bridge and immediately turn right to follow the riverside. At a bowling green on your left, cross the river, turn left and follow the path to come out on a road with the path up steps ahead to a higher road. Turn left at this road, which becomes a track leading up to the road access to Hardcastle Crags. Turn left and at the next lane down to the left take it to a marked path across the field to the right, to a footbridge across the river leading to the Blue Pig at Midgehole. Just before the WMC you join the Calderdale Way, an old lane coming down on your left and by taking this, you could soon reach the road to Hebden Hey or by continuing, reach the road leading to Slack, or continuing to climb further, finally reach Heptonstall near The Cross Inn. However, by passing the Blue Pig, at the entrance for cars look for the old track running half left which climbs to join the road to Hebden Hey. This bit is described above in reverse.
This route is the nearest to a straight line but energetic. Find the Co-op on the Burnley Road. This is west from the centre of Hebden Bridge either along the road or the canal towpath. Across the road from the Co-op and 30m west is a gap leading to steps up to the Heptonstall road. At the road turn right and take the path just up the road on the far side. This leads steeply up and gives good views over the Calder gorge. Do not branch off until the path turns slightly right into an old quarry, where there are rock climbs. The path continues up steps to the left of the face. At the top, you are at the edge of Heptonstall and there is a path leading between the gardens to reach the church and not far from the pubs. This way could be taken to reach the hut by reversing the appropriate path described above. Alternatively, and giving more exposure, at the top of the steps from the quarry take the path to the left along Colden Edge. The path skirts the top of the crags before entering the wood and joining a path coming up from the left. Keep on until the path comes out at the top of the road of Lumb Bank. Go down the bank but keep right by some water troughs and reach a 5 path junction 97821 28426. Keep going slightly to the right to a finger post pointing to the right. This takes you behind gardens and emerges through a garden onto the road at Slack. Cross the road and take the lane down the side of the house to reach the wood overlooking Hebden Hey. Choose either left or right to descend on one of the 2 upward paths out of Hebden Hey as described above.
A circular walk from the Hebden Hey scout hut visiting Heptonstall, part of the Calderdale Way, Eaves wood, The New Delight pub, the ruins of Staups Mill, Stoodley Pike, Hebden Bridge and a short steep return to the hut.
Take the path to Heptonstall described in The ways in and out of Hebden Hey. From the Cross Inn 98717 28096 cross the main cobbled street and take the path signed to the Museum. Go into the old church yard, and while you are there, you could view the gravestone of David Hartley 98667 28042, who at 25 was hanged for scraping gold off the edge of sovereigns. It is 10 yds from the church door and just behind a gravestone in the form of a cross. Proceed round the end of the new church and leave the graveyard, turn right. ( Beyond the church on the right is the new cemetery, where Sylvia Plath, the wife of the poet laureate Ted Hughes is buried. ) Follow the track keeping right at a fingerpost to pass through an estate of modern stone houses to reach the top of the quarry described in route 3 of The ways in and out of Hebden Hey. You are on the Calderdale Way and follow it as route 3 to the 5 path junction but take the stile ahead and the paved path along the wall side. Come out at some cottages and turn left just beyond. Look for the Calderdale Way marker shaped like a leaf made up of 3 circles and a stalk. Keep right along field edges and paved paths to enter the top of a wood. Keep right and pass where The Pennine Way comes in from the right. Descend to the clapper bridge, cross it and take the right hand path up to the track. Turn right. At the end of this lane is a pub called The New Delight, which in recent years was closed down by the brewery but was re-opened by the local community. Follow the Calderdale Way, or rejoin it after visiting the pub and going up to Blackshaw Head. This is reached from the pub by following the road uphill to a path cutting up to a farm and rejoining the road near the village. Turn left before the road junction to cut off the corner and cross the road following the Calderdale Way markers until you reach Hippins, an old manor house. At the gate and corner by the house take the path to the left through the stile and alongside the wall. Turn right where the obvious path leads down into the steep valley. Cross the footbridge and continue by the ruins of Staups mill, and marvel at the efforts of building a mill here. Climb up looking for a narrow path on the left. The first one is a dead end. The 2nd one descends steeply down the side of the valley, known as Jumble Clough, crossing a path leading to another clapper bridge on your left, but you continue to reach an unsurfaced road. Turn left and cross the stream and continue downhill to more mill ruins. Look for a