Oxenhope, Leeshaw Reservoir, Penistone Hill, Haworth and Mytholmes

This walk follows examples of English literature in two very different forms. First we have the classical Victorian era of the Bronte Sisters when in the first half of the walk I follow the Bronte Way into Haworth which was home to the Bronte family for many years. Indeed, the walk visits the Bronte Parsonage and if you wish to take a break halfway around the walk by visiting the Parsonage Museum then you can do so. There is much to enjoy in Haworth apart from the Bronte's though like a walk up and down the fabled cobbled streets of the town which the riders of the Tour De France 2014 cycled up.

The second half of the walk starts by leaving Haworth and following paths to Mytholmes from where the Railway Children walk is followed. The walk is inspired by the book written by Edith Nesbit in 1905 and later filmed in location in the area during 1970, the film starring Iain Cuthbertson, Dinah Sheridan, Bernard Cribbins, Jenny Agutter and Sally Thomsett. The Railway Children walk passes the sites of some impressive disused mills, follows Bridgehouse Beck and if you are lucky, as I was, a moment of magic waving at a steam train hurtling past on the Worth Valley Heritage line. Fittingly the walk ends where I started near to Oxenhope Railway Station which is on the heritage line.

Google Maps Open Source Maps

Statistics and Files
Start: Oxenhope Distance: 8.5 miles (13.7 km) Climbing: 385 metres
Grid Ref: SE031353 Time: 4 hours Rating: Moderate
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Haworth
Start: Oxenhope Distance: 8.5 miles (13.7 km)
Grid Ref: SE031353 Time: 4 hours
Climbing: 385 metres Rating: Moderate
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

The Walk: I decided to start the walk from near to Oxenhope railway station which is the terminus of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. Later I would walk close to the final few miles of the line for the terminus of my walk. For now though I would head south, away from the railway and into the village. It was a bracing February morning, I was dressed for the cold with suitable thermals, winter walking clothes, woolly hat and with mitten gloves on my hands to keep out the chill. The gloves are the mitten type with finger and thumb detachments which I prefer as they allow me to take a quick photograph, read the map or check the GPS quickly and unhindered before throwing the finger and thumb parts back over to rewarm my cooling digits when done.

View from Oxenhope to the Worth ValleyView from Oxenhope to the Worth Valley
Hard Nese, OxenhopeHard Nese, Oxenhope

I had parked at the north end of Cross Lane, at the bottom of a hill, and walked up the street into the village centre. The climbing immediately warmed me up to the task ahead. At the top of Cross Lane I passed Oxenhope Primary School, non residential now but the inscription 'Board School' above the front door suggested it used to be a more permanent house of learning in the past. After the school Cross Lane terminated and I followed the A6033 Hebden Bridge Road past the village cricket ground, Oxenhope Fisheries and the Bay Horse Inn. Continuing along the road I came to St Mary Church, Oxenhope. The church walls were boarded up with support. They were in repair. My walk through the village was done, I turned right from the road and down a snicket to reach Hard Nese. Once I reached an elevated path the views opened up to the north, straight towards Haworth and the Worth Valley. In the bright February sunshine the view was amazing.

The view west to the moorsThe view west to the moors
Winding track near Hard Nese CloughWinding track near Hard Nese Clough

I continued walking west along the lane towards Hard Nese Clough. A few minutes earlier I had been in the middle of habitation. Now was in the middle of nowhere. The first stretch of uphill which provided the view north to the Worth Valley and a view west to the outlier moorland gave way to a descent which quickly took the views I had earned on the initial climb away. I continued descending the lane until I stepped across the beck of Hard Nese Clough from where I climbed along a snaky dry-stone walled bridleway to the farm of Lower Fold. Here I was greeted by an elderly Gentleman, a lady tending horses and by three friendly dogs, each of which wanted to lick or sniff. "They are only being friendly" the lady said. "OK thanks, it is quite a common greeting I get from dogs while out walking" I replied. Licks, sniffs and mucky paws from over zealous dogs I encounter on my walks are the usual results. Fortunately I cannot recall the last bite though I do get a snarl from angry dogs now and then, mostly from the restrained chained or caged ones.

