Do you fancy exploring the stunning South Pennines Park? We’ve got the perfect itinerary for a weekend getaway – or a cheeky midweek trip.
Our series of car-free itineraries will help you get lost in spectacular landscapes, discover hidden gems, and learn more about local heritage across the region…all whilst leaving the car at home.
With 53 railway stations in the South Pennines Park, the region is very well connected. The Calder Valley trainline runs right through the Park and connects the major cities of Manchester, Bradford and Leeds. Along the route is an abundance of things to do and see – including stunning heather moorlands, beautiful canals and cute market towns. So, take your pick of the itineraries below and jump aboard!
Outdoors and Adventure Itinerary (2 days)
First things first, make sure you’re up early and have had your Weetabix, as a full day of adventuring awaits…
Day one, morning: 360 degree views at Blackstone Edge
Your first stop is a trip up to the beautiful Blackstone Edge – a gritstone cliff which provides stunning views of the surrounding Pennine countryside below. It is on the Pennine Way route, and today forms the natural border between Greater Manchester and Yorkshire. The walk up to the summit is paved with gritstone boulders both large and small, providing an opportunity for bouldering…or rockhopping for those looking for a bit of good, simple fun!
To get to Blackstone Edge, hop on a train at Manchester Victoria to Littleborough – this takes about 21 minutes. From Littleborough Square (Stop A), you can get the 587 bus to Halifax, jumping off at Rochdale Road after about 8 minutes. From there it’s about a 20 minute walk up to the summit. For those that had their Weetabix for breakfast, you can skip the bus journey, and walk the 3 miles to the summit from Littleborough station, taking in the scenic views as you go.
After getting to the top and breathing in that fresh Pennine air, make your way back down to Littleborough either by bus or by foot. Wander in to Littleborough’s stone-built town centre with its pretty architectural qualities, and have a little nosey in the independent shops, cafes and bars that make up the town. Time for a spot of lunch in a cosy corner to recharge before you are onto the next adventure!
Day one, afternoon: Trains and Towpaths in Tremendous Tod
Next stop, time to jump on the train at Littleborough station, for a short 9-minute ride to the glorious market town that is Todmorden. From the station, take a short wander onto the Rochdale Canal and take a moment to be awestruck by the ‘Great Wall of Tod’. This huge brick retaining wall supports the railway as it enters Todmorden from Lancashire, and is said to have taken some four million bricks to construct. Walk just 15 minutes along the canal towards Walsden, and you’ll come across another piece of impressive railway heritage – the Gauxholme Viaduct, a Grade II listed, 180-year-old bridge, which spans the Rochdale canal.
Home to the famous Incredible Edible project, now replicated all over the world, this town is known for its warm and friendly community spirit. Take some time to take in Tod – have a wander down its traditional cobbled streets, search the Market Hall stalls for a local delight, visit the only willow weaving shop on the UK high street, or relax in one of the local pubs or restaurants.
Day one, evening: Stargazing in the Pennine Hills
For those that are staying overnight, check out the accommodation offer in Todmorden on the Visit Calderdale website. For the truly adventurous spirit, there’s the option to spend your evening at the nearby Astronomy Centre, exploring the dark skies! The Astronomy Centre is open to the public every Saturday evening from 7.30pm until late throughout the year, and in June, July and August, it’s also open from 3pm till 6pm (except Sundays), for solar viewing and demonstration of the Camera Obscura. You will need to take a taxi up there though, but it’s a short 10-minute journey.
Day two, morning: Heptonstall will take your breath away
It’s day two, and you are back on the train – again taking a short but scenic train ride to Hebden Bridge, famous for its proud, progressive heritage, its welcoming community, music scene and literary history.
Begin your morning with a beautiful walk up to the small village of Heptonstall. From Hebden Bridge this is less than a mile, but it will leave you breathless, both from the uphill climb and the stunning views once you reach the top. From Hebden Bridge centre, walk up The Buttress, a steep cobbled road which was part of an ancient packhorse route. Once in the village take the time to explore the beautiful old weavers cottages, the Methodist church, and Heptonstall Church Ruins. On your way back down, come via Heptonstall Quary – known locally as ‘Hell Hole Rocks’ – a famous destination for grit climbing – look out for people climbing this intimidating crag!
Day two, afternoon: Woodland Walks at Hardcastle Craggs
Grab some lunch in Hebden Bridge, have a browse in the quirky, independent shops, or take a wander down the Rochdale Canal, which is edged by historic mills, colourful barges and beautiful greenery. Once you’re fed, watered and well rested, it’s time for the last stop of your two-day adventure in the South Pennines Park – onto Hardcastle Craggs!
Hardcastle Craggs is a spectacular wooded valley with more than 400 acres of unspoilt woodland and the 19th Century Gibson Mill at its heart. It’s a scenic yet challenging walk following the winding river from Hebden Bridge to Hardcastle Craggs (about 2.8 miles).
Once you arrive there are over 15 miles of footpaths to explore, from family friendly walks in the woods to challenging hikes right at the top of the valley. Take your pick from the different routes here. Take a stop off at the Weaving Shed café, treat yourself to an ice-cream – before heading back down to Hebden Bridge station for your journey all the way home!
For more inspiration and information on places to see and things to do along the Calder Valley train route, check out: the South Pennines Park news page, the Calder Valley Line Community Rail Partnership, Visit Calderdale, and Visit Rochdale.