Hebden Bridge is a market town in the Upper Calder Valley which was once an important river crossing on the packhorse route between Halifax and Burnley. The packhorse bridge over the River Hebden, which gives its name to the town, still stands.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Hebden Bridge was an important mill town, with its industries powered by the fast-flowing torrents that swept down from the steep moorland hills which surround the town. The moors were also home to flocks of sheep, and the wool trade spurred the building of Manchester and Leeds Railway line and the Rochdale Canal which runs through the town.
For some years now, Hebden Bridge has attracted artists, craftsmen, musicians, photographers, writers, poets, alternative practitioners, Greens, and a host of other folk who have breathed new life into the town, and made it a very attractive tourism venue.
The town prides itself on its green credentials and was also proud to be awarded Fairtrade Zone Status in 2003.
Hebden Bridge can be reached by train, bus, car, bike and boat. The town is on the following cycle routes: National Cycle Route 66, National Cycle Route 68, the West Yorkshire Cycle Route.
Hebden Bridge has some excellent, though at times strenuous, walks in the surrounding Pennine Hills, much less challenging walks along the canal towpath, and middling walks along the old packhorse trails.
Hebden Bridge has a wide diversity of restaurants and cafés, and is especially suited to vegetarians and people who value organic food.
The poet Ted Hughes was born in the small town of Mytholmroyd just to the east of Hebden Bridge, and his first wife, Sylvia Plath, is buried in the nearby village of Heptonstall. A few miles south of Mytholmroyd is Cragg Vale, once home to a gang of counterfeiters – the Cragg Coiners, as they were called. The gang’s leader, known as King David, was hanged at Tyburn on the site of the Knavesmire in York.
Interesting fact: in 2005 Hebden Bridge was described by the British Airways in-flight magazine “highlife” as the 4th funkiest place in the world, and the town is rather fond of its reputation for being quirky and unconventional.
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