A Day in Heptonstall


Looking down on Hebden Bridge from the path to Heptonstall

Well, I hadn’t planned to hike UP the incredibly steep hill from my mill to Heptonstall, just DOWN,  but I was, for the first time, thwarted by the bus time-time, so rather than wait for the next one I decided to hike up the hill – and a very rewarding experience it turned out to be with great views, that were not visible on the other path down, known as the Buttress because it was all in the woods. I arrived at the first house in town on the cobbles where Rachel and I had stayed last year. I explored the back alleys and steep stairways connecting the streets and found myself at the Octagonal church, (1764) preached in by John and Charles Wesley, founders of the Methodist movement. I was delighted when I handwritten sign in the door said Open. Inside I found a lovely lady who was ‘doing the flowers’ for a special celebration of the Sunday School (now no longer used). The roof is unsafe and they have a grant of $52,000 but because it’s a Grade 1 listed building it has to be restored by  a plaster and lathe ceiling.


The flower lady in the Octagonal church

Heptonstall’s museum is in the Old School house, founded in 1642 and rebuilt in 1772. I hadn’t even managed to reach the desk before the docent asked,’Can you help me’ I always thought I was meant to say that to the docent! He’d taken on the task of rewriting paragraphs from the Heptonstall Trail brochure for posters that are to be placed around the village at the upcoming festival (which of course was already on my calendar!). I agreed readily so he  made me a cup of tea, showed me his illustration for the site of the cock fighting pit and we discussed how to design and illustrate the plaque for the Mechanics’ Institute. It was the most bizarre experience ever. It was as if we just picked up halfway through a conversation about a project we were working on together. He was incredibly gifted with great ideas and a skillful sketcher, yet he struggled with  reading and spelling skills. he told me the history of the design on the mug – it’s Calder slipware by John Hudson. I wandered around the remains of the old church, took in the ‘new’ church and paid homage to Sylvia Plath. I had lunch in the White Lion Inn and started back down the trail this time taking the REALLY steep trail and stairs down to the village. It’s funny but I just used my sense of direction to get back  to Hebden- down and down and then down.


Tea and a fighting cock


Richard and his artwork













I sat on the Square for half an hour, drinking coffee at the same outdoor cafe that I visited with Rachel last year – great place to people watch. What a difference from mid-week. Now the place was teaming with people, many of whom would have easily fit in in Santa Cruz. I called in at a bakery to order a pastie and a piece of parkin. My server was confused. He thought i was American but then an American wouldn’t have known a pastie from a parkin! Turned out he has an Auntie in . . .Santa Cruz – and off he went to find her address on his cell phone!


Pastie and a parkin

After an hour’s R & R back a’th’ mill I was back in the Square. My host, Chris had told me about some kind of chalk event being put on by the LGBT community in honor of the victims of the Orlando massacre. It turned out to be toddlers and their parents writing messages and drawing on the floor of the square.


The dairy where Rachel and I stayed last year

Back along the canal the sun came out for  few moments and I crossed the bridge to take a look at the over-dwellings opposite my mill. these are basically two houses on top of each


Chalking the Square in memory of the victims of the Orlando massacre

other, the one on top facing the front and the one in the back on the downward slope – such is the steepness of the terrain here. I managed to face-time Sarah and show her my location. After the call was over a guy on a bench asked me all about the service. His daughter lives in Spain so he was eager to know about the service. For the last 20 years he has been a canal boat builder and repairer in Hebden during the summer and then spends the winter months in Andalusia.IMG_5017


My first evening in – writing journals, sorting out the piles of fliers I’ve picked up and, thanks to Brian, finding a place to watch BBC TV programs on my laptop!



My mill


My front door


Evening sun


1 Comment

  1. judith

    Don’t you just love those co-incidences. Like the article in the train paper last year.

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