Walking & Cycling

IMG_5698-copyThe rugged and beautiful Pennine countryside  that surrounds the Worth Valley is just waiting to be explored whether you walk or cycle. There are a number of short walks starting from Haworth and the surrounding Worth Valley villages. You can take your time to explore the network of quiet country roads and paths, windswept moors and peaceful woodland which make the Worth Valley one of West Yorkshire’s most special places to walk.

A short walk from Haworth will bring you to Penistone Hill Country Park which is situated on the edge of the heather moorlands. From here it is a three mile round trip to the Brontë Waterfalls, which are located close to the village of Stanbury. It is believed the Brontë sisters used to visit the waterfalls for inspiration and close by there is a small stone bridge, Brontë Bridge, and a chair shaped rock where Emily Brontë is believed to have sat whilst gathering ideas for her books and poems. This is a great place to stop for a picnic and enjoy the views.

If you continue walking for another mile you will arrive at Top Withens, one of the most iconic locations within Brontë country. Situated on the top of the windswept moorland this ruined farmhouse is said to have been the inspiration for the Earnshaw family house in Wuthering Heights. Close by is an interesting outcrop of rocks known as the Alcomden Stones and well worth a visit.

Your final place to visit whilst on the moorland is Ponden Kirk. Although there is no church at Ponden Kirk there is a large block of gritstone which in the past was thought to have magical properties. Emily Brontë named the rock Penistone Crags and it was this that she chose as the location in Wuthering Heights for Cathy and Heathcliffe to meet. At the base of Ponden Kirk is a hole just big enough for an adult to climb through and Emily described it is a Fairy Cave. Local legend says if you are single and crawl through you will marry within the year!

The Brontë Way is a waymarked trail which links the key locations associated with the Brontë family. The full trail is approximately 40 miles and takes you from Oakwell Hall in Birstall (on the A62 Leeds – Huddersfield Road) across to Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire, visiting on the way the wild moorland and the village of Haworth. For more information on this and other walking routes contact Haworth Visitor Information Centre. Alternatively for a selection of self guided walks visit the Visit Haworth & Brontë Country website.

If you prefer to cycle then you won’t be disappointed as the Worth Valley is proud to be home to some of the Stage 2 Tour De France, Grand Départ 2014. It was the first time the Tour de France had visited the north of England so why not come and experience the route and cycle the winding country roads surrounded by beautiful countryside. If you prefer off-road cycling then why not try The Brontë Way which offers great off road cycling as it skirts the high ground of Boulsworth Hill and the former royal hunting area of the Forest of Trawden.

For a more relaxed excursion, explore the network of farm lanes and quiet country roads around Haworth and the neighbouring villages of Oakworth, Oxenhope and Stanbury. To find out more and plan your ride visit the South Pennines – Walk, Cycle, Ride website. A full selection of walking and cycling routes and bridleways can be downloaded from the Visit Haworth & Brontë Country website. Whatever you decide to do, travel by the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway which has a guards van on most trains to carry your bike to its starting station.

Ramble Through Bronte Country

Follow the walk on Worth Exploring or download a PDF of the walk to take with you.

This ramble takes you across Haworth Moor, located to the west of the village and seen here from the A6033 Hebden Bridge – Keighley road above Oxenhope.

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A good starting point is the car park in Penistone Hill Country Park on the Oxenhope – Stanbury road.

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Across the Oxenhope – Stanbury road lie the start of Haworth Moor and the buildings of Drop Farm.   Walk back down the road briefly in the Oxenhope direction.

Haworth-Moor

You’ll soon see a track to your right, heading off in a westerly direction.   Take this track and, if it’s August, you’ll find the Moor covered in purple heather.

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Though the track climbs steadily, this is quite easy walking and offers splendid views towards Leeshaw Reservoir and the hills beyond.

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The track soon levels out and, with just a few sheep for company, you will start to see the remote settlement at Harbour Lodge in the distance.

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At this weather-beaten sign shortly before Harbour Lodge, turn right and take the path in the direction of Brontë Falls and Stanbury.

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This path, which crosses Round Hill, is clearly defined and well used.

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Beware of a few pitfalls if you stray too far from the path, though!

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The villages of Stanbury and Oakworth come into view in the distance as you head across Round Hill.

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The descent to Brontë Bridge and Falls is steep and needs to be negotiated with care, especially in icy weather.

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Brontë Waterfalls – a tranquil place, ideal for a brief rest before tackling the next stage of the ramble.

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Suitably refreshed, cross the bridge and climb out of the valley using the stepped path to the right of the picture.

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You’ll soon encounter a dual-language sign reflecting the popularity of the Brontë sisters’ work with visitors from the Far East.   Take the Top Withens direction.

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The prospect now opens out and the farmhouse and trees at Top Withens can be seen on the skyline.   Even at the height of summer, stout, waterproof footwear is desirable!

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The wonderful view from Top Withens, looking east towards Haworth and the Worth Valley, with Brontë Bridge and Falls in the middle distance.

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The wonderful view from Top Withens, looking east towards Haworth and the Worth Valley, with Brontë Bridge and Falls in the middle distance.

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Possible connections of Top Withens with Emily Brontë’s ‘Wuthering Heights’. A display board at Top Withens illustrates how the farmhouse appeared, or may have appeared, in the past. Today, a few curious sheep could well be your only companions at Top Withens.

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For the descent from Top Withens, head in a more north-easterly direction …

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… joining the track which leads down past Lower Withens in the direction of Stanbury.

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Near Upper Heights, turn right onto the signposted footpath back down to Brontë Bridge and Falls.   Stanbury soon comes into view, with the Worth Valley and Keighley beyond.

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Once back at Brontë Bridge, cross the stream and head for Haworth in an easterly direction towards the walkers in this view.

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The path meanders gently along the hillside, giving plenty of bracken- and heather-framed views of Stanbury and the hills beyond.

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Proceed straight across the Oxenhope – Stanbury road when you reach it and continue to Haworth, with its celebrated Brontë Parsonage Museum, steep Main Street with shops, pubs and eateries.

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And after a wonder around Haworth take the road out of Haworth by to where you parked the car at Pensistone Hill Country Park

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