footbridge on your right and take it. Follow the path to come out behind Mulcture Hall. Go down the road but fork right to the footbridge over the railway. This leads you to the main Hebden Bridge Todmorden road, which you cross slightly right to go between old mill buildings, cross the canal and start ascending on the road. Do not turn immediately right on the path below the wood but look for the path doubling back right after you have passed the rockery garden area. This path climbs steadily at the top side of Eastwood and where a yellow marker leads through a stile into the top of the wood curve round to the left instead. This is an old way, turned green and in places full of reeds but leads to a better track near Height Gate. Turn left and pass a derelict Range Rover at Height Gate. Go down the field to its right to fine a muddy track leading to an old bridge and join up with a recent road to Strait Hey. This new build was a ruin until recently. Follow the path to its right up to a lane known as London Road. The next objective is Stoodley Pike above you. The energetic can cross the open rough ground but it is probably easier to turn right or left to reach well used paths up to the Pike. Take the staircase inside to reach the parapet and get a good view, weather permitting. Leave the Pike going east to a wall stile. Cross it and take the stile on the left to follow the path down to Swillington Farm and Kilnshaw Lane. Follow this to a tarmac cross road. Left will take you by road to Hebden Bridge but alternatively go forward to the next lane on the left. Go down this to an old crossing lane and the way continues straight on, bending right, down a silted up, rough, stony sunken lane. It goes under the bridge of a lane above and then enters a wood overlooking Hebden Bridge. Follow the old track, which zig-zags down, first to the left and then to the right at the bottom edge of the wood. Look for a path cutting back to your left at a crossing of paths, and take this down to the road. Turn left and cross the railway and look for a gap on your right, where a path leads down to the canal where it crosses the river on an aqueduct. Cross the canal and continue to come out in the centre of Hebden Bridge. Choose a way back to the scout hut. I recommend The Buttress as the final sting.
Alternative returns to the hut from Stoodley Pike in the walk above.
1. The Pennine Way could be followed all the way to The White House on the A58. This is a distance of about 5 miles and would add perhaps 3 miles to the day provided the infrequent No 900 bus was taken from the White House back to Hebden Bridge.
2. The Pennine Way could be followed until crossed by the Calderdale Way. Here turn right down the old paved way to Lumbutts or Mankinholes. Find your way down into the valley by one of the paths and return to Hebden Bridge on the canal side. This would add perhaps 2 miles.
3. The Pennine Way could be followed to just beyond the Calderdale Way crossing and the moor edge followed to Gaddings dam. A descent over Rake End leads to ways directly to Todmorden centre. If public transport takes you back to Hebden Bridge add about 2 miles, if you walk on the canal side, add about 6½.
At least 13½ miles.
This circular route, with various options, includes open moor. Deep winter when the ground is frozen hard is the best time for the moor top in this walk. After a prolonged wet spell it is for the masochist, April should be pleasant enough before the heather is in full bloom.
The outward leg to the Yorkshire, Lancashire border at Hare Stones is 6 or 6½ miles. Proceed up the valley from Hebden Hey to the Gorple Lower reservoir embankment. This can be reached up the road from the Packhorse Inn, turning left onto the water works road. The Packhorse is reached as described in the Haworth walk. Alternatively, and 0.4 mile shorter, while following the western side of Hebden Water after Gibson Mill you come to a small stone building just before crossing to the eastern side. Look for a post on the left indicating the purple route. Follow this small path, which leads to steps up to the road as it descends into Blake Dean. A waterworks lane, just across, leaves the tarmac and contours up the valley, passing Gorple Cottages to reach the embankment.
From whichever route, follow the waterworks lane to Gorple Upper reservoir embankment. Take the path up to the right at the end of the embankment, over gritstone outcrops to meet the Pennine Bridle Way. Turn left and descend towards the saddle at the county boundary, looking for markers on the left for a way across to Hare Stones. Take this indeterminate and usually wet way, to the obvious stones and continue up the hill ahead. Find a small groove or break in the rough terrain, which climbs to the moor top. There is evidence of fair usage, but the path can easily be lost, leaving you in uncomfortable ( to say the least ) terrain. Over the crest there is a wire fence on the left, with signs of a path, which is an excellent guide leading towards Black Hameldon. From there, continue on the same line to the trig point on Hoof Stones Height, some 2½ miles from Hare Stones. Here you make a choice between the shortest route down Noah Dale, or to continue towards the main Calder valley.
