Monday, June 10, 2013

UK2013: Hebden Bridge

Diane wanted to show me around her home town of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, a place I have long been wanting to discover. She keeps telling me about various aspects of the place and it always sounded intriguing.

We started by taking a walk up the hill behind her house, from which you can look over the town. It's nestled in a valley amongst several hills, as I believe many towns in Yorkshire are. It's more sheltered down there - the Yorkshire moors on the hilltops are quite bleak and exposed to weather, by comparison.

Here's the track we were walking up. There's a house at the top, although we didn't go that far. I love the dark coloured dry stone walls that were everywhere.

Here's the gate that is just visible in the previous picture. Judging by the fabulous and weatherbeaten stone pillars, it's been here a while. A footpath runs down the hill.

Here's the footpath coming from the other direction, with sun glistening on the damp ground. One of the things I miss most about the UK is the extensive network of footpaths. They just don't exist in Texas; it's all private land here; fenced off and with 'no trespassing' notices everywhere. Look at this hillside; you can see the antiquity of the landscape, and that pathway has been trodden into the hillside for centuries.

Once I tore my eyes from the land, I looked out over the houses below, and this is part of what I saw - Hebden Bridge. You can just see some snow on the hill at the top. There's at least two tall mill chimneys in this shot - one up the hill in the distance; one in the middle of town. There were plenty more but they're out of shot.

You can see the whole view in this panorama. Click on the image to make it bigger.

We descended the hill again to go into town. Here's a piece of wall that we walked alongside. Look at the stones here, there's at least three different kinds of moss on them. Everything is very damp and well watered. We were lucky with the weather on this day - there was high overcast and a hint of sun, although it was cold. Yorkshire - like the rest of the UK - has had plenty of rain and snow this winter and it didn't look like ending any time soon.

Down in the valley, there is a river and a canal. Here's some old mill buildings next to the canal. Most are not used as mills any more but house various kinds of business. The water was quite still (apart from that duck landing on the right) as it was relatively early in the morning.

Resident geese come to see if we have any bread.

Here's a view from a little further on, looking back across the first set of lock gates. You can see the water level drops here; the lock is currently at the lower level.

Here's the entire lock. Boats can come and raise or lower the water level in order to pass.

Some of the boats in question. Most of these seemed to be residents as far as I could tell, rather than holiday rentals. Another mill sits in the background.

I liked this one: 'Marge the Barge' :-)

The war memorial is kept in good order. Even though we're in March here, the poppy wreaths look like they were placed here yesterday. Behind here is a park. There are football fields and a kids' playground in here; it was being used by plenty of folk.

This is the Bridge, for which Hebden Bridge is named. It sits in the centre of town, surrounded by pretty squares and shops and pubs.

Amongst the rocks in front of the leftmost arch in the picture above, people have been hard at work piling them up into balanced stacks. There were several; here's two of them. How they stay balanced beats me!

I told you this area had some antiquity to it. This bridge was already 266 years old when America was founded.

They like to jam houses in wherever they can on these hillsides. Building shapes become fitted to their surroundings. That is a cobbled street on the left. The sign reads 'unsuitable for motor vehicles'. Horses and carts must have been fun up and down here, especially in winter.

Here's a Millennium Clock on the side of a building opposite the town hall. The outer rings rotate around the clock face.

This is the Town Hall/visitor centre. This face of the building is original but the rest has been rebuilt and restored; it's quite modern behind here. The river is to the left of the building; the small reddish bit is the end of a bridge.

This chair is inside the building. I thought it was really cool. In case you can't tell, that is an Ordnance Survey map of Hebden Bridge. Hebden itself is on the seat of the chair. There are loudspeakers built in to the high wings of the chair; perhaps you can take an audio tour.

Here's some more houses. There are many rows of terraced houses like this lining the hillsides. Very typical Yorkshire stone.

Diane belongs to an Archery club and we went up to their shooting field to see what was going on. They have a mixture of recurve and compound bows in the club. We spoke to some of the members before wandering up the path alongside the river.

The field is contained within these living hedgerows - I forget what kind of tree/bush these are made from, but they are woven into the hedge forms while the plant is growing. It's an old local technique that is being preserved.

Back into town; following the river. Here's a wier.

Part of the river is diverted into what is now a gift shop and cafe, but used to be a mill. This water wheel inside turns fairly rapidly.
We watched it for a while over a cup of tea.

Heading back towards the Bridge again, we passed through this square which has an excellent sundial. Too bad there wasn't any direct sun to see it in action, but it's a beautiful piece.

Back through town towards the canal. Next to the tow path, we have these houses, and yet another chimney. I'd like to know what went on here; are there underground chambers below the chimney?

More canal boats. The bridge and the curves of the tow path caught my eye.

A quick diversion over the river and back...

Before ending up in the pub, for a really quite splendid Sunday lunch :-)

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