Leeshaw ReservoirLeeshaw Reservoir
Snowdrops near Westfield FarmSnowdrops near Westfield Farm

After the meeting with the chummy canines I walked down a lane and then into a field which led me down the trail towards Leeshaw Reservoir. In the field I met more friendly animals, these being horses, probably ones in the tenure of the lady with the dogs at Lower Fold. After exiting the field I walked east along the vehicular track past Leeshaw Reservoir. A gentleman was standing beside the track with his Binoculars strapped around his neck. "Seen anything interesting?" I asked. "Not so much yet" he replied though he added "There are a few Lapwing pairs in the field behind, but I am looking for a sight of Oystercatchers". I watched the Lapwings displaying their customary twisting flight and frequent all of a sudden nose dives. As I walked off I wished the gentleman well. At the other end of the reservoir a lady was sat peacefully in the passenger seat of a car. She was probably waiting for a Birdwatcher. I walked onto Lee Lane and them immediately left it to walk up a lane towards Westfield Farm. The flower white of Snowdrops delighted me as I spotted them near a copse.

View from Penistone Hill to Lower Laithe ReservoirView from Penistone Hill to Lower Laithe Reservoir
St Michael and All Angels Church, HaworthSt Michael and All Angels Church, Haworth

After passing Westfield Farm the lane ended but I kept the same line heading north towards Sand Delf Hill by crossing a stile and tracking close to the edge of a field. It was riddled with molehills which caused me to meander around them now and then. At the end of the field I reached the moor from where I turned right and walked past Drop Farm to arrive at Penistone Hill. Here I joined the Bronte Way, renewing my acquaintance with the popular heritage path I walked part of during my Great Britain End to End walk during the summer of 2011. It was not this part of the Bronte Way then though, I had last been on Penistone Hill during my Haworth Moor and Top Withins walk. I looked out across the exciting views of the moors and dales from Penistone Hill for a good ten minutes while other walkers passed leisurely by doing the very same thing. Penistone Hill is always a popular place to visit. Many do by car and just walk around the hill; others make more effort by walking up the lane past Balcony Farm from Haworth. Indeed from Penistone Hill as I walked down the lane a few groups of people walked up. After the lane I turned left on a path past a car park and some smallholdings to reach Haworth. I was in the midst of the history of the Bronte sisters now.

Bronte Parsonage MuseumBronte Parsonage Museum
Main Street, HaworthMain Street, Haworth

The church of St Michael and All Angels is central to the Bronte legend. It was one of its former incumbents, the Reverend Patrick Bronte who lived in the Parsonage with his children just to the west of the Church building from 1820 until 1861. The Parsonage is now a museum dedicated to his family and in particular to the literary exploits of his daughters Charlotte, Emily and Anne and the life of their brother Branwell. A few people were collecting tickets from the booking office to visit the Parsonage Museum as I sat on as bench taking a short breather. I was not tired, I was just taking in the atmosphere of the place. It only requires a walk round to the front of the church to reach Haworth Main Street, always endearingly famous for the cobbled road and in 2014 brought to the notice of a wider audience as part of the route of the Tour De France. There were no crowds watching a bike race as I walked down the street. It was lovely and quite with a comfortable few other people enjoying the grace of the place. After walking down the cobbled main street I walked back up it. Otherwise I would have been going in the wrong direction.

Walking from Haworth to MytholmesWalking from Haworth to Mytholmes
Disused Vale Mills near HaworthDisused Vale Mills near Haworth

I walked north from Haworth Main Street along Changegate and then crossed the B6142 North Street to keep along Changegate until I reached a path along a lane to my right. This took me to the edge of a row of back gardens and then across a field to another path where there were a few enclosures all with different exotic breeds of ducks, hens and some very nosy Turkeys, one of which followed me back and forth. as I turned so did the Turkey, mirroring my actions. It was so funny. After the laugh with the bird I followed the path along a couple of streets to reach Hebble Row which I followed to cross the River Worth. After crossing the river I followed Hebble Row a little further towards Oakworth before leaving the roadside path to follow the Railway Children Walk for the first time. I went under a bridge beneath the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway line and stood by the roadside viewing the poignant site of disused Vale Mills. It was eerily quiet.

