The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday 13 July 2013

From Hebden to Halifax

Thursday night was a late one by my standards. Having not arrived at Mick’s pitch until 8pm, we didn’t eat tea until nearly 9 and by the time pudding and cups of tea were had it was past my bedtime. Apparently, for midges, it was just about time to come out and party. Without any hint of a breeze, we were besieged by the little blighters, meaning that teeth-cleaning was accompanied by pacing and a face-slapping dance.

After a good night’s sleep, daylight first woke me at quarter past five. Peering, bleary-eyed, through the mesh side of the tent, the red orb of the morning sun had just cleared the hillside opposite. A fine sight, but I cursed that I had left my buff buried in my pack, and thus didn’t have a blind-fold to hand, before improvising by throwing my fleece over my head. The next thing I knew it was 7am.

The midges had retreated to bed after their late night feast and party, so packing away was a relaxed affair before we headed off, down to Hebden Bridge. The sky was looking pretty fine as we looked over towards Stoodley Pike, although it was all rather hazy in the other direction.


There are dozens of rights of way which lead down to Hebden and we picked a route which would take us via the Co-op. The day, which was forecast to reach 27 degrees, was already hot and I was hankering after some orange juice, as well as needing to pick up some water.

The route we chose involved a lane, but not of your common tarmac variety. It wasn’t quite as interesting a surface as the one I’d walked out of Hebden on Thursday, but I didn’t pause to photograph that one.


For some reason (I can only plead insanity) I only picked up two litres of water and one litre of orange juice between us, as we passed through Hebden Bridge. What calculation could I possibly have made which told me that on a day that hot, with that much ascent, we could make do with one litre of water each?! The orange juice didn’t even make it away from the shop.

I’d originally intended for us to leave Hebden via Hardcastle Crags before cutting over to the next valley across, Crimsworth Dean. Given the temperature and the fact that we’re not unfamiliar with Hardcastle Crags, we soon modified that plan to reduce the distance and cut of some ascent by heading straight up Crimsworth Dean instead. I knew that, at the point where we were to leave the valley, there is a swimming hole below the waterfall and I was contemplating cooling down in it.


I wasn’t the first person of the day to have that thought; as we arrived a couple were just drying off an getting changed. Without any swimmers with me, that put paid to my plan of a quick skinny dip! I made do with dipping my hat in the water and a pause in the glorious shade for second breakfast.


The problem with walking east to west in this area is the number of steep-sided valleys you have to cross!

After a pull up out of that valley, our high point of the day was our next objective: the trig point atop High Brown Knoll (which isn’t particularly high, isn’t brown and isn’t very knoll-like). The pull up there was the first hint that I was going to find this day harder than I’d anticipated, but once the height had been gained it was absolutely lovely, walking on an easy path across the moorland with a very satisfying breeze cooling us. Happily, the day was still hazy and thus the full heat of the sun wasn’t on us.

What goes up must come down, and our descent down into Luddenden Dean (don’t ask me to pronounce that – Mick laughs at every attempt I make; apparently I always get the emphasis wrong) was truly brutal.

I wasn’t looking forward to our climb back up the other side, but a stop for lunch (whereupon the breeze immediately disappeared and the midges re-appeared) and a slight re-routing limited the brutality of that ascent. It was as we huffed and puffed up there that we passed two chaps who were the only other people we saw out walking all day. We were also the only people they had seen and we all agreed it was because most people had the sense to be sitting quietly in their back gardens with a cold drink.

Talking of a cold drink, I was feeling quite dehydrated by this time and, for me, the day was definitely going into the category of ‘very hard work!’. I didn’t actually run out of water until we were a mile away from our destination, and Mick couldn’t share as he ran out at the exact same time. We focussed on the fact that we were under a mile away from a shop which sells ice cold pop.

The cold pop was glorious, particularly as the sun had finally burnt through the haze. I’ve no idea at what temperature the day peaked, but as we set off for home at 7.30pm the car told us that it was 25 degrees out.

Whilst I did find the day very hard work, it was most definitely far preferable to being in a super-refrigerated windowless office. I don’t imagine many people have cause to take a linear walk from Hebden to Holmfield, but I’ve walked that way (on various routes) a few times now and the surroundings are to be recommended.


What pasty-white legs! Notably, the first time I’ve ever been out overnight without taking a pair of trousers with me!

The stats for the day were 14 miles walked with 2500’ of (sometimes quite steep!) ascent.


  1. A bit warm innit?

    This backpacking lark could catch on, it's good fun!


    1. There may even be a bit more of it coming up. A train has been booked and Mick's back off to Hebden Bridge in the morning.

  2. Oh, and Luddenden is pronounced 'Luddenden'.



  3. JJ, you can come and join me if you can stand the heat.

  4. JJ, you can come and join me if you can stand the heat.

  5. I really like it round Hebden Bridge and that neck of the woods. I did the Todmorden Circular route last year and would heartily reommend it if you fancy trying something else in that neck of the woods! I stayed in the very lovely little YHA at Mankinholes where there is also an excellent pub!