Visitors to Hebden Bridge flock to Hardcastle Crags; yet the neighbouring valley of Crimsworth Dean is equally delightful with many paths to explore, writes Caroline Spalding.
This approximately seven-mile route climbs up the left-hand slope to reach significant height and descends to Lumb Hole Waterfall which feeds Crimsworth Dean Beck that courses the base of the valley.
Returning through Middle Dean Wood which later in the year will be alive with the sight and smell of wild garlic.
Begin from the Information Centre and walk through the town, over the bridge past the Town Hall, right along Valley Road and then joining the riverside path at the end of Spring Grove.
Cross the river and follow the ‘Hardcastle Crags Waymarked Route’ yellow markers which helpfully guide you.
You will climb up away from the river, up a set of stone steps, turning right to follow a tarmac lane for a short while until right onto the Calderdale Way through woodland to emerge at the Midgehole WMC [Blue Pig].
Cross the river again and just in front of the National Trust car park, take the waymarked bridleway.
This begins a long, gentle climb up the valley slope; easy underfoot as it is tarmac and offering wonderful views both ahead and behind. You rise above the trees, gaining height and at GR SD 986 305 [with a clear track to your right] on the left a clear way marker indicates a footpath. Pass through the gate and at the top corner of the field, hop over the stone stile to meet a track, turning right and up ahead you will see the two stone pillars named Abel Cross. Dating back to post-mediaeval times, these wayside crosses served both to reinforce the Christian faith in travellers, but also as way-markers, or boundary markers.
The path returns to the main bridleway; pass a farmhouse and soon after a path descends to your right [SD 989 312]. Follow this, heading downhill past some ruined buildings and soon enough there is a very new looking way marker pointing right.
Here, take a small diversion left to enjoy the view of Lumb Hole Waterfall, apparently a popular spot for ‘wild swimming.’
Return to the way marker – ‘Midgehole via Wheat Ing’ and head back down the valley across the fields watching the beck flow beneath.
It is a very clear path; often muddy, therefore whilst you might have wondered why you had bothered with gaiters for the first half of the walk, for this latter section you will be glad you chose to wear them!
The path leads to a building that has been renovated in the past year or so. Go beyond the building, taking the waymarked path heading downhill left across the field to enter woodland.
A well-trodden path leads you to a footbridge which you cross, climb slightly before passing through a gate on the right-hand side next to the home that is wonderfully situated there.
And here begins the mud! I know that CROWS [the Community Rights of Way Service] has done a lot of work here to improve water drainage and the way markers which seem to have sprung up since last year are also probably thanks to them!
Entering Middle Dean Wood, there are several routes through the woodland on the map, but at the first path junction, I continued straight ahead.
There are [as said] new way markers, but there are also several yellow arrows painted on tree trunks guiding you through.
Soon enough, as well as wild garlic, the woodland floor will be awash with bluebells. Currently, however, it is mud, mud and yet more mud!
The path climbs over fallen tree trunks, hops over tiny streams rushing to meet the beck and clambering over stones; all of which are very slippery. You climb slightly before finally reaching the end of the trees with a waymarked sign pointing left [SD 990 294], traversing a meadow beneath.
Turn right on meeting the lane which returns you to the NT car park. You return to Hebden following the clear ‘Hebden Bridge Waymarked Trail’.