Calder & Hebble Navigation

The Calder & Hebble Navigation once served a very industrial area, but is now a rural and peaceful route, where the local people are known for their friendliness.

Narrowboat moored in front of bridge on Calder & Hebble Navigation Calder & Hebble Navigation

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The navigation, which is part-canal and part-river, connects the Yorkshire and Pennine canals, and provides easy access for walking in the Pennines. Canal enthusiasts will appreciate the unusual waterways architecture, including quirky lever-operated locks.

The small towns of Brighouse and Sowerby Bridge are full of interest and local colour, while Wakefield has many attractions, including a redeveloped waterfront area, the Hepworth Art Gallery, and canoeing, sailing and windsurfing at Pugneys Country Park.

Find stoppages, restrictions and other navigational advice for this waterway

Places to visit

Have a grand day out on the Calder & Hebble Navigation - all absolutely free. Download our guide to Sowerby Bridge for a day full of wildlife, heritage, local traditions and fresh air.

Download our free guide

The history

Now that the Rochdale Canal and Huddersfield Narrow Canal have been restored, the Calder & Hebble is once again an essential part of the waterway routes across the Pennines.

Running for 21.5 miles between Sowerby Bridge and Wakefield, the Calder & Hebble was designed to extend navigation from the Aire and Calder Navigation at Wakefield to Halifax, and later Sowerby Bridge. By 1770, navigation was possible along the upper reaches of the Calder.

The canal joins the Huddersfield Broad Canal at Cooper Bridge, and the Rochdale Canal at its Sowerby Bridge terminus. Since the Calder & Hebble's locks are shorter than those on the Rochdale, the warehouses at Sowerby Bridge were used for transhipment - storing cargoes after they were unloaded from one size of boat, ready to go into another. These spectacular warehouses are now being restored with the help of a substantial Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

As well as a windlass, you will need a handspike - a thick wooden pole - to operate the locks on the Calder & Hebble. A long-distance footpath meets the towpath near Brighouse.