In West Yorkshire there is a quaint little village by the name of Haworth, and while the name may not turn on any lights of recognition in your brain, you may just recognize some of the rather famous past residents.
The Brontë sisters lived and wrote in the village of Haworth, which is evidenced by the proliferation of shops bearing names like “The Jane Eyre Café.”
You could spend your day wandering through the incredibly steep streets of Haworth, perusing the wares of every shop dedicated to the Brontë sisters (which is to say most of them) and visiting the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
However, if you happen to feel a bit more energetic (and you are still alive after wheezing your way through the near vertical streets) you could venture out onto the Moorlands.
There are several established paths on the Haworth Moors, but it is worth bringing decent shoes, as “established” does not mean that the paths are at all smooth.
It is possible to make your hike shorter, but if you do the popular loop, you will end up walking roughly seven miles; while it isn’t a marathon, it can be rather tiring due to the abundance of hills.
Regardless, I advise doing the full loop. While your feet may not thank you for the experience, your eyes will.
Besides the Moors themselves, there are two main sites that you will arrive at during your hike, the first being the Brontë Waterfall.
It isn’t what you would call grandiose, but it is picturesque, with its crumbled stones and a few windswept trees included in the background.
After crossing the falls, you can continue across the moors to reach Top Withens, which is said to be the inspiration for the setting of Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights.” While Top Withens was inhabited during the time of the Brontës, it is now simply the ruin of a farmhouse, thought to be built sometime in the latter half of the 16th century.
We stopped briefly to have lunch while sitting on top of the ruins, looking out over the moors. Apparently this isn’t a terrible idea, as we found out that hikers in the past have had their sandwiches stolen by some of the sheep that abound in the area.
We ran into (literally) tons of sheep throughout our hike, but all of them were respectful, thankfully.
The entire place seems to encourage contemplation, with the crumbling stonewalls of Top Withens bringing to mind the effort required to erect them in the first place. The walk takes you along a multitude of dry stone fences, built from uncounted years’ worth of work. Some of them still stand, but others have fallen into ruin — even our stonewalls display a distinct lack of permanence.
The walk back to Haworth seemed easier after the ascent to Top Withens, and soon we found ourselves back on the cobbled streets among the shops looking for a bus to take us to a train to take us back home.
It wasn’t until I was settled into my train seat that I was struck with a thought. Throughout my entire time spent walking on the moors of Haworth, maybe, just maybe, I placed my foot in the exact same place as one of the ancient footprints of a past literary great.