This year has been all about the staycation and with my husbands 30th birthday in July I let him choose somewhere to go. Nice of me I know. So he chose Hebden Bridge, a market town in the Upper Calder Valley in West Yorkshire. I had no idea what there was to see and do in the area but soon realised that there was going to be plenty to keep us occupied as Hebden Bridge is a fairly big town set in the most beautiful location. This was an incredibly short break, arriving late afternoon on the Thursday and leaving midday on the Saturday but we still managed to pack lots in to our stay whilst still managing to relax. So this is my guide to a staycation in Hebden Bridge.
Where to stay
This is not the kind of place where you are going to find a Travelodge or a Holiday Inn, which for some may be daunting, but actually, its brilliant as Hebden Bridge is very community based and big on keeping things local and independent where possible. We opted for an Airbnb as we find them great for trips like this, giving you a homely experience and are usually budget friendly. Find out why I love them so much here. There were plenty to choose from in the area and the one we opted for, ‘The Cabin’, was located to the south of the river, a cosy little one bed ground floor self contained flat, with off road parking and only a 10 minute walk into the town.
The property had everything we needed for our two night stay, a bedroom and lounge area with a big comfy bed, comfy seats and loads of entertainment including games, dvds, tv and a radio. We played a few trivia based games and cards on our first night with a couple of drinks, absolute holiday bliss. The kitchen had everything needed to make meals and the kitchen was stocked with the essentials such as teas, coffees, cooking oils and sauces. The owners even left a little basket of biscuits, brioche and porridge to get us started, I devoured the shortbread all by myself over the 3 days we were there. The bathroom had a big powerful shower and was modern and clean, ideal for what we needed.
What to do
Explore the town
Hebden Bridge is full of little independent shops and its definitely worth spending a couple of hours exploring whats on offer. Whether its vintage clothing, hand made soaps or home décor there is something for everyone. We even managed to stumble across a small market area with about ten stalls, selling second hand items such as books and homeware. I am not sure if this market is only on specific days but check it out if you get a chance.
I am always on the look out for an antique shop as I love anything old and I was in luck as we managed to find one in Hebden Bridge, spread over two floors and housed in an old church. My idea of heaven. Even if you don’t buy something, sometimes its just nice to take a bit of time to walk around and see what is on offer. The biggest plus of a staycation is that you have most probably travelled by car, therefore you can buy as many souvenirs as you want without having to worry about how on earth you will be getting them home.
Take a walk along the Canal
We only had chance to walk a small stretch of the canal around Hebden Bridge but what we did see was amazing. Although the canal was only a short distance from the road it felt like a different world, so much quieter and as if you were surrounded by nature. There were a number of old fashioned locks within Hebden Bridge and it was lovely to take a bit of time and sit and watch the canal boats come through them (and get inspiration for a potential canal boat holiday in the future). Canal boats line this section of the canal as Hebden Bridge is a popular place for people to stop, which made for some Instagram worthy photos. Hebden Bridge actually sits along a large stretch of canal path where you are able to walk to the neighbouring towns, something I would be keen on doing if I return and something I would definitely recommend if you are lucky enough to spend more time here.
Visit Hardcastle Crags
A mile out of the town is Hardcastle Crags, an area of countryside owned by the National Trust. You could easily walk here from the town (its meant to take 45 minutes) but we decided to drive as there was parking nearby and at 33 weeks pregnant my walking abilities were some what limited. Parking costs £5 and the machine only took cash so make sure if you drive that you have plenty of coins on you. There are a number of walking trails which can be started from the car park differing in length and difficulty and you could definitely spend a whole day here. We started early and opted for the red trail which went along the river, as it was recommended as the most picturesque. There were plenty of photo opportunities and the trail was clearly marked ducking between trees, slippery stones and forest trails. There was even the option to cross the river using big stepping stones, which even whilst pregnant was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed. After a mile and a half you will reach Gibson Mill, an old mill which now houses a café and small shop, making it the perfect place to stop off for a rest and enjoy some food and use the toilets.
