The sun quickly evaporated the mist that clung to the hillsides surrounding Sowerby Bridge as we set off for a 9.5-mile exploration of the Ryburn Valley, writes Caroline Spalding.
Climbing from Sowerby Bridge railway station; take the path opposite the cafe [SE 062 234], skirt around a bowling green and right beside a white building to ascend under a canopy of trees, past a play area. At the road; take two left turns, up the cobbled Hope Street to the end of the terrace entering a woodland path; right of the metal fence.
Meeting some houses, turn left along the narrow lane then right at the way-marked path [Norland Moor]. Follow the left-hand field edge; note the vaccary wall above; large stone slabs used to keep cattle enclosed on small farms; a custom dating from the 13th century. Walk up to the top left corner of the field; turn right to pass behind the slabs. Follow the way marker through a metal gate keeping to the top of the fields. Eventually meeting a road, turn right then left at the next way-marker. A clear paved path between a fence and wall; keep right when the path splits. Pass beside a house to meet a road; turn left, following Harper Royd Lane, Hob Lane and shortly after The Hobbit Inn [when the road bends]; follow the Calderdale Way [CW] Link Path [East Longley and Moorcock].
Traverse fields and meadows until another road; go right then left above East Longley Farm. Follow the way-marker [Ripponden via Old Bank] through buttercup meadows. Through a gate, go right then left; continuing in the same direction.
At Upper Longley Farm pass through the courtyard [left then right at the way-marked path by a lamppost]. A beautiful path along the edge of woodland and later following a ridge with steep descent right. The route winds through trees to meet a junction; bear right to descend until meeting an isolated property below [SE 046 212]. Bear left back along a track and at the CW Link Path way-marker turn right to cross a bridge. Take the left-hand lower path, cross the footbridge then left again between two walls. Climb to cross the main road, continue up Kebroyd Lane. Kebroyd Hall, of the Kebroyd Estate, was owned by Sam Hill of Soyland, [a textile entrepreneur] on his death in 1759.
At the top, continue ahead along the bridleway [Clapgate Lane] until leaving the forest at Mill Bank. Turn right along the road and beside the stream turn left to join the CW. This climbs up above remains of a former mill. Continue along Gough Lane until a way-marker [to Alma Lane]. Take this path, continuing through a gate at the end of a garden wall through fields of long grass. Another gate; left along a driveway, right along the lane to reach the Alma pub. Behind the bins an unclear path turns left [SE 027 215]; very overgrown but hopefully clearer since we have trampled through. Go right up some steps, emerge by a house being renovated; bear right continuing between stone walls. At the gate the path goes left; descend and hope for the best! Follow the line of the path shown on the map [not visible due to undergrowth] and hop over the stream to [hopefully!] find the gap in the stone wall on the far bank and cross the stile [SE 027 218]. Bear right, follow the perimeter fence until a large gate returns you to tarmac. Left along the road until a bridleway turns right.
Right at the top; track becomes Tarmac and at the road junction bear left. Beyond Hubberton Green turn left through the wall opposite the junction of Upper Field House Lane. Traverse two fields, left at the lane, then right through a gate. Descending through fields with a wall to the right; a gate at the field bottom, right onto the lane then left at the way-marked bridleway. Meeting a track bear left, pass between the properties and around a garage to climb a stile then descend right.
Turn right along Shield Hall Lane, then left through a walled gate [marked 499]; left at the next lane, right onto a footpath beneath Finkle Street. Descend to pass under the railway and across the river to meet the canal towpath that returns you to the start.