Hebden Bridge takes its name from Hebden Water and the ancient 16th Century packhorse bridge across the water. The centre is a cluster of character 18th and 19th Century buildings. Walk high up towards Heptonstall for the best views of the town’s unique ‘over and under dwellings’ lining cobbled streets. The West Yorkshire town today is a major arts and cultural centre. Its past is one of radical and industrial history. Examples of early water-powered mills are here like sustainable Gibson Mill in the heart of the National Trust’s Hardcastle Crags woodland which sits on the edge of Hebden Bridge.
Leisure craft cruise along the Rochdale Canal today, when in the past it was a busy transport route for principally coal, agricultural produce and materials for the textiles industry. For a taste of this rich history pick up canal boat rides alongside the Stubbing Wharf Inn.
The Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall area are marked by Methodism. Don’t miss a tour of the unique Octagonal Methodist chapel high up on the hill in Heptonstall. The design and construction of this chapel, built in 1764, was overseen by John Wesley himself and he preached here many times.
In more recent times Hebden Bridge has become a centre for sustainability and the arts. In the 1960s many in the local community were getting involved in radical politics. The Trades Club, originally a local trade union meeting place, was revived in 1982 as a music venue and today it’s one of the ‘hippest’ venues in the North hosting the best in classic and new talent. Hebden also has a fabulous historic cinema.
How to Get to Hebden Bridge
The town is easily reached off the M62 either via Elland or Rochdale, and on to the A646. Parking is limited so leaving the car behind may be preferable especially during peak summer season.
Hebden Bridge has its own railway station situated in the heart of the town. Regular services run between Hebden and Leeds, Bradford and Manchester making it easy to get here via mainline rail networks.
Leeds Bradford Airport is the nearest airport only just over 20 miles away. Other airports within easy driving distance include Manchester and Doncaster Sheffield.
Areas of Interest in Hebden Bridge
These are several distinct areas of interest in and around the town. The centre is largely pedestrianised and dotted with a variety of independent shops, cafes, inns, boutiques and vintage shops.
Access the towpath of the Rochdale Canal to discover more delights canalside including boat trips, waterfront inns, bike hire, cafes and eco-friendly/ Alternative Technology centres.
Heptonstall sits high on a hill very close to Hebden Bridge. This little village is one of the most historic in the Yorkshire Pennines with the famous Octagonal Methodist Chapel. The ruins of St Thomas a Becket, a much older church dating from the medieval period, are also in Heptonstall and the graveyard is the resting place of the poet Sylvia Plath.
Hebden Bridge’s Claim to Fame
The houses in Hebden Bridge are a rare surviving example of double decker ‘over and under dwellings’ purpose built to suit their environment. The terraces are a tall 4 to 5 storeys high because space to accommodate textile workers was limited on steep valleys with very little flat valley floor. Whilst upper storeys face uphill, lower ones face downhill, and they back on to the hillside.
Things to Do in Hebden Bridge
There are numerous things to do and see in Hebden Bridge. Many visitors flock to the town for the fantastic independent shopping scene featuring a mix of vintage clothing shops, fine jewellery shops, independent book shops, bike shops and more. These mingle with themed 1940s cafes, popular inns serving the finest Yorkshire real ales and hearty pub grub and a choice of cafes and tea rooms.
Take your pick of walking, cycling and outdoor adventure activities. Walk along the Rochdale Canal towpath towards Todmorden or head up into the Pennines for more challenging hikes. A number of walking trails surround the town such as the Calderdale Way and the Pennine Way National Trails.
Take a tour of the National Trust’s beautiful Hardcastle Crags and Gibson Mill with the Weaving Shed Cafe and Shop. The Crags on the edge of Hebden Bridge offer a choice of gentle or challenging waymarked walks in a stunning wooded landscape.
The arts and cultural scene in Hebden Bridge is one of the best in Yorkshire. Take in a film at the classic Picture House Cinema which first opened its doors in 1921. If live music is your thing catch an act at the legendary Trades Club. Many festivals and events are held through the year including a high profile annual arts festival and a quirky Duck Race on Easter Monday which always attracts huge crowds.
A good place to start your exploration of the town and surrounding Calderdale area is the excellent Tourist Information Centre located in the town centre close to the cinema and canal.
Hebden Bridge Food & Drink
Sample some delectable local and organic Yorkshire produce in Hebden Bridge. Vegetarians, vegans and other special diets are exceptionally well catered for. Head to the Organic House on Market Street for a delicious breakfast, lunch and mouthwatering freshly pressed smoothies and juices.
Enjoy excellent food and fine ales in the canalside Stubbing Wharf which is a top spot for families. Alternatively there are some fabulous bars and restaurants like the Old Gate, as well as tea rooms, cafes and bistros.
The town even has a co-operative pub, the Fox & Goose, the very first community-owned pub in West Yorkshire. Enjoy a variety of real ales here from the best local microbreweries.
Where to Stay
Character accommodation is widely available in this beautiful corner of West Yorkshire. Choose from studio apartments overlooking Hardcastle Crags and terraced self-catering cottages dating from the Victorian era and earlier. Many cottages are stone built and some are Grade II Listed. Bed and breakfast accommodation has spectacular views of the Calder Valley or choose one of the fine inns with rooms and a restaurant. Luxury group accommodation is ideal for gatherings of family and friends, or walking groups and this is widely available.
Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.
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