Despite having grown up in Brontë country, I’m rather a latecomer to their work. However, I’ve now happily embraced the drama, brooding menfolk and romantic portrayals of the moors. This weekend I celebrated 37 turns around the sun and decided what I really wanted was a Brontë birthday adventure.
Luckily for me, I have an obliging husband and friends. They were happy to accompany me on a hike to Top Withens in Haworth. Touted as the location for the house Wuthering Heights, Top Withens is a remote ruined farmstead. Standing high on the moors the building itself bears no resemblance to that in the novel. Nevertheless, it’s easy to see the attraction of the location.
Our walk took us via the picturesque Brontë waterfall and bridge. Last time I visited the falls it was all but obscured by the bracken. At this time of year, the foliage has died back and the flow of water is bolstered by the recent wet weather. At the base of the falls is a curiously shaped stone. Looking very much like a chair, legend has it that the sisters took turns sitting upon it while writing their novels. I can’t say I was gripped with any great literary urges when I sat upon it, but it is a nice spot to perch for a moment.
From there, a delightful stone bridge crosses over South Dean Beck. Climbing up the path over the bridge a signpost points towards Top Withens. My eagle-eyed child spotted a ruin by a tree on the horizon which we all agreed couldn’t possibly be our destination. It was far too far away. And yet, a mile or so later we had indeed reached the ruin, which was indeed Top Withens. In all fairness, it isn’t the most picturesque of ruins, but the views are gorgeous. And strangely enough, the famous wuthering winds were entirely absent all day. The promised rain never materialised, and walking back the sun emerged and turned the whole moor golden and bronze.
All in all, it was a wonderful Brontë birthday.
The following day was my actual birthday and what did I unwrap? A stunning copy of Wuthering Heights with illustrations by Rovina Cai – I told you my husband was nice!