A picturesque but tough test in store for walkers and runners

An example of CROWS'tasks (this one now now completed) - work on the steps and path leading from Keighley Road to Hardcastle Crags
An example of CROWS'tasks (this one now now completed) - work on the steps and path leading from Keighley Road to Hardcastle Crags

The Hebden, a walking and running event, will take place for the ninth time on Saturday, January 17.

Organised by the Calderdale Group of the Long Distance Walking Association, it continues to grow in popularity.

The event was full by October with a field of 400 and there are many prospective entrants pushing for places in case of withdrawals.

Most of the regulars are from local running and walking clubs and are back with some new faces doing the event for the first time. The majority of entrants are local but some travel long distances to come and see Calderdale and experience the large network of intricate paths and steep climbs which abound in the area.

The event will start from St Michael’s Church Hall, Mytholmroyd, at 8am and will go along the newly resurfaced path adjacent to the railway line before starting a circuit which takes entrants to Old Town, Hardcastle Crags, Jumble Hole Clough, Erringden Moor, Broadhead Clough, Cragg Vale, a return to Mytholmroyd crossing, Scout Road and back alongside the railway line.

It is a journey of 22 miles over the valleys surrounding Hebden Bridge, providing a real test of stamina and training for the new year.

Since 2011 the first two runners back each year have been Ben Mounsey and Gavin Mulholland, both from Calder Valley Fell Runners. Will they be able to repeat this success for the fifth time in a row?

The weather is an uncertainty and last year entrants had to contend with paths sodden with rain after one of the wettest winters experienced in recent times. Lack of maintenance and blocked drainage outlets contributed to a very muddy event.

In many places water was draining off the hills on to paths turning them to mud. Following last year’s event the organisers have focused their minds on investigating what could be done to avoid a repetition of this in case of heavy rain again.

Fortunately, a recently formed group of independent volunteers known as CROWS Co-op (www.crows-coop.co.uk) have come to the rescue.

Clearly as an independent group they require some funding in the form of donations which the entrants on the event have been happy to provide towards their funding costs.

The worst areas of the event route have been surveyed and improvement have been made and will continue to be made.