Blog / top withens

  • Wuthering Heights

    On such bleak and blustery days, a cure for February blues might well be to stride off across the moors. And where more romantic than the setting of Emily Bronte's novel Wuthering Heights?  

    Fay Godwin, Top Withens

    The book is as strange and wild as the landscape but it has captured the hearts of many readers with its tortured, passionate hero and doomed romance.  Striding out on the moors above Haworth lets you feel it.  

    A ruined farm, Top Withens, is thought to be the inspiration for Heathcliff's home. Nobody has lived there since the 1920s.  A plaque on the wall from the Bronte Society notes that the building does not resemble Heathcliff's house in layout but says that Emily Bronte may have had it in mind 'when she wrote of the moorland setting of the heights.'

    The paths above Haworth are well trodden and signposted, even in Japanese.  But don't let that put you off.  Start or end with a visit to the Bronte's parsonage home in the town.  Now a museum, the house is laid out as it would have been when Emily lived there with her sisters Charlotte and Anne. 

    Take the OS map 21 for detailed trails, but a good place to start the walk is at the Penistone Hill Country Park car park on Moorside Lane, a little road between Stanbury and Oxenhope.   Take the track from the car park and follow the signs to Drop Farm and Top Withens. Cross a shallow stream on stepping stones before climbing up to the ruins of Top Withens and the Pennine Way.  

    After Top Withens, take the Bronte Way, following sign to the waterfall, a favourite walk of the Bronte sisters.  Go through the gate to get close. Fast flowing after heavy rains, it can be just a tickle in summer.  Cross over Bronte Bridge and follow the path back to the road, turning right to reach the car park.  

    Back in Haworth, there are plenty of places for a hot cup of tea and an eccles cake. The town is steeply cobbled and charming.

    Distance for the whole thing: about 6 miles.  Can be muddy.  Take good shoes and protective gear for unpredictable changes in weather.




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