Sitting drinking good coffee by the Rochdale Canal in Hebden Bridge, lazily watching the barges chug by is an experience I can recommend. The Calder valley through West Yorkshire is one of my favourite parts of England and it is a frequent weekend haunt for those of us in Greater Manchester.
We were staying at the Hebden Bridge Caravan & Motorhome Club site; a simple site that is pleasantly surrounded by trees. The site has electric hook-ups and hard-standing but no sanitary block so will only suit motorhome owners with their own facilities.
The steep-sided Calder valley was transformed by the industrial revolution as home-based weaving developed into water-powered mass production in textile mills. The distinctive stone terraces of houses were built on the hillside in the 19th century and the canal and railway line crammed in to the narrow valley floor.
The weavers left a legacy of a criss-cross of footpaths around the valley and from the camp site you can walk in almost any direction. Turn right and you eventually reach the moors and Blackstone Edge, a gritstone escarpment on the Yorkshire-Lancashire border. To the west a steep path takes you to the top of Stoodley Pike adorned with its Victorian monument. On this trip we had chosen to turn left out of the site and spend the sunny morning walking the easy six-miles along the canal to Hebden Bridge and back. Hebden Bridge is a creative and lively town full of independent shops from where you could continue your walk to the wooded valley of Hardcastle Crags or take the steep path up the hill to the atmospheric gritstone village of Heptonstall.
Mytholmroyd station on the Leeds to Manchester Calder Valley Line is just one mile from the camp site and with stations at Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge the line opens up opportunities for linear walks. This line will also take you further afield to Halifax to see the stunning Piece Hall, built as a sales centre for the woollen weavers in the 18th century and recently renovated. The National Children’s Museum, Eureka, that is fun for children and the young at heart.
There is so much to do from this site I am already planning our next visit; maybe we will take the train to Todmorden walking back over the moors or we might explore more of the wool industry history by visiting the timber-framed medieval manor house, Shibden Hall in Halifax, or maybe I will end up back in Hebden Bridge lazily drinking coffee.