The Bronte Way

 

 

200 years ago a remarkable family came into being – the Bronte sisters Charlotte (born 1816), Emily (born 1818) and Anne (born 1820). Though their lives were brief their legacy in the world of literature is enormous – their novels have never been out of print. To commemorate that legacy here is a walk that follows the Bronte way from Lancashire into Yorkshire.

Start: Laneshaw Bridge, Lancashire BB8 7HU
Finish: Bronte Parsonage Museum, Haworth BD22 8DR
 

Fact file:

Distance: 11.5 miles though this includes a diversion to Top Withins. If this is not followed the distance is reduced to 9.5 miles.
 

Time: 5 - 7 hours (or an hour less without diversion)

Grade: Strenuous. This is a tough walk mainly on well-made tracks but with an awkward section of narrow footpaths between Watersheddles Reservoir and Ponden Reservoir.
 

Map: OS OL21 The South Pennines.

Directions: Formally the Bronte Way connects many of the locations in Yorkshire and Lancashire that had connections with the Bronte sisters starting with Oakwell Hall in Birstall and finishing with Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham a distance of 40 miles. Logistics dictate (i.e. bus routes) that the walk described below starts on A6068 Keighley Road, Laneshaw Bridge. Walk down School Lane,

 

directly opposite the Emmott Arms towards Wycoller. After crossing the River Laneshaw turn right into Carrier's Row. In a little under 200yds turn left on the Pendle Way

 

on a footpath that enters riverside meadows. Keep on the main footpath for one mile until you arrive in the hamlet of Wycoller. As you reach a road junction turn left. After passing the tearoom go left to cross Wycoller Beck. How you cross it becomes a matter of preference - by ancient pack horse bridge,

 

by even more ancient clapper bridge or the ford in between. (Not recommended after prolonged spells of wet weather.)

Now standing before the ruins of Wycoller Hall turn righto follow a broad farm track past the ruins continuing up an attractive wooded lane.

 

In 600yds the way forks. Although the Bronte Way goes right I suggest keep left on the Pennine Bridleway to Parson Lee Farm which takes a more direct line. Just before the farm entrance bear left

 

on a footpath that enters steep sided Smithy Clough and then joins a track

 

leading up a t junction that reunites you with the Bronte Way.

 

Turn left on a concrete track

 

that dips down into a valley and then climbs up towards Lancashire Moor Road. Just before it reaches it turn right through a wooden kissing gate onto a moorland path taking you to Watersheddles Reservoir.

 

When you reach a wall just before the reservoir cross a ladder stile

 

and follow an awkward narrow path alongside the road to reach the dam end. After another ladder stile commence the long descent towards Ponden Reservoir. Keep to the right of a utility building

 

following a path through bracken

 

to the first of a series of substantial ladder stiles made from some sort or recycled plastic.

 

Now in a very steep sided valley follow the stream to a footbridge

 

and then bear right for a path taking you into pastures. After a metal gate bear

 

left on an enclosed track leading downhill

 

to Old Snap - a farm. Just before it turn right and following a grassy path dip down to a plank bridge across a stream. Over this keep left and then after a wall go left again to come to an enclosed track. Turn right.

 

Soon after pass a sign post

 

that informs you that you are midway between Wycoller and Haworth as well on the Pennine Way. For the next section of the walk you will be following the Pennine Way to Top Withins.

Keep ahead on a farm track to reach Ponden Hall.

 

Continue to drop down to Ponden Reservoir. Follow the southern side of the reservoir

 

to the dam end when the PW (and Bronte Way) turn right to start a sustained ascent to the moorland plateau.

 

The path is well waymarked and after ½ mile

 

reaches the junction where the PW parts from the Bronte Way. For those satisfied in just doing the Bronte Way (i.e. wimps) keep ahead to reach Bronte Bridge ¼ ahead but for the true Bronte aficionado go right to climb up to Top Withins - a good 1 ½ miles away. Distance apart it is an easy walk on a well-made path.

 

Top Withins has been a place of pilgrimage for tourists for decades. In particular Japanese visitors seem to have a special connection with this abandoned farmhouse thought to have been the inspiration for Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights". To re-join the Bronte Way retrace your steps

 

for a little under ¼ mile to a footpath coming in from the right. Here turn right and follow this downhill to a small stream. Cross the stepping stones and keep left on a path leading into fields.

 

Keep ahead to intercept the Bronte Way and then turn right for Bronte Bridge.

 

For the remainder of the walk keep on the Bronte Way

 

as it takes you to Haworth

 

and the parsonage -

 

home of that most remarkable of families - the Brontes.