This August 2023 Bank Holiday weekend, we got away to Halifax, West Yorkshire to visit Eureka! where we stayed at the local Travelodge and ate at nearby Long Can Hall Pub. On our way back home to Stockport, we stopped off at Hebden Bridge, a captivating, charming town nestled within the stunning West Yorkshire countryside.
Known for its vibrant arts scene, independent shops, and rich history, the village is a colourful tapestry of creativity, resilience and natural beauty. In this blog post, we will take you on a virtual journey through its quaint winding streets, unravelling the enigmatic allure that makes it an unmissable destination for travellers and explorers alike, even for those with little people!
Let’s discover the unique heartbeat of this old mill town turned cultural haven together.
Where is Hebden Bridge?
Hebden Bridge is a small town in West Yorkshire, England, situated in the picturesque Calderdale valley between the towns of Halifax and Todmorden. Located approximately 11 miles east of Manchester and 15 miles west of Leeds, Hebden Bridge has a population of around 4,500 people.
Hebden Bridge has a long-established reputation as a market town and a centre of independent shops, cafes, galleries and pubs, as well as a vibrant arts, film and music scene. We had stayed in the Travelodge in Halifax which doesn’t have any food offering, so headed straight there for breakfast and ate at Cafe Mijo and had an amazing breakfast! Good portions, served promptly and a reasonable price.
The town is surrounded by stunning moorland and is a popular spot for hikers and nature lovers alike.
This charming town is well known for its strong sense of community and its commitment to preserving a traditional way of life. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing break or an adventurous excursion, Hebden Bridge has something for everyone.
What are the Main Attractions to Visit In Hebden Bridge?
One of the town’s main attractions is the Hebden Bridge Picture House, a historic cinema which has been a local favourite since 1921. The Hebden Bridge Little Theatre also offers a range of live theatre performances, having entertained locals and visitors since 1924. The Hebden Bridge Town Hall is another popular venue for live music and comedy, as well as other events.
For those looking to explore the town, the Hebden Bridge Town Trail is a great way to take in all the best sights of the area. This 3-mile walk passes by the historic buildings, traditional shops, and vibrant cafes which make Hebden Bridge so unique. We discovered a fantastic little playground next to the River Calder and shortly headed off along the canal toe path.
The town is also home to the Hebden Bridge Handmade Parade, an annual event which features colourful floats and costumes. Taking place in June, this festival is a great way to get a taste of the vibrant culture of the area.
Hebden Bridge is the perfect destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, offering visitors a unique experience of culture, independent shops, and stunning countryside.
What is the Best Way to Get To Hebden Bridge?
Getting to Hebden Bridge is easy, with regular train services from Manchester and Leeds, as well as regular bus services from Calderdale and Todmorden. However, we drove from Halifax, leaving at about 8.30 in the morning which took about 30 minutes drive. The way home to Manchester took us about 1hr 20mins.
❗❗❗Insider’s Top Tip:
As a word of warning, car parking appears limited. We arrived early at around 09:00 (on an August Bank Holiday Monday) and got parked no problem. However, there aren’t many car parks and none of them are especially big. By the time that we left at around 15:30 all car parks were heaving with cars queuing for any space! If you head there, especially at a weekend, I’d recommend getting there early!
Exploring Hebden Bridge on Foot
Exploring Hebden Bridge on foot is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of the town. We just spent the whole day on foot mooching around the shops, cafe and trails around the town. There are many footpaths and trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape, making it a great spot to go for a walk. For those who prefer to cycle, there are plenty of cycle paths in the area, offering the perfect opportunity to get out and explore the local area.
Our favourite was at Hebble End where the River Calder and the Rochdale Canal intersected each other with the canal passing over the river by way of an aqueduct (as per the image below).
What is the Best Time of the Year to Visit Hebden Bridge?
We’ve now explored Hebden Bridge both in the summer (if 2023 could be called that) and autumn. The summer months are a great time to explore the many outdoor activities on offer, such as walking and cycling.
The autumn season brings with it a beautiful array of nature’s colours, and the quieter tourism season is an ideal time to appreciate the area. Although we haven’t been to Hebden Bridge in winter (it’s on the hit list to do), I can definitely imagine that it would be the ideal place to get cosy in one of the many pubs and cafés, and enjoy a warm drink (and hopefully get snowed in).
However, no matter what time of year you visit, you won’t be disappointed by Hebden Bridge’s vibrant local arts and crafts scene. With its many unique shops and galleries, you can find something special to take away with you as a souvenir.
Where are Some Places to Get a Bite to Eat?
One of the most popular pubs in Hebden Bridge is The Shoulder of Mutton, serving traditional English food and real ales. For a unique afternoon tea experience, Little H is the perfect spot, offering a great selection of cakes, sandwiches and teas. If you’re looking for a traditional English pub, The White Lion Inn is the ideal choice, set in a beautiful old building and serving real ales and classic pub grub.
If you’re looking for something a bit different, The Olive Branch is the place to go. This Mediterranean-style restaurant serves delicious Italian and Greek food. The Courtyard Café is also a great spot for coffee and lunch, with a wide range of cakes, sandwiches and light meals.
We had breakfast at Cafe Mijo in the centre of the village which was amazing. We spent a lot of time walking the canals and paths and discovered Hebble End Coffee Lounge, just after the aqueduct. This was a perfect spot for the kids and us to rest our feet and knock back some juices and dirty fries (although we just had cheesey chips)
What famous people have called Hebden Bridge home?
Hebden Bridge has been called home by many creative worldwide stars and continues to do so now. Mathematician artist Ed Sheeran was born in nearby Halifax, and lived in Hebden Bridge before moving south.
Perhaps one of the most tragic stories is that of Sylvia Plath who is now buried in Thomas a Becket Churchyard in nearby Heptonstall. In fact the Sylvia Plath Literary Festival took place in Hebden Bridge in October 2022 to celebrate the 90th anniversary of her birth. Part of her connection to the town is that her husband, iconic poet Ted Hughes spent a significant part of his childhood here, which shaped his poetic prowess.
Numerous high-profile personalities are also associated with the town. Another renowned name includes actress Maxine Peake, widely recognised for her roles in popular TV shows like ‘Shameless’ (a rival to Manchester sitcom “The Royle Family” and ‘Silk’. Furthermore, celebrated folk singer-songwriter Mike Harding hails from this picturesque haven too, truly making Hebden Bridge a hotspot of cultural significance.
So Will We Be Back?
Absolutely, we loved Hebden Bridge as did the kids. I think we’ll have to head back there for the Winter as I can imagine it would be delightful with a bit of snow. However, the roads are twisty, hilly and winding and so may either have to choose to stay overnight there, or take public transport, which will give us something else to write about!