Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall – avec Le Tour de Yorkshire!

Blogging once again hasn’t been the top of my priority list for a few days as we’ve had some fabulous friends from New Zealand staying with us.

My intention is to get up to date over the coming week – Barry’s photos are too good not to publish albeit some time after events!


We’d been recommended by Diana (our IWA event organiser) to visit the nearby village of Heptonstall, towering high on the hill above Hebden Bridge. “Catch a bus there and walk back“, she suggested – and a good one it was too.

Heptonstall had originally been the main settlement in the area, with Hebden Bridge being literally the main bridge across the river in the valley below. Today Hebden Bridge is the larger of the two, but Heptonstall retains it’s charm as I’m sure you’ll agree when you see the images below.



Incredibly, the foundation stone of Heptonstall’s octagonal Methodist chapel, the oldest still in continued use, was laid following a visit by John Wesley in 1764 – five years before Captain Cook was making his first landing in Gisborne, Barry’s home town!


This old churchyard claims “King” David Hartley amongst its notable graves. Hartley was founder of the ‘Cragg Coiners’, a notorious counterfeiting gang, and lived as a rogue in the Calderdale area until he was hanged at Tyburn near York in 1770.


Heptonstall was historically a centre for hand-loom weaving, and many of the cottages and terraced houses are characterised by large first floor windows to maximise the light for weaving.



Heptonstall’s original church was dedicated to St Thomas a Becket. Founded c.1260, it was altered and added to over several centuries. The church was damaged by a gale in 1847, and is now only a shell. A new church, St Thomas the Apostle, was built in the same churchyard and  suffered a lightning strike in 1875.




You can appreciate the steep climb to the village from this picture – not for the feint hearted!


But boy what a tremendous view awaits those who live or visit here


We walked back down to Hebden in order to appreciate the incredible view. Unfortunately the steep incline took its toll on my fairly new walking sandals, and half-way down the front strap split! So it became a rather precarious stumble instead of a joyful trek! Luckily I kept the receipt …


THE Hebden Bridge


Happening Hebden – it’s got such a friendly and welcoming feel to the town


They even trade by bike here


Yellow cycles, flags and bunting abounds in celebration of Le Tour


No space left for any more boaters – what a delightful mooring spot


Le Tour de France/Yorkshire

On Thursday 3rd July, I’d booked onto a mosaic day with Mel from Crafts Afloat, along with the crew of NB Bisous. I’ve done a mosaic course previously in New Zealand and loved it, so grasped the opportunity to make a piece for our boat. More about that in a separate blog, as it’s worth it’s own story.

On the actual day when the cyclists of Le Tour de France/Yorkshire whizzed through (Sunday 6th July), I was in Brighton with my daughters and grandsons for the weekend. It was sad to miss such a thrilling event, but it was just how the timing worked out.

Barry stayed on board and enjoyed chatting with lots of people, some of whom even bought a few products from him – not as many as we’d hoped for, but you never know what will come from the event in the future. we’d wanted to come this way anyway, so Le Tour was fortuitous for us.


The Home Brew Boat promoting its wares and gorgeous greetings cards



Tons of people passing on their way to the park and big screen, but most were in too much of a rush to stop


Some did though – and found the concept of a ‘Home Brew Boat’  fascinating


Intriguing enough to take photos


Is there a statistic anywhere about how many Brits own dogs? It feels like every other person that passes by!

It was reported following the event that there’d been a crowd of around 8,000 people. Sadly, due to the way they directed the foot traffic, many of these walked past the trading boats on their hurried way to watch ‘Le Tour‘ on the big screen in Calder Homes Park, but were subsequently moved in a different direction to exit, so hardly anyone showed an interest in Home Brew, Fudge or Antiques.

The photo below gives a great view of this anomaly:


Can you spot Areandare?

Heather and Tony on ‘The Fudge Boat’, had arrived a week or so early in order to make their fudge for the event that held so much promise – around 1,000 bags with limited shelf life, so the lack of passing trade was painfully felt by them and did put a dampener on the weekend. They decided to stay on the following weekend for a choir gathering, in the hope they’d attract some sweet toothed choristers.

We’ll catch up with them again in September and discover how they fared …


An occasional visitor to The Fudge Boat



Sporting a yellow cycle


Don’t look left – keep going straight ahead! Cyclists swept through the walkers without dismounting, despite the high volume of people


Looks like a fun atmosphere for old and young alike


All is quiet, just the variety of flags flying silently


Heather and Tony


Tony pontificates on life


People climbing everywhere to get the best view



The big screen in the park shows the roads where the race runs


And here’s some cyclists


Friends and firsts

Our next posts will include a few friendly faces who’ve visited in the past couple of weeks. They’ll also see us descending the deepest lock on the system, and attempting to negotiate the shortest lock on the system in our 60 foot long narrowboat – will we make it? Many people we spoke to beforehand said it wouldn’t be possible and we’d be crazy to attempt it.

