Hardcastle Crags

by hebdenbridge.org.uk
Hardcastle Crags is an beautiful area for walking near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, UK. It belongs to the National Trust and it comprises of two wooded valleys that link at right angles. Although it is owned by the National Trust, it is open country; you do not need to pay to visit. The only charge is for the use of the car parks, or to look around Gibson Mill, for those who are not members of the National Trust.

The Google map opposite shows the y-shaped valley. The Northward valley continues parallel to the Keighley road, in the direction of Haworth . The other valley (Hebden Water) heads towards Gibson Mill, Blake Dean and eventually to the Packhorse Inn and runs parallel with the road to Heptonstall, Slack and Widdop on the other side.

The main entrance to Hardcastle Crags is at the National Trust car park (marked "C" on the map). This can be reached by bus or car. To get there by car, follow signs to "Hardcastle Crags" or Keighley from the centre of Hebden Bridge. Head along the Keighley Road, after about a half a mile, turn left on the Midgehole Road. After another half mile along the Midgehole Road there is the National Trust car park. There are a number of car parks linked up.

There is much industrial heritage of mills and ponds to view in both valleys. Both valleys are scenic, a fairyland, worth a visit at any time of year. However, the Hebden Water valley has a cafe at Gibson Mill, which can be useful for a break. But if it is a sunny day, with the sun low in the sky (as it is in winter) then the northern valley is more likely to be sunny.

There are paths leading up the valleys and paths over the tops. Bring a guide or an Ordnance Survey map if you are new to the area and want to explore it.

[ Rodwell Head Farm ] Holiday Home nearby

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Hardcastle Crags is a densely-wooded valley. However, just above the valley, there is famland - mostly used for sheep - leading on to moorland. These photographs are taked from the Widdop road. The photograph on the left shows the wooded valley below the moorland. There is another National Trust car park on the Widdop road.

Dotted around the valley are listed farmhouses. Greenwood Lea, shown to the right is a prime example. The car park is not far beyond this house.

Returning to the north-leading valley, on the left there is a track up the valley. On the right side of the river there is a footpath, following through old millponds.

The photo immediately to the right shows the view looking back, South towards Stoodley Pike in the distance.

Well up the valley, there is a waterfall, with a bridge over the stream. In the photo on the right, we can see the waterfall in winter.

The above pictures show images of Hardcastle Crags in the Summer and Winter. But in Spring - usually the first two weeks of May - there are masses of bluebells in the valley, as shown in the photograph on the left.

In the Autumn the views are also spectacular. The photograph on the right shows the wooded value in the varied colors in October.

There are paths on either side of Hebden Water. Following the path along the stream is the most exciting walk. There is a track up the valley and other paths higher up the valley.

The next major landmark is Gibson Mill. A large mill that was used as the set for Dotherboys Hall in a recent make of a film of Nicholas Nickleby. Gibson Mill contains a cafe on the ground floor and you can visit the other floors which contain Victorian memorabilia.

Gibson Mill is cut off from mains electricity and water and so it uses its resources to run its services. There are a number of sustainability features that are also featured for the visitor.

At Gibson Mill there is a bridge over the stream to a (composting) toilet.

Continuing on up the valley, you reach Blake Dean, a local beauty spot. As well as for walking, it's a great place for picnics and for paddling in the stream. The Widdop road runs close to Blake Dean and there is usually room to park on the road.

If you continue along the path, or along the Widdop Road, you reach the Packhorse pub. A good place to stop for a drink and superb home-cooked food.

[ Farm House Holiday Home nearby ]

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