Hardcastle Crags

The second morning of our little camping trip to Hebden Bridge we drove across the town to Hardcastle Crags. Read about our first day visiting Stoodley Pike here. I had looked at the map and spotted a car park and a route that looked promising. Unknown to me Hardcastle Crags is owned by the National Trust. The car park is therefore free to members. I didn’t have my membership card with me, and neither of us had any money. We left a note in the car and hoped that we’d be OK seeing as the car park attendants were not there yet. Anyway, Hardcastle Crags is a beautiful wooded valley with the 19th century Gibson Mill at it’s heart.

Our run headed up through the wooded valley, slowly climbing all the time. With tired legs we walked the steeper sections and ran the flatter bits, passing the Mill and plenty of other visitors. After a couple of miles we climbed out of the wooded valley and turned east up and over an unnamed hillock, admiring the views from the other side of the valley.

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We weren’t in any rush as we ambled beside an old stone wall, before we came across an old derelict farm building. If you had plenty of spare cash I’m sure it would make a great holiday home, as long as you had a 4×4 to get there. Helen wanted to go inside to have a closer look, but it was my turn to be the sensible one, so I suggested that it probably wasn’t entirely safe.

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The path then dropped steeply down onto a busy little bridleway, with walkers and mountain bikers. At a gate three older men on e-mountain bikes passed us. I loved seeing this, as it would be unlikely that any of them would have been able to enjoy cycling these hills without the battery powered oomph. I know that one day both me and Helen will be riding e-bikes.

From here the trail was downhill for almost two miles as we returned to the car  park. Helen had a very big smile as she loves downhill running. Both me and Nelly struggle to keep up with her once she gets into her stride.

Just under 5 miles with a little less climbing than the previous day, but another great run. As a bonus, the car park attendants looked like they had only just started work and hadn’t reached our car, so no ticket. Back at the campsite and we enjoyed a full vegetarian breakfast at the Honesty Box Cafe located in the campsite.

Stoodley Pike

Making the most of campsites being allowed to open again, me and my lovely wife booked three nights away at the Old Chamber campsite in Hebden Bridge. As much as we like the Lake District, we felt it wasn’t right to visit at this time. There have been a number of alarming news stories about people parking and camping all over the place, and then leaving a mess. Hebden Bridge seemed like a perfect alternative and not too far to drive from Lancaster. It is an area that apart from visiting briefly last year the day before I did Canalathon (read about it here) we haven’t visited.

We arrived nice and early on the Friday, set up our tent and settled on down with a good book and a couple of beers, before our usual first night camping tea of sausages and beans, which was made all the better with a quick visit by Helen’s eldest son on his way from Lancaster to Wakefield.

The view from the campsite was amazing, across the whole of the valley. The campsite was surrounded by bridleways so we could watch mountain bikers and runners going past, sometimes quickly and often a bit more sedately. I love how the valley from Todmorden to Sowerby Bridge is so narrow, with the river, road, canal and then railway all squeezing into it, along with houses perched all over the place.

Helen is in training for the final leg of the Bay Limestone Round (read about it here and here) and wanted to run at least two of the three mornings. I had managed to create a couple of routes for my Garmin 920 (read about how to do this here), one of which would head up to Stoodley Pike. You can read Wikipedia yourself for more information, but the skinny is that the monument was initially built to celebrate winning Waterloo in 1815. The first one collapsed due to weather and lightning, so a replacement was built in 1856. The monument is very visible standing 37m high on top of the 400m Stoodley Pike, and on a clear day can be seen for miles. The day we ran up to it the weather was wet and misty and we could only just see the top.

20200718_0936121836113243.jpgThere are steps going up inside, although we didn’t venture up, partly because of the smell and partly because it was completely pitch black inside.

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Stoodley Pike is also on the Pennine Way, with the Pennine Bridleway skirting around the bottom of it. From the monument we followed the Pennine Way briefly before dropping down to Withens Clough Reservoir.

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We met a few local runners in the other direction near to the dam, before we headed on up the steep and never ending hills, following old tracks and bridleways back to the campsite. 10km with almost 300m of climbing, but done at a very steady pace. A great little start to our Hebden Bridge break.