Last Week’s Shoot – A Brontë Pilgrimage

I had a go at reading Wuthering Heights many years ago but found it rather hard going and didn’t get very far into Emily Brontë’s only novel.  That all changed this year, inspired by the brilliant drama To Walk Invisible last Christmas, I took up the Wuthering Heights challenge again and not only did I complete it this time, and enjoy it very much, but I continued and read all of the other Brontë Sisters novels by Charlotte and Anne too!

Having recently completed all the books I thought it was high time I had another walk on Haworth Moor myself, to see again the bleak landscape that inspired some of the Brontë’s work.

The Bronte Way near Haworth
Gate through a Dry Stone Wall on The Brontë Way near Haworth

This was just my second visit, and on the previous occasion I had followed the path out of Haworth over Penistone Hill before descending to Brontë Bridge.  This time I opted for the easier option of walking out along the Cemetery Road before joining the Brontë Way and heading across open fields toward the bright purple heather moorland in the distance.

Brontë Bridge over South Dean Beck on Haworth Moor
Brontë Bridge over South Dean Beck on Haworth Moor

At Brontë Bridge I stopped for a while and climbed up along the side beck to see the Brontë Waterfalls cascading down the hillside before returning to and crossing the bridge and climbing steeply up onto more rugged moorland.

The Brontë Way Crossing Haworth Moor towards Top Withins on the Horizon
The Brontë Way crossing Haworth Moor towards Top Withins on the Horizon

Up here the Brontë Way passed through knee-high heather in full bloom with the path heading almost directly towards Top Withins which could be seen clearly on the horizon up on the wild and windy moor.  Plenty of others were making this Brontë pilgrimage too – it was a reasonably warm summer’s day after all – and I could already see numerous visitors up around the old ruined farmhouse.

At Top Withins on Haworth Moor in Summer
At Top Withins on Haworth Moor in Summer

At last I reached the ruin -what’s left of the building is now quite well preserved, clearly being maintained as the important tourist attraction that it has become.  Despite the sunny weather it was a little cooler up here at this exposed location with the wind blowing through the long grass.

Top Withins on Haworth Moor in Summer
Top Withins on Haworth Moor in Summer

There’s no heather around the building itself but further up the hill behind it on Withins Height there was a nice patch amongst the grasses.  So is this the setting of Wuthering Heights from Emily’s novel?  The Brontë Society plaque on the building indicates that this building bore no resemblance to the Earnshaw home she described so vividly.  However, it also goes on to say that “the situation may have been in her mind when she wrote of the moorland setting of The Heights”.  I like to think so too – it certainly feels like the wildest and most remote place on the moor.  And whilst the throng of happy tourists and literary pilgrims left no feeling of the unquiet slumbers of any local sleepers it’s still nice to think that the Brontë Sisters are walking invisible on this moorland to this day.

About marksunderland

Mark Sunderland is a retired landscape and travel photographer still taking the occasional photograph! For image licensing and prints see

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