During two decades bed bound, I dreamed of seeing a river. Now I revel in the freedom of my power chair to take me around my favourite places outdoors in Hebden Bridge.
First a coffee stop…I sit in the sun trap outside Marco’s Café, watching Hebden Water racing over the weir after heavy rainfall, so powerful and loud I have to wear ear plugs!
On calm days, ducks and geese swim past and wagtails feed on the weir. I marvel at the vegetation miraculously growing out of cracks in the walls which tower steeply along the riverside.
Reflections dance beautifully over the water and I enjoy the peace.
Then I stop at the Town Hall to see an art exhibition and to use their accessible loo! Crossing the bridge to the Square I spot a heron on the river, patiently waiting for a fish.
Following the pedestrian area down BridgeGate (trying to avoid the cobbled parts!) I come to the ‘wavy steps ‘ where I watch the ducks being fed, the river flowing past, stone sculptures on the island and the beautiful old packhorse bridge spanning the river.
The next part of my journey is through the memorial park with its beautiful trees and planting. Up a steep slope (a little tricky in a wheelchair) onto the bridge over the canal, where I stop and gaze at the narrowboats and wildfowl.
Down the gradual ramp into the park and another favourite coffee stop at Park Life Café, sitting outside gazing at the amphitheatre of trees stretching up the surrounding hillsides.
A wander around the park, looking at planting, getting ideas for my garden… there’s a beautiful wildflower area near the river in the summer. Sitting in the sun watching children and dogs playing. Then up the slope to station road to look at the stunning view of the River Calder from the bridge.
Back down into the park and through the gate onto the canal towpath. If alone, I have to wait for someone to open these heavy gates for me. This stretch of the towpath has a great surface in a wheelchair.
Going to the right towards Sowerby Bridge, there’s a bridge over the canal, which I find too tricky to go under on my own as it has very old cobbles and a camber heading into the canal!! I don’t fancy a cold dip!
So I turn back and go along the stretch of canal running alongside the Park admiring the colourful boats and their reflections, lovely views of mill chimneys and the town cradled by the surrounding hills. Exchanging smiles and greetings with folks passing by.
One last stop, I head up to the lock gate then onto the bridge where the canal crosses the river, ever hopeful that I’ll see the flash of blue of a kingfisher.
Beyond this point is not wheelchair accessible on this side of the canal. I cross over and take the towpath leading to Hebble End. This is passable but has areas of cobbles which shake me to bits in the wheelchair!
I find central Hebden Bridge easy to move around in a wheelchair…apart from a few places with cobbles and A boards obstructing the path…and there are mostly good dropped kerbs and smooth pavements.
I love my wheelchair walks here and always feel very safe when alone. Hebden is a lovely, friendly town and people are always willing to help when needed.