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Heading Home to Hebden Bridge

sunny 16 °C
View Euro trip 2013 on travellinglise's travel map.

"I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth." - From Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Another trip down memory lane for me today, it was off to where I grew up, Hebden Bridge. I lived here from aged 4 - 7 before I emigrated out to Australia. It was always a cute village nestled in a valley in the Yorkshire moors, but it is even more of tourist point now, as it has become a Mecca for luxury B&Bs and yuppy hippies. Still, I recognised lots as I walked around, managing to navigate us by memory to my old schools and the park and canal. On a lovely sunny day you remember how beautiful it was to live here, you can almost forget the unforgiving winds and snow of a Yorkshire winter (almost)! Plus it was lovely of them to name a road after us when we left :p


Foodie moment

After a strenuous hike up the hill to the village of Heptonstall we felt we deserved a good old English pub lunch. The home made burger and cheese and onion pasty well and truly hit the spot (and the waistline!)


Cultural moment

In the middle of the village of Hebden Bridge stands the 'White Swan' pub. My parents and aunt have fond memories of here, whether sitting in the sun in the beer garden, or having a quick pint before picking me up from school! As I left Hebden Bridge when I was 8, my memories of the White Swan are slightly different, but with its river front location directly opposite the bridge that the village is named for, it still factors high in my memories of living in Hebden Bridge. Being a sunny day Mark and I had to pop in for a drink in the beer garden, and whilst ordering our pints we met the landlady who had been serving there for 31 years. A tiny lady who could barely see over the bar, she started off by insulting us as we walked through the door, but once she found out I grew up in the town she wanted to know where. I explained the location of my old house as best I could by memory, and she started to say how that house had been really let down by its current occupants who put their washing out all over the front yard. I was pretty sure she hadn't followed my directions, and was talking about a different house, but later when we visited the house ourselves we found out she had been exactly right on the location, and the washing lines everywhere!! I guess after 30 years running a local pub you get to know your village very well!


Wow moment

Hebden Bridge is a 500 year old town sloping down the side of the Pennine hills. It was originally a mill town creating wool and woollen goods, but soon became a magnet for a motley mixture of artists, writers, photographers, musicians, alternative practitioners, teachers and green and New Age activists. The Bronte sisters wrote their famous novels just a few miles away in Haworth, adding to the literary history of the area. This bohemian side to the town is still very much present today, and as you walk around the cafes and shops this is made obvious, perhaps the 'hipster' element is a little more upmarket (yuppy!) now though in comparison to the 70s and 80s. A canal with working locks runs through the middle of the town, with colourful barges travelling up and down, unfortunately the locks didn't open while we were there.


Travelling straight uphill by foot from Hebden Bridge you can walk up to Heptonstall. This is the setting for Emily Bronte's famous novel 'Wuthering Heights', so you can imagine the dark, foggy, windy and rainy hills and plains, luckily for us it was a sunny calm day! The views down to Hebden Bridge are beautiful, and the tiny town itself has windy, cobbled streets. The main attraction in Heptonstall is the huge old ruined cathedral and surrounding graveyard.


What we learnt today

The graveyard at the old church in Heptonstall is approximately 800 years old. Walking around reading the old stones is a fascinating look at history; identifying times of mass illness, the change from hand carved headstones and the stories behind some of the famous people buried there. It is said that there are over 10,000 bodies buried there. One indication of how crowded it is is seen by the re-use of gravestones. There are inscriptions on both sides of some of the stones with one set of inscriptions facing downwards. The most well known person buried there is the American poet Sylvia Plath, who famously suffered from depression and eventually committed suicide. She is buried here as she moved here with her husband and children later in in her life. There is also the grave of David Hartley, who was the leader of a very successful counterfeit gang called the 'Cragg Vale Coiners'. After driving the British economy into disarray, he was eventually caught and hung, before being buried in Heptonstall.


In Heptonstall stands two churches, both in the same churchyard, one in ruins and the other one still very much in use. There are only a handful of Churches in England that can boast of having two churches built in the same grounds, and one of them is Westminster Abbey. The old cathedral was destroyed in a storm in 1847, but luckily wasn't demolished when the new church was built as its a great place to explore.


Posted by travellinglise 06:29 Archived in England Tagged hebden_bridge heptonstall

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