Ponden Kirk - Alcomden Stones - Crow Hill - Ponden Kirk

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This walk treads amongst the ghosts, real and fictional, of Emily Bronte's classic novel Wuthering Heights. The Bronte family lived in the parsonage in nearby Haworth and Emily regularly walked the local moors and is believed to have used local features and places in her book. On this walk you will see Ponden Kirk, possibly Emily’s Penistone Crag. The walk finishes near Ponden Hall, which could have been the inspiration for Thrushcross Grange. In between those points, the route visits other places of interest on the Bronte moors, including Alcomden Stones, Crow Hill and the Lad o' Crow Hill.

The walk starts from Ponden Reservoir and heads for Ponden Kirk. Where the name comes from is a bit of a mystery, the word Kirk being a north country and Scots name for a church. In all honesty, this small gritstone crag looks little like a church, unless of course it is shrouded in mist, a common occurrence around here.

One point of view is that the crag could have had significance for an older, pagan religion that preceded Christianity. It certainly has its own legend. At the bottom of the crag is a slot in the rock called the Fairy Cave that an agile person could crawl through. The legend is that if a maiden crawls through the slot, she will be married within a year.

After Ponden Kirk the route climbs to the Alcomden Stones, where again there is a curious rock feature in the form of a slab of rock lying across two other rocks. Victorians speculated that this was a form of dolmen, or chambered tomb, but disappointingly it is much more likely to be a natural phenomenon. It makes a good place for lunch, though.

After that comes a stretch over open moorland, giving great wide views when the visibility is good. A quick invocation to the weather gods at Ponden Kirk might help, but be prepared for mist. The objective is Crow Hill, which is just over the border in adjacent Lancashire.

After Crow Hill, a steady descent leads to The Lad o' Crow Hill, a triangular stone block on which is carved 'LAD ORSCARR ON CROW HILL'. More mystery here; one story goes that a boy died near here in a snowstorm on the border of two parishes and neither parish would accept responsibility for the burial. The upshot was that he was buried where he was found. A much more likely explanation though, is that a 'lad' in these parts is a guide stone.

In theory this is a short walk with little height gain, but don't underestimate it. The section between Ponden Kirk and Alcomden Stones is far from being a manicured path and the open section from Alcomden Stones to Crow Hill would need careful navigation in mist. On a clear sunny day however, it makes a great introduction to the rolling moorland between Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

England - North England - Yorkshire - Pennines


Great Views, Moor, Pub
12/4/2013 - Alec Jackson

Just did the walk today (04/12/13). Good walk with excellent views. Only problem was the stretch between WM05 and WM06. The faint path was nearly non-existent. I climbed to the top of the bank and spotted a path above the stream on the opposite side. I crossed the stream and followed the path which came out just above WM06. It might be advisable to cross the bridge rather than continuing. The path would appear to be used by shooters as there are grouse butts alongside the path.

12/4/2013 - Alec Jackson

Good walk for dogs. Only drawback is the ladder stile just before WM03. Easy to lift small/medium dog over.

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