Hebden Bridge is an old mill town in West Yorkshire. It is set in the deep cleft of a heavily wooded steep-sided valley, with a river, Hebden Water, running through it, crossed by the packhorse bridge that gives the town its name.
Hebden Bridge has evolved down a wobbly little path all of its own in these parts, and is often likened to Glastonbury; although it is a lot grittier and probably much more deeply alternative and counter-cultural than its southern cousin. Socially, it is home and meeting place for a diverse population, many of them creative and new age minded people, with a high proportion of lesbians (and some gay men).
Numerous UFO sightings have been reported in the vicinity: space aliens obviously don't need directions to find us. Humans can arrive by train, at Hebden Bridge station, restored to its former glory; the town centre is a 5-minute stroll down the canal or through Calder Holmes park. Trains link directly to Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, York and Blackpool.
People coming from the M62 West will be best coming off at Junction 21 and driving through Littleborough before making a right to drive through the moors, until picking up a sign to Mytholmroyd and Cragg Vale, longer but lovelier than arriving through Todmorden but be careful in poor weather (it is the Pennines after all).
Walking is easy as the town is largely pedestrianised now. The walks down the canal are easy for most people and are also OK for tougher wheelchair users.
- 1 Hardcastle Crags, ☎ , ✉ email@example.com. Beautiful wooded valley with 19th-century Gibson Mill at its heart. Free.
- 2 Stoodley Pike. Prominent hill-top monument with wide views. Free.
- Old road to Haworth – great walk
- A changing roster of different street markets
- Cool, converted mills turned into homes and shops (Innovation; Pecket Well Mill)
It is worth buying the cheap Trail Guide from the TIC in Hebden Bridge before you go. For such a tiny village it's full of history, sights including:
- Two churches – in the same churchyard, which is very rare in the UK. Also in the churchyard is the grave of 'King' David Hartley. He was hanged at York for coin clipping. A more recent grave is that of the poet Sylvia Plath.
- Heptonstall Museum – tiny but well worth seeing for the exhibition of the Yorkshire Coiners (the coin clippers) in a building that was once a school.
- Early Hexagonal Methodist church – the oldest in England to have been in continual use.
- Last handloom worker's cottage
- Piece Hall – where pieces of cloth made under the domestic system were exhibited and sold.
- Weavers' Square – where different types of Yorkshire road services can be seen and compared.
- 1 The Picture House, New Road HX7 8AD, ☎ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. "A thriving, independent, not-for-profit cinema operated by Hebden Royd Town Council" £7 film, £15 live performance (adult).
- 2 Trades Club, Holme Street HX7 8EE, ✉ email@example.com. 11AM–6PM (Box Office). "A socialist members club and music venue"
- Treesponsibility, a local charity that plants trees everywhere they can; free days out with them planting are a good way to see the hills.
Organic and fair trade stuff, designer baby stuff, original art, jewellery, clothes, crystals and hippy tat aplenty. Good mountain bike shop (Blazing Saddles). Heart Gallery great addition to the High Street. Fabulously named Ruby Shoesday on Market Street.
Massages and other therapies
- The Book Case, 29 Market Street, Hebden Bridge, ☎ . For local maps, guides and history.
- Ken's Cabin, Hope Street. Best bacon butty in the world.
- Lots of B&Bs
- Many Couch Surfers live here so try them for a free night's sleep
- Hebden Bridge Hostel, The Birchcliffe Centre, Birchcliffe Rd, ☎ . £17.