For some reason, Hebden Bridge is one of those places that’s aways stuck in my head, but I’d never visited. I think it goes back to the old Datapen Systems days, when I seem to remember our salesman came from here. But I may be wrong. I think I was reminded of it most recently when reading an article about Britain lacking a second ranked city. Most countries second cities are half the size of its largest, but London is three times the size of the biggest, making it an oddity. Anyway, someone suggested that Hebden Bridge should be the second city of Britain, by placing the green belt in the middle instead of around the outside, and incorporating Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.
So, heading north from Oldham towards the Dales, I come to Calderdale, and Hebden Bridge at its heart. I could liken the surrounding geography to that place in Middle Earth where the Orcs live, such are the depths of the dales. The campsite I chose was up quite a hill from the town, so I skipped a walk around it on the evening of arrival, and opted to do it the following morning.
A charming town I found, pleasant people in the shops and cafes, and the merest hint that it’s claim and ‘Lesbian Capital of the U.K.’ might well be correct, going by the number of ‘ladies in comfortable shoes’ seemed in great abundance. But I wanted more of a walk than a ramble, and after a wander along the canal bank (restored but looking a little neglected), I set off along the depths of a dale towards Hardcastle Crags, a local beauty spot, home to a restored and working mill courtesy of the National Trust, and a nice bend in the river which undercuts the rock revealing some ice jaggedly bits. All very lovely, and shame the tea rooms weren’t open. What were they thinking!
About 12 miles in all.