11 reasons to visit the real Happy Valley – Hebden Bridge

The picturesque market town in the Yorkshire Pennines is home to Bohemian cafés and festivals as well as the gritty police drama


Happy Valley comes to an end tonight. You probably won’t spend much of the last episode cooing over Hebden Bridge, which is a shame because it’s well worth a visit. Here’s why…


1. See picturesque picture above: old coaching inns, Victorian chapels and double-decker stone houses cascade down the hillside to the River Calder. If only Catherine had more time to enjoy the view.

2. You won’t find a Costa or a Starbucks. You will find independent butchers, bakers, grocers, a bookshop, a record shop, an antiques shop, a comic shop, a jewellery shop, an arthouse cinema, theatre, markets, quirky cafés galore and a Bohemian vibe. We’re not sure if there’s a candlestick maker.

3. There are dozens of festivals including a burlesque festival, a folk roots festival and a vintage car rally.

4. There are several trains an hour from Manchester, Leeds and Lancashire, and you chug into the handsome, Grade II listed station where you’ll find a historic exhibition in the waiting room and an independent café, naturally.

1845 lithograph by A F Tait showing Hebden Bridge Station on the Manchester & Leeds Railway. 

5. The narrow packhorse bridge that gives the town its name recently celebrated its 500th birthday.

6. There are 10 pubs in the town centre. Canal-side seating? Check. Ancient inn with roaring fire? Check. Sophisticated wine bar? Check. 

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7. The Yorkshire Pennines’s moors and magnificent views are only a walk away.

8. There are “wavy steps” onto the Hebden Water where you can feed the ducks.

9. Cyclists can whizz along the roads pretending they’re in the Tour de Yorkshire. The first one pedalled through last May. Mountain bikers should brave the Hilly Hebden trail, which includes a 230m technical descent. 

The Tour of Britain passes over the Pennines into Hebden Bridge on September 2nd, 2004 

10. Happy Valley Pride is about to launch. Four residents were horrified by a piece of homophobic graffiti last summer and decided to set up a not-for-profit organisation celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer life in Calderdale. Happy Valley writer Sally Wainwright will be cutting the ribbon on Saturday and unveiling an interactive artwork made out of the graffiti.

11. Did we mention that you can feed the ducks?

For more information, visit: hebdenbridge.co.uk

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