On the Railway Children walk near Ebor MillOn the Railway Children walk near Ebor Mill
Haworth Railway StationHaworth Railway Station

From Vale Mills I continued on the Railway Children Walk by walking south and back into the east of Haworth. Much of the walking was now on lanes along the narrow valley floor, close to the railway line and closer still to Bridgehouse Beck, now a relatively quite place as once it was the power source for a number of waterside mills. I came to another one with a huge mill chimney still standing. This one was Ebor Mill, the huge main mill building having being destroyed by a fire in 2010 so to see the chimney still standing was a heartening sight. It is a sad affair to see mills disappear from the consciousness because of neglect. They will have been great sights to the Bronte and Railway Children families. I would much rather see more of the great mill buildings converted to modern use. Too late for the Ebor Mill building now; I hope Vale Mills is saved a pyrotechnic fate. I continued on from the site of the old mill on Ebor Lane to reach Station Road in Haworth, which, true to the promise of the street name, led me past Haworth Railway Station.

Railway Children Walk from Haworth and OxenhopeRailway Children Walk from Haworth and Oxenhope
Lunch spot on Packhorse Bridge over Bridgehouse BeckLunch spot on Packhorse Bridge over Bridgehouse Beck

Soon after I passed Haworth Railway Station I left the town and followed paths along lanes and across fields in a southerly direction along the valley bottom towards Oxenhope. I was walking into the heart of the Railway Children story now, close to the house where the children stayed and which I could see on the other side of the valley. I came to a derelict house, one falling down through neglect and as I looked at the sorry state I heard a whistle. It was coming from the direction of Haworth Railway Station. I walked on from the derelict house to one in current ownership. Just after the house a fork in the path gave me the option of going straight on along the access road to the house or to turn right down to beside Bridgehouse Beck. I chose to walk down to the beck which proved to be a most fortuitous decision. It was now midday and with the sun shining it was warming. I had not noticed the cold I had set off with for ages anyway and when I reached a pretty stone packhorse bridge spanning the beck I knew it was time for lunch. I settled down, took out the tuck from my backpack and my flask full of delicious hot coffee. I was calmed, chilled out and as I ate and reflected on the walk I thought of how lucky I was. I could have dozed but then all of a sudden my temporary lethargy was hit by, at the time, what felt like an electric shock. A WOW moment was imminent.

The WOW moment when the steam train roared byThe WOW moment when the steam train roared by
Oxenhope Railway StationOxenhope Railway Station

The whistle pricked my consciousness into frantic action. I quickly, albeit safely, put down my food and cup of hot drink and reached for my camera. I stepped up from my seat beside the packhorse bridge and leapt up onto a wall between the beck and the railway line linking Haworth and Oxenhope. Fortunately I could steady myself on the wall by making use of a bordering tree which gave me a fantastic vantage point to see down the length of the railway line towards Haworth. Luckily everything fell into place because this was the direction from which the train was approaching. I had only seconds to wait and prepare the camera. Whoosh, whoosh, toot, toot, it came louder and louder. quicker and quicker too, the train was steaming along at a fair place. Smoke was billowing upwards from its chimney. Just as I remembered as a young lad. As the steam train got to me the driver looked out, waved and let of a whistle. MAGIC!

Flippin' heck, that was amazing. I was so happy and I watched the train pass by with all its attending carriages. It began to slow as it passed me and headed into Oxenhope Railway Station. I smiled like the Cheshire Cat, a cheesy grin on my face as I walked back toward the starting point of my walk. The steam train was in the station, smoke now whiter and more sedately puffing out of the engine chimney. Some people were on the platform enjoying the moment. So did I but the highlight had passed further down the line. I simply admired the scene and then turned my head and left. I had half a flask of coffee to finish so I went in the memorial gardens opposite the station and thought about my day. My thoughts were all in accord, very good thoughts about a brilliant walk.

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