Todays walk starts and finishes at the New Visitor & Canal Centre by the Marina. The Centre is well worth a visit. Next door is a newly opened Thai Restaurant which already has earned itself a very good reputation. If you were thinking of having a meal there you’re advised to book.
Choice of Walks
(1)Heptonstall Circuit - 4 kilometres; stiff climb to start with but easy thereafter with plenty of time to explore the historic churches and buildings of Heptonstall and if you wish visit one of its two pubs!
(2)Heptonstall, Hebden Dale and Colden Dale - 11 kilometres (7 miles); Stiff climb as for shorter walk; shorter stay in Heptonstall; skirt Hebden Dale with a view of Hardcastle Crags; return via Colden Dale (uneven ground , may be muddy) and a short stretch of the Rochdale Canal.
From the Marina head for the town centre - R at the lights onto Bridge Gate. At the White Swan cross over and follow the Heptonstall sign over the packhorse bridge. Note its history on the little plaque on the far side of the bridge. Past the Hole in the Wall PH climb the cobbled track - very steep so take it easy! After about half a kilometre take FP on the L - through some trees and out onto Heptonstall Road. X over and take the path up through woodland to Heptonstall Quarry a favourite haunt of Don Willhans who pioneered some classic climbs there. L up the steps and the path eventually brings you to a point where you take a R onto a track which leads into the village of Heptonstall and the Parish Church of St Thomas.
Take a rest here and a quiet moment to enjoy the solitude and the magnificent stained glass windows. Nearby is the ancient ruin of the Church of St Thomas A Beckett. Between the two is the old graveyard famous for the characters buried there including the Coiner David Hartley and elsewhere a nagging wife! The new graveyard has a lady also renowned for her marital relationship - Sylvia Platt wife of the former Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, born in nearby Mytholmroyd. Heptonstall is full of history and a great place to spend an hour or more!
Leave the churchyard and head up the main street past one of the two pubs in the village and Weavers Square - leave the ‘top of the town’ N towards Hardcastle Crags. The road becomes a track and then L onto a FP which takes you down to a road. L along this for a short distance, then X over and onto the FP which goes L along the edge of the woodland. After about 1.5 k the FP gradually descends through the beech woodland, eventually picking up a good track above Gibson Mill. L along this track back up out of the valley to rejoin road. R along this for a short distance and then X over to take the track up through Clough House for about 0.5K to join the Pennine Way heading S. If you want a longer walk at this point, its only 70K to Edale or 360K to Kirk Yetholm along the PW!
Leave the PW once you come to Colden Water and the ancient Hebble Hole Bridge with its 4 huge stone slabs - built to carry pack ponies on their way to Heptonstall Cloth Hall. L from here to follow the river downhill for about 1K to Lumb Bank - the 18th cntury mill owners house once ownd by Ted Hughes and now owned by the Arvon Foundation for budding writers. From here climb up higher along the valley side following the track eventually coming to Rochdale Road above The Church of St James. X over the road and take the FP over the River Calder to the Canal. L along this back to the Marina, crossing and recrossing the Canal on the way.
Some background information:-
Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall thrived during the Industrial Revolution when the mills and their familiar chimneys became the symbols of prosperity, specialising in the production of corduroy and worsted. Bridge Mill became known as the site where Royalist forces camped during their fight against the Roundheads in the battle of Heptonstall.
Heptonstall had it own cloth hall - well before Halifax had its Piece Hall - and its own Grammar School, which is now a museum open to the public. Rebuilt in the 14th and 15th Centuries, the remains of the early Parish church are still a focal point in the town. Its roof was torn off by gale force winds in the mid nineteenth century, but the new Victorian Gothic church was built close to the original site, without disturbing its ruined predecessor.
It was around Heptonstall that the notorious Cragg Vale Coiners, led by the so-called "King" David Hartley, supplemented their meagre incomes from cloth-making and farming by making new coins from "old". David Hartley was subsequently hanged for murder in 1770 and buried in Heptonstall churchyard. Their lives were laced with intrigue and murder and their legend lives on in the town to this day.
Visitors still flock to see the Pace Egg play, the World Dock Pudding Championships and the annual Arts Festival which draws people from all over the world.
Walks in the South Pennines
Evening News Family Walks Guide Volume 3 J.& A. Nuttall
On the Tops Geoff Boswell
OS maps Land Ranger Series, sheet 103 or South Pennines Outdoor Leisure Map.
Ramble Organised by Pat Shine. Text Pat Shine. Photographs Derek Parsons