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A beauty to behold in God's own county; STUART GREER takes his family to visit one of the most 'eccentric and creative' corners of Yorkshire.

IT NEVER fails to amaze me how many places of jaw-dropping beauty we have on our doorstep in the UK. After a weekend in Calderdale I have found yet another jewel to treasure.

You can see why it is a favourite for TV and film production companies. In recent years it has been used as the backdrop to BBC One's Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax and Channel 4's new series The ABC.

The journey to our accommodation in Pecket Well, just up the hill from Hebden Bridge, is slow, in a good way that allows you to lap up the increasing amounts of green filling your windscreen and feel the stresses of city life slip away.

We are the guests of Lesley Jackson, proud owner of Elmet Farmhouse, who offers up her truly stunning accommodation for the weekend.

A converted farmhouse, it boasts breathtaking views across the valley towards Stoodley Pike, a 1,300-foot hill above Todmorden. While so much about our stay in the region concerns the outside world, the interior of his property is remarkable.

There is space for six people, spread across three large rooms with a massive, modern brightly coloured kitchen and a large cosy living room with woodburner and an eclectic collection of furniture and ornaments. My wife spent half the time jotting down ideas to mimic in our own humble abode.

Eureka children's Lesley has made the most of the area's ties to the late great poet Ted Hughes, who was born in Mytholmroyd, near Hebden Bridge and grew up in the Upper Calder Valley. His deep connection to the area continued into his later years. In fact the cover picture of his collaboration with photographer Fay Goodwin for the book Remains of Elmet has an almost identical view that the one from the living room window.

Our first day starts with a trip to Halifax and the famed Eureka children's museum. Our visit has been preceded by some gushing recommendations from friends, and it certainly doesn't disappoint. My two and half year old loved it, although I reckon I loved it more.

Each of the six galleries explores different facets of the world, from the human body and space travel to the inner workings of the home and transport, and all have a fantastic array of interactive elements.

After four hours exploring the museum and a messy lunch with the other rabble of families, our brains are suitably expanded and in need of some relaxation.

We choose to spend our time wondering around Hebden Bridge, which has a reputation for being a creative epicentre of the Yorkshire. With a seemingly endless supply of independent shops oozing artistic flair of one kind or another, organic cafes and delis, the claim of it being the 'fourth funkiest town in the world' hold water. I also get the claims that it is one of the most eccentric and creative corners of Yorkshire. I lost count of the number of people wearing flares, tie-die and dreadlocks. Never mind Happy Valley, this is more like Hippy Valley.

We have dinner at the homely Robin Hood Inn, across the road from our accommodation. The pub is split into a modern and bustling dinning area and the lounge area which has a collection of weird and wonderful ornaments and curios, including about 50 toy gorillas, typical of the eccentric style we have come to love in the area.

I enjoyed one of the best lamb casseroles I've ever had, while my wife loved her herb pudding with spinach, cherry tomato and mozzarella.

Following an enjoyable night in front of the fire, we get the deserved rest we need ahead of our walk in Hardcastle Craggs the next day, when we enjoy a riverside walk through the woodland. It's slow progress with a toddler, but it gives us time to lap up the views.

Sadly, we didn't make it Gibson Mill and the Weaving Shed Cafe, but maybe next time.

On the way home we stop for lunch in Todmorden where we get to taste some of the atmosphere at the annual folk festival, including watching the morris dancing from the borderline terrifying Thieving Magpies troupe.

They are worth a Google. Seeing is believing.

Lunch at the vegetarian favourite The Bear Cafe is superb and it offers a tremendous array of dishes. We opt for the deli salad platter and a veggie burger which is to die for.

It is the perfect end to a wholesome weekend. With so much more to see and do in this breathtaking and interesting area, we'll be certain to return.

NEED TO KNOW | STUART GREER and family were guests of Visit Calderdale (visitcalderdale.com).

Three nights at Elmet Farmhouse, (elmetfarm house.co.uk) start at PS380.
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Sep 3, 2016
Words:792
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