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Brontë Waterfall & Top Withens Walk: The Complete Guide

Brontë Waterfall & Top Withens Walk: The Complete Guide

Step straight into the pages of a Brontë sister novel on this incredibly wild and windswept walk in the West Yorkshire moors. Located in the village of Haworth, within the affectionately termed ‘Brontë Country’ is a fantastic circular walk to Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens – the remote and ruined farmhouse thought to have inspired Emily’s Wuthering Heights. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the walk, including passing through the historical Penistone Hill Country Park.

Read our guides about Hardcastle Crags, Ilkley Moor and Stoodley Pike

What Is Brontë Waterfall & Top Withens?

Brontë Waterfall is a beautifully quaint and unassuming cascade located in the rugged moorland of Brontë Country. The area is so called because of its association with the Brontë sisters – Charlotte, Emily and Anne. In fact, Top Withens, which is an old dilapidated farmhouse reached on the Brontë Waterfall Walk, is thought to be Emily Brontë’s inspiration for Wuthering Heights, the home of the Earnshaw family in her book of the same name.

Once you’ve been, the wild and beguiling landscape certainly conjures up haunting images of Heathcliff crying out for his lost love. Well, you might need to use a little imagination, but the inspiration is definitely palpable.

The South Dean Beck flows into Brontë Waterfall, which looks much more impressive after a bout of rain.

So, where exactly are Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens located?

Where Is the Brontë Waterfall & Top Withens Walk?

Brontë Waterfall and Top Withins are located near the pretty village of Haworth in West Yorkshire, England. The area falls within the South Pennines and can be reached easily from the major cities of Leeds and Manchester. The walk to reach Top Withins via Brontë Waterfall begins from Haworth and passes through Penistone Hill Country Park, an abandoned quarry.

Brontë Waterfall map

How to Visit Brontë Waterfall

The only way to visit Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens is via a walk. The walk we’ll describe below begins from Haworth village, before ascending up into the moorland through Penistone Hill Country Park, to Brontë Waterfall and Bridge. Once at the waterfall, you have the option to head back to Haworth or continue on to Top Withins. All in all, the walk takes a few hours to complete, covering a distance of 12km. Indeed, this walk will delight literature fans and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Brontë Waterfall Walk Map & Stats

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 12km (7.5 miles)
  • Time: 3–4 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 310m
  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
  • Trailhead: West Lane, Haworth
  • Map: Wikiloc
Bronte Waterfall and Top Withens Walk map

Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens Walk Description

Dan and I began the walk from West Lane in Haworth, as we arrived early enough to grab a free roadside park. From there, we headed into the picturesque village to join the Brontë Waterfall trail at St Michael’s Church. The Brontës’ father was the vicar here, and, with the exception of Anne, you’ll find all of the family interred together in the family tomb. It’s worth checking out as you pass through.

The trail cuts between the church and the Black Bull Pub, where you’ll pass through the church grounds and past Top Car Park (another parking option).

You’ll pass a wooden signpost that will indicate the way to Top Withens and Brontë Falls. Follow the trail for roughly 3.5km, climbing sharply up into Penistone Hill Country Park, before gradually descending into the valley of the waterfall.

Signpost along the Bronte Waterfall walk in Haworth

Brontë Waterfall

You’ll find Brontë Waterfall tucked into the rock bed of the valley wall on your left. It trickles playfully down into Sladen Beck. You can take an unofficial trail up the hillside to explore a little more of Brontë Falls up close. It’s often muddy, so take care.

The waterfall wasn’t in full flow when we visited, but it was still worth walking to nevertheless. The moss-covered rocks and secretive setting make Brontë Waterfall quite beautiful. At the base of Brontë Falls, back on the main trail, you’ll find a rock with a plaque and poem inscribed on it.

Bronte Waterfall

Brontë Bridge

Once you’ve enjoyed Brontë Waterfall, the walk continues by crossing the Sladen Beck River using the Brontë Bridge. There is a stone on the other side of the bridge popularly referred to as the Brontë Chair, as that is what it’s loosely shaped like. It’s also thought that the sisters would sit here and tell stories.

