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Hardcastle Crags & Blake Dean | A beautiful place to visit

Two connected beauty spots in the Calder Valley both owned and managed by the National Trust offer up some fantastic possibilities for exploration.  A wooded valley oasis in the heart of the Yorkshire moors.  At the centre of the valley is Gibson Mill, one of the first powered cotton mills of the industrial revolution, built circa 1800.  The mill is now home to a cafe, shop and exhibit area and is completely self-sufficient creating it’s own power and treating is own waste.  The current exhibition tells the story of the mills history over the last two hundred years.

Blake Dean a little further up the valley from Hardcastle Crags towards Colne was the site of a narrow gauge railway built to service the building of the reservoirs above the site.  A vast wooden trestle bridge used to cross the valley all that remains now though are the stone foundations.  The bridge was sold at auction and dismantled for reclamation in 1912. The main reason for visiting this area though is the beauty of the countryside and the network of paths through the valley.

Hardcastle Crags
Gibson Mill


The start of our Hardcastle Crags walk is at the Blake dean scout hut on Widdop Road (HX7 7AT). Although there are several other Carparks from where you can access the valley.  Clough Hole car park (HX7 7AZ) is the closest to the mill itself.  You could also start from the other send of the valley close to Hebden Bridge (HX7 7AW) but for the walk described below this starting point would not be practical.

Where to stay

If your planning to make a weekend of it or may be a little longer there are plenty of accommodation options for all budgets.  Campsites, B&B’s, Pubs with rooms and the odd luxury Hotel. Click Here for some options

Hardcastle Crags
Autumnal Colours

The Walk

This five mile circular walk, one of many you can do in the valley, takes in some of the most beautiful vistas on both sides of the river. There is a very short section at the end of the walk on the road. The rest of the walk is on made up footpaths through the woods.  It is a quite flat route, despite that good footwear should be used as it can get a little muddy in places especially if there has been recent rain.  The woods are spectacular in the autumn having said that this is a great walk for any season.
OS Map

Map of the Hardcastle Crags & Blake Dean route. If the download file for gps option does not work then just right click on the link and choose the save as option.

Download file for GPS
Gate At the start Hardcastle Crags
Gate At the start
Step One

Park on the road as near to the bridge as you can.  It can be quite difficult to get a spot at busy times.  Look for the gate just at the side of the bridge.  Continue to follow the path you will reach a small wooden bridge cross this then take the steps up the side of the hill.  Looking down from here as you gain height you will be able to see the grassy area between the two rivers.  This is a great place to sit and relax with a picnic and the kids can paddle if you have any with you.

Step Two

At the top of the stepped path the ground will level out onto a wide grassy pathway.  This is the route the old railway took believe it or not.  If you look down into the valley you can see the stone built pillars the wooden bridge was built on. Ignoring the signed path that turns off left continue over the stile and through rough ground until you reach a gap in the wall.

Hardcastle Crags
Over the stile
Through the trees Hardcastle Crags
Through the trees
Step Three

Through the hole in the wall and we enter a wooded area. The path initially goes slightly right and down hill but then turns left a little and uphill.  Keep to the left had side of the path and continue slightly upwards until you reach another wall with a gap.  Go through this then follow the wall.  You will pass by the front of a house.

Step Four

Just past the house the path turns into a track through the woods. Follow the track.  This is a very beautiful part of the walk at any time of year.

Wooded track
Wooded track
Hardcastle Crags
Right turn after the bridge
Step Five

You will reach a point on the track where the path passes over a stream on a bridge with wooden sides.  We turn off the track here just after the bridge on the right hand side.  Follow the path down to another bridge over the river keep left past the stone building.  This path follows the river crossing several wooden bridges and after a good walk brings you to the Gibson Mill complex.

Step Six

Here there are toilets a cafe picnic area and stepping stones over the river.  If you follow the road to the back of the mill you can walk round the old mill pond and get some great shots of the mill reflected in the water.  There are stepping stones here to get across but they are in poor repair.  A better option is to retrace you steps.

Gibson mill
Gibson mill
Keep Left Hardcastle Crags
Keep left
Step Seven

We retrace our steps now back down the side of the river past the upper mill pond until we come to a fork in the path with a board explaining why they are removing some of the mature trees.  Follow the left hand branch. This path takes you up to the top of the valley and back onto the route of the old railway line.  Follow the path through the trees when the trees open up you can see across the valley and below the path we were on earlier.

Step Eight

Eventually you will emerge from the woods back onto open ground.  Go straight ahead here onto a newer path that bypasses most of the road walk. The route follows the road but just underneath.  We pop out through a stile and walk the road back down to the starting point. Thats us done on this route but hopefully you have your picnic and you can go back down to the stream and enjoy being outdoors.

Blake Dean
Straight ahead
Weaving Shed Cafe Hardcastle Crags
Weaving Shed Cafe
The Emmott Arms
The Emmott Arms
Picnic Spot Hardcastle Crags
Picnic Spot


If you fancy a bite to eat and a drink you can drop into the cafe at Gibson mill. A good option is a picnic.  There are plenty of places to sit and relax.  My favourite is just at the start of the walk on grassy ground between the two rivers.

What next

There are plenty more walking routes to explore within the Blake Dean & Hardcastle Crags area or take a walk into Hebden Bridge.  If you’re staying a little longer Check out our Pendle Hill walk about thirty minutes away.  Howarth is quite close by with it’s heritage trains, quaint streets and Bronte connections. As is Wycoller country park.


Walking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. The information in this post is provided free of charge and is only provided as a guide; it is each walker’s responsibility to check it and navigate using a map.

Booking resources for your trip to Hardcastle Crags


You can compare cheap flights on the Expedia platform or here on the Aviasales website.  Both will give you a good idea of how much its going to cost you to get to your chosen destination.


We have always tended to use having said that if your on a tight budget another good site to try as a comparison is Hostelworld, If your looking to compare different sites you can do that on Hotellook, we tend to look on here first to make sure we are getting the best deal.

Tours & Tickets

You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site.  Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.

For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.

Some of the links on this page contain affiliate marketing links, which means we may get paid commission on sales of those products or services we write about. You will never be charged a fee for shopping through one of our affiliate links. You may even get a discounted rate and we will make a small commission. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships.

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