Cycling in Calderdale

Cycling in Calderdale

Calderdale is home to some excellent road and off road cycle routes. With free bike hire, electric bikes available to hire, great bike shops and pit stops, cyclists are spoilt by what Calderdale has to offer.

Calderdale’s Terrain

Calderdale resembles the Alps of Pyrenees but on a much smaller scale making it an ideal location for road cycling or mountain biking.  Situated in the South Pennines, Calderdale has steep valleys, affording challenging climbs and descents.  The hilly terrain is home to Cragg Vale; a famous climb out of Mytholmroyd on the B6138. Popular with anyone practising for the never ending slopes of the Alps or Pyrenees, this stretch has the longest steady incline of any road in England: 286m over five-and-a-half miles.  In 2011 Cragg Vale was highlighted by Sir Chris Hoy as one of his ‘top ten perfect hills’ (he was on his way down not on his way up!)

Calderdale is home to some excellent road routes in the upper valley and the lower valley.

Off road, Calderdale offers the magnificent Mary Towneley Loop which is not for the faint hearted - A challenging 47 mile "loophole" in the Pennine Bridleway, which like Everest demands to be tackled "because it's there!" This off-road mountain bike route forms part of the Pennine Bridleway  and the 17-mile Calderdale section begins at Warland following an old pack horse route over steep sided moorland linking Lumbutts and Mankinholes on the outskirts of Todmorden. The route continues on the South side of the Calder Valley bypassing Stoodley Pike Monument before descending through Callis Wood to Charlestown on the outskirts of Hebden Bridge.

From Charlestown the route climbs rapidly from the valley floor to Blackshaw Head making a number of twists and turns around Colden Village.

Hungry cyclists can grab a bite to eat just off the trail, before descending past Gorple Lower Reservoir and onto a short road section before going off road again at Widdop Reservoir. From here the route follows Gorple Gate track a technical climb to challenge even the most skilled mountain biker. The Calderdale section of the Mary Towneley Loop finishes at Gorple Stones and on a good day the views are fantastic.

It is however worth venturing into Lancashire as the descent to Hurstwood Reservoir is that good!

Less strenuous but still exciting is offered the Calderdale Loop, a 15 mile mountain bike route which takes in part of the Pennine Bridleway National Trail.

Whilst Calderdale has notoriously hilly terrain it does offer excellent riding for families and the National Cycle Network Route 66 a flat cycle route that follows the valley floor from Walsden to Brighouse. The route runs along the canal towpath, off road tarmac sections, quiet roads and woodland trails. The best thing about this route is it passes through a number of the valley's major towns, providing an ideal cafe or ice cream stop.

If everyone has had enough pedalling for one day you can always jump on the train. The route bypasses Walsden, Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Sowerby Bridge and Brighouse railways stations. The best bet is to explore. You don't have to cycle the whole route. Pick a section between the railway stations that all the family can ride and choose a suitable cafe on route to relax.

The Rochdale Canal and Calder & Hebble Navigation is perfect for family cycling and  provides the perfect starting point to increase the family's confidence before you decide to tackle one of Calderdale's many hills. Due to recent flooding, sections of the canal are currently closed so it is worth checking the route before you arrive.

Hire a bike for free!

Following the success of Tour de France, Welcome to Yorkshire, supported by Yorkshire Bank; have helped local communities set up bike banks to allow free bike hire. Used bikes are donated for free and then reconditioned and hired out, allowing children and adults to learn to ride, get fit or just enjoy their natural environment on a bike, helping to achieve our vision for Calderdale to be the most Active Borough in the North of England by 2021!

Calderdale has two bike banks located at:

Happy Days Cycles  in Sowerby Bridge

Active Calderdale Bike Library, Halifax Fire Station, in Skircoat Moor Road

The Active Calderdale Library at Halifax is open 10am -1pm on the first Saturday of each month and run by West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service in collaboration with Calderdale Council. To book a bike and for enquiries (including donating a bike) please email

Bikes are also available to hire from:

The Bicycle Den – along the Rochdale canal towpath in Hebden Bridge


Pit Stops

Half way up Cragg Vale you can take a break at Craggies Café, Deli & Butchery, the cake and coffee is just what hungry cyclists need.

Right in the centre of Hebden Bridge, Coffee Cali offers a selection of freshly prepared food and ample cycle parking at the back of the coffee, where you can sit by the river and enjoy the relaxed ambience of Hebden Bridge.

On the canal in Hebden Bridge, the Bicycle Den also offers a welcome pit stop and bike hire for those who come without but want to explore.

Improving Your Skills

Improve your mountain biking skills and enjoy guided rides:

Great Rock Mountain Biking

Whoosh Mountain Biking


Mountain Biking in Calderdale

 Where to Stay

Elmet Farm House, this restored hill top farm house is a walkers and cyclists paradise.

Crabtree Barn offers beautiful accommodation and offers walking and cycling right on the doorstep.

Lots more accommodation can be found on and

Bike Shops

Blazing Saddles Hebden Bridge. The guys are on hand to offer advice on good routes to take and even offer a bike lock loan service for that all important coffee stop and a bike washing service for muddy mountain bikers.

The Bicycle Den - Hebden Bridge

Cycle Factory - Todmorden

Happy Days Bike Shop & Cycle Café  – Sowerby Bridge

Pedal Sport – Halifax

Cycle Gear – Halifax 

More information on different cycling activity and various routes in Calderdale can be found at the CycleCalderdale website.

Published at 8 Mar 2016


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