Crossing the Bronte Bridge

Top Withens

A stone staircase leads out of the Brontë Waterfall valley and begins to ascend into the moorland. The landscape becomes more barren and remote. The trail is exposed and can feel quite windy and harsh in the elements. Almost ‘wuthering’, you might say. But for us, it just added to the feeling of getting lost in the literature.

The walk to Top Withens is easy to follow, passing numerous stiles and dodging any unforgiving boggy sections. It won’t be long till you’re spying the haunting shape of Top Withens farmhouse in the distance. In reality, it’s just a dilapidated farmhouse. But, the magic of the visit all depends on how much you’re willing to let your imagination run wild.

Top Withens on the Bronte Waterfall walk

At Top Withens, you’ll find a small plaque outside. It’s worth a quick read. It basically states that Top Withins bears no resemblance to how Emily Brontë described Wuthering Heights in her novel, but that its situation may have been in mind when she wrote her book. So, if you thought you were going to stumble across an exact replica of Wuthering Heights, you’ll be a little disappointed.

Beck on the Top Withens Walk near to Penistone Hill Country Park

Following the stone-flagged path away from Top Withens, the walk retraces the initial trail you walked up before you meet a fork in the path. Take the trail to the left and continue to enjoy the Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens Walk through the desolate moorland landscape.

Eventually, the trail joins with Back Lane. Follow this country lane as it descends back into Haworth.

So, now that you know all about the Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens Walk, let’s look at some practical tips for visiting.

Beck on the Top Withens Walk near Haworth and Penistone Hill Country Park

Useful Things to Know Before You Go

There are a few useful bits of information and things to know before visiting Haworth and walking to Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens. Let’s start with how to get to Haworth in the first place.

How to Get to Brontë Waterfall

The quickest and easiest way to get to Haworth for the Brontë Waterfall Walk is to drive there yourself.

Car Hire

If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.

To find out more about renting a car with Discover Cars, read our Discover Cars review and Discover Cars Insurance review.

Brontë Waterfall Parking

Dan and I arrived early at Haworth and found free roadside parking here, on West Lane on the northern side of the village. But, there are numerous car parks to use. After all, Haworth is a tourist attraction in its own right, regardless of whether you choose to walk to Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens.

  • Brontë Parsonage Museum Car Park: open 8am to midnight, charges apply, but they’re currently as little as 80p/hour. Not ideal if you’re after an early start like we were.
  • Brontë Village Coach and Car Park: located south of the village centre and just a few minutes walk from the bottom of Main Street. Charges apply.
  • Haworth Car Park: this small but centrally located car park is open 24 hours and fills quickly. Charges apply.
  • Central Car Park: this is a privately owned car park, so check charges upon arrival. Location-wise, it’s hard to beat.

Public Transport

It’s possible to get to Haworth for the Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens Walk using public transport. The B3 Bronte bus runs frequently in the area, and you can pick it up from Hebden Bridge and Keighley, depending on which direction you’re travelling from. It’s fairly straightforward to get a train from further afield to both of these towns.

We recommend using Google Maps and the Trainline to help plan your journey.

Despite public transport being an option, we recommend driving (if that’s possible) as it’s much simpler and less time-consuming.

Booking Trains


Trainline is one of the best online platforms for booking trains. By using Trainline, you can easily find the best available prices and times for your journey. We always use Trainline to book our train journeys in the UK and in Europe.

Brontë Waterfall Facilities and Amenities

You won’t find any public amenities along the Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens walking trail. There are public toilets in Haworth’s Central Park, located here. Alternatively, you’ll find plenty of tea rooms, cafes and restaurants in Haworth to make use of.

Other Things to Do in Haworth

  • Lower Laithe Reservoir: the Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens Walk skirts, albeit widely, around Lower Laithe Reservoir. Detouring to the reservoir is a nice way to extend the walk should you wish. As you descend from the moors onto Back Lane, look out for Reservoir Road on your right. This will take you to Lower Laithe.
  • Penistone Hill Country Park: the initial stages of the Brontë Falls trail pass through Penistone Hill Country Park. The area used to be the site of three now disused quarries named Dimples, Penistone and West End. The area is full of rock boulders and small ponds and is particularly great for mountain biking. There’s also a short heritage trail describing its past use and geology.
  • Brontë Parsonage Museum: the Parsonage was home to the Brontë family from 1820 to 1861. It’s the place where Charlotte, Emily and Anne wrote their now incredibly well-known and well-loved novels. Now, the Brontë Parsonage is a museum and a popular place to visit for any literature fans.
  • The Brontë Way: The Brontë Way is a 69km (43 mile) trail starting near Birstall close to Bradford, finishing at Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham, Burnley.
Dan and Beck walk through Haworth and Penistone Hill Country Park
Walking through Haworth village

