The natural assets of the South Pennine/Calderdale region of Yorkshire including its spectacular choice of walking, cycling and bridleway trails and its fascinating non-conformist industrial history see it today as a Yorkshire visitor hotspot. A selection of historic and atmospheric villages in the region serve as perfect walking bases like Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, both packed with superb arts and crafts shops, vegetarian and specialist organic cafes and restaurants, and 19th century mills now arts centres or vintage shopping emporiums.
Picture-postcard villages around Hebden Bridge include Mytholmroyd (boyhood home of poet Ted Hughes), Luddendenfoot, Sowerby Bridge and pushing into the heart of the Pennines Mankinholes and Ripponden. Numerous walking and bridleway trails criss-cross and interlink in the area including the Calderdale Way, the Brighouse Boundary Way, the Pennine Way, the Pennine Bridleway and the Todmorden Centenary Way. In small villages such as Heptonstall north of Hebden Bridge the octagonal Methodist chapel hints at the region's non-conformist history and is the oldest in the world still in use today.
A contemporary bohemian arts and music base, Hebden Bridge has a fascinating industrial history, particularly around its own Co-operative Guild which was one of the first to develop a Women's Guild Section. If you love specialised arts and craft shops, vintage boutiques and local produce markets, second-hand bookshops and real ale pubs, a variety of walking opportunities and intimate live music venues, Hebden Bridge is the perfect choice for a short break or holiday.
Hebden Bridge centre, with main St George's Square is crammed with cafes, organic and vegetarian cafes and food outlets, pubs serving fine Yorkshire real ale. Adjacent to the historic White Lion Inn is Bridge Mill - the building dates from the late 18th Century and is now home to an arts and crafts centre, a selection of vintage clothes shops and cafe bar.
Market Street is lined with fabulous coffee houses, some antique shops, chic boutiques and shoe shops, specialised music shops, beauty shops and bookshops new and second-hand. The town hosts regular open markets in the Valley Road area and great themed specialist food markets on a Sunday featuring the best of Yorkshire produce.
The 400 acre unspoilt woodland of Hardcastle Crags in the South Pennines on the outskirts of Hebden Bridge is cared for by the National Trust and is a fantastic spot for year round walks. At the centre is the beautifully restored 19th Century Gibson Mill with exhibition digging deep into 200 years of the history. A family friendly visitor centre, cafe tearoom, indoor and outdoor setting and eco-friendly wcs are all here.
Featuring spectacular waterfalls, carpets of Bluebells in season and a choice of gentle family friendly and more challenging trails, Hardcastle Crags has been a favourite with many in the past including Clarion cycling groups who often camped here! Sylvia Plath loved the Crags so much she wrote a poem - 'Hardcastle Crags' featured in her collection 'The Colossus'.
Evidence of the industrial revolution is everywhere in Hardcastle Crags including the marks of old quarry work and spectacular centrepiece Gibson Mill. Gibson Mill and its reservoir with water taken from adjacent Hebden Water is a water mill built in 1800, much smaller and a precursor to later mammoth industrial revolution mills found in West Yorkshire such as Salts Mill in Saltaire and Dean Clough at Halifax. Its survival is due in large part to the fact that it was converted into a restaurant and tea dancing centre around 1900, with a small shop on-site selling 'Cedars Aerated Waters'. The Dancing Hall at Gibson Mill today is licensed for Civil Ceremonies and available to hire for weddings at a great value price.