Hebden Bridge and the surrounding area is rich in history a story of people living and working in a very difficult landscape with fast flowing streams and rivers, boggy woodland and moor edge, high stony hills. Communication was always difficult and for the many walking was the only way. Need of access to farms and houses built alongside spring lines produced the wonderful footpath and bridleway network that covers the area today, a valuable asset in crowded West Yorkshire.
Hebden Water and its fine ancient stone bridge linking Heptonstall to the town via the Buttress provide a starting point for the exploration of this extraordinary little community. Using many of the historic stone flagged Causey paths, some many hundred’s of years old visitors can get into this Heritage Landscape of Stone.
Over the years outdoor enthusiasts have flocked to Hebden Bridge assisted by the Calderdale Countryside Service which has alongside its many volunteers worked to improve many paths by waymarking, signing and producing suggestions for routes.
Walkers have always been made welcome in Hebden Bridge
Latterly the Tourist Information Centre has relocated and been reduced in size and scope although recent moves by the Local Authority seem to indicate that Tourism may once again be a good thing for the area and will probably try to reinvent the wheel.
In the mean time local groups have sprung up to fill the perceived vacuum and assist promote the town and its outdoor legacy. One such group has a watching brief on all paths in the Hebden Royd Parish, Ordinance Survey maps being divided into one kilometre squares with members reporting back on conditions, problems etc. Since retiring as a Countryside Officer this square on Erringden Moor is monitored by me.
Square SE 9925
Afternoon sun reflects heat from derelict walls
Swallows dive and sieve flying insects without compassion
Bees flit and drone amongst Thistles flowering in wet acid meadows turning sour into sweet
Sheep with cold dead eyes glance at passing shapes
whilst tugging coarse grass with scaly teeth
Dick’s Lane reached with a three way decision
To the Pike, the Moor or the Workhouse of former times
Choosing the farmer’s rough road to avoid the bog
passing grazing cattle with sad eyes whose home is this windswept moor
The first path is checked, ticked and photographed
to the accompaniment of bovine belching
Rake Head looks grim even in bright summer sun
Former inmates must have hated the place; their only sin was to be poor
Black stone walls amongst Cotton Grass and Rushes
The next path indistinct, a line on the map heading for Old Chamber
and the Cuckoo Stone, Great Jumps and Haven
Living history etched by the cartographer’s pen
Regaining the high ground with Pike and Pine backdrop
providing a canvas for Curlew and Red Kite
Brown Hare spotted standing on hind legs sniffing the warm breeze
Safe and strong with the abundances of Lammas tide
Satisfied he lopes off not fearing humankind