Woodland valleys and water holes
Set in the heart of the Calder Valley, the two woodland valleys through which this 5.5 mile ramble takes you are, in my opinion, two of the prettiest paths you can walk at almost any time of the year.
This walk is also significant to me as it was the first I walked with the Calderdale Ramblers, some years ago. Having visited Hebden Bridge on numerous occasions, I had no idea of the beauty of the surrounding landscape and it really opened my eyes.
We began from the car park next to Hebden Bridge railway station and crossed through the park to join the canal towpath.
Leaving the town behind you, continue along the canal past the long-term mooring areas. Just after the area where the boats appear to have adjacent gardens, you will reach a bridge numbered ‘21’. Here, leave the towpath and head towards the main road. Turn left, cross the road and then turn right onto Jumble Hole Road.
There are a variety of paths leading up the Clough, however I followed the track into the woodland.
You’ll turn back on yourself briefly to climb up what appears a driveway, before continuing ahead further into the woodland, climbing a little more. On reaching another ‘hairpin’ bend in the main path, turn off to the right, essentially continuing ahead.
This is simply a beautiful path; climbing alongside a steep-ish drop, looking at the trees growing out of the bank sides.
You’ll reach a junction where you turn right and descend slightly to the ruins of Staups Mill; a cotton mill dating from the late 18th century.
On the side of the mill there is a stone inscription – J. H. 1812, referring to its then owner – John Horsfall. Later the mill would be used to manufacture calico, however as newer mills were built lower down the valley after the introduction of steam, Staups Mill became uneconomical to run and was closed. There are several theories relating to its naming, one of which refers to a local term – ‘Staup hoyles’ – literally meaning ‘stepping stones’.
These days it is good spot to pause for a refreshing beverage and to admire the waterfall that tumbles down close by.
Climb up the stone stairs above the mill, crossing a footbridge and emerging at the head of the dean. On meeting a wall, turn left and soon enough you will pick up way-markers for the Calderdale Way. From here the path is clearly marked and you will cross several fields. Looking back, you should see Stoodley Pike on the horizon, however on the rather drizzly afternoon I was walking, the view was more akin to grey cotton wool.
Follow the Calderdale Way, crossing several stiles. On reaching a distinct lane, turn left and descend. After a short distance, take the path descending to your left and cross the top of Colden Water over a stone bridge. You will now begin a gradual descent back to Hebden Bridge, through yet more magical woodland. I have walked this numerous times, always enjoying the atmosphere and on this day, the sound of the rain.
The path splits on several occasions; I always kept to the lower paths. You can, however, follow the ‘proper’ route which would see you climb towards Heptonstall.
Through the clough there are remains of mills and chimneys, as well as mill ponds. There are also a number of pretty waterfalls here.
If you know your flora, you’ll recognise the oak and birch, with beech woodland nearer the top that dates from the mid-19th century.
In the Spring you’ll see plenty of celandine and bluebells whilst later in the year it will become a hotspot for fungi.
At the bottom of the clough there’s an old and very tall chimney where the path turns into a lane and it is a gentle return to Hebden.
You emerge near to St James Church and will meet the main A646.
Here you can cross the road to complete the route alongside the canal – unless, of course, you’re distracted by any one of a number of Hebden Bridge’s excellent characterful watering holes!