This is definitely a little gem of a ramble on a nice sunny day! You won’t be disappointed by the variety of features the Harden Valley has to offer: woods, waterfalls, viaduct, moors and of course the views! Right in the heart of the Brontë Country, the Harden Beck is a small affluent of the Aire River but the valley it has created over the geological time is quite something.
Essential info about the walk
Start: Bingley Railway Station
Difficulty: Hard – 5 hours – 10.7 Miles
Toilets: Unfortunately, there are no attended public toilets on this walk. The one on Myrtle Place (by the market square) in Bingley is currently being refurbished.
Refreshments: there are many shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs in town but below are specifics businesses which we recommend if you go on this walk. Feel free to visit their site and contact them.
A Garden & Leisure Centre on Harden Lane hosting a café serving good comforting food.
A pub in Cullingworth conveniently located right in the middle of the walk. Also home to the Old Spot Brewery, so worth a detour for a deserving pint of ale!
The Ivy Kitchen
A coffee shop near Coppice Pond in St Ives Estate
Where to start?
Bingley Railway Station
Grid Reference SE 108 391
1. Railway Station to Harden Beck.
Starting at Bingley Railway Station, you will need to make your way where the Harden Beck joins the River Aire. So, first go to Market Square via the alley way on the side on Foundry Hill bar. Cross Main Street and go towards Bingley Arts Centre. To its left is a street called Myrtle Place leading towards Myrtle Grove and the entrance of Myrtle Park. You should see Bingley Pool on the right and the new Lidl supermarket on the left. Once in Myrtle Park, keep the path going left after the cenotaph and the playground and go down towards the river. Cross the bridge over the River Aire, follow the alley along the allotments and once at the end turn right towards an old hamlet. There you will find the old pack horse bridge over Harden Beck.
2. From Harden beck to Harden Lane
Cross the bridge and go up Beck Lane up until you see another settlement. Before the first building, you should see a path going left and crossing the beck again. Then you’ll make your way through a golf course – follow the white markings – towards a pine tree plantation (Ruin Bank Wood) on the other side. There is a very steep ascent to start with and then you will arrive at a crossing of paths on Black Hills. Take the path in the middle going up towards the edge of the woodland. There, you will have to follow the Millennium Way path and cross various fields up until you reach Lee Lane, a tarmac road. Take right down Lee Lane up to the entrance of Banktop quarry. On its right, follow a path going down hill. Look for a path sign on the left and a gate. Go through the gate and cross Mytholme Beck on a wooden bridge and follow the path up to a busy road (Harden Lane) which you will need to cross. So be careful!
Note: You should find yourself on the car park of Stephen H. Smith’s Garden & Leisure. They have a great café there and it’s a good location for a small break if you want to.
3. Harden Lane to Hewenden
Go up Harden Lane and turn immediately right after the cottages along Cherry Tree Row – the entrance to the path is by the field gate. Then follow the edge of Crag Wood for a while – you should pass under a huge electric pylon – before taking a path going down the river bank. You should arrive at the entrance of a static caravan park. Go left and follow the river upstream up until the wonderful Goitstock Waterfall – also known as the Harden Waterfall. This is private land, so no swimming unfortunately! The setting is perfect for taking great pictures though. Once you are ready to carry on, make your way above the waterfall and carry on following the river upstream in Goitstock Wood. Eventually you’ll arrive at Hallas Bridge, an old mill now converted into luxury apartments. The gardens are a delight to the eye. You can’t walk through them but you will be skirting the property above the beck before arriving in Hewenden.
4. Hewenden to Cullingworth
At some point in the distance, you should see Hewenden viaduct. However, there is another busy road to cross before the viaduct – Cullingworth Road – so once again take care. You will follow the beck before reaching the viaduct, walk under the arches and then make your way up into the field on the right to reach the top of the viaduct. The views are fantastic! The viaduct is now part of the “Great Northern Railway Trail“, a project to create a long distance traffic-free cycling and walking route through the Brontë Country. Now walk on top of the viaduct towards Cullingworth staying on the path up until you reach Cullingworth Primary School.
5. Crossing through Cullingworth
You should find a path skirting the school on the left which will lead you on a common green with a playground. Make your way across the green and go onto Highfield Terrace and then Station Road.
Note: Once you are there, a detour to The George Hotel, near the church is a must. This pub serves one of the best real ales in the area, the Spot’o Bother! Walk down Station Road up to the pub and come back to the same spot.
Go up Station Road towards the poultry processing factory. Pass the factory and then turn right on what used to be the railway track towards Keighley. However, don’t follow the track strictly as signs will invite you to take a path adjoining the old railway track. Soon, you will be at a junction. Take a right turn and follow the path going down. You will go under a bridge below the old railway track then arrive above a beautiful reservoir. Go all the way down to Ellar Carr Road. At the junction, turn right then left onto a narrow path climbing all the way up towards Ellar Carr Farm. At the end of the path, you will be on the busy Keighley Road.
6. From Keighley Road to Keighley Road
The last leg of the journey will see you go through moorlands before arriving in the St Ives estate above Harden and then Bingley.
Leaving Cullingworth going up on the busy Keighley Road, you will have to walk on tarmac for a little while before turning right on a path leading towards Catstones Moor. The views on that side of the valley are really good, so take your time to appreciate before heading back towards the wooded area of St Ives. Once you’ve passed Catstones Moor, you’ll find yourself on Ryecroft Road. Go up the road and pass the active quarry then turn right. There, a path skirting the quarry will take you onto Harden Moor. There is a crisscross of paths and it can be difficult to keep it’s bearing. So look for the high voltage line and electric pylons in the horizon and go right towards it. You should then find a path following a wall for a while. Then you should be above what is known as “Deep Cliff". Follow the path going left up until you arrive on the Calder Aire Link near a farm known as Ether Glen. Follow this straight lane up until you arrive on Keighley Road.
7. From St Ives estate to Bingley
Opposite is St Ives estate, turn right on Keighley Road. A tall wall runs along the estate, however you will not have to walk on tarmac. Soon you will find a hole in the wall and behind a path runs along the wall. This path will take you to Coppice Pond.
Note: Just after Coppice Pond is the The Ivy Kitchen. Perfect for a break on this long walk!
From there, a last stroll through the estate will take you back in town. You will go through Bettys Wood which has recently been devastated by a fungi disease and where most trees had to be cut down. Then, you will find yourself on Altar Lane leading onto Harden Road and Ireland Bridge. Cross the bridge and turn right onto a path along the River Aire. Finally take a left turn on Riverside Walk going up the bank and joining Queen Street located just behind Bingley Arts Centre. You are now back in town and you can make your way to the Railway Station on Wellington Street.
Have you done this walk yourself? Don’t hesitate to give us some feedback by leaving a comment below!