There are two walks which continue past the mill if you have the time and energy to do them. We started along one of the paths, exploring a waterfall, getting a brilliant view across the pond towards the mill and seeing some of the wildlife in the area, but we decided to turn back. We would have loved to have completed one of these large circular walks in normal circumstances but instead took the main road back towards the car park, diverting off into the forested areas where possible. We took a picnic with us for our walk which I definitely recommend doing if you plan on doing the full walks as there are some lovely spots to sit and take in the views.
Take a trip to Halifax
Halifax is a town located only 8 miles from Hebden Bridge and can be easily reached by car or by train. We decided to drive to Halifax as we visited on our last day so it made things easier. We love to explore small UK towns that you might not necessarily think of visiting and Halifax was a bit of a surprise. The town is undergoing some regeneration and recently The Piece Hall, a Grade I listed building originally used as a cloth hall for handloom weavers to sell the cloth they had made, has been restored. The Piece Hall is now home to a number of indepedant shops and cafes and restaurants lining a large courtyard area. We enjoyed exploring the shops and even had time to visit The Trading Rooms for a hot drink and a snack. The bakery served amazingly fresh bread and pastries and my husband enjoyed a tasty looking sandwich and a coffee whilst I was quite content with my hot chocolate, which we enjoyed from the outdoor seating within the courtyard area.
We also had time to visit Calderdale Industrial Museum which was located just outside the Piece Hall. Again the museum has been recently renovated and lucky for us only open on Saturdays and cost only £5 (per adult) for entry, which I think is a bargain for a Museum. This isn’t the usual type of museum that I would head for but it was the dream museum for my Husband, so worth trying and I was pleasantly surprised. There are currently three floors of displays with a fourth still being renovated. The basement houses large pieces of machinery, some of which still works and the volunteers are happy to show them in action as well as explain how they work and what they were used for. There was also a display about pottery production and mining. The other two floors housed other machinery, all used locally and all with a story to tell, including a steam engine, a room full of washing machines and a rug producing loom. Quirky small museums like this are well worth a visit and it was so nice to see how passionate all the volunteers were about their local industries.
Where to eat and drink in Hebden Bridge
I was shocked by how many places there were in Hebden Bridge for food and drink, there are so many that you could easily just hop from place to place all day long and do nothing else. We managed to visit a fair number in the two days as the weather was so good and food and drink is always pretty high on our to do list.
Vocation & Co
If you like craft beer then you may have come across Vocation in the supermarkets, when we first walked in I thought we had just stumbled across a random quirky craft beer bar, the kind of place we would normally go to as my husband loves beer. We had in fact stumbled across Vocation brewery, which as I now know is based in Hebden Bridge. The interior of this bar was modern and quirky, with plenty of seating options, whether you wanted to sit at the bar and just enjoy a drink, sit on one of the many dining tables inside or sit out in the sun on the large group benches, this place really does offer something for everyone. The beers on offer included those brewed by Vocation as well as other well sourced craft beers, with soft drinks also an option, so don’t worry if you don’t want beer.
We were happy to find that Vocation also served food and when I saw that their menu was Mexican inspired I was incredibly excited. We opted for the burritos, mine was a delicious chicken burrito packed full of salad, rice and sauce, served with a mountain of perfectly seasoned fries and my husband opted for the Yorkshire beef version. We also opted for a side of onion rings which were homemade and absolutely huge. The food was incredibly well priced with the burritos only costing £10 each making this the perfect place to go to in the early evenings to spend a couple of hours enjoying the food, drink and atmosphere. The staff were incredibly friendly, so even if you haven’t tried Vocation beer then you should check this place out, the staff will be happy to advise you on the beers they offer based on your usual tastes.
