HEBDEN BRIDGE WALKERS ACTION
PACKHORSE BRIDGE CIRCULAR
This walk takes you to the (largely unvisited) back of the town with the option of a lovely short riverside stroll.
This is the route of a longer walk to Hardcastle Craggs (a local beauty spot), so you may see some yellow way-marks
Length and time
¾ mile (1 mile if you take in the riverside walk), 30 to 45 minutes
Gradients – how strenuous
The packhorse bridge is quite steep The first section is pretty flat; there is a gradual slope up to Keighley Road and a steeper incline down the Keighley Road into the town centre.
Terrain – how uneven
This walk is mainly gentle road walking with a possible extension along a good made up riverside path.
Obstacles – stiles, steps etc.
Couple of steps to access the riverside path
There are Public toilets, a Tourist Information Centre and many eateries in Hebden Bridge.
Points of interest
A fantastic packhorse bridge, occasional archers and cricketers at play and some dramatic dry stone walls.
Start at the 500 year old packhorse bridge opposite the White Swan pub in the centre of Hebden Bridge.
Walk down Bridgegate towards St Georges Square where you turn left between the Shoulder of Mutton and Bridge Mill - the first redundant mill to be converted as a tourist attraction called Innovation.
Cross the cast iron river bridge, noting the decorative building on the left which is the home of Hebden Royd Town Council and looking back at the view of the packhorse bridge from where you started.
At the end of the bridge take the walkway to the right, just before the millennium clock. This goes along the river behind the shops and offices. Eventually the riverside walk comes to an end and you have to turn left on to Valley Road.
Turn right along Valley Road pass some weaving sheds on your right (now workshops) and cross the river Hebden. The mill on your right is called Nutclough Mill which was a famous co-operative business in the late nineteenth century and now makes audio mixing decks. You will get a better look at Nutclough Mill later on the walk.
Follow the road round past the playground where it becomes Victoria Road (there's a very slight incline here). The terrace of houses on your right are flying freeholds where one house is built on the top of another. Go past the new houses and then take the last right turn on Victoria Road (before it ends in a cul de sac) and then turn left to a delightful packhorse bridge (it's a bit uneven and a bit of a pull to get over it).
The very steep track ahead goes up to Heptonstall (you have to be fit to do this), but you can imagine 20 packhorses laden with wool pieces coming down this track at a rate of knots, you would have to be prepared to jump out the way!
Here the nicest option is to walk a short way along the lovely riverside path which has a reasonable surface (couple of steps to negotiate).
If you are lucky you might be able to stop and watch cricket archery or a bowling match. At the bowling green you need to retrace your steps to the packhorse bridge.
Having crossed back over the packhorse bridge, go straight ahead up the road (Foster Lane), partly up a slight incline. Towards the top, the houses on the left are some of the oldest in Hebden Bridge and there is a fine set of stone steps between the terraces.
Foster Lane terraces
Eventually you meet the traffic lights at Keighley Road. The large mill on your right is Nutclough Mill again. Turn right and walk downhill on the Keighley road to the town centre. Eiffel Buildings on your left are another fine example of flying freeholds.
The feature of this part of the walk is dry stone walls – the retaining walls on the left hold up the Birchcliffe hillside – a true feat of Victorian engineering. If you look over the wall on your right you will see another huge drop with the river Hebden down below (you also get a good view of the town centre). A little lower down, just before the White Lion (a 17th century pub), look over the wall you will see the weir and mill race for Bridge Mill.
At the bottom of Keighley Road, you turn right to finish in St. Georges Square or Bridgegate for tea or something a little stronger. Watch out for the Walkers are Welcome signs in shops – they won't mind if your shoes are a bit muddy.