Weathering Heights [The Great Escape, day 2]

‘Don’t trust anyone who tells you they know a short-cut!’

So says one young woman as a group of them emerge from the deep shade of many trees on a  steeply sloping hillside.

We take no short cuts. But still the road seems to go forever on.

I’m not a walker. Past long walks (the maximum 13 miles) have put a severe strain on my relationship with the long tall Texan. He, too, is a short-form walker, but his legs are considerably longer than mine. And he weathers our self-imposed excesses with far better grace.

Which is why I decide that Top Withens, surely the ultimate destination for an Earnshaw, is beyond me. And anyway, I’ve seen it from afar.

It’s not the Wuthering Heights of my imagination. That’s not a lush, green hill under vibrant blue skies, feathered with weird and wonderful clouds. And it’s certainly not warm.

We aim instead for Brontë Falls, which, so the notes said, are a mere 2½ mile walk.

Hah. Never trust country miles.

DSCN1790We stop for a premature rest by some wild roses. I’ve seen these flowers before, painted by Charlotte’s delicate hand, reproduced on tea towels and cards in the Parsonage Museum shop.

I wonder if this bush is a scion of the one she captured in paint.

Charlotte's roses on a new tea towel

Charlotte’s roses on a new tea towel





An old reservoir glimmers in the distance, a stone turret out on the water, utilitarian but built as if it’s important, with windows. It looks enticing, that sky-reflecting water.WP_20160704_10_46_16_Pro

By the time we get to the sign (also in Japanese, should you need it) saying 1½ miles, I swear we’ve already gone at least that far.

We set out in bright sunshine, but this being Yorkshire – and Brontë country – I assume it will cloud over and rain. I have no hat. I’m wearing a bright yellow jacket with hood. And we have just one small bottle of water.WP_20160704_12_30_33_Pro

And still the road winds onwards – and upwards.

Sheep laze or graze.

A dead rat lies splayed on the path.


A wreck of a house is now home to a large and flourishing elder tree and a family of black birds that could be rooks or ravens or crows.


It’s all wrong, this sunshine, this should be a sinister, brooding sight, but hey, it’s the day it is – and we’ve still a way to go.

The sky distracts with a mesmerising pageant. Clouds, performing against a backdrop of gentian blue, under a constant sun.


Looking back along the path


A fragile feather?


Weather, approaching

At last the path dips down Picking our way carefully over stones and muddy ground, we finally reach our goal.

A delicate bridge crosses a tumbling stream.DSCN1803

The peace is palpable. We sit, alone a while. We saw only one other couple along the way and they were ascending from this spot as we descended.

WP_20160704_11_46_47_ProSoon another couple – sensibly be-hatted – arrives and sits in the shade. Next, a lone man wearing a brilliant white shirt.

And then, a Jack Russell, in harness, pulling along another couple.

The water’s a clear brown, like milkless tea. It gurgles and burbles as it rollicks down the valley.

Birds sing.

The air smells like honey mixed with mown grass.

The world is perfect.


Looking back the way we came

Except, we now have to turn around.

Up the hill, through the reeds and bracken, the startling purple foxglove spears. Past the old wreck, again. The reservoir with its stone turret.  The dead rat – and a desiccated frog I missed last time.

Yorkshire. The force is strong!

Yorkshire. The force is strong!

My head is hot. The water bottle is empty. The longed-for bench bears a sign saying ‘wet paint’.

At last, we reach the field across the back of town. A narrow entrance to be squeezed through.


Ordnance Survey map for scale…

Strait is the gate, as the scriptures say. But this one’s a warning for the walk-lite and frame-heavy, not the rich.

My own frame is complaining now, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, this walk.

Brontë country looks different now, to me. Not bleak, but beautiful. Magnificent. Inspiring. Or do I mean inspirational?


And now, there must be water. Then, maybe, tea and cake.

A reward and a refuelling, for a weathering.

Top Withens, a mile or more too far, in the distance

Top Withens, a mile or more too far, in the distance

This entry was posted in Art, jaunts & going out, Yorkshire and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Weathering Heights [The Great Escape, day 2]

  1. mud4fun says:

    LOL, what bad timing. You must have got the only warm sunny day in the last few weeks. We’ve had unseasonably cold weather with torrential rain, strong winds and foreboding black clouds which have been far more in keeping to the atmosphere of a good Bronte novel 🙂

    PS. Lovely photos 🙂


    • I know – it’s been gorgeous – a lttle rain but not much in the scheme of things. I lived near here for a while and every time I ever came here it was wet and miserable! I couldn’t believe how gorgeous the skies were …Sigh. Have to go home.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Christa says:

    Fabulous, despite the lack of wuthering. And, yes, absolutely beautiful photos. Thank you! I am definitely going there.


  3. There’s something about being out there – little roses and old wrecks of houses – all make life seem more real and more connected to the world’s history of ordinary people.
    Enjoyed all the pictures


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