Visit Yorkshire Dales National Park

If you’re looking for more naturally beautiful places to visit in Yorkshire, then you’ll have to go to the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Below, we’ve listed some of the best places to visit and walks to do in the Dales.

Trow Gill on the Ingleborough hike
Trow Gill on the way to climbing Ingleborough


Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about visiting Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens.

Why Is it Called Brontë Waterfall?

The falls are named Brontë Waterfall due to the association with the Brontë sisters who grew up and wrote their novels in the area. Charlotte Brontë even described the falls as “fine indeed; a perfect torrent racing over the rocks, white and beautiful“.

How Long Is the Brontë Waterfall Walk?

The Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens Walk is 12km long, taking 3–4 hours to complete.

Was Top Withins the Inspiration For Wuthering Heights?

Although Top Withens doesn’t actually resemble Emily Brontë’s depiction of Wuthering Heights in her novel, the ruined farmhouse is still widely believed to have been her inspiration.

Is the Brontë Waterfall & Top Withens Walk Dog Friendly?

Yes, but you must keep your dog on a lead. Gates and fences even have signage instructing you to do so. This is because the moorlands are famous for their birdlife including curlews, golden plovers, peregrines and merlins.

Views from the Penistone Hill Country Park surrounding Bronte Waterfall

What to Wear and Pack

Below, you’ll find our hiking gear essentials for the Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens Walk through Penistone Hill Country Park.

Osprey Skarab 30
Osprey Skarab 30

The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.

Osprey Ultralight Raincover
Osprey Ultralight Raincover

A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.

GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle

The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.

BUFF Original Ecostretch
BUFF Original Ecostretch

The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.

Sony Cybershot RX100 VII
Sony Cybershot RX100 VII

Capture epic photos and videos with the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII. This is hands-down the best compact camera. We love using this simple point-and-shoot camera when we’re hiking as it’s lightweight and durable.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

Travel Insurance

Heymondo is one of the best budget travel insurance providers on the market. They provide comprehensive travel and medical insurance that won’t break the bank. Whether it’s single trip insurance, annual multi-trip insurance or long stay insurance, Heymondo offers affordable travel and medical insurance to suit all of your needs. Personally, we use Heymondo travel insurance and highly recommend it. To find out more about Heymondo travel and medical insurance, read our Heymondo travel insurance review.

Travel Insurance

Heymondo Travel Insurance

Don’t leave for your trip without booking travel insurance. We all know accidents can happen and having Heymondo travel insurance could save you thousands of dollars if something goes wrong. Click the button below to receive a 5% discount!

Other Yorkshire Dales Guides

Hardraw Force

For more information about the best things to do in the Yorkshire Dales, click the button below. Otherwise, to help you get started, read our 42 Best Yorkshire Dales Walks or 48 Best Yorkshire Dales Waterfalls guides.

Best Villages to See in the Yorkshire Dales

Bonus Tips

  • A hit in Japan: you’ll notice the signposts indicating the way around the Brontë Waterfall and Top Withens Walk are also translated into Japanese. That’s because the novel is overwhelmingly popular in Japan, and many tourists flock to Haworth to take on the famous waterfall walk.
  • Early bird gets a parking spot: to nab a free roadside park, you’ll need to arrive early. Also, to enjoy a quieter trail, avoid weekends and school holidays if possible.
  • Yorkshire weather: although a spot of rain does wonders for the Brontë Waterfall, the exposed nature of the moorland walk to Top Withens is not so forgiving in a downpour. Check the weather here before you head out.

Save or share this post ready for your trip to Brontë country in Yorkshire.

Beck Piggott

With an art and design based background, Beck uses photography and writing to help inspire readers to climb mountains, hike coastal trails and chase waterfalls around the globe.

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