Well, that’s what it felt like here in the Calder Valley yesterday! We awoke to sunshine and gorgeous views across the valley, whilst the mercury in the Thermometer crept up into double figures. As Dawn is still on holiday we decided to make the most of the conditions and head out for a hike over to Mytholmroyd and nearby Cragg Vale. After 6 days down South where most of our time was spent doing an impression of battery hens we were both keen to get out and get some exercise.
There’s a fantastic range of walks around the valley both on and off-road (depending on the conditions). We began by dropping down from our abode on the side of the valley, heading through Sowerby Bridge, then walking up the hill to Sowerby itself. It’s a steady climb of 387 ft in 1.1 miles. At the Church Stile Inn pub we swung right to head down Pinfold Lane, which gives some fantastic views across the valley, as these pictures show.
From Pinfold lane we dropped down a narrow road, losing 300ft to reach the little hamlet of Boulderstones before gaining a last bit of height, following the railway to reach Luddendenfoot, where there’s a bridge across the river Calder, but we cut right through a little industrial estate built on the site of the old railway station to walk along the Pennine cycleway which is sandwiched between the railway and the River Calder. It’s a sheltered, tree lined avenue which we followed all the way to Mytholmroyd.
It was along this stretch that we encountered one of my real hates – lazy, anti-social dog owners who also believe there’s such a thing as the ‘poo fairy’! Why else would you bag up your dog’s mess – then hang it up in a bloody tree? Who the hell do you think is going to remove it for you?
The tree cover gives way at the tiny hamlet of Brearley, before the Pennine way crosses over the railway and enters Mytholmroyd through dense woodland which covers the site of old railway sidings which were closed and torn up in the 1970s. Before then they were used as a staging post for the coal trains that used to cross the Pennines taking coal for export via Liverpool. Now they’re part of the Calder Greenway.
This part of the route brings you out right next to Mytholmroyd railway station. In fact you have to walk down one of the exit ramps to reach the village. Swinging left on the main road we walked crossed Cragg Brook which is the site of some major flood relief works. This whole area suffered terribly In the Boxing Day floods of 2015.
Once you cross over the brook it’s a 1.4 mile 535ft climb to reach the Robin Hood pub, our ultimate destination. It’s a fantastic community owned pub with a great selection of real ales, gins and whisky – and some excellent home-cooked food. We were too early to eat so we stayed for a drink and a chat with a few locals before heading back down the hill to our next port of call, the Shoulder of Mutton pub opposite the railway station where we stopped for a bite to eat. The Shoulder was closed for many months due to the floods but it’s since been refurbished and serves a good selection of real ales as well as food. As the pair of us had given up meat for Lent I made up for it by choosing the roast pork loin with Yorkshire pudding and veg – not bad at all for £8.95! The service was fast and efficient and the food tasty.
We worked off our meals by strolling the 3.5miles back to Sowerby Bridge along the Rochdale canal. This isn’t the best stretch of the towpath as it’s pitted and full of puddles as far as Luddenden Foot. That said, part of it is being repaired and resurfaced at the moment. Despite the puddles, it was a lovely amble. Daffodils added a vibrant splash of colour and the many trees along the route are beginning to burst into life.
Back in Sowerby we popped into the Hogshead Brew House for a drink to celebrate as our Fitbits told us we’d passed the 30,000 footstep mark. The Hogshead brews its own range of beers and I chose a new one from their range, a 5.5% IPA which is pretty good.
Afterwards we made our last climb out of the village to home, adding another 570ft ascent to the list. All in all, not a bad days exercise!