During the summer months, a community bus runs from town up to Widdop. We have made use of this service on several occasions. Usually, we alight at Blake Dean then choose a walking route back down the valley.
Blake Dean (or Black Dean as it was known in the olden days) is a picturesque spot. Nestled at the confluence of Graining Water and Reaps water, on a warm sunny day it can be full of people picnicking and bathing on one of the small islands formed where the two tributaries meet to become Hebden Water. If it is not too busy, we pause to take in the pretty features including gnarly trees, stone posts and an old wooden bridge.
On a recent visit, despite the forecast assuring us there was 0% ‘chance of rain, it started showering the second we alighted from the bus! Convinced it would pass, we proceeded into the dean regardless.
A heavier burst of rain required us to take shelter for several minutes. Whilst standing under a tree, I noticed the ripples created by raindrops falling in the water. Also, the nice thing about the changeable weather was having the place to ourselves..
A walk along the left hand side of Hebden Water brings us to the remains of the Trestle Bridgei. From there, the path becomes rather dodgy and eventually forces us to find a safe place to ford the river. We then follow the path on the right hand side into the woods.
Alive with all types of trees, mushrooms, and lichens, this is another good place to linger. We have a favourite flat rock where we may stop for a picnic with little chance of being disturbed.
This also affords a good view of the Trestle Bridge from above. A series of steep, small steps, festooned with vegetation, takes us down to the river path and into the woods.
Due to the cliffs which feature heavily in the ‘Upper Crags’, the path deviates from the river necessitating clambering up and down at times.
A top path also eventually leads down to the crags. Staying on the left side of Hebden Water, this route is even less well-maintained and boggy in places which could be a deliberate ploy to put walkers off.
The path becomes very narrow and overgrown too. A rickety ‘bridge’ made of plywood over a brook, leads into a private garden and then onto a lane. Again, we emerge in the woods and proceed downwards towards civilisation.
Facilities include a cafe and ‘eco bogs’. Several times we have just managed to order coffee by the skin of our teeth.
Towards closing, a man who looks like he means business appears on ‘cup patrol’. It’s worse than being harassed out of the pub at last orders!
Continuing to walk the length of the crags along the bottom path, we often pop in for a cheap pint at The Blue Pig. We are frequently forced to move away from the riverside benches though, having been eaten alive by midges.
Following the river back into town, we will have walked the whole length of Hebden water – not counting the last part where it flows into the Calder.
i For information on the Trestle Bridge: http://www.milltownmemories.org.uk/mm8/7.html