Haworth, West Yorkshire Sunday 25th March 2012

Today’s Walks

There are no toilets where the coach will park today, so please be sure to identify your walk leader before leaving the coach park as he/she will have already decided where the group will use toilets and will have incorporated this in their walk. Please do not wander off from the coach, but remain with your walk group from the beginning. Thanks.

Strenuous Leader: Rowland Nock   Distance: 10.5 miles

Heading out over Penistone Hill and Haworth Moor, we make our way to the Top Withins via Harbour Lodge. (maybe we can enjoy lunch with ‘Heathcliffe’ here!). Descending from Top Withins, we cross over the Bronte Bridge to climb up by the side of the Bronte Waterfalls, back onto Haworth Moor (this does involve some scrambling). We then pick our way over to Oxenhope. From here we return to Haworth by Bridgehouse Beck and the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, for our usual well earned tea & tiffin. (Watch our for the Railway Children!).

Moderate Leader: Peter Denton   Distance: 7 miles

Bronte Waterfalls and Wuthering Heights

We will gather at the coach, then walk to the public conveniences. We then start our walk out of the town along Cemetery Road and onto Haworth Moor to Bronte Bridge and waterfalls, crossing South Dean Beck, then up to Middle Withins (ruin), up again to Top Withins Farm (ruin). We will take our lunch break here. We then head back down on the Pennine way towards Stanbury, then across the embankment of Lower Laithe Reservoir, then back up into Haworth for a well-earned cup of tea and maybe a scone. Happy Rambling!

Leisurely Leader: Philomena Walker   Distance: Approx 7.5 miles.

We set off across Penistone Hill, and along the Millennium Way towards Bronte Bridge, crossing Hill End and joining up with the Pennine Way, down through Lower Withins to the ruined farm at Top Withins, reputed to be the “Wuthering Heights”. Great views, continuing along the Bronte Way to the Bronte Bridge again, and check out the Waterfall, before following paths across Haworth Moor back to Penistone Hill Country Park and the delights of Haworth village.

Easy Leader: Nicole & Allan Fraser   Distance: 5 miles

We start at the Parsonage and follow Cemetery Road for a short while to an easy path, which offers pleasant views of the valley and Lower Laithe Reservoir. This path leads eventually to the Bronte Bridge and the Bronte Chair, which could be an excellent place for a leisurely lunch. To avoid some very steep climbs, we then need to retrace our steps awhile before cutting across the moor, with some new views over Oxenhope to the east, and then back to Haworth.

Notes On The Area

Haworth, and the moors beyond, will always be associated with the Brontes, a uniquely-gifted family growing up in the emotionally repressed conditions of Victorian times. Most people remember the names of Anne, Charlotte and Emily for their literary endeavours, though there were three more children in the family – Maria and Elizabeth, both of whom died in childhood, and the only boy, Branwell, who squandered his many talents.

The girls were born in Thornton, Yorkshire, daughters of Patrick Bronte, an Irish clergyman and his Cornish wife Maria. Their mother died of cancer in 1821, not long after Anne was born, the year (1820) in which they moved to Haworth. After their mother’s death, the chldren were looked after by an austere aunt, and their only escape lay in writing and the exploration of the countryside around their home. The desolate moors which so inspired the Bronte sisters, rise majestically above the steep sided valleys.

The old part of Haworth has a steep and cobbled Main Street, leading down from the church, with alleys and courts branching off it, but the village expanded in Victorian times, stretching down the hillside towards the river and railway. The 4.5 mile Keighley and Worth Valley Railway is one of the finest restored steam railways in the country and runs regular daily steam services in the summer, and at weekends during the winter months. The railway was originally opened in 1867, not only to carry passengers but also to bring raw materials to the valley’s mills.

Bronte Falls, which tumble into Salden Beck, was a favourite spot of the Bronte sisters. A few yards down the stream is the Bronte seat which is hewn out of a single piece of rock. And high up on the moors is Top Withins, the ruin of a lonely farmhouse which is said to have been the inspiration for Emily Bronte’s well-loved novel Wuthering Heights.

Penistone Hill appears in Wuthering Heights as ‘Penistone Crag’, a local beauty spot near Thrushcross Grange. The quarry here provided stone for the paving blocks in the high street, and for the dark buildings of Haworth. Looking at the now disused gritstone quarries on the edge of the moor it is hard to imagine that as late as the 1920’s a hundred men hewed stone here. Penistone Hill is now a 180 acre Country Park, and from the summit there is a spectacular view across the bleak open Pennines.