The Calderdale Way opened in 1978 and is a fifty mile (80km) circular walkway stretching from Todmorden all the way around Hebden Bridge and Halifax to Baliff Bridge, then back round by Sowerby Bridge, Cragg Vale and Todmorden again. Around twenty six walking paths link in to the Calderdale Way.
Place names, mostly of English origin, around the Calderdale Way hold ancient meanings. 'Calder' means 'rapid water', 'ley' as in Stoodley and Midgley means clearing, 'dene' means valley as in Todmorden, Ripponden and Luddenden and 'tonstall' means farmstead, as in Heptonstall. Scandinavian influences can be seen in names like Sowerby meaning village on sour or muddy land.
Up until the latter part of the 13th century most settlements were hamlets on the valley tops such as Heptonstall and Mankinholes. As the population increased, so the valleys were gradually cleared - Mytholmroyd means 'clearing at the water meetings'.
Developments in the valley floors such as Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge took off at the beginning of the 19th century, alongside the increasing mechanisation of the textile industry - the power loom replacing handlooms in the 1820s and the increasing use of steam power replacing water power prevalent in the area by about 1840 and the development of transport - of turnpike roads and canals initially, then later the railways.
Increasingly the population moved down into the valley floors to work in the large Fielden Mills in Todmorden for example. Old villages such as Heptonstall have remained much as they were in the pre-Industrial Revolution period.
Dedicated to Mary Towneley who long campaigned for bridleways in the area, The Mary Towneley Loop is perfect for holidays with horses in the Calderdale area. The loop is ideal for horse riders with stabling along the route. Cyclists and walkers are also welcome on the bridleway.
The Mary Towneley Loop is 42 miles (68km) long and is circular. The terrain is a good surface on tracks with newly created paths, user friendly gates and specially designed crossings at main roads. Signposting is also good. The loop weaves its circular route through Lancashire and West Yorkshire. You can choose your starting point - be it Rawtenstall, Burnley or Littleborough in Lancashire or Todmorden, Hebden Bridge or Heptonstall in West Yorkshire.