Most of us enjoy the Christmas break; perhaps over-indulging a little on mince pies, roast potatoes and mulled wine.
Whilst the rest is welcomed and nibbles aplenty, you might find yourself feeling rather sluggish, even lethargic during the holidays. A great way to keep feeling refreshed is to wrap up in warm clothes and take off for short, brisk strolls; enjoying the cold air and the bright, winter sunlight; thus rendering the return home for yet another cup of tea and slice of cake all the better.
I’ve completed a lot of walks this year; and here are my suggestions for places to take short strolls between the festive activities, either to walk off the Christmas lunch or prepare yourself for a feast upon your return home. None of these suggested walks will take more than 3 hours, most only an hour or so; depending on your pace. Of course, they can always be extended.
Beginning from Hebden Bridge; there are a myriad paths leading you towards Hardcastle Crags and through the woodland towards Gibson Mill. Beautiful all year round, this relatively quick and easy route is perfect to prepare you for the next batch of mince pies! With various routes through the woods; the return need not just be re-tracing your steps.
A wonderful, bracing winter walk takes you onto the moorland around Ogden Reservoir. Many reservoir pathways can be followed, but if you cross the dam and venture up the bridleway, passing the golf course and through two metal gates; a right turning takes you beneath the wind turbines returning you to a weir where a choice of paths; either the bridleway above the clough, or alongside the stream, take you back to the start where even in depths of winter you’re likely to encounter an ice cream van!
A favourite spot of mine throughout the year; walks from Ripponden can be as long or short as you desire. A wonderful post-lunch meander takes you along the River Ryburn, up to Ryburn Reservoir and can be extended to circle Baitings Reservoir through the pretty woodland. If feeling adventurous, from Ripponden you can climb up to Manshead End and Great Manshead Hill, with spectacular views towards Cragg Vale nestling beneath and Stoodley Pike, sitting proudly atop the opposite hillside.
Sitting above Sowerby Bridge; Norland Moor can be walked from the town; or you can park opposite the Moorcock Inn to climb up to this winter wonderland; with a variety of pathways across this delightful patch of land offering beautiful views. On climbing to the moor, you can turn right to follow the Calderdale Way until it descends close to the caravan park. You can then turn left to climb back onto the moorland, following a stone wall path in a straight line until the main track turns right; here you can turn left, passing Vicar’s lot, crossing the Calderdale Way and then returning along the moorland edge past a series of disused quarries.
For me, Stoodley Pike symbolizes the beauty of Calderdale and its dramatic landscape. Expect stunning views, a lot of weather [good or bad!] and of course, many clearly way-marked pathways so it is hard to lose your way. A good, energetic climb will certainly burn off a few calories! You can climb from Hebden Bridge, or for a longer walk, from Mytholmroyd. Expect boggy moorland on the tops!
And do not forget, the many canal towpaths and reservoirs that we have in Calderdale are lovely for gentle strolls; and as said before, in Calderdale residents are lucky that many great paths can quickly lead you from your doorstep to the wilderness.
These suggested places can be start-points for longer walks should you fancy it, and if you consult published walks by Best Foot Forward throughout the year online, you can always undertake a longer route. Just beware that easily traversable paths in summer might not be so user-friendly in the winter! The Ramblers are also holding their Festival of Winter Walks; with lead routes by experienced ramblers across West Yorkshire and beyond; simply consult the Ramblers website to find a walk that suits you. If not a member, you are welcome to attend several walks; but this valuable charity always welcomes new members, so perhaps if you enjoy these walks; becoming a member is a route to a brand-new hobby for the New Year.
Christmas is a wonderful time to indulge, so why not treat yourself to some short but sweet walks during the holidays? The more walking you do, the more you can enjoy those Christmas nibbles because you’ve earned them! And if you decide to walk more next year, there are many local groups, especially the Calderdale Ramblers, who walk almost every weekend and are welcoming to newcomers of all abilities.
Merry Christmas and Happy Rambling!