Family Friendly walks in Halifax and Calderdale that are perfect for little legs!
Autumn is a gorgeous time to explore Calderdale’s landscapes, and the rule of 6 makes it a nice way to have a play date or spend time with family when we can’t meet indoors.
With three little ones, we’re limited to family-friendly walks at the moment, and I always pack a picnic (always, no matter how short the walk!) and sometimes hot chocolate to cajole the reluctant ones near the end. I know some children are fabulous walkers, but I do find mine swing hot and cold depending on the day.
To make sure we found the very best walks, we enlisted the help of the brilliant Sarah of Walking with Kids, who has a whole host of information about walking on her website and Facebook Page.
So, here are some of our favourites, exciting enough for everyone, but easy enough for the kids.
You can make a walk in Judy Woods as long or short as you like, and stick to the paths or head into the woodland for an adventure! There are streams to jump across, and lots of leaves and sticks to collect (anyone else’s children obsessive stick collectors?)
There are picture trails you can download here to do as you go around, and if you like Geocaching, there are some to find.
It’s beautiful all year round, and the only problem we ever had was sometimes there is a lot of dog dirt around – with little kids, that was a problem. But that aside, we’ve always had a great time in Judy Woods.
Judy Woods, BD12 8LA. Roadside parking. For more information, click here.
Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve
We only disovered Cromwell Bottom over summer but it soon became a firm favourite and my walk-shy kids NEVER complain when we go here. There are meadows to run around in, woods to explore, great paths for prams, viewing platforms, marshland and the canal to walk along. My friend printed off wild flower scavenger hunts to take here during lockdown, and you could find a similar one for autumn, or winter.
Cromwell Bottom is a fantastic place to visit to see how the seasons change. Once we found tiny frogs hopping across the paths, another time we collected blackberries, another time pocketfuls of acorns. It’s great fun and not too long so great for little legs.
Shibden has loads to offer families anyway, and the lake and parkland make lovely walks. But often, we like to park in the top car park and wander into Cunnery Wood. Sometimes we let one of the kids lead the way (especially if they are grumpy) and choose which paths to follow, knowing we won’t stray too far from the beaten track. It can be quite muddy, but there are some great places to make dens.
There’s a secret tunnel, ponds, seasonal streams and lots of wildlife.
It’s glorious for bluebells during the spring, and especially nice at autumn with all the different colours. Not stroller accessible, although the lower parts of the Shibden Estate are.
Cunnery Wood, HX3 7XA
Norwood Green Waterfall Walk
I’ve heard stories of a waterfall in Norwood Green, but never seen it myself. Luckily, Sarah from Walking with Kids spent an afternoon hunting it down with her children, and had a wonderful time! Norwood Green is a lovely village to walk around. There’s a small playground and an entrance to Judy Woods.
To do the waterfall walk, start at HX3 81Y. You follow a quiet road lined with big houses and bushes about five minutes, before the road becomes a straight and narrow footpath. Follow it, until you hit a hap in a wall, leading into a field that slopes down to a left. Head into the woods, follow the path to the right and as you get deeper into the woods, you will see the waterfall peeking through the trees to the left of you. If you want to go further, take a path sloping down to the left, which bends back on itself and takes you to the top of the waterfall.
“The kids loved it and there was no issue at all with social distancing, as it was so quiet,” says Sarah. “The path isn’t wheel friendly or toddler friendly, as there are a lot of tree roots to trip over and there’s a drop to the left when walking down to the waterfall, but it’s a fairly short walk and so easily managed.”
There are no toilets, but two pubs in Norwood Green where you can find toilets and refreshments.
Norwood Green, the start of the waterfall walk can be found at HX3 8QY
What I love about Hardcastle Crags is there is a very easy walk that you can do with prams, that leads to Gibson Mill and the stepping stones. But you could just as easily follow one of the other trails, or weave your own way through the trees and gorgeous scenery to have a real off-road adventure!
It’s only £5 for the car park and it makes a great place for a picnic too! The wheel-friendly trail is fairly long though, so you might want to do a combination of walking and pushchair or baby wearing for little ones.
Hardcastle Crags, Hebden Bridge. HX7 7AW.
Beacon Hill, Southowram
To take little ones, you would have to park in Southowram, but once you do that, Beacon Hill is a fabulous walk for families. If you explore the public footpaths beyond you’ll see cows, sheep, goats and lots of other animals. It’s fun terrain for bikes too (but be very careful at the top of the hill – we tend to stick to the paths nearby for bike rides).
The views make great photo ops and it’s a real adventure. We like to take walkie talkies up (we have a set of three so all the kids can play) and they have great fun running ahead and sending each other secret messages. There are plenty of places to spread out a picnic blanket on Beacon Hill, and a few benches that are perfect for a flask of hot chocolate while taking in the view.
Beacon Hill, Southowram, Halifax. HX3 9UD.
You can do the circular route around the reservoir (pram friendly), or venture off through the woods and take a different path each time. There are loads of little streams and waterfalls (which are obviously inhabited by fairies), wood to balance on, picnic tables and ducks to feed.