Craft Beer Bar and Bottle Shop
Another one for craft beer lovers. This is somewhere to stop off for a few drinks and also to purchase a few to take back to your Airbnb or home with you after the staycayion is over. Located on the main high street this place initially looks like a shop at first glance, but it is in fact a small bar. There is a definite industrial and rustic vibe here, with a small seating area at the front of the shop and the bar located at the rear. There are plenty of craft beers on tap for you to try, some local and some from much further afield but if none of these take your fancy then check out the incredible selection available to buy in cans or bottles.
Don’t be put off if it looks busy as there is more comfy seating upstairs, although slightly more practical than stylish. The Craft Beer Bar is another must if you are a beer fan and if you don’t have chance to enjoy a drink here then just pop in and buy a few to take away with you. The shop has an area that show cases the local beers on offer so I would recommend heading to this section and trying something new.
Old Gate Bar and Restaurant
Again located on the main street through Hebden Bridge, we first clocked this bar on our first day, the sun was shining and every possible seat outside was taken, the Old Gate Bar was clearly very popular and we wanted to know why. We managed to return the next day and find ourselves a seat outside, we only stayed for one drink but this is a great place to watch people go about their days in Hebden Bridge. From here you can see all the local independent shops, the locals going about their day and the lovely quaint buildings. They also serve food, which was recommended to us by our Airbnb hosts so definitely a place to bare in mind if you have time.
If you prefer to stay away from the big busy establishments then this small pub tucked away down a side street might be the place for you. Next to Aya Sophia this micro pub is a great place to sit outside of and relax with the locals. Serving the drinks you would normally expect from a pub there is something for everyone.
Japanese Street Food
I am so annoyed at myself for not getting the name on this place as it doesn’t exist on google maps but along the main high street nestled somewhere between The Willow Garden Florist and Café On’t Front was a Japanese Street Food Café. Not something I expected to see in Hebden Bridge but as big lovers of Japanese food we had to check it out. The menu was fairly minimal with only 3 or 4 hot options on offer, however they also served sushi, which whilst we were there seemed very popular with people nipping out for some lunch during work.
We chose the Katsu curry with rice (obviously) and the Pork Ramen. Bar type seating lined the inside of the café so you had the option to eat in or take out, we opted to eat in and our food was brought to us in recyclable containers and with recyclable cutlery giving this place some serious bonus points. The portions were surprisingly generous having only cost us between £7 and £9 each. The Ramen was served in a tall pot packed full of noodles and fresh veg, the katsu curry was a box of huge pieces of breaded chicken slathered in a generous portion of curry sauce served on a bed of salad with a side of pickles. Needless to say we were full by the time we finished and really happy we had found such an epic meal in Hebden Bridge. I just wish I had paid more attention to the name of this place.
Who doesn’t love having a drink with a view? As we headed along the canal for a walk I had already been eyeing up a potential place to stop for a drink along the way. About ten minutes from the centre of Hebden Bridge is Stubbing Wharf, a brilliant pub sat right along the canal. We were incredibly lucky to bag ourselves a bench looking out at the canal making this the perfect way to end a day in Hebden Bridge. Even better was that they served alcohol free ciders so I could enjoy some fake booze rather than having to stick to the usual lemonade or diet coke, which after a while gets a bit dull. We had planned to eat here as their traditional pub food inspired menu looked amazing, however we were still full from the epic street food we had at lunch so had to give it a miss.
We didn’t have very long in Hebden Bridge as this was only a short break for us, meaning we missed out on exploring the historic area of Heptonstall, but that’s ok. After visiting this part of Yorkshire for the first time I can safely say we will be returning. There is so much to see and do, we went as a couple but I have no doubt that a staycation here would also be very family friendly as there are plenty of walks and outdoor based activities to do. Next time, I will make sure we visit for longer so that we can explore slightly further afield, although Hebden Bridge makes the perfect base for this with plenty of Airbnb’s on offer and loads of amazing places to eat and drink. Have you ever been to Hebden Bridge? I would love to know what you got up to so I can start planning my next staycation to Hebden Bridge.