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A wide view of the Hardcastle Crags landscape showing wooded valleys, hills and fields
Hardcastle Crags | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Railway Trail walk

A varied circular walk through woods, alongside the stream and dams with great views along the higher slopes. Watch out for bluebells in the Spring. Part of this route follow the old railway that was used to build the reservoirs on the tops.

Watch your step

The route is on a stony path which is very uneven in several places. It is necessary to cross a stream using stepping stones which can quickly become unstable or slippery when water levels rise. Parts of the riverside section are likely to be muddy especially after rain, and there are some short inclines which can be slippery underfoot.

Total steps: 9

Total steps: 9

Start point

Gibson Mill, grid ref: SD972298

Step 1

Starting at Gibson Mill, cross the bridge to the left of the Weaving Shed Café and then turn right onto the path alongside the river. Cross the stream using the stepping stones, taking care as these can quickly become unstable or slippery when water levels rise. Carry on and ascend the stone steps to your left.

Step 2

Follow the path which narrows – take care – and curves past the millponds and down some stone steps onto a hard stone section of path. Here, to your left, you will see the first example of our natural flood management interventions – several leaky dams which slow and disrupt the course of water as it runs downhill.

Step 3

The path bends slightly to the left, with some short stepping stones to tackle before you pass several waterfalls and head over a small stone bridge. The path then widens. To your right, you will see another natural flood management intervention – a large tree secured in place over the river. Continue to follow the path, passing a second large fallen tree which spans the width of the river.

Step 4

The route then splits at a fork, with the right path (green waymarker) continuing on to the Crags Constitutional. Head up the left path, following the purple waymarker. You will see a waterfall to your left as you carry on up a short, relatively steep climb. The path levels out as you can see newly-planted trees to your left.

Step 5

Cross a small watercourse, and another that requires the use of a stepping stone, before walking through the middle of a large fallen tree that's been cut to either side of the path. Here begins an ascent up the valley side. To your left you will see a public footpath with some steps leading to a gate, but carry on straight and continue to climb. Follow the path as it gets closer to the boundary wall.

Step 6

The path will eventually split. Take the left, higher path, following the purple waymarker (the right route is quite steep and will shorten the walk considerably, leading back down into the valley). As you walk, the path will overlook the river far below to your right. There is then a short, very steep descent that can easily become slippery – take care.

Step 7

The path winds through trees, many of which are felled and covered in moss, before a long, level section. Descend several sets of steps, first wooden ones and then stone, as the path becomes very narrow and overtaken by tree roots. Climb some steep wooden steps and carry on ahead as the view opens up. You will reach a waymarker which directs you down many steep stairs, towards the stream – going straight ahead will follow a public footpath.

Step 8

Once at the bottom, turn right and follow the course of the river, on a somewhat narrow and uneven path, then head up a few stone steps. You will see a purple waymarker which directs you down a slight left, getting close to the edge of the river. After a narrow section, the path opens back up. Another waymarker is situated close to a large, leaning stone, and directs you up a hill to the right. Continue upwards, using tree roots as footholds if necessary. The path veers left following the valley side, with more views of the river to your left. There are some steep downward steps to negotiate, before another waymarker and another climb.

Step 9

Take the left path when you get to the next waymarker (this is the fork from Step 6). Keep descending until you reach a bridge and a small stone hut. Cross the bridge and then follow the path up a short, steep hill. Turn right at the top, away from the bridge and public footpath sign.The path follows a steady incline, levelling out and then passing through a wide gate. It then joins on to the main track which heads downhill back to Gibson Mill.

End point

Gibson Mill, grid ref: SD972298

Trail map

A map showing the various walking routes around Hardcastle Crags.
A map showing the various walking routes around Hardcastle Crags. | © National Trust/Chris Bryerley

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Get in touch

Gibson Mill, Midgehole Road, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 7AW