This week’s adventure took us to the heart of Brontë country, and a circular walk out from the small town of Haworth in West Yorkshire to the Brontë waterfalls. The area is the backdrop and inspiration for the novel Wuthering Heights and a number of other Brontë stories.
“I bounded, leaped, and flew down the steep road; then, quitting its windings, shot direct across the moor, rolling over banks, and wading through marshes: precipitating myself, in fact, towards the beacon-light of the Grange” Chapter 17, Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
I must admit, the only one with energy left to do any sort of bounding and leaping after this walk was Percy!! We set off from the car park at the lower end of town, on Weavers Hill and joined the footpath at the top of the car park. The route was very well sign posted – left towards the Brontë Waterfalls and Top Withens (believed to be the inspiration for the house, Wuthering Heights) or right towards the Brontë parsonage and museum.
As neither mum or myself had previously done the walk (and mobile phone reception is iffy on the moors to say the least), we were relieved to find regular signposts along the way and a few helpful passers by who confirmed that we were heading in the right direction – always a good thing!!
The footpath soon opened out into open moor land, in winter it is extremely bleak (and in February, very marshy and muddy!!), whereas in summer/ autumn there’s usually a carpet of purple heather across the moor.
Percy enjoyed the different grasses, textures under foot, sights and sounds, meeting other friendly dogs along the way and for the first time ever he met some sheep (he did think they looked like larger versions of him with their white woolley coats)!
We eventually got to a road, crossed over from the marshy moor land to a better footpath which lead the way down to the waterfalls. As you walk towards the waterfalls, you can get a real sense of the landscape and environment which inspired the Brontë sisters (and numerous other writers and artists). The weather changes quickly here. As we set off it was overcast, drizzly and biting cold, however the wind kept the weather moving and by the time we got to the waterfalls the sun was out and we were removing hats, scarves and gloves!
We made our way down the rocky path to the river and Brontë bridge. Our first reaction upon seeing the river was “Oh that’s really pretty…… but it’s more like a slightly down hill river with rocks rather than a proper waterfall” (Yorkshire – particularly the Dales – is renowned for its waterfalls).
As we got closer to the bridge and river we noticed another tributary feeding the river to our left…. and then looked up and up and up. “So that’s the waterfall!!!! Wow. Didn’t expect to see that.” There it was, carved tightly into the hill side, section upon section of drops, absolutely stunning.
The area around the falls and the bridge is a good place to sit, take in the views and have a well earned bite to eat. We’d come armed with bananas, muesli bars, chocolate and plenty of water for mum and I and a bag of kibble, treats and water for Percy. We stayed for a while, took in the views and refuelled.
The next part of the walk took us across Brontë bridge and up the other side of the valley. This section is quite rocky, and was a bit of a scramble…. then we noticed the footpath about 5 meters or so further over to our left!! Typical!! (Mum and I have a history of going on walks where we either get lost, over do it or get bopped on the head by falling rocks in the Dales – but that’s another story for another day!) Anyway, we managed to get to the top of the other side of the valley and thoroughly appreciated the view of the falls from this viewpoint.
At this point, if you’re planning to head back to Haworth as we did then you’re roughly at the half way mark. If you’re going on to Top Withens (Wuthering Heights) then it probably adds another you’ve another 2.5 miles or so onto your walk (map shows route at the bottom of the post).
Heading back to towards Haworth, we crossed some more open fields which quickly gave way to farm tracks and then to ‘proper’ roads. Quite a nice change after picking our way through patches of snow and muddy puddles that you could probably swim across!! The route took us back along the other side of the river and the last couple of miles are through pretty villages and hamlets with a pub or two en route if you fancy stopping off for a quick pitstop.
The final mile or so of the walk was a bit of a pull up a long, uphill road which finally brought us out at the top of Haworth, near the Brontë parsonage. By this point, our legs were starting to ache and even Percy had enough of walking (he kept slamming on the brakes!!), so I scooped him up and carried him the last couple of miles back.
It’s well worth spending time having a good look around Haworth- there are some lovely shops, tea rooms and of course the Brontë parsonage, museum and church to visit if you wanted to spend more time there. We meandered down the cobbled street and had a look in some of the vintage shop windows (we were v. muddy by this point so stuck to window shopping!!) as we headed back to the car to finish the route.
From there, it was home for a well earned cup of tea and some toast. Who knows, I might even dig out and dust off my old copy of Wuthering Heights and give it another read at some point!
Louise & Percy
P.S. Here’s the map with the 6.5 mile route we walked highlighted in red.