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Calderdale Class: Funky Towns, Literary Legends & Wild Hills around Hebden Bridge

Hebden Bridge has many nicknames. Some call it the ‘Glastonbury of the North’, others ‘one of the world’s funkiest towns’. A former industrial centre, in the heart of the Calder Valley, it’s now famed for its quirky vibe, liberal attitude and chain-free high street. It was England’s first Walkers are Welcome Town, and sits just a mile from the Pennine Way. All of which makes Hebden Bridge a great place to hang out for a few days of strolling and exploring.

You won’t need a car. Hebden Bridge has good train and bus links, and there’s an abundance of great sites within easy walking or cycling distance, or a short ride by rail. Stay here and, in no time at all, you can be strolling unspoilt woodland, yomping up on the bracing fells, drifting along the Rochdale Canal, strolling around Halifax’s extraordinary Piece Hall or perusing the former home of the Bronte sisters. And there’s always something delicious to eat at the end of each day.

Tour Overview

The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.

Days

5

Distance

Walks from 1.5km to 16km

Difficulty

Moderate / Challenging

Landscape

High Hills & Moorland / Connecting Villages & Towns

Theme

History / Food & Drink

Activities & Experiences

Walking / Cycling / Water Fun / Heritage

Calderdale Class: Funky Towns, Literary Legends & Wild Hills around Hebden Bridge

Here’s everything you need to help you plan your very own walking and exploring break around Hebden Bridge and the Calder Valley. Click on the blue arrow tabs below for more information. To save this itinerary to view later, use the Save to My Rucksack button at the top of the page.

Itinerary

Head to the hip and handsome town of Hebden Bridge for a five-day break. It’s the ideal base for plunging into the surrounding Pennines, to walk spectacular heritage trails, glide along in canal boats and learn about local legends like Anne ‘Gentleman Jack’ Lister and the Bronte sisters.

Day 1 Hebden Bridge: ‘Glastonbury of the North’

Arrive in Hebden Bridge – which is easy, thanks to good rail connections – and explore ‘the world’s fourth funkiest town’. An odd moniker, but one that this former Calder Valley mill town richly deserves.

Download and follow the Hebden Bridge Town Centre Trail. Complete with audio commentary, it weaves past the old market place and marina, below the double-decker houses and along the rows of independent shops selling all things arty, vintage and Fairtrade. Finish at the Fox & Goose, West Yorkshire’s only co-operative pub, for a local pint and a vegan pasty.

The historic weavers’ village of Heptonstall sits high on the hillside above Hebden Bridge. Climb the steep cobbled Buttress from Hebden to spend the afternoon on the heritage trail around the village, via the old Cloth Hall, weavers’ cottages, inns and churches, and the grave of poet Sylvia Plath. The views across the Calder Valley stretch for miles.

Overnight in Hebden Bridge. There are many options – see Accommodation, left.

Day 2 Hebden Bridge: Along the Pennine Way

The Pennine Way passes within a mile of Hebden Bridge. Today, follow part of the trail to reach the 19th-century tower of Stoodley Pike, which looms above the valley – climb the dark steps inside to reach the top, for the biggest views.

This circular walk also incorporates part of the Rochdale Canal, which first opened in 1804. This afternoon, get a different perspective on the Pennines aboard a bright-painted narrowboat – join a tour or hire your own to drift along the waterway, past industrial heritage and tranquil countryside.

Overnight in Hebden Bridge. There are many options – see Accommodation, left.

Day 3 Hebden Bridge: Hardcastle & Halifax

Start with a short stroll north along the river to reach Hardcastle Crags, a fairytale wooded valley flecked with wildflowers and tickled by gurgling streams. Spend a morning walking the miles of trails, winding towards Gibson’s Mill: built in 1800, renovated from 2005, it’s completely off-grid, running entirely on renewable energy. Grab lunch at its Weaving Shed Café.

The market town Halifax, once the centre of England’s woollen industry, is only ten minutes by train from Hebden Bridge. Spend the afternoon here, exploring the old haunts of local diarist Anne ‘Gentleman Jack’ Lister: her one-time home, Tudor-built Shibden Hall, is now a museum (visit the Library Tower Anne added in 1830) and sits in gorgeous grounds; Anne is buried at Halifax Minster.

Anne also visited the Piece Hall, Halifax’s extraordinary Georgian cloth market; today, the large, colonnade-flanked square is home to independent shops, bars and restaurants, as well as hosting an array of events.

Overnight in Hebden Bridge. There are many options – see Accommodation, left.

Day 4 Hebden Bridge: Bronte Country

Today, make a beeline for Bronte country. The village of Haworth, once home to the literary siblings, is a little north of Hebden Bridge.

