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Yorkshire Times
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Caroline Spalding
Features Correspondent
9:00 AM 10th February 2020

Ripponden, Mill Bank And Cotton Stones - The Hidden Gems Of Calderdale To The Curious Walker

An 8.5-9-mile route requiring the OS Explorer OL21 Map, with much of the terrain very wet and muddy at present.

The village of Ripponden is a brilliant starting point for numerous walks in the beautiful district of Calderdale. Originally it was the meeting point of packhorse routes from Elland and Halifax, you can still trace these routes across the moorland to the west into Lancashire.

This route initially follows the dismantled railway line of the former Rishworth branch line from Sowerby Bridge, closed to passengers in 1929 but now a delightful, if muddy, woodland route along the Ryburn Valley floor. Parking is available at Mill Fold car park (HX6 4DF, GR SE 040 197), alternatively there is an hourly bus service from Halifax.

The Woodland Approach to Mill Bank
The Woodland Approach to Mill Bank
You get onto the former railway line by Hanging Stones Lane, waymarked leaving the Calderdale Way which you follow from the church. Under the trees, at a signpost, leave the tarmac lane to take the muddy pathway on your left. Reaching a railway bridge, pass underneath and then follow the path on the left, which descends to a footbridge to then climb back to the main road, opposite Kebroyd Lane. A mill of the same name operated in the woods through which you will shortly pass, employing most of the residents of Mill Bank until the owner was suddenly declared bankrupt in 1902, decimating the livelihood of those who’d relied on the silk and cotton manufacturing industry here.

Carefully cross the road and turn right, walking until a way-marker before the sign for Triangle enters a private road. Climb the steps on t he left and the path continues across an open patch of ground, following way-marker posts. Keep on the defined path and continue ahead between the former gate posts. You enter woodland, the path mirrors the stream gurgling beneath. Passing a manmade waterfall, a relic (one assumes) of the many mills that operated in the area in the nineteenth century, you come to the village of Mill Bank, joining a quiet lane at a bridge.

Cross to join the Calderdale Way as it gently ascends through another woodland. The path continues along tarmac for a short while approaching farmhouses. At the buildings, take the way-marked path right, indicating Alma Lane. Pass between two homes, keeping to the right and you cross fields, with a view of the pub and church of St Mary at Cotton Stones. Keep to the wall and a slight descent brings you to a metal gate. Here turn left along the lane up to meet the Alma Inn.

St Mary's Church
St Mary's Church
Behind the pub, pass its bins to join a way-marked path. Climb few steps on your right (SE 026 216) towards an isolated building, turn right again to descend to a stile, then left along the slope. At the base the path is unclear – worse in summer when all is overgrown. Look for a stile to your right and carefully leap across the streams to reach it. Keep right and follow the fence up to meet the road.

Turn left along the lane, then left again to follow a bridleway which slopes into the dell, crosses a narrow footbridge and climbs to re-join a lane. Turn left, passing Little London Farm. The road bends right but keep ahead along the track; past School Farm. At a field corner to your right (SE 020 219), before the track bends, a path crosses the field diagonally with a gentle ascent; however, there is no way-marker so easily missed. Alas you must also hop over a barbed wire fence halfway up – clearly not a well-used passage.

The local landscape consists of many tree-sloped dells
The local landscape consists of many tree-sloped dells
At the top, in front of a house, there’s a tiny gap in the wall. Turn left, follow the road as it curves, then take the bridleway on your right beside an entrance to a farm driveway. The bridleway ascends gently to a plateau and at a clear junction, bear left. Shortly thereafter, the track splits and you keep right. You see the Christmas Tree farm up ahead and will come to a road above it. Go left along the road for a short while, keep right, then leave by way of a bridleway again on the right (SE 022 210).

At the bottom turn right opposite Macpelah House; the track passes a terrace of cottages and just beyond a gate (right) leading into the Christmas Tree Farm, turn left at another gate (SE 020 206), keeping to the right-hand side of the wall. At the next field corner, bear left diagonally across the field; look out for an indistinct stile, cross the next field, pass a gate beside the stream then climb over the stile on the right. Bear left, keep to the left of the stream and return to the road beyond. Go right here, shortly thereafter a gate on right leads up to meet some houses by way of a wooden gate. Pass between the buildings then left at junction (marked Wells Bottom on map).

At the lane continue straight ahead on a path that has been re-routed to pass to the left of the property, following the fence. At the next lane, turn right then left and at Green Lane follow the clear track opposite/left (Cote Road). Beyond the farm, take another bridleway on the right way marked “Ripponden Old Lane.” On reaching the tarmac road, bear right briefly, then turn left to begin a descent.

Continue downhill via Castle Lane for about 150m, then take path on right, crossing several fields before an obvious turn left to slope to the main road. Opposite a steep lane returns to meet the A672, cross over and take the waymarked riverside path back to the start.

Your feet may well be soaked through, but hopefully this route gives a taste of the many walking possibilities Ripponden has to offer. Calderdale Ramblers will be leading this walk on Sunday 29th March at 10.30am – all are welcome to come along; please see the website for more details: http://ramblersyorkshire.org/walks/

Map images are copyright of Ordnance Survey. Maps can be purchased and downloaded to tablet and phones here:https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/