But you and I know Barry and his ‘can do kiwi’ attitude can achieve miraculous things.

So you’ll need to come back and read it to find out if we ‘could’ do …


Our journey from Littleborough to Hebden through Barry’s eyes – part Three

The final leg of our journey to Hebden Bridge was on Tuesday 1st July, when we travelled the four and a half miles and ten locks from our overnight mooring at Todmorden.

Here’s Barry’s pictorial view of the pleasures of the passage …


Phil casually steers past stunning views such as this. The chimneys I believe are from the previously thriving mills of many years ago – Megan saunters happily alongside


Meanwhile I keep my eyes firmly fixed on the waterway ahead to make sure I don’t ground the boat again in the still shallow water


One of the ten locks of the day – with the Pennine hills in the distance


Phil drives in expertly, edging towards the side ready for Areandare to slip in and share the lock


Been in together, the boys have emptied the lock, Phil’s exited and I’m driving out of ‘Lobb Mill Lock’, number 16


We passed by what appeared to be a few boating ‘communities’ along the way


And the odd strange sight like this bizarre window display – maybe it’s something to do with the occupants thoughts on The World Cup?


Meanwhile the reality is of reflections from the past


And a slightly different take on the same scene – which do you prefer?


These boats seem to be keeping a historic slant on the area too


Stubbing Lower Lock, number 10, and we’re in Hebden Bridge now, with it’s row upon row of terraced cottages


This could be a scene from the 18th century – if it wasn’t for the power cables!


Looking like a well used and loved waterway in the town


We adore the stone the majority of the homes in the area are built from – so complimentary to the surrounding environment


Stress? What’s that?


Here we are almost in the centre of Hebden Bridge, and our reserved mooring for ten days



P1580550AWe’d read about Hebden Bridge in the 2007 book by Stuart Maconie ‘Pies and Prejudice’ …

Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North, a humorous book that discusses the modern reality of the North of England (as opposed to the popular myths)

… and had wanted to visit for many years.

It didn’t disappoint in any way.

Actually that’s not strictly true, but it’s nothing to do with the beauty and uniqueness of the town – but I’ll reveal what soured our experience slightly in the next post.

Our journey from Littleborough to Hebden through Barry’s eyes – part two

There’s a few more photos on this post – Barry must’ve seen so much worth keeping for posterity!


Our neighbours leave to go down the long flight to Manchester


While we set off to Todmorden, via Walsden, and up the final lock – number 37 West Summit Lock which is reported to be the highest lock on the system


More rolling hills and greenery


A vision of serenity – what a fabulous place to live


Longlees Lock, the first for the descent to Hebden Bridge


An old toll house


Taking a turn at locking to get some much needed exercise!


A magnificent house by the lock near Walsden


The first time we’ve encountered a lock of this kind with a ratchet mechanism for opening the paddles and the gates. The gates wouldn’t open any other way due to the bridge which takes the road to the huge house


Opening the gate – watch out between your legs! Lightbank Lock (oh goodness, and those rolls of flab! definitely need to do much more locking!)


You can do it! Keep turning …


As my youngest grandson would say – WOW!


Winterbutlee Lock – what a delightful name and place


An unusual sight – let’s hope it leads to a deep swimming pool!


Would this win the prize for the best fish and chip shop setting?


You can hire out the bus for parties and eat to your heart’s content


Something else we haven’t encountered previously – a friendly goat living next to the lock! watch your hat Sandra, apparently he/she is rather fond of them …


Our temporary travelling companion Phil, shows me his Nicholson’s Guide with a photo of the bridge in the background. It’s an old guide and he’s been looking for the location of the front page shot for many years – so happy he found it 😉


Approaching Todmoren in unison like a well oiled machine


Stunning – words are inadequate to describe this scene (shame about Barry’s parcel on the roof!)


Our perfect pal Phil and his mate Megan


In the lock, jump off, then Phil holds the boat so I can drive in alongside – it’s a fine tuned procedure that we mostly got right!


The Great Wall of Tod – it holds the railway line in place!


Entering this idyllic town


A narrow passage to the Guillotine Lock (Todmorden or Library Lock)


Lots of firsts on this journey!


And so we finish this post in the tantalising town of Todmorden – the county boundary of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

If you’ve never visited this area, we’d recommend you make some time to do so as it’s so different to the usual rat race towns. It embodies a community spirit of co-operativeness and slowness, with ‘Incredible Edible‘ gardens everywhere that anyone can pick from – even from the front of the Police Station.

If only all places could use these open spirited examples and live so happily.