This is one my two-year-old enjoys straight after school drop-off as it’s short enough for her to manage, but interesting enough to hold her attention. She likes to take detours through the woods and fill her pockets with pine cones as we walk, and if she’s struggling, promises of the ducks at the end usually get her through. The views over the water are beautiful too. Parking is £1 (donation box).
Ogden Water, HX2 8XZ.
Norland Moor, near Sowerby Bridge
This is one of Sarah’s recommendations, and she likes to go during bilberry season!
It’s about 3.5 miles to do the circular walk, and it rewards you with stunning scenery and plenty of purple heather,
There’s a free car park and playground next to the start of the walk, off Shaw Lane.
“The path is not wheel friendly but is a reasonably good path to follow,” says Sarah, “There is a circular walk but you need to be careful not to go off track. My three-year-old tired after the white stone marker and needed carrying so I would advise the walk for four years and up for the whole route. All in all we spend 3.5 hours doing the walk, picking bilberries and having time on the park before and after the walk. The scenery up on the walk is just stunning, as you’re surrounded by gorgeous pink heather and you are rewarded with great views along the route. The kids loved it – especially the berry picking.”
You can find more details of the route on the Walking with Kids website.
Norland Moor, Shaw Lane, Norland. HX6 3Rw.
Driving to Jerusalem Farm is part of the adventure – there are some tight twists and turns along the way! But once you’re there, there is a lot to explore. Last time, we went with friends and their dog and the kids loved running up the hills and through the trees to have adventures.
My youngest enjoyed throwing stones into the stream, and they were all mystified by an upside down welly standing straight upright in the middle of a pond. My friend did take her stroller, but I wouldn’t like to say it is all suitable for prams. Really good fun though and I imagine each visit would be different. Summer would be great to have a paddle to cool down.
Jerusalem Farm, HX2 6XB.
This is a great one if you like exploring villages as well as woodland, and is recommended by Sarah. It starts in Copley village, and she parked in parking bays near the canal path.
“The church is absolutely idyllic and the kids loved the very modern bridge next to it,” says Sarah. “We managed to find a circular walk by heading straight up the main track, which offers great views over the valley. Daniel had fun spotting trains whilst Isla went on a bug hunt.
“We walked past a lone house and then the road split and we took the path to the left. However, we learned that if you keep going forward, the path takes you to a waterfall, but we were advised the path isn’t great for little ones. The path to the left kept us climbing upwards and we then found a footpath to the left, which took us back through the woods. The path had a wire fence alongside it with a fairly steep drop on the other side, so you will need to keep hold of little one’s hands. My husband carried Daniel down most of this path, as he was struggling.
“The path then opens out near to the start of the walk and you just head back down then to the bridge. It took us about an hour and a half with little legs. It’s not buggy friendly and there are no toilets. There is a pub called the Volunteers Arms which is a short walk back towards the road from where we parked if refreshments are required.”
Copley Woods, HX4 8AN
Stoodley Pike, Todmorden
This is one for experienced little walkers, from around age four upwards. Sarah did this when her kids were three and six and they had a great time, although her three-year-old struggled towards reaching the summit and her husband carried him part of the way back down. Her six-year-old managed fine.
“The start of the walk is near Lambutts Methodist Church where the road bends, and there is a steep ascent if you take the left hand path (which I wouldn’t recommend for little ones),” says Sarah. “The right hand path is steadier, and is a pretty well maintained path (although not wheel friendly). It’s preferable to get the bus up from Todmorden bus station as there is very little space to park and you can end up blocking the road for drivers.
“Leave yourself a good three to four hours get up there and back, and wrap up warm, as it can get windy once you hit the walk along the tops. It’s a fantastic walk to blow the cobwebs out, offering amazing views.”
Stoodley Pike, Todmorden, OL14 7AA
Ryburn & Baitings Reservoirs, Ripponden
Another recommendation from Sarah, who visited expecting to do a short walk – but ended up staying a few hours!
Owned by Yorkshire water, there are two reservoirs here, Baitings and Ryburn.
Baitings (at the top) offers two walks – a 1.4 mile circular route. and a 2 mile longer walk, through woodland and across two dam walls. It’s just off the A58 heading to Rochdale and there is a free car park near the start of the dam (HX6 4LE).
Ryburn Reservoir is below Baitings. It also has a free car park (on Swift Place, HX6 4LE). The paths are part surfaced, part unsurfaced, so not suitable for prams. You can follow the waters edge and ramble through lovely woodland. There is a circular route here too, which is pretty easy to follow if you look out for the yellow arrows. For a longer route, you can explore the ancient woodland, walk across a bridge, through fields and up to Baitings Dam (Sarah estimates this walk was three to four miles and took her family around two hours).
The toilets aren’t open at the moment, and there aren’t too many picnic benches, but there are glorious views!
Baitings Reservoir (HX6 4LE) and Ryburn Reservoir (HX6 4LE)
Need some more ideas to help little legs on family walks? Have a look at our blog here. And here are some ideas for getting kids outdoors more in the cold weather.