Haworth, West Yorkshire Sunday 2nd September 2018

Today’s Walk

Strenuous Leader : Donna Callaghan   Distance: 8.00 miles

From the car park with toilets we will make our way out of the town towards Lower Laithe Reservoir, up to Bronte Falls then up to Top Withins, a possible stop for lunch. We will continue on a narrow path along the moorland edge. Please take care here as there is a narrow ledge. We go on to Harbour Lodge, Leeshaw Reservoir, eventually leading back to Penistone Hill Country Park. An alternative return route has been planned in the case of bad weather avoiding the Moors.

Moderate Leader: Joan McGlinchey   Distance: 7.50 miles
We start our walk heading towards the museum. Then we head out of town uphill towards the direction of Penistone hill. We walk along the Bronte Way as we make our way to the Bronte falls where hopefully we can have lunch there as it is a lovely spot. After lunch we join the Pennine Way, uphill again, and head to Stanbury. We join a road and walk for a while and take a left turning into Lump Foot. We follow the road and river for a short while and start making our way back to Haworth by making our way across the fields and joining the road which opposite the one we originally went up.
Leisurely Leader: Dave Hatchard   Distance: 7.50 miles
We start the 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, which is a ruin, and up again to Top Withins Farm, another 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.
Easy Leader: Dave Prescott   Distance 4.50 miles
Note: easy walkers may not wish to walk higher up the hill to the Public Toilets so we will start by going to see the town and visit a cafe. We walk up to the next level of the carpark and take the flat path which goes behind the allotments and emerges in the town at the Black Bull public house. Turn right heading down the cobbles and just around the corner you should see the Bakers and Cafe called Villette. This is where we will meet after time for a cuppa. There is a choice of cafes and there are also 2 immediately opposite. This walk is part of the Railway Children walk. It passes many of the scenes that were used in the making of the film, so you can spot the train and places you may recognise. We head down past the park to Haworth station and take the paths that follow the direction of the river and the railway towards Oxenhope. When we reccied the walk we added a section and went to Oxenhope Station but this is optional. From Oxenhope we head uphill to Marsh Lane, up past a farm and then take field paths and paths between walls back to Haworth. Most of the path is in good condition and we did not have a muddy problem. Stiles were narrow but few, good and sturdy.

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, but there were three more children in the family, girls Maria and Elizabeth, both of whom died in childhood, and the only boy, Branwell, who squandered his many talents. The children were born in Thornton, Yorkshire, to Patrick Bronte, an Irish clergyman and his Cornish wife Maria. They had their six children quickly but sadly Mrs Bronte died of breast cancer in 1821, not long after Anne was born, and a year after they moved to Haworth. Life was a bit tragic for Patrick because all his children died well before him, yet he himself went on to live until he was about 80. After Maria died the children were looked after by an austere aunt, and their only escape lay in writing and in the exploration of the countryside around their home. Charlotte was the only one who eventually married but tragically she died not long after suffering from the same severe pregnancy sickness complaint which causes dehydration, that badly affected the Duchess of Cambridge too. No intravenous drips in those days. 

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. Once Haworth was not the pretty place it is now, instead the main road was an open sewer and disease was rife and mortality high. The four and a 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 weekends trips during the winter months. The railway was originally opened in 1867, not only to carry passengers but also to bring raw materials to the mills in the valley. The desolate moors which so inspired the Bronte sisters, rise majestically above the steep sided Bronte Falls, which tumble into Salden Beck, and 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 the famous novel, Wuthering Heights, written by Emily. 

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 an180 acre Country Park, and from the summit there is a spectacular view across the bleak open Pennines. The vicarage is now the Bronte Museum.