January 2023

Is our valley really a happy place?

I don’t know about you, but I am loving the new series of Happy Valley on the BBC. The acting is fantastic, the storyline thrilling and looking out for local places is a great added bonus. However, it got me to thinking, it’s a hard hitting story that doesn’t always show our lovely valley (and tops) off to its best. I wondered how many of you know why this Calder Valley is so ‘Happy’ and such a great place to visit and live? There are so many great initiatives that make living and visiting the Calder Valley a wonderful experience.

Some facts about the Calder Valley
  1. ‘Calderdale’ as a borough only came into existence in 1974, we’re already looking forward to some of the celebrations being promised for 2024!
  2. It takes its name from the River Calder, and dale, a word for valley.
  3. The landscape has inspired writers through the ages with the Bronte sisters at nearby Haworth, poet Ted Hughes born in Mytholmroyd, his wife Sylvia Plath buried in Heptonstall, and of course Sally Wainwright who wrote Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax and Gentleman Jack – to name but a few.
  4. The landscape and towns are a hot bed of film and TV locations, barely a week goes by when we don’t spot a film crew somewhere in Calderdale.
  5. The B6138 Cragg Road located in Mytholmroyd, running up to the moorlands above is thought to be the longest continuous ascent in England, climbing 968 feet over 5.5 miles – quite a challenge for our many cyclists who visit the area.

Todmorden at the upper Calder valley, is the home of Incredible Edible. Now spreading worldwide, the original idea was formed in a café in Todmorden when Pam + Mary sat and discussed how they would like their town to grow and eat together.  As you walk around the town you’ll see many planters growing edible plants that are free for locals to harvest. Read more at Incredible edible

In 2016, the people of Todmorden took a stand against the reported rise in hate + race crimes in our local area. Halifax Courier- Todmorden against hate

Since then, the community have come together in a number of ways, and many ‘new to the area’ residents often say what a vibrant, welcoming and inclusive town Todmorden is. There are now several Kindness signs (in true Hollywood style) around the town, just one of the quirky ways Todmorden residents have taken hold of the type of town they want to be a part of.



When visiting Todmorden, you’ll spot the Incredible Little Libraries filled with books dotted around the streets, you’ll see them everywhere. There’s one at the bottom, of Shore Road! The libraries caused some controversy recently when some very “questionable” books were left in the little library in Cornholme. A notice was added which is said to have stated: “Cornholme is a God fearing Christian village. If this filth is to your liking may we suggest that you move to the cess pit that is Hebden Bridge.” Oh dear tempers were a little raised but lots of smiles too!


Hebden Bridge

Everyone has heard of Hebden Bridge for several different reasons, be it the home of quirky independent shops or the place ravaged by floods several times over recent years, one thing Hebden can boast is its resilience! A town with many festivals, some of the most unusual are the fabulous Handmade Parade events, the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival and the now well renowned Happy Valley Pride!  Happy Valley Pride was started in response to a piece of graffiti in Hebden Bridge. A group of friends got together in disbelief at the hate message, in what is known as one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly towns in the country. They decided to work together and in 2016 Sally wainwright (writer of Happy valley) launched the newly formed Pride Organisation. It has gone from strength to strength with a now famous Happy Valley Pride festival and Big Day Out weekends read more https://www.happyvalleypride.co.uk/about/our-story 

Stoodley Pike
The Valley

The very nature of a valley means steep sided gorges with amazing views. We have everything from Stoodley Pike (pictured) to Hardcastle Crags and Gibson Mill. The tops have an abundance of reservoirs built to feed the mills of the industrial revolution, but now make great walking and water sport places. The valley bottom has a main road, river and canal all running side by side throughout its length.


At the other end of the valley is Halifax . Well known as a centre of England’s woollen manufacture from the 15th century onward, which was dealt through the now acclaimed visitor experience the Halifax Piece Hall. It is internationally famous for its Mackintosh Quality Street (is it really Christmas without them?!), the Halifax Building Society, Eureka! The National Children’s Museum and Shibden Hall featured in the TV series Gentleman Jack. Take a walk around the town you’ll be amazed at the stunning architecture and many independent shops including the wide array of eateries in the beautiful Westgate Arcade. Make sure you visit Harvey’s Department Store a true family owned and run store. More information on Halifax at



I hope you agree that throughout Calderdale there is so much to make it a truly happy valley, have a look at Culture Dale 


which showcases the area as a truly inspiring and unique area to visit and live. And of course the people of our valley are fantastic, generous and down to earth in true Sergeant Catherine Cawood style!

Until next time

Best wishes


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