The Yorkshire Dales village which welcomed factory workers to the countryside long before UK national parks

The picturesque village of Hebden in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales has a rich history.

Today the village is an ideal spot for walkers and cyclists wanting to explore Upper Wharfedale close to Grassington.

And, though cotton production and leadmining were once part of its industrial fabric, Hebden welcomed young factory workers on outings to the countryside from the early 1900s.

By the turn of the 19th century, a large cotton mill in the area meant cotton production became an established industry in the village right up until 1870.

The picturesque village of Hebden near Grassington. Picture Bruce Rollinson Nikon D6, 1/500 sec at f8, 320 ISO

Leadmining meanwhile became an industrial activity in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

In 1872, the first national park in the world was formed - Yellowstone in the US.

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“It took us a while to catch up,” The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority explains in a potted history of the Dales on its website.

“Britain at that time had no such wild areas.

“Our moors and mountains were nearly all farmed or managed in some way.

“However influential individuals recognised that increased industrialisation was a threat to the beauty of our more remote countryside.

“Social reformers also felt that it should be the right of all to enjoy the clean air and spiritual refreshment the countryside offered.

“Movements such as the Co-operative Holidays’ Association brought young factory workers on outings to the countryside.

“The CHA even built their own guesthouses, including one at Hebden in the Yorkshire Dales which opened in 1909.”

It wasn’t until more than four decades later in 1954, that the Yorkshire Dales National Park was formed.

In 2019, the park received a total of 4.7 million visitors and still today, more than a century on, Hebden welcomes people explore the local Yorkshire countryside.