Best Foot Forward: Hewenden Viaduct Circular

Waterfall on Harden Beck in Goitstock Woods close to the West Yorkshire village of Harden near Bingley.
Waterfall on Harden Beck in Goitstock Woods close to the West Yorkshire village of Harden near Bingley.

This week’s walk, courtesy of Caroline Spalding of Calderdale Ramblers, begins in the small town of Cullingworth and is perfect for an afternoon stroll.

Beginning in the small town of Cullingworth, just off the A629 near to Haworth; this circular walk, just under seven miles long, is nothing short of delightful. I had not walked in this area before completing this route with the Calderdale Ramblers recently, led by a wonderful member of the group, Judy. We started from the car park next to The George Hotel, BD13 5HU, GR SE 068 369 which has an honesty box for donations. It is not a demanding walk, with very few climbs and very well maintained and way-marked paths; perfect for an afternoon stroll.

Hewenden Viaduct

Hewenden Viaduct

Although, technically, Cullingworth is not Calderdale, it’s well within reach of Halifax and is just on the edge of the OL21 map; it’s an area which some regard as a well-kept local secret, notable for its beauty and wildlife.

We left the town turning left at the hotel and following the main road for a short way. Taking a path on the right, we followed Cow House Beck through a pretty meadow until reaching Goit Stock Cottages. Now a residential country park, originally it was the site of a cotton mill which was sold in 1919 and the following year re-opened as a tourist attraction and purpose-built dance hall with a restaurant. Turning right and almost back on yourself, you will soon join the Millennium Way which leads you through Goitstock Wood, along the river to the waterfall. Carpeted with bluebells and other wild flowers, this is a beautiful path at this time of year. There are two waterfalls one after the other and with plenty of rocks on which to perch awhile, I can easily imagine spending an afternoon with a sketchbook in this peaceful spot.

Continue to follow the Millennium Way; also way-marked as ‘Senior Way’. The Millennium Way was created in 2000 and covers 45 miles, however there are about 16 shorter, circular walks linking sections of the path. You will reach Hallas Bridge and climb higher above the river, emerging from the woodland and crossing meadows to meet the road. Continue straight across the road and shortly up ahead Hewenden Viaduct comes into view. Opened for goods traffic on April 1 st 1884, it was problematic in construction and the train line was locally known as the Alpine Route due to its heavy engineering and also due to the hilly terrain across which it traversed. The line closed in 1963 but the viaduct itself was granted a protective Grade II listing and has subsequently become part of the Great Northern Railway Trail, a popular cycling route. The Millennium Way continues alongside Hewenden Reservoir, crossing another road before turning right to climb up a bank and eventually into a collection of houses, emerging onto Foster Park Road. Walk to meet and cross the A629, turn right and soon you will pick up another way-marker, continuing to follow the Millennium Way. You climb above the houses and looking left you can see the reservoir and viaduct across the valley. I adore this part of the countryside, as it seems to me that urban settlements suddenly stop, and the drama of the moorland beyond is unveiled; however, as is common with Yorkshire, nestled into valleys out of sight, there are, of course, yet more villages and settlements – in this case, Haworth is hiding beyond the brow of the hills.

Once on the moorland, aim for the once house that can be seen up ahead, descending slightly to your right. You will join a clear track – grass with worn tyre markings. Continue along this route until reaching a wooden stile on your right. Climb over and you’ll come to meet a gravelled road. Just before the houses at the end of the lane, again turn right, way-marked ‘Senior Way’ and you’ll head back towards the A629 once again. Crossing the road, the path descends through Milking Hole Beck, passing a beautiful ‘miniature viaduct’ over the stream, reaching the top of Hewenden Reservoir. Follow the path turning left and crossing fields alongside the reservoir and eventually you will reach a former railway bridge with a clear way-marker indicating the cycle route back towards Cullingworth itself. It’s a short, flat and easy walk back to the village and you’ll pass the recreation ground and into quiet, residential streets.

Waterfall on Harden Beck in Goitstock Woods close to the West Yorkshire village of Harden near Bingley.

Waterfall on Harden Beck in Goitstock Woods close to the West Yorkshire village of Harden near Bingley.

You can either follow the main road back to the car park, or meander through the houses to find your way.

We completed this walk on a bright, warm late April day; the fields were full of lambs and it was easy underfoot. It’s the type of ramble that would work all year round, however the ground through Goitstock Wood is said to be particularly boggy after a period of poor weather. For me, having travelled the A629 towards Keighley quite a few times; I must confess to never having noticed the viaduct before and therefore getting out on foot to discover what is a stone’s throw from the road is so rewarding.

Caption "Walking... HIGH ROAD: Hewenden Viaduct and Reservoir"

Caption "Walking... HIGH ROAD: Hewenden Viaduct and Reservoir"

Hewenden Viaduct at Cullingworth

Hewenden Viaduct at Cullingworth