Top Withens Walk & the Stanbury Alternative
The hike from Haworth up to Top Withens is one of the highlights for Bronte fans visiting the area. The ruined Top Withens farmhouse is thought to have been Emily Bronte’s inspiration for the Earnshaw farmhouse in ‘Wuthering Heights’. The walk is well signposted from Haworth’s Bronte Parsonage Museum. Details and leaflets are available from Haworth Tourist Information Centre on Main Street in the village.
There are two ways to the ‘stone house, both tiresome’, said Sylvia Plath in her Journals. Not many visitors made it up to Top Withens in the 1950s, but today many do take the long, scenic track up from the Parsonage, past Bronte Falls and onwards. Nowadays it’s all well signposted in several languages and the paths are well marked.The walk is that bit longer if taken from Haworth centre, past the Bronte Parsonage (around 6 miles return).
Alternatively you can begin at Stanbury, just before Haworth (take the path up from the bus stop). In Stanbury you’ll find a couple of great pubs to ‘fuel up’ with food and ale before or after the walk. Whether you’re a Bronte fan or not, the walk up to Top Withens, on a clear day particularly, offers spectacular views of Haworth and surrounding moorland. The Top Withens Ruins are about 1,400 feet above sea level. It’s a walk that appeals all year round, but is perhaps best in Winter away from the crowds.
The Pennine Way & The Bronte Way
The Top Withens ruins actually sit on the Pennine Way National Trail, and the stunning moorlands of Haworth and Keighley Moors are popular with walkers. The 43 mile (69km) Bronte Way is the definitive trail for Bronte fans. The trail takes in many key sites related to the Brontes including Thornton/Pondon Hall inspiration for Thrushcross Grange in Wuthering Heights, Haworth village and the Bronte Parsonage and the Kay-Shuttleworth’s home Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham near Burnley to which Charlotte Bronte made frequent visits.