Pennine Way Loop Launch
Sunday, 26 April 2015
The Launch of the Loop on Saturday by Hebden Bridge Walkers Action was a huge success. The group was helped by the Calderdale Ramblers and group supporters in the stewarding of the event. The route has been signposted in both directions North and South, with information boards at key points.
CROWS (community rights of way service) have upgraded all the footpaths along the way. The day was chosen to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Pennine Way.
Over 200 people through the day walked from the Station to Swillington, joining the Pennine Way then heading to Beaumont Clough at the start of the Loop. Then they came down through Horsehold to Hebden Bridge.
People stopped on the way to appreciate the home made ice cream at Old Chamber and on arriving in Hebden they were greeted by Calder Valley Voices singing a specially commissioned song about the Pennine Way. Thanks to Helen Yeoman the singing workshop leader for putting in such an effort to compose the song, then teach it to the choir on the morning of the Launch. Dave Brooks from Hebden Bridge hostel said 'What a great way to greet people as they come into Hebden Bridge'. Dave was hosting his 50th birthday party on the day and he had invited friends from far and wide who loved it.
It was originally Dave's idea to create the Loop because he felt more people should be encouraged to leave the Pennine Way to come in to Hebden to stay or to stock up. They might be so taken with the town that they would want to come back and stay longer to appreciate our hundreds of miles of glorious footpaths.
After a break for lunch and a look at the photos of Hebden Bridge in the 60s in the shops on Crown Street, all met at the Packhorse Bridge to walk up to Heptonstall by way of the Cuckoo Steps and Hellhole Rocks.
At Heptonstall, in Weavers Square, there was a special version of the Pace Egg Play, normally only performed on Good Friday. During the performance, the Heptonstall Players made several references to the Pennine Way to make people feel at home.
The Peace Artistes band then led the walkers out of Heptonstall towards Hebble Hole, the end of the Loop as it rejoins the Pennine Way. Their music had people dancing and laughing as they proceeded through the cobbled streets of Heptonstall, a great atmosphere. John Dunford, the current Chair of HBWA and a resident of Heptonstall said, 'What a smashing advertisement for the village', as he rattled his bucket to collect money for the group.
The event had been well advertised both locally and nationally, including a full page spread in the Times Weekend Magazine. This meant that walkers came from all over England to attend the event. There were people there from Bromley and Kent Ramblers, Tyneside Ramblers, North Yorks Fell Running Club, Manchester and Salford Ramblers, Manchester weekend walkers as well as more local groups from Blackburn and Kirklees and our own Calderdale walking groups.
Walkers from the Manchester Ramblers were so impressed by the area that they were anxious to stock up on walking books of the area to return. One said, 'I didn't realise Hebden Bridge was only a 40 minute train ride from Manchester'.
Everyone who came said what a great day they had had. The weather was a bit mixed but it stayed fine enough in patches not to spoil the day.
For more information on the work of HBWA look on the HBWA website or for more info about the Loop
Will Sutcliffe, of Hebden Bridge, was for many years the Footpath Officer of Calderdale Ramblers. Now aged 89 his memory of events remain very clear. He was able to attend the opening of the launch of the Hebden Bridge Loop where he was able to meet old friends and acquaintances. Listen to Will talking to Richard Stead about his memories of the early days of the Pennine Way.
Below are some photos from the day.