THIS short walk takes you through some pleasant woodland to the fine viewpoint of Hardcastle Crags.

On the way is Gibson Mill, a 19th century cotton mill and a perfect example of how industry grew up so dramatically from rural beginnings.

On the main road north out of Hebden Bridge towards the moors and Keighley, a road slides off to the left after half a mile. Signed to Hardcastle Crags it drops to some parking and a National Trust information centre (small!). This marks the start of the walk.

I prefer walking the riverside path to the mill and leave the main forest road for a nice easy return. From the car park, head past the information hut towards the road bridge over the river. After a few houses a footpath starts on your right (before crossing the river), follow this for the next one-and-a-half miles to Gibson Mill. The path (which is rough in places but generally good) meanders alongside the east banks of Hebden Water. The fast-flowing river makes this part of the walk constantly interesting, although in mid-winter there was a lack of birdlife and wild flowers, which I am led to believe are full of interest come spring.

Gibson Mill is a well-preserved 19th century cotton mill owned now by the National Trust. Originally built at the very start of the 19th century, it made perfect use of the powerful waters tumbling down from the Bronte moors to the north. Known at the time as Lord Holme Mill, it produced cloth from the raw cotton. The average working week for the workers at the time was 72 hours. Towards the end of the century, the mill ceased to manufacture cloth and was turned in to an entertainment and dance hall. The National Trust has now renovated it and as well as the historical significance there is a welcoming café.

From the mill join the wide forest road and continue slightly uphill (past a small car park) through the trees for 350metres to a finger sign on your left and a wooden horse and driver on a clearing to your right. Take the footpath on your left and climb steeply up steps and then along a path over some millstone grit boulders. The climb is not long and the views from the boulders very good, particularly along the wooded river towards the higher moors. Return to the main path and back to the mill. There are a number of footpaths in the woods and even some stepping stones at the mill to explore the far bank. Sadly it had been wet when I last visited and I could not find them. I would imagine in low water this area makes for a lovely family day out, a mini version of Bolton Abbey.

Rather than return to the start via the same riverside path I took the forest road, much quicker and easier underfoot. I measured it as little over one mile long back to the car. The woodland is very pleasant and it makes a good walk to brush up on your tree identification skills. Before long the track drops out of the woods ad arrives back at the car park.

Fact box:

Distance: Roughly 3.5 miles

Height to climb: 100m (330 feet)

Start: SD 990292. National Trust car park (not large) next to the bridge when the two rivers become one.

Difficulty: A short, straightforward walk. The riverside path is a little rough in places but they all are.

Refreshments: There is a café at Gibson Mill. Alternatively head back to Hebden Bridge.

Be Prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer 21) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass (essential on this walk). You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk. Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales:

• He has published 3 books on walks in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the New ‘Walks without Stiles’ book.

• All are available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Book a Navigation Training day in Long Preston, near Settle (Beginners or ‘Compass & Contours’) Dates and further information are available on the website. also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.