Choice 1. This route is 5 miles. Turn east from the trig point and descend an old water dike, evident by the straight line it takes to follow the faint path into Noah Dale. As you reach the upper part of the valley, the path wanders in an area, which was once an old reservoir. Keep to the northern side of the valley and pass a path coming in from the left. You passed by the other end of this at the wooden hut between the 2 Gorple reservoirs. Follow the valley down ( you may need to consult the map as the way does not shout at you ) to finally join a narrow access road, which is again the Pennine Bridle Way. Follow this lane all the way to Slack, where you pick up the old lane and the upper route into Hebden Hey.
Choice 2. From the trig point continue south to Wolf Stones, a bare section of gritstone and on to reach the tarmac road, at a small gully. The path from Wolf Stones is not obvious as there are many variations. Finding the route will save time and effort. At the road, turn left and follow it 500 yds to a junction. This has added at least 1 mile from Hoof Stones Height.
From here on, choices abound, because there are so many old ways. I offer the following options.
1. You can descend into the valley and get back to Hebden Bridge by bus ( 3 per hour ), but remember the walk up to the hut from Hebden Bridge.
2. You can just follow the road to Keb Bridge, Blackshaw Head and Slack. The distance is 5 miles. From the New Delight there is the option of avoiding the road as in 3 & 4 below but the same distance.
3. You can avoid a lot of road, at the expense of finding your way, and only 5½ miles. Follow the road about a mile to just before the Sportsman’s Inn at Keb Bridge, where there is a car park. Look for a path on the left used by climbers approaching Hawks and Jack Stones, which were to your left ½ mile back. Follow this minor path to the dam of an old, drained reservoir. Turn right and eventually come out on gravel by outbuildings of the flying saucer like, aerial system, which is used to define transatlantic air lanes. Exit from the site is on an old lane named Dukes Cut on the OS map and you turn left. You now need to make a turn right, and the safest way is to continue on to Four Gates End. Turn right on Moorcock Road and follow it until the lane comes in from the right and then take the next left. When you reach some buildings, ( the lady owner of one does not like walkers who stray ), turn right. The main bridle way continues on, but there is clearly a yellow waymarker for your route, if you can spot it. Follow this Brown Hill Lane to join the tarmac at an elbow. Keep straight on, descending towards The New Delight. You are now on the walk I have described to Stoodley Pike, but going in the opposite direction. At the corner by the pub car park take the track right leading down the valley. Pass the access to property down by the stream and look for a marker on your left, which is the tiny Pennine Way path, and also the Calderdale Way, descending to the clapper bridge in Colden Clough. Cross the bridge and take the upper path, but keep straight on, where the PW goes over a wall on the left. You come to a stile on the left, which takes you out of the wood and onto old paved field paths, which you follow. There is a dog leg to the left to pass to the left of a house and fall towards the Colden valley with Heptonstall church ahead of you. Here you join one of the ways I have described up from Hebden Bridge to Hebden Hey, and are at the 5 path junction. Take the path on your left and then the path right at the finger post to come out in Slack, and so to Hebden Hey.
4. This route avoids even more road but adds another ½ mile. At the junction 500 yds after leaving the moor, turn downhill and take the old lane on your left in about 300 yds. The way is unmistakable and after about a mile the Todmorden Way comes in from the right, and you then pass a ruinous barn on the left hand side just before you join the Calderdale Way coming up from Todmorden. Keep on for some 500 yds across the paving on Whirlaw Common to approach Whirlaw Stones. Here, I advise keeping to the Todmorden Centenary Way, which branches left up over the top of Whirlaw Stones and comes out at a road end with a wooden sculpture. Keep straight on, on the old lane to join a tarmac lane at a corner. Leave this road at the next corner to continue eastwards until you join yet another tarmac lane. Go left and then right at the junction to reach Great Rock. Take the path to its left. You are back on the Calderdale Way, which you follow for the next 2 miles or so. The lane becomes a path and drops steeply to the road at Hippins Bridge. Cross the bridge and turn right to pass the old Hippins manor house. Continue to come out at Blackshaw Head. The Way goes across the fields but runs parallel to the road leading to The New Delight pub. Either way will take you to join option 3 above.
