The temperature inside my apartment in London hasn’t fallen below 28 degrees Celsius since June. A couple of weeks ago, knowing I was planning to stay in London until the end of August and knowing that the forecasts were for a long hot summer, I was beginning to despair. As I’m currently trying to work from home full-time and study in preparation of my autumn travels, I was growing exhausted by the constant heat (and of living inside with the curtains and blinds closed). At the end of July I therefore escaped to Yorkshire for a week. On my final day there we took a walk to Hardcastle Crags, the last of the National Trust places in Yorkshire that I had on my “to do” list.
Access into Hardcastle Crags is only by foot. There are two car parks to choose from: we chose the accessible route, which is approx 30 minutes’ walk to the mill. On the way there we went through the woods, but on the way back we took the main concrete road – prams and wheelchairs can easily make it down to the mill using this road. The other car park offers a much steeper (but shorter) access route into the mill – one to try next time. [BTW, we visited on a Monday morning and parking was fine, but I would guess that on the weekend it’s important to get there early, as the car park wasn’t huge].
At the mill (called Gibson Mill) there is a cafe, run only by solar and hydro power. When we visited they were only serving cold food and drinks – what they can offer is determined by the weather. We had taken a picnic for lunch, but after our walk up to the famous stacks of millstone grit stones that make up the “crags”, our reward was a piece of cake in the cafe.
There are plenty of walks at Hardcastle Crags, through the woods, around the mill pond, amongst the steep wooded sides that make up the valley, and more. The bottom of the valley has a wide river, with stepping stones in places (for those who like to play!).
The mill dates back to approximately 1800 and was a water-powered cloth-making machine, one of the first mills constructed during the industrial revolution. By the start of the 20th century its industrial used had fallen by the wayside and for a time it was used as an entertainment venue. The family that owned the land were keen to see the area preserved – fortunately the NT was prepared to take on the mill, in 1950. It is the NT that has (finally) brought the mill back to life (a £1.5m Lottery Grant helped) and repaired it, reopening it in 2005.
Today the National Trust hails Gibson Mall is its flagship green and sustainable building. The toilets are compost ones (you can see the composting bins), there are exhibits around the mill explaining who the renewable energy is created, and the building remains 100% off grid – even the water used in the mills comes from a naturally-fed spring.
Having been back in London now for a week, I’m glad to report that I’ve become used to living in 28-30C every day. A spot of air con is nice from time to time and it’s indeed nice to be able to get away for a week. Finally, though, today fresher air has begun to blow through the patio windows. Such a relief!
When visited: July 2018
Further reading: http://www.hebdenbridge.co.uk/features/gibsonmill.html