This walk links the little town of Hebden Bridge with the old hand-weaving village of Heptonstall, using sections of a waymarked walk, the Calderdale Way. The hill village of Heptonstall is by far the older settlement and was, in its time, an important centre of the textile trade. A cursory look at a map shows Heptonstall to be at the hub of a complex network of old trackways, mostly used by packhorse trains carrying wool and cotton. Heptonstall's Cloth Hall, where cloth was bought and sold, dates back to the 16th century, at a time when Hebden Bridge was little more than a river crossing on an old packhorse causeway.
Wheels of Industry
Heptonstall prospered when textiles were still a cottage industry, with spinning and weaving being undertaken in isolated farmhouses. As the processes became mechanised during the Industrial Revolution, communities sprang up wherever a ready supply of running water could turn waterwheels to drive the new machinery. Heptonstall was literally left high and dry and a new settlement grew down in the valley at the confluence of two fast-flowing rivers, the Calder and Hebden Water. There, large mills enabled the textile processes to be developed on a truly industrial scale. At one time there were more than 30 mills in Hebden Bridge, their tall chimneys belching thick smoke into the Calder Valley. It used to be said that the only time you could see the town from the surrounding hills was during Wakes Week, the mill-hands' traditional holiday. The town's speciality was cotton: mostly hard-wearing fustian and corduroy. With Hebden Bridge being hemmed in by hills, and the mills occupying much of the available land on the valley bottom, the workers' houses had to be built up the steep slopes. An ingenious solution to the problem was to build 'top and bottom' houses, one dwelling on top of another – best viewed on the last leg of the walk.
Few looms clatter today and Hebden Bridge has reinvented itself as the 'capital' of Upper Calderdale, as a place to enjoy a day out. The town is known for its excellent walking country, Bohemian population, narrowboat trips along the Rochdale Canal and its very popular summer arts festival. Jumble Hole Clough is a typical South Pennine steep-sided, wooded valley. Though a tranquil scene today, this little valley was once a centre of industry, with four mills exploiting the fast-flowing beck as it made its way down to join the River Calder. You can see remains of all these mills, and some of their mill ponds, on this walk; but the most intriguing relic is Staups Mill, now an evocative ruin, near the top of Jumble Hole Clough.
Begin along Holme Street, off the main A646 just east of the bridge, to the Rochdale Canal. Go right to follow the tow path beneath two bridges, past the Stubbing Wharf pub and beneath a railway bridge. Carry on for another 0.75 miles (1.2km) before turning off before the next bridge to follow a track to reach the A646.
Cross the road and turn right for 75yds (69m) to take Underbank Avenue, on the left. Walk beneath the railway and go left again, past houses, to where another road comes through the viaduct. Go sharp right on a track past a mill, and follow the beck up into the woodland of Jumble Hole Clough. Where the track later swings sharp right, leave across a stone bridge on to a track rising steeply through a hairpin. Higher up as it wheels left, take the narrow path ahead to continue above the beck. Ignore a later intersecting path and climb beyond to a stile. Join another path down to Staups Mill. The climb resumes beside the ruin to reach a footbridge. Scale the opposite bank and go left in front of a signpost by a gap in a wall to come out at Hippins.
Join the Calderdale Way, turning right up a track between farm buildings to a stile. Follow a path to the next stile and on beside a wall. Cross a track at Apple Tree Farm and continue over a couple of stiles on a causeway to a row of cottages. Pass the end of the terrace, crossing more stiles and a rough pasture to a kissing gate. Follow the onward causeway to a farm, there following a track out to the lane at Blackshaw Head.
Cross to a small gate almost opposite and bear half right across the field to a stile, then follow the right edge of the next field. Continue on a diagonal line across successive fields, eventually reaching a walled track. Walk down to Shaw Bottom and bear left beside the house to a junction.
The New Delight Inn is left, but the route lies to the right, the way degrading to a stony track. After 200yds (183m), bear left beside a waypost on a stepped path dropping steeply to cross Colden Water. Take the rising path, but then keep right higher up to follow a stone causeway along the valley side above the trees. Carry on as you later break out into a field. Over a stile at the far corner, ignore the adjacent gate and swing around the wall corner to pick up the continuing flagged path. Eventually meeting a rising track, go left to a junction and turn right on a tarmac drive. Bear off left behind a cottage, the causeway resuming over a stile beyond. Shortly meeting an intersecting track, go right and follow it out to a lane.
Walk up the hill, leaving just before a bend through a gap in the right-hand wall. From here your path meanders through woodland (it's a bit of a scramble in places). Emerging from the trees, continue above the edge to Hell Hole Rocks. Turn away from the viewpoint along a walled path between gardens. Cross a street to the ongoing path, which shortly meets a track behind houses.
Go right, emerging opposite the Social and Bowling Club. Turn right on a contained path. As the ground falls away, curve left by the boundary, eventually dropping through a wall onto a crossing path. Walk left to meet a track and go right to a junction. Bear left along the lower, main road, doubling sharply right after 50yds (46m) onto the Buttress, an old packhorse trail that drops steeply back to Hebden Bridge.
Good paths, many stiles
Steep-sided valleys, fields and woodland
Keep on lead near livestock and roads
OS Explorer OL21 South Pennines
Pay-and-display car parks in Hebden Bridge
Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall
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.