This all leads to a high street filled not with the identikit outlets of everywhere else, but one which promotes independence and intrigue. There are shops of expertise and excellence, service and passion; search out literature at The Book Case, scour records at The Spacebar, delve home goods at Spirals, find knitwear at Makepeace, and acquire bespoke jewellery from The Workshop. These and plenty more splendid specialists in wonderfully wonky spaces make for a beautifully alternative experience to Leeds’ modern city centre.
The cafes, bars and restaurants too offer delights that are both comfortingly familiar and adventurously otherworldly. For a coffee, breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea, head to Mooch, Solo, Muse or Lovegrows. For vegetarian heaven, Green’s is a cafe by day and pops up as a restaurant on weekend evenings. Other eateries swing between Italian, Greek, Thai, and even Tibetan, in a fittingly eclectic selection, that of course also includes hearty fare in British boozers. As well as an array of great traditional pubs, Hebden Bridge is also home to the marvellous Vocation Brewery, whose own bar is stocked with their ample ales.
The entertainment continues into the night, especially at a couple of venues in keeping with the timeless feel of the town. Hebden Bridge Picture House is an independent arthouse cinema with all the ornate loveliness of its grade II listed building, and listings that mix modern movies with old classics and awesome oddities, plus the occasional live show. Nearby, more regular live performances excel at The Trades Club, a much loved venue that has gained quite the reputation for attracting musicians who should be too popular for this small capacity space, where an array of legendary names and rising stars are tempted to perform special intimate shows.
Even without the people making Hebden Bridge a hotbed of creativity and independence, the setting alone makes it a wonderful attraction. Glorious canal side walks in all directions satisfy, notably Heptonstall and the impressive woodlands and valleys of Hardcastle Crags. In this, Hebden Bridge is a picturesque piece of Yorkshire history, but one that continues to create its own modern character, and invites all good people to come and enjoy it too.