Happy Valley

There are fabulous cycling opportunities in the landscape of the BBC’s hit crime drama. Jonathan Manning sets out on this countryside ride from Hebden Bridge Club Campsite.

The beautiful West Yorkshire countryside around Hebden Bridge has been back in the spotlight recently, thanks to its role as the backdrop to the wildly successful Happy Valley drama series.

In real-life this is the Calder Valley (or ‘Upper Calder Valley’, centred on the River Calder and also incorporating the towns of Todmorden, Mytholmroyd, Luddendenfoot and Sowerby Bridge. (Despite its name, the Club site is actually nearer to Mytholmroyd, although Hebden Bridge itself is just over two miles away.) 

Fans of the BBC show will spot familiar landscapes along this ride, as well as buildings that share the same strong stone architecture. Happily, there’s no sign of villainous Tommy Lee Royce on the route, but there are several ‘murderous’ ascents. The reward for these lung-busting or battery-draining climbs is a series of spectacular views, starting with the steep-sided, wooded valley of Cragg Brook, and opening across moorland to Stoodley Pike Monument.

The lovely Craggies Farm Shop and café appears early in the ride – too early for you to be genuinely hungry or thirsty, but a wonderful place to stop, with dreamy views over the moors and a fine full English breakfast that would make any further uphill pedalling very difficult indeed.

The highest points of the route offer stupendous panoramas, with a mix of drystone walls, crashing streams, and grazing pasture. The notion that Halifax, Huddersfield and Rochdale sit just over the horizon seems preposterous – this feels like wild, remote countryside.

It’s a popular area with cyclists, but not for the faint-hearted given the challenge of the climbs – check your legs, your brakes and your e-bike’s batteries before attempting this ride.

You can download this route from our dedicated Strava page here.


1 From the Hebden Bridge Club Campsite turn right and head uphill along the B6138 for 4km.

2 4km – turn left along Sykes Gate, signposted to Sowerby and Little Valley Brewery. Keep going for another 4km. About 1km after passing Aarons Campsite on the left, look out for a turn on the right (watch your speed – it is easy to whizz past).

3 8.3km – turn right along Mirey Lane, and when the road forks by a stone wall, take the right fork towards a short terrace of houses and continue to reach a T-junction.

4 9.2km – turn right at the T-junction along Red Brink Lane, and continue climbing for 1km, to reach a sharp turn on the left, by a WYCR cycling sign and opposite Sunny View Farm. Turn left here, along Toot Hill Lane, and stick to the right-hand lane, descending until you reach a T-junction opposite Ogden Farm.

5 10.9km – turn right at the T-junction and continue into Cotton Stones, passing the church on your left, then the Alma Inn, before climbing out of the village. Near the top of the climb, turn left at the bus stop along Cross Wells Road and continue into Soyland.

6 14.3km – in Soyland, turn left along Foxen Lane and descend sharply, crossing a stream, before climbing a monstrous ascent into Mill Bank. Reach a T-junction at the top of the climb.

7 15.5km – turn left at the T-junction and in 50m turn right along Birks Lane. Follow this road all the way to Sowerby to reach a T-junction opposite St Peter’s Church.

8 17.7km – turn left here to reach another T-junction almost immediately. Turn right and, in 100m, turn left by the Church Stile Inn along Pinfold Lane. Stay on this road for almost 5km, where it eventually becomes a steep descent into Mytholmroyd, to reach a T-junction.

9 22.3km – turn left at the T-junction onto the B6138. Cycle for just over 1km to return to the Club campsite on the right-hand-side of the road.

About the route

Hebden Bridge Club Campsite
  • Start/finish: Hebden Bridge Club Campsite, Cragg Road, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge HX7 5RU
  • Distance: 23.5km /14.6 miles 
  • Time: 2½ hours 
  • Suitable for: Fit cyclists and e-bike riders. This is an exceptionally hilly ride with some steep ascents 
  • Terrain: Asphalt all the way 
  • Landscape: Deep-sided woodland valleys, moorland, drystone walls and rough grazing 
  • Refreshments: Craggies Farm Shop & Café; Alma Inn, Cotton Stone; Church Stile Inn, Sowerby

About the author

Family of three outside their caravan on a sunny day

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