Press play!

So yesterday I downloaded the iconic Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush. I’d brought a book of walks with me from home (talk bout bringing coals to Newcastle) around Haworth called in the Steps of the Brontës and one of the tougher walks was the one to Top Withins, reputed by some to have been the inspiration for the locations in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. When Gary inquired if I’d like to go on another walk I suggested something from the book, so soon after 9 he arrived and we set off on a bus that goes over t’tops to Haworth, with fantastic views all around us. The day seemed destined for sunshine and showers but Gary was able to order the showers to coincide with our day and so we didn’t get too wet.


Inside Wuthering Heights

Instead of wandering around the village, which looked surprisingly devoid of tourists apart from one large group of Japanese tourists waiting to get into the museum, we picked up a sandwich in a health food shop where Gary’s request for a ham sandwich was met with a glare and ‘we don’t allow animal products into the shop.’ He changed his order to a cheese sandwich and I asked, rather tongue in cheek if it had ever seen a cow. Naughty, naughty.


Supplied with our sustenance for the day we set off behind the parsonage, passing the church which is clad in construction, and away we went. We traversed through the most brilliant green countryside, meeting the Brontë Bridge at the unspectacular Brontë waterfall. We passed three isolated farmsteads in various restorations but across the valley we could see pastoral countryside with neat walls dividing sheep into regular rectangular spaces. Gary pointed out that the far side faces south and that it’s much more conducive to farmsteading than the poor soil and climate of the north side of the valley. We decided to continue the hike going all the way to Top Withens.

“Pioneer hope squared stones

And laid these roof slabs and wore a way to them.

How young that world was!

The hills full of savage promise.”

From Top Withens by Ted Hughes


I’d imagined it was a ruin with irregular walls, but because of its popularity as a hiking destination all the walls have been leveled, concreted safe and the roof removed, so it was a bit of an odd ruin. Whether or not Emily based Wuthering Heights on this particular spot is immaterial to me. What’s certain is that the family spent many hours on these moors and would have know all the buildings we had passed or could see across the valley. We sat there, eating our picnic, blasting Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights to anyone who cared to listen, including 4 men doing a similar hike to us.

13510945_10209354957251506_2376881766779851370_nContinuing on our way Gary spotted a group of Highland cattle and I saw a large black and white bird making quite a noise at us, and then I saw, what I’d mistaken for sheep’s wool on the grass, several baby birds. I think the mother bird was trying to get us to follow her away from the chicks.

Eventually we came to Stanbury a tiny village, with three pubs and no shop. It was just starting to rain and as we ordered a well-deserved drink the heavens opened. It was a lovely little pub and as we chatted to the landlady it felt as if we were in her living room. When not actually serving someone she hung out in front of the bar with customers. She had pictures of her grandson above the fireplace, a collection of dog plates and some pretty funny posters. The pub is a stopping off point for hikers walking the Pennine Way, and soon we came across Len, an elderly guy who was in his fourth week of walking that long distance footpath, having set off from its northern most part in Scotland. He was having a hard time camping in the five days of constant rain, and complained about blisters. He was heading for a shelter a couple of miles away.


Len walking the Pennine Way


We, on the other hand, crossed the dam of the Lower Laithe Reservoir and before we knew it we were back in Haworth. A quick pit stop at the Black Bull, a nosey around a book store, and then the bus back to Hebden Bridge. We were back a’th’ mill by 5:30 where we had a cup of tea, and I returned Gary’s thesis to him, now much more knowledgeable about the rise of Victorian brass bands. Checking my email I see that I am all booked and paid up for my trip to St. Kilda’s in less than two weeks. Yikes!