The ruins of Top Withens, high up on the windswept heather covered Yorkshire moorlands of Haworth Moor, both inspire and depress. Believed by many to be the setting for Emily Brontë’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights, the abandoned farm evokes the atmosphere of the Brontë sisters’ novels. The Brontë Society has erected a plaque explaining that the farmhouse, when occupied, bore no resemblance to the house Emily Brontë described in her novel, but the situation may have been in her mind when she wrote of the moorland setting of the Heights. The farm was last occupied by Ernest Roddy, a poultry farmer, in 1926. Top Withens is spelt Top Withins by some people, as this was the spelling in the 14th century, but it changed to Withens in the 17th century. Here, a mere three miles from the hill-top village of Haworth on the edge of the Pennines and nine miles from Bradford, sombre isolation can be found in these wild, brooding moorlands. The Brontë sisters loved to roam these beautiful moors.
The ruin is on the Pennine Way and is a popular walk for literary enthusiasts, who can leave their cars at the village of Stanbury. The Brontë novels are very popular in Japan and some of the signposts on Haworth Moor, are in Japanese to assist the many Japanese tourists.
Charlotte wrote of her sister, Emily, ‘My sister Emily loved the moors. They were far more to her than a mere spectacle; they were what she lived in and by as much as the wild birds, their tenants, or the heather, their produce. She found in the bleak solitude many and dear delights; and not the least and best loved was – liberty.’
The Brontë Waterfalls were popular with the Brontë sisters and are at their best after heavy rain. There is a walk of less than three miles from Haworth, on good footpaths. However, there are some uneven stone steps close to the Falls. The walk can be continued to Top Withens. There is a shorter walk of approximately one mile to the Falls, which are south west of Stanbury.