How you get there is your choice. You could drive, or catch the bus. But better is to walk – the most dramatic route follows the Pennine Way, passing the farmhouse ruins of Top Withins, thought to have inspired Wuthering Heights. Or travel there by e-bike, riding (with battery assistance) to the village via the rolling heather moorland of Penistone Country Park.

Explore Haworth’s cobbled main street and Bronte Museum, housed in the parsonage where the family lived; there are lots of cafes, pubs and tea rooms here too.

Next, hop aboard the steam-pulled Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. Built to serve the local mill trades in the late 19th century, it’s only five miles long yet has six stations. Take a ride from Haworth to Keighley and back; if time allows, jump off in Keighley to visit East Riddlesden Hall, a 17th-century manor with a fascinating history, glorious gardens and (allegedly) several ghosts.

Return from Haworth to Hebden Bridge by car, bus, e-bike or – still feeling fit? – on foot.

Overnight in Hebden Bridge. There are many options – see Accommodation, left.

Day 5 Hebden Bridge: Calder Valley

Finish with one last journey into the human heritage and natural history of the Calder Valley. There are 14 downloadable Pennine Heritage Trails to pick from, of various lengths, all with audio commentaries that help bring local stories to life.

You might choose to take a stroll through Hebden Bridge’s Radical History, a route that links sites associated with the early social movements of the Upper Calder Valley. Or maybe the Blackshawhead Packhorse Trail from Heptonstall, a short walk that offers far-reaching views.

Finish with a final feast in Hebden Bridge – five days is not long enough to exhaust the eating options here.

Overnight in Hebden Bridge. There are many options – see Accommodation, left.

Accommodation

Hebden Bridge has a variety of options, from hotels and hostels to comfy B&Bs.

  • The Smithery – Characterful Grade II-listed weavers’ cottage turned B&B, overlooking the Rochdale Canal.
  • White Lion Hotel – Refined 17th-century hotel with stylish rooms, plus a cosy restaurant and traditional bar.
  • Croft Mill Apartments – Self-catering boltholes offering high levels of comfort and style.
  • Moyles Townhouse – Central B&B opposite the cobbled marina, close to the railway station.
  • Hebden Bridge Hostel – Friendly budget option, 15 minutes walk from the railway station, nestled into a wooded hillside.
  • Old Chamber Farm & Campsite – Working farm with camping pitches; only campsite in the Calder Valley in easy walking distance of Hebden Bridge.

Food & Drink

There are many options for eating out in Hebden Bridge. You can choose everything from traditional local fare to international cuisines. Vegetarians and vegans are very well catered for.

Activities

The countryside around Hebden Bridge is great for walking – the terrain can be testing, though there are easier options along the canal and valley bottoms. Cycling can be tough, though e-bikes ease the strain.

Walks
  • Hebden Bridge Town Centre Trail, 1.5km – Route around the town’s highlights.
  • Heptonstall Trail, 2km – Circular route around one of the Pennines’ most historic villages; the e-trail can be downloaded and includes audio commentary.
  • Hebden Bridge to Stoodley Pike, 10km – Challenging circular walk, incorporating parts of the Pennine Way and the Rochdale Canal.
  • Hardcastle Crags – Almost 25km of trails criss-cross the National Trust woodland, centred on Gibson’s Mill.
  • Hebden Bridge to Haworth, 10-16km – Two options for reaching Haworth; the longer (around four hours) is via the Pennine Way, and passes Top Withins, the farmhouse thought to have inspired Wuthering Heights.
  • Pennine Heritage Trails, 3km-13km – Range of trails, of varying levels, that delve into the heritage, ecology and landscape of the Calder Valley; download for audio commentaries and historic photographs.
Other

For further walking inspiration visit The Outdoor Guide.

Experiences

Hebden Bridge has a vibrant cultural scene and is well placed for exploring historic and literary sites across the region.

Cycling

The terrain around Hebden Bridge is quite challenging for cycling, although there are flatter options along the canal.

The Pennine Bridleway; designed specifically for cyclists and horseriders, shares part of its route with the Pennine Way at Hebden Bridge. This alternative National Trail provides some great options for off road cycling, especially for those looking for a taste of adventure. There are a number of circular rides accessible from Hebden Bridge .

Travel

Hebden Bridge is easily accessed by train, bus or car.

Northern Rail services the region.

Advice

Walking in the Hebden Bridge area can be quite steep, so is challenging in places. However, the canal and riverside paths offer an easier alternative

We advise that you check opening times and booking restrictions before travelling.

Please check out these links for latest advice when in the countryside

Countryside Code

COVID-19 Guidance

Interactive Map

Click here to access the interactive map

Maps, Guidebooks & Merchandise

The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.