A Circular Walk from Haworth to Wuthering Heights & Top Withins
By Matt Callard
What are your memories of Haworth?
That steep and cobbled road, etchings on graves, miniature handwriting, staying in a damp Youth Hostel and sleeping with the teacher (in the same room I mean! Get to the back of the class!).
I also guess, somewhere in the dusty back of your mind, there’s a windy walk over moorland to an underwhelming location (wot, not even a coffee shop, Sir!?) that you knew was featured in a grown-up book you hadn’t even read.
But now look at us! Broad-limbed and eager and braving the January lashing; we’re here by choice, to reclaim a classic walk tainted by the reluctant trudge and inappropriate shoes of childhood. Heck, we’ve even read Wuthering Heights.
So, start at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, head towards the alleyway with the houses on your right, cross the field and head towards, well, disappointment!
A road walk? Here we are following the tiny footsteps of passionate Emily, ready to soak in the drama and inspiration of the Brontë Moors – and there’s tarmacadam under our feet! Pah!
Here’s a tip – cut out Cemetery Road by driving the length of it to the junction and park carefully in the opposite lay-by (but please, don’t all go at once – it’s rather small). From here you can at least enjoy a rough farm track under your soles and the three hour (and relatively strenuous) ramble is all ahead of you.
Follow the track, keeping an eye out for curlew, peregrine and golden plover and also the famous signposts in Japanese. Yes, we are in tourist-land, folks.
Your first landmark (1.5 miles) is the famous Brontë Chair, Bridge and Waterfall. Here, it is said, Emily sat on the chair-shaped rock for inspiration. Just beyond the chair, up the gully, the bottom of the Brontë Waterfall can be seen.
Continue by turning right over Brontë Bridge, and then it’s a bit of boulder scrambling towards a gap in the stone wall to reach a small gateway. The ‘Wuthering Heights’ route is left.
It’s a well-worn path – you’ll hop stone and ladder stile, you’ll cross beautiful open moorland and you’ll eventually hit a steep upward climb before finally reaching the ruin of Middle Withins Farm. For the full Wuthering Heights experience, take a left up the paved path to your destination: Top Withins Farm.
Enjoy the perfect lunch break (and don’t forget to stir your soul) before retracing your steps to Middle Withins and, this time, take the stone-paved path downhill – you’ll pass Lower Withins ruin and the path will change to a much wider track.
Part of the Pennine Way, this is an easy path to follow. Stanbury Moor is on your left and you’ll pass (1.5 miles) Upper Heights Farm (now a campsite, actually). When the track divides in two, take the left fork and pass Lower Heights Farm.
Eventually you’ll reach the surfaced Back Lane. Ahead is Stanbury bus terminus, here take a right through the village of Stanbury. When you leave the village take the first right signposted Oxenhope – this takes you across the impressive embankment of Lower Laithe Reservoir – ignore the road leading left back to Haworth and stay straight ahead until finally returning to your car in the small lay-by (note: if you chose to park in Haworth, you will need to take the left after the reservoir – it’s the entrance road to Sladen Valley water treatment works).
This is a surprisingly strenuous walk for one so often-trampled. If you cut out Cemetery Road you can lose about 40 minutes. But you can still expect a 3 hour, 5.5 mile trek. You’re also thoroughly exposed, so it’s good advice to try this in summer. Unless you’re after the full-on Wuthering experience of mud, wind and rain, of course.
Need to know
- The walk is unsuitable for wheelchairs, pushchairs, and small children.
- Haworth Village retains most of its charm, despite the obvious pandering to tourism and the Brontë Parsonage is a fascinating location.
- Decent selection of pubs on the high street sell good quality food.
- There are several pay and display car parks in Haworth. Next to the Brontë Parsonage, at the bottom of Sun Street, Opposite Edinburgh Woollen Mill.
- The excellent Keighley and Worth Valley Railway is nearby.
- Haworth is situated above the Worth Valley in West Yorkshire, just north of Bradford.