A view across the Calder Valley to Heptonstall
Heptonstall is in the borough of Calderdale, a location for the BBC crime drama Happy Valley.
It is a classic “Hovis village” – steep, narrow, cobbled streets, crowded with labourers’ cottages made of large blocks of Yorkshire stone, a post office, two pubs and little else.
It has a wonderfully preserved high street that has changed little in the last 200 years and looks like its more famous neighbour Haworth, but without the Brontës or tourists – it was a weaving centre for home workers at the start of the industrial revolution.
The only signs of its heritage are the unusually large cottage windows which are designed to let in maximum light.
Our base for the long weekend was one half of a converted stone barn with its entrance opening straight on to a snug front room complete with woodburner.
Down a few stone steps we discovered a modern kitchen and upstairs were the two bedrooms and bathroom.
Sitting between Halifax and the M62 and Burnley and the M65, Calderdale is increasingly popular with cyclists and walkers.
Its economy was once based on textiles and many mill buildings and their tall chimneys remain dotted about its river-lined valleys and dramatic hills.
In Heptonstall, the original 13th-century church, St Thomas A Becket, is now a beautiful ruin – with most of its columns and archways intact.
Its replacement, St Thomas the Apostle, houses the grave of poet Sylvia Plath, whose husband, the former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, was born and raised nearby. This Pennine landscape inspired his poetry about nature.
There is also an octagonal Methodist chapel dating back to 1764, which is the oldest in continuous use and has featured in several documentaries.
Heptonstall Museum in the 17th-century grammar school was not open when we were there but it contains displays on local industries, including the interior of a weaver’s cottage, and could be a good place to start your trip.
Beautiful ruin: Saint Thomas A Becket
A walk through the village reveals old archways leading to tiny courtyards and cottages, an old stone stock and the doorway to the ancient village dungeon.
Fascinating as Britain’s industrial, religious and architectural history may be to me, it does not really cut it for long with an energetic nine-year- old and a cynical 14-year-old.
As the village is a launch pad for walkers wanting to visit the beauty spot that is Hardcastle Crags – a wooded valley above Hebden Bridge, I decided a change of scenery was in order.
We headed up the hill past the village school and took a short walk up to Colden Clough through the woods and old packhorse trails and on to Hardcastle Crags.
Much of the path follows classic dry stone walls and gives a wonderful view of the dales, hills, rivers and canals of Calderdale’s countryside.
Thirty minutes away by car is Halifax which is home to Eureka! The National Children’s Museum.
The word museum conjures up images of display cases and silence. That is not the case here.
Everything is very hands-on and there is little explaining to be done.
The Rochdale Canal at Hebdon Bridge is packed with boats
It is simply a case of pointing your child in the right direction and letting them go.
Downstairs houses the overgrown wendy houses – an almost full-sized M&S, petrol station and post office – for the younger children to role play.
Upstairs the £2.9million All About Me Gallery contains masses of information about the human body, health and nutrition.
Although it is aimed at 0 to 11-year-olds, my teenage son still managed to amuse himself for the few hours we were there.
Childs Play: Eureka! The National Children’s Museum
And we were treated to some special experiments by the museum’s programmes manager Chris Snowden which ended with my astonished youngsters holding burning washing-up liquid in their bare hands.
We also had time to take a look around Piece Hall, the former Victorian cloth trading centre that’s now a shopping area, before enjoying a panto at the Victoria Theatre.
For dinner that night we headed to village pub the White Lion.
Good, hearty pub food, perfect for a cold Calderdale night: beer- battered cod and chips, pork belly and sausage and mash. With drinks, it came in at a very reasonable £36.
The White Lion pub in the village centre, Heptonstall, West Yorkshire
Our final excursion was to Another World Adventure Centre at a former dairy farm on a hillside in Ogden, just outside Halifax.
When the weather’s right you can do mountain boarding, skiing, snowboarding, archery, build and race go-karts, learn to use slingshots, roll around in giant bubble balls or go grass sledging.
We elected to go to the outdoor shooting range under the instruction of William Smith. Two hours firing pellets at metal rabbits and rats on a hillside in West Yorkshire was a fitting end to our weekend.
The Barn at Whitehall Fold (01422 843397/whitehallfold. co.uk) offers three-night breaks from £240 (four sharing), self catering. Calderdale tourism: 01422 368 725/visitcalderdale.com