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Fells of the Holme Valley

A short walk of great variety, from the unspoiled hill village of Hepworth.

Distance 3 miles (4.8km)

Minimum time 1hr 30min

Ascent/gradient 525ft (160m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Good tracks most of the way, 9 stiles

Landscape Rolling countryside

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 288 Bradford & Huddersfield

Start/finish SE 163068

Dog friendliness Plenty of opportunities to be off lead

Parking Hepworth, just off A616, south of Huddersfield

Public toilets None on route

1 From the Butchers Arms, walk through the village for 100yds (91m). Take steps on the left, immediately before the end-wall of a house; a field path takes you down into the valley. Follow a wall on your right and, towards the bottom of the hill, cross the wall by a stile. Continue walking downhill in the same direction, and cross a footbridge. Bear left on a path for just 100yds (91m) before going right, up stone steps. Follow the path uphill, over a stile, through trees, to meet a road.

2 Cross the road and take a metalled track ahead, between walls. Beyond a small lake on your left you have a choice of routes. Bear right, on a metalled track, steeply uphill. When the track goes left, to Bank House Farm, continue ahead on a stony path, which soon bears right. When the path bears sharp left, take a gate on your right. You now have easy walking on a grassy path, with extensive views across the valley. Through another gate, your route is joined by another track. Just before a farmhouse, look for a fingerpost on the right to take an indistinct field path downhill and half-right.

3 Beyond a gate your path is clearer, through trees and down to a road. Walk left along the road for just 75yds (68m) before taking a kissing gate on the right, by a driveway to a house. Cross the field to another gate then follow a fence downhill to a gap stile. Go left on a field path, following a wall, towards buildings ahead. Come to a wall stile at Barnside and go left to meet a road.

4 Go right down Barnside Lane. Take a footpath just past the house on the left, cross a stile and walk uphill, crossing two steep fields to meet a ladder stile at the top of the second field. Bear half right here, on a sketchy path; soon you have a ruined farmhouse to aim for.

5 Behind the farm, take a track to the right. Follow this hollow way (or the adjacent, drier path). Beyond a gate the walking is easier on a broad, walled track. At a crossroads, go straight ahead down Cowcliff Hill Road. After just 50yds (46m) take a wall stile on the right, between two metal gates. Follow this field path, keeping a wall to your right. After the next wall stile your path is across the middle of three fields, before joining a path between a wall and a fence. Soon you are back in Hepworth, as the path emerges at the side of the Butchers Arms.

This short walk visits no stately home or famous landmark. It just takes in some delightful countryside which, in places, recalls the lower fells of Lakeland. To the south of Holmfirth, famous for its role in Last of the Summer Wine, are a number of villages whose fortunes rose with the cottage industry of hand weaving, then declined when weaving started to be organised on a truly industrial scale. Honley, Scholes, Jackson Bridge and Hepworth retain many of their old weavers' cottages, built of Yorkshire sandstone and millstone grit. The hilltop village of Hepworth, with no convenient source of water, never became industrialised.

Weavers' houses tend to conform to a traditional design: two or three stories high, with the weaving room occupying the whole length of the attic. Rows of narrow, mullioned windows allowed the maximum amount of light into the room. The weaving room was often reached by outside stairs and a 'taking in' door. This made it easier to bring woollen yarn in and take the finished pieces of cloth out. It also allowed a weaver to divide his life more conveniently between his work and his family responsibilities.

Another tradition, during the 16th and 17th centuries, was the 'dual economy' of textiles and farming. The land was poor, and generally unsuitable for growing crops, so the smallholders would keep dairy cows or sheep. Many weavers would have worked with wool spun from the fleeces of their own sheep. Substantial farmsteads - known as laithe-houses - combined, under one roof, family accommodation, a hay barn for cattle and a weaving room beneath the eaves. Examples of these characterful buildings can still be seen in Hepworth and elsewhere in the Holme Valley.

What to look for

The little stone village of Hepworth is surrounded by some of the finest countryside in the county; quiet lanes, stone walls and a wide choice of old paths to walk. The proximity of town and country is a striking feature of the area. One minute you are walking on tarmac and cobbles, but within a very few minutes you can be out on the tops.

Where to eat and drink

The Butchers Arms, a real locals' pub in the middle of Hepworth village, is the place for a drink and - at weekends - good food. The White Horse Inn at Jackson Bridge - just north of Hepworth, off the A616 - may be familiar even to first-time visitors, since it has featured in many episodes of Last of the Summer Wine. Pictures taken from the comedy series are displayed inside.

While you're there

Nearby Jackson Bridge is a cramped little community, wedged into a valley around the White Horse Inn. Here you will find rows of distinctive weavers' cottages. To save space, some houses are built on top of each other, providing 'underdwellings' and 'overdwellings', a building solution more familiar in places like Hebden Bridge.


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