This walk, after the Hardcastle Crags woods, eventually picks up the Pennine Way passing High Withens of Bronte fame to reach Haworth. Return is by a different route including the picturesque Lumb Falls. The total round is at least 15 miles, but a bus return is possible.
From the hut, descend and cross the stepping stones, follow the tourist path up the valley to Gibson Mill. This old watermill has been refurbished by the NT, and there is an arrangement for Hebden Hey users to visit free. From here I describe 3 alternative ways, which join at the side of Walshaw Dean Middle reservoir. The first 2 go via the interesting hamlet of Walshaw, while the third takes 1½ miles extra to pass the Packhorse Inn.
1. Continue up the grit road to the right of the Mill, pass the minor crags which give Hardcastle Crags its name, keep right at the fork, and join a more substantial lane coming in from the right, and in about ½ mile reach the hamlet of Walshaw. Pick up the way from Walshaw as in option 2.
2. Alternatively, cross the packhorse bridge at the mill and continue on the interesting path up the valley, pass a small stone building referred to in My Black Hameldon Walk, and soon cross the valley to reach a rough track. Here is where route 3 diverts. However, to reach Walshaw a small path climbs steeply up the left hand side of the side clough, doubling back and up to a stile in a field corner. Take the line of steepest ascent until you can see the manor house at Walshaw and find the stile leading to the road and join option 1. Take the lane, which turns off uphill from the centre of the hamlet. Do not take the one doubling back through a gate. Follow this rough track over White Hill, pass a shooting box, keep right and join up with option 3 at the side of the reservoir.
3. On joining the rough track after crossing the river from the stone building in option 2, follow the track to reach a house and then find a path leading on to a spot overlooking the river, where the stone foundation pillars for a trestle bridge, built when the reservoirs were being constructed, can be seen. Take the path down to the river fork and cross the footbridge. Climb up to the road and Blake Dean scout hut. Here you are about ½ mile from the Packhorse Inn along the road. Alternatively a steep path cuts up at the first hairpin to rejoin the road not far from the pub. If you do not wish to visit the pub take the lane leading off at the 2nd hairpin, and follow it until it joins the PW. If you do visit the pub, a stile across the road leads across the fields to the same junction with the PW. Follow the PW across the embankment of Lower Walshaw Dean reservoir and alongside this and the middle reservoir to meet the lane coming down from the shooting hut of options1 &2. This option adds 1.6 miles and visiting the pub another 200 yds or so.
Where all 3 options meet on the reservoir side, follow the Pennine Way up the moor and about 300 yds over to the ruins of Top Withens. Just after the ruins fork right. You are now on the Bronte Way. Follow it until you can drop down to the right into the valley to Bronte Bridge. Continue down the valley and all routes lead to Haworth.
The return is by the Haworth to Hebden Bridge Walk which is shown clearly on the 2½” OL 21 OS map. Pick up this return as you wish. There are various cross country routes from as early as the moor top just before Top Withens, not all shown on the map. I shall assume that you have gained the track and followed it over the crest to descend to Grain Water Bridge. Leave it here by following the tarmac road until you can go down the access to Grain. The path goes behind the property and along a field wall to Stone Boot Farm. Pass through the farm yard and through a gate. Go over the horizon until you see a stile leading down to the stream and Lumb Waterfall. Cross the bridge and climb up until you can go left onto a path traversing the hillside. Follow this line, which will take you behind an old farm and up its access lane to join another lane leading down to Midgehole and the NT car park. Make your way back to Hebden Hey.
If Haworth is reached and time spent there, a quicker route back is to catch the bus, which follows the A6033. The shortest way back to Hebden Hey is then to leave the bus at Peckett Well, at the fork just beyond the Robin Hood pub. Here you can pick up the Calderdale Way, which descends steeply into the valley on a narrow paved path just beyond the road junction. Double back where the path crosses the stream and you will reach the road at Midgehole, very near the NT car park. Choose a way back to Hebden Hey.
See website, use link above.
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