For those familiar with Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, this walk will remind them of the wild moors, lonely farms and deep valleys which characterise the book. For those unfamiliar it is an excellent walk on good paths with far reaching views.

Either park in Haworth (a car park near the Parsonage Museum, where the Bronte family lived) or better, just drive the half mile to a minor road out the north end of the village. It shortens the walk and avoids some road walking.

Just beyond the cemetery which is on your left is some parking, leave the car and carry on westwards along the minor road towards the moors. After crossing a road, follow a lane westwards with a dry stone wall on your right signposted to the Bronte Waterfall. Almost immediately you will notice the sandy element of the lane (soon becoming a track) which is a legacy of the hard sandstone bedrock.

The track continues for one mile before dropping gradually towards a small river bed and an idyllic picnic spot. Here is one of the favourite spots for the Bronte sisters to walk to. I can certainly picture them in this place and it is utterly inspiring.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Bronte Chair and Bridge

On entering this little enclave there is a large stone, the Bronte seat, to the left and a few metres uphill is the Bronte waterfall (not large but beautifully tiered) and directly ahead is the Bronte Bridge. The bridge is not the original one but has been replaced sympathetically.

Cross the river via the bridge and head uphill to a stile and a number of footpath choices. Take the one to the left signposted Top Withens. All the signs here are dual language, rather bizarrely in Japanese. Apparently the Japanese learn English via the writings of the Bronte sisters and a pilgrimage here was extremely popular 25 years ago!

Darlington and Stockton Times: Bronte Moors Withins

Follow the footpath heading steadily uphill for a further mile, turning left when it meets the Pennine Way and you will arrive at the derelict farmhouse of Top Withens (with its single stand out tree). The farmhouse is allegedly the inspiration for Wuthering Heights farm and on a cold winter’s day it is bleak enough to see why.

Start the return on the way you came, but instead of turning right downhill and back towards the Bronte Bridge, carry on along the Pennine Way towards the village of Stanbury. This is proper moorland walking, it may be a little muddy but the peat on either side of the path is doing a fine job retaining carbon for future generations.

The path passes a couple of isolated farms before meeting the main road just to the west of the village of Stanbury. I find Stanbury interesting, not only for the names of the pubs (go and see) but also the mix of derelict properties and those which have been renovated and offer spectacular views over the countryside.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Bronte country walk map

Just after exiting the village take the road to the right down to Stanbury reservoir and cross the dam wall before a final steep climb will bring you back on the minor road where you parked the car.

Walk facts:

Distance: Roughly six miles.

Height to climb: 280m (920 feet).

Start: SE 019368. Park on the minor road leading out of Haworth on its west side.

Difficulty: Medium. The moors can be a little daunting in bad weather.

Refreshments: Haworth is half a mile away, with cafes and pubs.

Be prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer 21) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

  • Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales. He has published three books on walking in the Dales, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks, The Dales 30 mountains and Walks without Stiles. All these books (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website. Book a navigation (map and compass skills) training day near Settle or a bespoke day for a private group. The first available day is March 23. New “Dales 30 Weekenders” in Hawes and Sedbergh. also features hundreds of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.