Despite its proximity to Huddersfield, the area to the south of the town is surprisingly rural. As you gaze down into the Woodsome Valley from Farnley Tyas, you feel a long way from the mills and terraced houses that typify most of the county. Farnley Tyas and the fortification of Castle Hill face each other across the valley, and across the centuries. The village was mentioned in the Domesday Book, as 'Fereleia', but the history of Castle Hill extends at least 4,000 years. The site was inhabited by neolithic settlers who defended it with earth ramparts. Axe heads and other flint tools dating from this era and found here during archaeological digs are now displayed in Huddersfield's Tolson Museum. The Stone Age settlers were just the first of many peoples who saw the hill's defensive potential. Its exposed position, with uninterrupted views on all sides, made it an ideal place for a fortification.
Almost 900 years ago the de Lacy family built a motte-and-bailey castle here, having been given land as a reward for their part in the Norman Conquest. Though the structure was demolished in the 14th century, the site has been known ever since as Castle Hill. Most of the earthworks and ramparts that can be seen today date from medieval times.
The name of Farnley Tyas, an attractive hill-top village, sounds rather posh for workaday West Yorkshire. Once plain Farnley, the village gained its double-barrelled moniker to differentiate it from other Farnleys – one near Leeds, the other near Otley. The 'Tyas' suffix is the name of the area's most prominent family, who owned land here from the 13th century onwards.
The Golden Cock
Originally a farm, the pub has been at the centre of village life – in every sense – since the 17th century. During the 19th century, a group called the Royal Corkers used to ride over from Huddersfield to enjoy supper at the Golden Cock. Corks were placed on the dining table, with the last person (and usually the only person!) to pick up a cork having to pay for supper for the whole party. Any newcomer to the group would unknowingly pick up a cork, thus leaving the newcomer to pick up the bill.
Enter the recreation field and walk away past a play area by the right wall. Beyond a second field, follow a walled track out to meet a road. Go right along Moor Lane.
After 100yds (91m), turn right down a walled track, with School Wood to your right. Leaving the trees, there is a view of Castle Hill ahead – a landmark you will see more than once along the walk – and beyond to Huddersfield. To the left is Meltham, with the uplands of Meltham Moor behind. When the track bends right for the second time, towards Ludhill Farm, drop left to a walled path. Walk downhill to take a stile next to a metal gate, strike left across a field to another stile, and bear right, descending more steeply through scrub. The way then swings left to accompany a sunken path down to meet a road.
Go right, downhill, but just after a small terrace of cottages, turn off right on a track into woodland. Some 50yds (46m) beyond a gate, bear left onto a narrow path that descends to a stile. Continue across a field, aiming towards a house on the opposite hillside. Cross a stream on stepping stones and walk up through a spur of woodland. Climb another field into the top corner, just left of the house. A contained path leads out to a drive, which climbs left to meet a road opposite High Royd Cottage. Follow the road right for 100yds (91m). Where it then bears right, take a gap stile by a gate in the left wall. A path leads away between wall and fence to a gate. Passing through, bear right uphill along the edge of a small plantation. Beyond a squeeze stile in the corner, head diagonally cross another small field. Keep beside the left hedge of the next field, the path levelling out as Castle Hill comes into view again and you meet a road.
Go right here, for just 20yds (18m), turning left through a kissing gate in the wall. Head away on a field-edge path, later slipping through a waymarked gap to continue, with the accompanying wall now on your right, towards a wood. Over a stile, keep to the edge of the next field, with a little wooded valley on your right. Leaving the wood behind and heading onwards to Lumb Head Farm, you can see Emley Moor mast to your right. Wind through the farmyard and join the access track to meet a road. Go right here, downhill. After a couple of cottages, pass through a gap stile in a wall on the right.
Walk down into the valley, following the wall on your right. Take a stile and a few stone steps to cross a meandering stream, Lumb Dike, on a plank bridge, at a delectable woodland spot. Climb away to a redundant stile and then turn left to follow the river, but at a higher level, through Molly Carr Wood. Descend to where two streams meet and accompany the combined watercourse along the valley bottom. After crossing a side beck walk on, rising to join a grass track that leads to a gate. However, bypass the gate and continue to a stone stile just beyond. Over that, bear left on a rough track passing behind a farmhouse. It leads around to the far end of the yard, from which a track takes you out to the road.
Go right, uphill; 75yds (69m) past a left-hand bend in the road, take a waymarked track sharply to the right, signed to Farnley Bank. Pass a house and when the track drops right to Farnley Bank Farm, take a stile ahead, and follow a field path uphill. Meet a road, and walk right, uphill, with good valley views all the way, back into Farnley Tyas. At a T-junction, by the Golden Cock pub, turn right, then fork left by the church on to Butts Road to return to your car.
Field paths, a little road walking on quiet lanes, many stiles
Arable, rolling countryside and woodland
Keep on lead near roads
OS Explorer 288 Bradford & Huddersfield
Roadside parking in Farnley Tyas by recreation field
None on route
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
Discover West Yorkshire
Everybody knows that Yorkshire has some special landscapes. The Dales and the Moors first spring to mind, but what about West Yorkshire? That’s Leeds and Bradford isn’t it? Back-to-back houses and blackened mills… Certainly if you had stood on any of the hills surrounding Hebden Bridge a hundred years ago, and gazed down into the valley, all you would have seen was the pall of smoke issuing from the chimneys of 33 textile mills. But thankfully, life changes very quickly in West Yorkshire. The textile trade went into terminal decline, the mills shut down forever and in a single generation Hebden Bridge became a place that people want to visit.
The surrounding countryside offers walking every bit as good as the more celebrated Yorkshire Dales; within minutes you can be tramping across the moors. And this close proximity of town and country is repeated all across West Yorkshire. There’s such diversity in the area that you can find yourself in quite unfamiliar surroundings, even close to places you may know very well. Take time to explore this rich county and you will be thrilled at what you find to shatter old myths and preconceptions.