Sunday 17 June 2012

Hardcastle Crags

Distance: 6km; Ascent: 200m; Dry with occasional sunshine; with Lynsey, Isabel, John, Steph, Sierra & Jack

It was dull and drizzly in Stockport this morning whilst we were getting ready for our exciting day out; we hoped that the weather would improve!  I had been thinking about going for a walk at Hardcastle Crags for a while and we had arranged to meet up with John, Steph, Sierra and Jack for a pushchair walk there today.

The weather improved as we drove north past Oldham and Rochdale and then along the never-ending road to Todmorden and Hebden Bridge, arriving at the Clough Hole car park a little after 11am.  The others had arrived just a few minutes before us and we were soon walking down through the woods on a reasonable path to reach the valley bottom and Gibson Mill - a former cotton mill built around the turn of the 19th century.

Gibson Mill
After crossing the bridge outside the mill we wandered around the mill pond before picking up the "Crags Constitutional" trail.  Initially this was on a broad vehicle track, which Isabel walked a lot of despite it being mainly uphill!  There was plenty to look at in these woodlands, including several wood ant anthills and small streams.  After a while we came to a fork in the track; we headed left, following a track that seemed to be almost directly above the river way down below to our left.  At the bottom of the hill we reached a further path junction and bridge; this was the turning point for the walk in our ATP walks book.  However we decided to keep going along the reasonable broad path to reach the cottage at Over Wood.

Burn near Over Wood
Here we left the woodland briefly and the sun came out so there were good views up and down the valley.  As the track up the valley seemed to deteriorate from here, we decided to retrace our steps back the way we had come towards the footbridge.

First footbridge over the Hebden Water
Upon reaching the footbridge it was decision time: did we return the way we had come or did we explore the far side of the river?  As it was still quite early in the afternoon we opted for the later option, thinking that we could always retrace our steps should we come across any insurmountable obstacles with the ATPs.

A carpet of leaves
The path followed the river closely for much of the way switching sides a couple of times (aided by handy footbridges!).  For much of the way the terrain was relatively easy through the woods, even on a paved path at times.  However there were several trickier rocky sections, which definitely required two people to negotiate.

The good section of path winds its way through the trees
Eventually we reached another mill pond, whose water was almost perfectly still due to the complete lack of wind.  This also meant that there were a lot of midges around, of which several hundred managed to steal some of my blood!!  The weir just beyond the far end of the mill pond seemed to be quite fast flowing today.

Mill pond near Gibson Mill
Weir on the Hebden Water near Gibson Mill
Soon we were back at Gibson Mill, where we stopped for tea, cake and ice cream outside the cafe in the sunshine before heading back up the extremely long hill to the car park, arriving around 5pm.  It had been a lovely day's walk with friends :)

Gibson Mill
Tolls, but what does a pushchair cost?

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