A family walk to explore the riverside at Hardcastle Crags

This walk is perfect for little legs who enjoy exploring woodland, climbing and balancing! Jess loved it (despite a mishap in the stream!) and it’s perfectly placed for a stop in Hebden Bridge for a cheeky cake stop!

Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardcastle-crags

Distance: It’s a mile to the Mill from the car park on the Estate path, but in total my tracker recorded 4.5km.

Route: The Tree Trail on this map https://nt.global.ssl.fastly.net/documents/maps/1431729757435-hardcastle-crags.pdf, although we continued along the river path a little longer than suggested on here. We didn’t visit the crags themselves on this trip, but they’re about ten minutes further on past the mill if you fancy it.

Access: Only the main Estate path is suitable for buggies, so don’t try it if you follow this route.

Facilities: Cafe at the mill, also toilets (they’re not great though). Benches are dotted along the path and there’s a picnic area near the mill. There’s no play area but if you stop off in Hebden Bridge after the walk there’s a decent sized one near the canal. Shame there’s nothing at the main car park.

Parking: We parked at Midgehole car park, when we arrived we found a space no problem, but by the time we left it was pretty busy with some tight turns after dubious parking. There’s a smaller car park (Clough Hole) closer to the mill, but it looks a steep path down.

We set off along the estate path before cutting down towards the river when we saw a track. Along the path there was loads to keep Jess entertained, although perhaps most of her fun came from finding big sticks to hit together and make lots of noise! The tree trail has signs in front of a variety of trees for you to learn as you go. We collected different leaves to see if we could tell what they were.

There’s a great spot to cross the river on stepping stones, nice big ones that meant I could go across with Jess holding her hand as I went. So we went backwards and forwards no problem.

Unfortunately the paddling in the water after proved a problem. Cries of ‘not too deep Jess’ were to no avail as Jess went a step too far for her ankle wellies and promptly ended up sitting in the water. Thankfully the sun was out today, so despite her looking like she’d wet herself, and having totally sodden feet, she was quite happy continuing along the path herself (that’s not to say there wasn’t tears when she first came out!!). I suppose that just shows how engaged she was in her surroundings!!!

At the mill there’s a nice but busy cafe, we skipped this to take advantage of the spring sunshine at the picnic area. It overlooks more stepping stones and you can see the path at the other side, so definitely a good people watching spot.

Jess is barefoot on this picture as we unsuccessfully tried to dry out her wellies and socks! Rather than making her put back on cold wet things we returned to the car park by the estate path, with Jess on her daddy’s shoulders and some fleecy mittens on her feet to keep them warm. 🤣 It’s a pleasant enough path, just not quite as fun as the river path.

To finish our trip out we stopped off at Hebden Bridge for a cuppa and cake on the canal and a little play in the park (decent size but super busy). It’s a lovely place to spend a few hours, next time I’d probably try going on a less busy day to find a bit more peace!

Rachel xxx

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