Haworth is a busy village, even midweek. Go there any afternoon and the coach park will be packed and Main Street full of tourists.

But if you put on your boots and head out of the village in any direction but Top Withens, then there is a strong chance you will see barely another soul.

That was my experience on the last Thursday in August, anyway. It was hardly surprising that few people had decided to venture out on foot on that day. We'd had a succession of daily downpours, with the odd bit of thunder and lightening thrown in as special effects, and the forecast wasn't encouraging.

But although it was going to be dull, it was also (with a bit of luck) going to be dry. So I took the forecasters at their word. Not many others did. I didn't see a single other person out walking on the field paths and country lanes of this five-miles-plus outing.

Mind you, it isn't the best-walked route in Bronte country even though it was recommended by the West Riding Ramblers Association in 1986 in their book Family Rambles Around Bradford.

The footpaths were indistinct and overgrown, some of the stiles were in a neglected state, and at the time I did the walk the waymarking left something to be desired. Nice walk, though.
I left Haworth and soon dropped down the valley to cross a wonderful old packhorse bridge called Long Bridge and head through the fields. I followed the River Worth upstream for a while before climbing up through woodland, with a stream cascading down through the trees and undergrowth below me.

Before long I was on the open road, looking back at the wide views of Haworth and the moors beyond – the solitary wind turbine overlooking the village to the left, the turning blades of the Ovenden Moor windfarm on the skyline, and the purple tint of heather everywhere.

The route took me past The Grouse Inn and on to a quiet lane, past a pond and a memorial plaque to Canadian airmen who perished when their plane crashed nearby at the beginning of 1944.

Then I was heading through fields again to return to the banks of the Worth (where a large fish rose and sank, leaving major turbulence behind it) before ending the walk with a strenuous slog up the hill back to Haworth on the road from Oakworth.

Step by Step

  1. Leave Haworth by lane which passes church and Parsonage. Continue past houses on right and follow paved route across a couple of fields to road. Cross and turn left. Walk on, ignoring road off to left, to where descending track goes right about 100 yards further on to Oldfield Farm. Look for ladder stile on left where track swings right to farm entrance, hidden behind an elder tree. Right of way goes down between walls, but if you follow it you could be up to your knees in mud. Instead, follow line of route down field to left of wall and keep on to Long Bridge.
  2. Cross bridge and turn right to metal gate. Go through this (or stile beside it, if one appears eventually) and continue with fence on left then across an open field to pass to left of barns and come to kissing gate and packhorse bridge. Don't cross bridge but instead turn right and walk up through woods with stream below on left. Where path meets overgrown track at top, turn left to ladder stile. Over it, keep ahead towards farm. Head for right of farm, to a stile into access track. Follow this up to road.
  3. Turn left and walk along road to telephone box. Go over stile immediately opposite this and up fields to another stile into road at top. Turn right and walk on to Grouse Inn.
  4. Take rough track forking left from here, in a while ignoring grassy fork to left and keeping on main track as it swings right to pass Oakworth Cottage. At fork immediately beyond this, keep ahead until you come to large gate on right leading down to white-painted Turnshaw Farm. Head for stile to left of farmhouse and follow path down to track. Keep along this to road.
  5. Cross road, turn left, and walk on to a pair of large gateposts on the right. Pass through and follow track as it passes a farmhouse and continues to swing right and then left to left-hand end of another farmhouse. Pass end of building and follow waymarker through a series of small gates into grassy track. At bottom, go over wall stile on left and walk on, with wall to right, through one gap in a wall and on to another in next wall just above wall corner (where stile should be). Go half right to step stile in wall beyond next field and then on to another step stile in wall on right. Over this, walk down to West Field Farm.
  6. Go through gate stile at bottom, with farm kitchen to your right, and turn left to end of building. Go right, and right again as if to approach front of farmhouse, but look left for waymark arrow on gate to right of barn. Follow path down several fields from here, until you reach bank of River Worth again. Now you can either turn right and walk upstream to Long Bridge and retrace your steps, or do as I did: turn left to road, then right to follow it up steep hill back to Haworth.

Fact File

  • Time for walk: two-and-a-half hours for 5½ miles.
  • Going: medium-easy, with a few uphill pulls.
  • Parking: in one of Haworth's pay-and-display car parks or travel there by train from Keighley.
  • Refreshments: in Haworth, and The Grouse Inn along the route.
  • Toilets: as above.