Marvel at this distinctive gallery beside the Calder & Hebble Navigation, which houses more than 5,000 contemporary works

Words by Steph Wetherell

Posted on 30/10/2019

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Opening in 2011, the Brutalist design of the Hepworth Wakefield is a work of art in itself, a series of ten blocks making up the structure of the building. The gallery is named after Barbara Hepworth, who was born in Wakefield and is considered to be one of the most important artists of the 20th century. Her sculptures were heavily influenced by the landscape and industry of the area, and the gallery permanently houses several of her works as well as exhibitions that delve into her artistic process.

Alongside changing exhibitions, the gallery houses Wakefield’s art collection, more than 5,000 works, including some of the finest examples of contemporary and modern art in the world. Alongside Barbara Hepworth’s work you can expect to see pieces by L.S. Lowry, Henry Moore and many more.

When you’ve had your fix of art and sculpture, take a wander through the Hepworth Wakefield Garden, a newly opened space nestled between the modern gallery and a 19th-century mill. Amble between the herbaceous beds, past striking modern sculptures before crossing the river and heading west down the banks of the River Calder.

Construction on the Calder & Hebble Navigation, which runs for 21 miles from Wakefield to Sowerby Bridge, began in 1759. The aim was to connect the Aire & Calder Navigation to Halifax, and later on to Manchester via the Rochdale Canal. Work involved improving the navigability of the rivers themselves, as well as creating an extensive number of new cuts, partly to deal with water supply issues to local mills.

The route now represents a wonderful mix of the industrial history of the region, interspersed with some of the most beautiful countryside in the area. Initially walking along the Wakefield waterfront, where former warehouses reach down to the water, you’ll soon be heading out into the Yorkshire countryside leaving the river Calder behind and following the towpath down Broad Cut. After a few miles, you will reach Horbury Bridge, an excellent point to pause and admire the view before retracing your steps.

Plan your day out along the Calder & Hebble Navigation with our online guide

Illustration by Jon Lord