This week’s walk is taken from The West Yorkshire Woods book by Christopher Goddard, available from www.westyorkshirewoods.co.uk, and travels through Shibden Park, Chelsea Valley and Sunny Vale.
Distance: 7 miles (11km)
Character: A superbly varied walk that is full of interest throughout. Initially climbing out of the industrial heart of Halifax to its finest vantage point on Beacon Hill, the route then drops into the rich woods of Shibden Park, Chelsea Valley and Sunny Vale. Despite areas of abandoned industry, this is a surprisingly quiet and beautiful valley. This walk can also easily be started from Hipperholme or Southowram.
Information: Taken from ‘The West Yorkshire Woods’ book by Christopher Goddard, available from www.westyorkshirewoods.co.uk.
From Halifax railway station, turn right along South Parade and follow the walkway down towards the Ring of Bells.
After looping around Halifax Minster, turn right down some steps and go straight on up Bank Bottom. At the bottom of Southowram Bank, head straight on up the setts of Old Bank.
Turn right near the top and cross straight over Beacon Hall Road. At the sharp bend, carry straight on and pull steeply up through thinning trees to the path along the top of Beacon Hill, turning right to reach the beacon pan.
Retrace your steps along Beacon Hill, following the main path down to a busy junction. Head straight on through a pair of gates and follow the gravel path round past the ornamental ventilation shaft of Walker Pit.
Nearing the road, turn right through a gate into Cunnery Wood, a former rabbit warren and kitchen garden. The gravel path winds down to a tunnel by the lower pond that leads beneath the road and emerges near Shibden Hall.
Dogs are not allowed in Cunnery Wood, but an alternative crosses the road and follows the main tarmac track down to Shibden Hall.
Turn right down some steps above a small pond near Shibden Hall and then bear right on one of a series of smaller paths through the beech trees of North Wood.
These soon descend to join the main track. At the bottom, cut through or skirt around the play area (no dogs again) and join a path alongside the left side of the railway embankment which climbs up to the A58.
Head straight across, following a path across the fields via a series of narrow squeezes to reach Jum Hole Beck. Cross this, not at a bridge, but a shallow ford just beyond, entering a beautiful beech grove.
Reaching a vehicle track, double back right then left, climbing towards Throstle Nest. Head straight on up the slope here, skirting around the fence to a stile, from where a path leads up the wooded slope.
Turn right at the top and keep right, following a path along the top of Common Wood. At the far end, bear right then left to follow a narrow path along the right side of a wall. Drop down through Sammy Wood and bear left at the bottom onto Upper Royd on the edge of Hipperholme.
At Lane Ends Green, turn right and cross the A58, descending Watergate to the Travellers Inn. Head straight on into Station Road; across the railway, bear left by a quarry face, following a path along the edge of Sutcliffe Wood.
This climbs to reach a firepit, from where a tentative path bears left then immediately right down a gully to pick up a clearer route below. Follow this left for 100m, before turning sharp right along the top of a spoil heap.
A path weaves on through the quarry spoil along the top of the slope, before joining another route to climb back to the top of Sutcliffe Wood near a noisy dog pen.
Stay along the top of Sutcliffe Wood until the path drops down to the lane. Duck through a gap alongside the aerial flight support (a giant stone cube - see sketch on p14) opposite and follow a path down to Red Beck, which meanders delightfully along this quiet section of the valley.
Turn right and cross the fields, carrying straight on by Pinnell Bridge to pass below what was Sunny Vale Pleasure Gardens.
Across the next bridge, follow the fence up to Hipperholme Brickworks and head straight on up the steps between the ruined buildings.
Turn left at the top and head straight on into the wood at the foot of Sunny Bank Clough. A path climbs steadily up the left bank from a gap in the fence.
Turn right on the track at the top of Sunny Bank Clough, then bear left up Whitley Lane to the edge of Southowram. Turn right along the road at the top as far as the next bend, where you cut diagonally across the field to the left. Turn right on the next lane, then left through a heavy double gate beyond Pit Farm. The path leads to the trees at the corner of the field, then cuts diagonally down to a rough stile in the wall below. Head straight down the wall to join a track by Snydal Farm, bending right down into trees below.
At the next bend, bear right into High Grove Lane, walled path along the top of the wood. After 100m, cut through a rough gap in the wall to the left to some large graves at the corner of the old graveyard. Here, by an intriguing face carved into a tree, turn right down some rough steps covered in leaves and follow the slightly overgrown line of an old path down into Stoney Royd Cemetery.
Keep right around the top of the graves until a cobbled path leads left down to the main cemetery road. From the entrance, turn left down the road, then right into Waterside. Bear left at the far end and duck under the railway line, before crossing a high footbridge by Eureka. Rejoin South Parade at the far end turning right to reach Halifax railway station.