Winter is a great time to venture on to the bleak moors above Haworth. It is invigorating and although the walk itself is straightforward, it is entirely possible to fully understand the motivations behind the bleak novels of the Bronte Sisters, particularly Emily’s Wuthering Heights.

NOTE: Please follow government and health officials’ current guidelines around exercise, taking walks, social distancing and not driving long distances unless it is essential. You may wish to put this walk to one side to enjoy at a later date when restrictions are relaxed.

Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales. Jonathan has written his own book, the Dales 30 which details the highest mountains in the Dales. He also runs one-day navigation courses for beginners and intermediates. Join his Learn a Skill, Climb a Hill weekends in the Dales. To find out more details on any of the above visit his website,

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 on your left is some parking, leave the car and carry on westwards 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. Further on it becomes like a beach in places!

The track continues for 1 mile before dropping gradually in to 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. 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 Withins. 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 20 years ago!

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 Withins (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.

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.

Fact file:

Distance: Roughly 6 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, easy to support the cafes and pubs when they are back open.

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.