The Ted Hughes Arvon Centre, Lumb Bank is an 18th-century millowner’s house in West Yorkshire, which once belonged to Ted Hughes. It’s set in 20 acres of steep woodland with breathtaking views to the valley below.
There are 13 single occupancy rooms at Lumb Bank, 5 with double beds. Bathrooms are shared with up to four other writers, usually fewer. You’ll find many quiet places to write in the house and garden – and a well-stocked library.
All your meals are provided during an Arvon courses. Food at Lumb Bank is sourced locally and sustainably wherever possible. The seasonal menu is proudly created by our in-house catering team. There’s also a small vegetable and apple orchard onsite. You’ll help yourself to breakfast each morning, lunch will be prepared by our staff and dinner is prepared by teams of course participants each evening, using the delicious recipes and ingredients provided.
The house stands in 20 acres of steep woodland and has a breathtaking view to the valley below – a Pennine landscape of woods and rivers, weavers’ cottages, packhorse trails and ruins of old mills. It is half a mile from the historic village of Heptonstall and two miles from Hebden Bridge.
“I think I speak for all my young writer companions when I say that you do not leave Lumb Bank the same person as when you arrived.”
— Louisa Rhodes
"The environment of Lumb Bank, the grounds and the area around are wonderful inspiration. The course is a good balance of tutoring, quiet time to write and socialising."
— Course participant
"The grounds at Lumb bank are breath taking and I’ll never forget the stunning view. It was great to be away from city life and to have a quiet tranquil place to write and process my ideas. Being shut off from my everyday life to write was very beneficial as there are no distractions like TV or radio at Lumb bank."
— Victoria Ofovbe
PHYSICAL ACCESS: We do not recommend this house if you are a wheelchair user. The Hurst is our fully accessible writing house.
SHARED SPACES: There is level access from outside into the workshop room and level access into the sitting room. Door widths are generally narrow, though all door handles are at an accessible height. There is one accessible toilet in the barn. There is a standard downstairs toilet.
KITCHEN AND DINING: There is level access from the outside terrace into the dining room, and a ramp into the narrow galley-kitchen area. Door width from the terrace into the dining room 78cm, and into the kitchen from ramp 78cm.
COOKING: Writers take it in turns to jointly prepare meals. If you are unable to do this, it is not a problem, you will get the opportunity to remove yourself from the rota when you book or contact us on the dedicated access email or phone number. The kitchen is narrow, all worktops are at standard height. There are base and wall cupboards.
DINING: There is a range of bench seating and chairs in the dining area.
BEDROOMS: There is 1 level access en-suite bedroom – the logshed.
OUTSIDE: There is no designated car park. If you have a mobility impairment, we can allocate you a space in the courtyard (1 place per course). Others are asked to park at the top of a long steep lane and make their way on foot to the house. There is a level access terrace that leads into the Dining Room. Seating is available on the terrace.
TRAIN STATION: The nearest accessible station is Hebden Bridge with lift access between platforms. We can book a taxi to meet you on request – you will get the chance to do this when you book, or email us on email@example.com
THE GROUNDS: Cobbled and paved paths surround the house, with some sloped areas. There are steps down into the Kitchen Garden. There is some seating and picnic benches scattered around.
The original Arvon concept of enabling young people to live and work with experienced writers was developed by John Fairfax and John Moat. They started running courses in 1968 in the Beaford Centre in Devon. Ted Hughes was living fifteen miles down the road and one day John Fairfax decided to seek him out and tell him about the idea.
Ted was at first sceptical, but asked that if anything should come of the idea he’d like to be told.
Ted was invited to attend the last night of the first Beaford course and from then was fully supportive of the venture, often holding meetings in his Devonshire home and joining courses as the guest reader, where “his presence would have a magical effect, a contagion of imaginative excitement”.
In 1975, following Ted’s suggestion for a northern centre, Arvon leased Lumb Bank from Ted and Carol Hughes. In 1986, Carol Hughes took up the Chair of Arvon. In 1989, Arvon bought Lumb Bank from The Hughes Trust with help from the Arts Council.
“There were so many individual contributions vital to Arvon’s survival, but I think no-one would dispute that Ted’s contribution was of an order all of its own.” —John Moat
Travelling by car
Please do not use the postcode for Lumb Bank in your Satnav, as it sends you the wrong way. Use HX7 7EU (Smithwell Lane, Heptonstall). Take the A646 through Hebden Bridge or from Todmorden, follow signs to ‘Heptonstall via turning circle’. If you’re coming through Hebden Bridge, use the turning circle to double back and turn left at traffic lights by the Fox and Goose pub, up the steep hill. Do not take the left turn to Heptonstall (signed ‘access only’); instead, keep driving on Lee Wood Road, then Draper Lane. As you approach the houses at Slack Bottom, take the left-hand turn towards Heptonstall. Continue 30 yards. The lane to Lumb Bank is on your right by the benches and bus stop.
Please park on Smithwell Lane and walk down the track to Lumb Bank, unless you need to drive down to site to drop off luggage.
Please note there is no parking onsite, unless by prior arrangement, eg if you have mobility issues. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org in advance of your visit, if this is the case.
Travelling by train
Hebden Bridge railway station is on the main Manchester Victoria to Leeds line with trains from both cities at regular intervals. Every half hour you can catch the 596 bus (Blackshaw Head) to the top of the Lumb Bank lane from the railway station.
If you want to take a taxi from the train station, please arrange for a taxi to meet you at the station in advance. Call Hebden Cars on 01422 845555. Students often arrive at the station at the same time, so you may be able to share – check when you book your taxi. The journey time to Lumb Bank is 10-15 minutes.
Every half hour you can catch the 596 bus (Blackshaw Head) to the top of the Lumb Bank lane from the railway station. The timetable is here – check the box ‘show all stops’ . The stop is Heptonstall – Green Lane / Smithwell Lane, the stop just after the school as you leave Heptonstall. Green Lane is to the left by the benches, with Lumb Bank signposted. Follow this lane steeply down for 5 minutes – Lumb Bank is at the end of the lane, before the road turns into a path.
Please see the accommodation, food and accessibility page for further information.
The Ted Hughes Arvon Writing House
For individual team members please visit the Meet the Team page.
COURSES AND RETREATS AT LUMB BANK
Residential Writing Week: Poetry
The Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes Summer School 2023
Exploring the work of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes in Hughes's Yorkshire home
Jun 26-Jul 1
Residential Writing Week: Starting to Write
Fanning the Flame