Our selection of top walks in and around Hebden Bridge is really testimony to the things that make this town so popular – with its locals and visitors alike. Start at the historic Hebden Bridge Picture House, and wander along the high street past brewery taproom Vocation & Co, bar and bottle shop Drink and grocery shop and cooperative Valley Organics for an introduction to the winner of best Small Town in the British High Street Awards 2016. Amble around the market itself Thursday through Sunday; it won Best Small Market at The Great British Market Awards. Alternatively, you could head out into the stunning natural landscape that surrounds the town.
There’s Hardcastle Crags, a National Trust site that combines 400 acres of woodland with Gibson Mill – the trust’s flagship sustainable building, which is home to toilets and a café. Or Slack Top Alpine Nursery and Garden, with its naturalistic alpine garden overlooking the Yorkshire moors. There’s even a local hostel specifically geared towards walkers, with routes through the surrounding woodland starting practically from the front door; it’s close to three national trails, and only around an eight mile walk to Haworth, former home of the Brontës.
Hebden Bridge is, then, brilliantly well connected by walking routes: a hike up the Calder Valley, through the winding stone paths in Eaves Wood, leads to Heptonstall, an ancient village where the poet Sylvia Plath is buried (we recommend ending up in the The Fox and Goose pub on your return). A walk along the Rochdale Canal leads to Todmorden in one direction, or Mytholmroyd, birthplace of Plath’s husband Ted Hughes, and Sowerby Bridge in the other. Read on to discover all these routes and more.
Here are our picks
Hardcastle Crags, Gibson Mill, Midgehole Road, Hebden Bridge, HX7 7AW - Visit now
Hardcastle Crags, just a short distance from the centre of Hebden Bridge, boasts some spectacular natural scenery – and over 15 miles of footpaths along which to explore it. Owned by the National Trust, the valley combines 400 acres of woodland with the 19th century Gibson Mill: there’s a varied network of waymarked trails to follow, as well as the Weaving Shed Café and toilets for walkers in the mill. Choose from the accessible Estate Track, which is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs, the Crags Constitutional, a medium difficulty trek that passes the crags themselves, or the Railway Trail, a strenuous walk over challenging terrain in the upper valley. On the way, keep your eyes peeled for roe deer, tumbling waterfalls and hay meadows teeming with wildlife; once known as the ‘Switzerland of Yorkshire’, the valley is a stunning natural haven.
Slack Top Alpine Nursery and Garden, Alpine House, 22A Slack Top, Heptonstall,, Hebden Bridge, HX7 7HA - Visit now
A walk around Slack Top Alpine Nursery and Garden is to be transported into a landscape of alpines, lovingly grown by award-winning team Allison and Michael Mitchell. High above Hebden Bridge you’ll find a naturalistic alpine garden, begun in 1980 and featuring ponds, rock and scree beds and a 100ft planted wall. Spanning a quarter of an acre, Slack Top has gently sloping paths overlooking the Yorkshire moors; it’s worth noting that these are dotted with steps, and so not suitable for wheelchairs. Run by a small team, the nursery and garden also doesn’t have a café or toilet on site – but there is a fantastic selection of alpine plants to buy, suitable for both experienced growers and newcomers alike.
Hebden Bridge Market, St. George's Square Car Park, Hebden Bridge, HX7 7BZ - Visit now
Another of the gentler selections in our Walks in Hebden Bridge guide, this pick is a tribute to the enjoyment to be had wandering around Hebden Bridge Market, perusing a different set of vendors depending on which day you visit. The market operates 9am to 4pm four days a week, each with its own focus: Thursdays feature fresh produce and wider retail, Fridays second hand goods, Saturdays are for arts, crafts and artisan products and Sundays are focussed around local produce and street food. Highlights include the natural yeast doughnuts from Ant & Doh, sticky toffee pudding from Earby, natural skincare handmade in Hebden, Indian dosas and specially made condiments. This is an award-winning market, after all, and perfect for a leisurely stroll between the stalls.
Hebden Bridge Hostel, Birchcliffe Road, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8DG - Visit now
Hebden Bridge Hostel’s location makes it a great starting point for one of the many walks radiating out from the town, with routes leading from the front door through the woods and up onto the moors. Hardcastle Crags, another of our top picks, is within walking distance, and the hostel is close to three national trails: The Pennine Way, Pennine Bridleway and Calderdale Way. A longer hike, approximately eight miles, will take you to Haworth, home of the Brontës. The hostel itself is geared towards walkers, too; guests are asked to wind down early, with quiet from 10pm and silence after midnight, and to be up and out before the main hostel closes at 10am each morning. If you’re serious about exploring Hebden Bridge and the surrounding countryside on foot, this is a great place to stay and start from.
The Fox and Goose, 7 Heptonstall Road, Hebden Bridge, HX7 6AZ - Visit now
The Fox and Goose pub is a much-loved, community owned pub (one of the few of its kind in Yorkshire) – and a good spot to end up at after a walk from Hebden Bridge to Heptonstall and back again. There are a number of routes you can take from Hebden Bridge to the hillside village, burial place of Sylvia Plath and home to a number of other excellent pubs; for a longer walk, thread your way Eaves Wood, a hidden gem with stone paths that lead up the valley. Heptonstall is worth the climb, with its cobbled streets and 500 year-old cottages, as well as breathtaking views. On your return, The Fox and Goose is the place to stop for a restorative pint; this award-winning pub has a dartboard, vegan pasties, and an open fire in the colder months.
Vocation & Co, 10 New Rd, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8AD - Visit now
We’ve used Vocation & Co as the inspiration for a walk beginning in Hebden Bridge, ascending Stoodley Pike and ending up in Cragg Vale. Why? This friendly bar on Hebden’s New Road is the flagship taproom of Vocation Brewery, an independent company based in Cragg Vale that produces a fantastic selection of beers. Bookended by the taproom and brewery, this walk takes in the 121 foot monument that crowns Stoodley Pike, and the exceptional views from the top, as well as cyclist mecca Cragg Vale. Strenuous at points, this route is well worth the effort.
Hebden Bridge Picture House, New Road, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8AD - Visit now
One of the last few civic owned cinemas in the country, with a 100 year history, epic legroom and tea served in proper mugs allowed into the cinema itself, Hebden Bridge Picture House is as good a starting point as any from which to get to know the town on foot. The locals are fiercely proud of this welcoming institution, and of the other independent venues to be found by walking further along their award-winning high street: brewery taproom Vocation & Co, bar and bottle shop Drink, grocery shop and cooperative Valley Organics and popular bookshop The Book Case. If you loop back and off the main drag, vintage boutique Lucy and the Caterpillar and courtyard kitchen the Grilled Cheese Booth are also well worth a visit.
The Trades Club, Holme Street, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8EE - Visit now
The legendary Trades Club – a celebrated small music venue and socialist members cooperative club – sits close to the River Calder, and to the canalside walking routes that run through Hebden Bridge. Leading from the town to Todmorden in one direction, and to Ted Hughes’ birthplace Mytholmroyd, or Sowerby Bridge beyond this in the other, these are leafy, pleasant walks by the side of the water, passing locks and wildlife on the way. Changing beautifully with the seasons, these trails are appealing for the knowledge that, if you follow the river, you can’t go wrong. For another way of experiencing the Rochdale Canal, try one of the ever-popular Hebden Bridge Cruises.