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Hardcastle Crags is a beautiful wooded valley in the South Pennines which covers more than 160 hectares (400 acres) and lies approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) to the north of the town of Hebden Bridge. There are deep ravines, tumbling streams, glorious waterfalls traversed by more than 15 miles (24km) of footpaths. The woodlands are particularly lovely in late Spring when the bluebells are in bloom.
Halfway up the valley are the 'Crags' which are impressive stacks of millstone grit. Hardcastle Crags is well known as the home of the Northern Hairy Wood Ant which lives in huge anthills with nests as large as six feet tall.
At the heart of the valley is the nineteenth Gibson Mill, the former cotton mill was one of the first powered mills built at the start of the Industrial Revolution. The mill was driven by a water wheel and produced cotton cloth up until 1890. In the early 1900s, Gibson Mill began to be used as an ‘entertainment emporium’ for the local people. After the Second World War, the mill slipped into disuse, and was acquired by the National Trust in 1950. It now serves as a family-oriented visitor centre, telling the history of the valley over the past 200 years, with interactive displays, dressing up, dancing and exhibitions.
Hardcastle Crags is open all year round from dawn until dusk. Dogs are welcome, if kept under close control. Admission is free.