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Walk: Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall
These days the news is full of high speed rail links but what about the old days?
At one time the motorways were the packhorse routes, which have mostly been built over. We are lucky in our region that some still survive including this one between Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall.
From the social centre cross the road and follow a track through houses on the right and with open fields to the left. approach the substantial church tower and follow the circular stack around the churchyard.
The ruins are of the Church of St Thomas à Becket dating to 1260 and the path around it and its Victorian replacement are lined with gravestones.
From the churches, return to the only gate and turn sharp left. Among the row of old cottages is Heptonstall Grammar School, now a museum.
Follow the narrow paved track beneath the Great North Gate to reach the main road through the village.
At the 18th century Cross Inn turn left and follow the steep and narrow road up through Heptonstall with its 18th century weavers’ cottages and the old village water pump on the left, close to St Iver Street. After about ¼ mile look for a sign to the right indicating an old packhorse track.
Turn right and descend this paved track into the village.
This leads to the historic Wesleyan chapel, often called the Heptonstall Octagon because of its shape, completed in 1764. It is still used for worship and is the oldest functioning Wesleyan chapel in the world. From the chapel follow the cobbled road to the village and approach the Cross Inn on the right. Turn left and descend the steep road to reach the minor road linking Hebden Bridge and Burnley.
Turn right but only for about 30 yards.
Look out for a left turn at Lee Mount. Descend the steep track which is the old packhorse route. Follow Moss Lane towards Hebden Bridge.
Turn sharp right along a narrow road which leads to the main A646 linking Todmorden with Halifax. Turn left and follow the main street towards Halifax.
The Information Centre is situated next to the wharf of the Rochdale Canal which opened in 1804. From the wharf retrace the route for about 200 yards to reach a street on the right. After about another 200 yards pass a pay and display car park on the left which is close to the Packhorse Bridge.
Turn left and cross the substantial pedestrianised packhorse bridge which spans Hebden Water. Look for the Hole in the Wall pub to the right. A sign indicates Heptonstall (½ mile). Climb the cobbled causeway known as the Buttress.
Continue to ascend to the Burnley to Hebden Bridge road. Turn left and follow the signs through Heptonstall to the car park and the starting point.