Poetic beauty of wonderful waterfall with a past

From the Hidden Valley to the Happy Valley and back again, the area surrounding this beautiful West Yorkshire waterfall is immersed in fascinating history.

PIC: Tony Johnson
PIC: Tony Johnson

The renowned beauty spot on Harden Beck in Goit Stock Woods close to the West Yorkshire village of Harden near Bingley was part of private land owned by the Ferrand family, with access restricted to the general public in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The beauty of the waterfall - or cataract as he called it - inspired Airedale poet John Nicholson to write in appreciation about its peaceful surroundings after moving to the area in 1820.

He said: “Here may the contemplative mind/Trace Nature and her beauties o’er/And meditation rest reclin’d/Lull’d by the neighbouring cataract’s roar.

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    “If ever fairies tripp’d along/Or danc’d around in airy mirth/They surely to this place lid throng/ Or else they never danc’d on earth.”

    A cotton mill had been built in the area in the late 18th Century but the decline of the industry saw the site lay empty for years from the mid 19th Century.

    Goit Stock eventually became a thriving pleasure resort known as Happy Valley in the 1920s with the old cotton mill turned into a ballroom and cafe.

    It attracted huge crowds until a major fire destroyed the mill in 1927 and the resort shut in the 1930s after failing to be restored to its former glories. Now part of what is known as the Hidden Valley, the beauty spot is now considered something of a local secret.

    However, reaching it is perfectly possible and Bradford Council have provided assistance to walkers by installing a steel staircase to improve access to the site. To reach the site, park on Hallas Lane (post code: BD13 5BU) and follow the track downhill for around 500m.

    After a crossing a bridge, the falls are signposted to the left around 250m further on. The waterfall is surrounded by beautiful woodland and wild meadows and the paths and those who decide to visit the route will hopefully find it possible to glimpse some of the local wildlife, which includes deer, squirrels and many species of bird.

    Technical details, Fujifilm X-Pro1, 18-55mm lens, exposure of 1/2th sec @ f14, ISO100.