Mytholmroyd is famously the birthplace of Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, husband of the Sylvia Plath. the village hosts an annual Ted Hughes Festival in honour of its famous son. Served by a railway station with fast links to Leeds and Manchester, the town actively promotes walking and sits just one mile from bustling Hebden Bridge.
Ted Hughes in Mytholmroyd
Mytholmroyd’s moors, hills and forests inspired the work of Ted Hughes. He enjoyed early success, but struggled with a turbulent personal life, which included the suicide of two wives, both prompted by his seemingly compulsive infidelity. His work chronicling the brutal beauty of nature still inspires poets today, who draw on his style of stark, majestic lyricism – generally without the rampant misogyny of poems like ‘A Cranefly in September’.
His collection "the Remains of Elmet" is about the Calder Valley near Mytholmroyd. Elmet was said to be an ancient Celtic kingdom, and today the Elmet Trust celebrate the works of Ted Hughes. They host an October writing festival, and have refurbished Hughes’ 1930’s house into a writer’s retreat. The Trust also give film screenings and seminars as well as poetry events and guided walks.
Walking in Mytholmroyd
There are three way marked walks, all starting from the train station. Walks can be downloaded from the Mytholmroyd Walker’s Action website, which gives a brief overview of difficulty and time needed. Wood Top is the easiest for mixed abilities, taking you through an ancient hand weaving hamlet and past an old clog factory. You may even see some deer if you’re lucky – and definitely sheep!
Scout Rock walk will take you about 2 1/2 miles, past the Methodist Church. The path has disintegrated and is not really suitable for those with limited mobility. It will take you past the birthplace of Ted Hughes, through glorious meadows and woods. The spectacular views eventually give way to the romantic canal, and back to the station.
The most challenging walk is the Churn Milk Joan route. After walking about a mile, you will see a commemorative stone set up to the ‘Coiners’; a notorious counterfeit gang in the past. Next the imposing Brearley Chapel appears. Follow the way marked signs (be aware there is a moderately steep climb) and you will soon see Midgley Chapel. Head across the moor and you will soon see Churn Milk Joan, a 17th century standing stone, said to have been set up to settle a border dispute. It was immortalised by Ted Hughes.