Top Withens

If you’re a Brontë  fan, particularly of you’re a Wuthering Heights fan, you’ll know all about bleak, cold and windy Top Withens, where Catherine Earnshaw, love interest of tortured anti-hero Heathcliff is said to have lived.

The last time I was there it was a sunny and cheerful day, perfect for striding out on the moors.

But even on a day like that, Top Withens still looks starkly austere.  Enclosing it in a square makes it less so, so I include the original photo too.

#Squaretops 20

54 thoughts on “Top Withens”

  1. Having no personal experiences with ‘your’ Wuthering Heights, I can still say that I made the same observations – I took many photos of the rolling hills of Devon with a little copse or just one tree on top of it – and then I LOVE squaring it…. it’s a sensual and immensly satisfying experience…..
    Writing this makes me smile to myself because in real life, I’m anything but a ‘square’ person….. Searching some sort of order in an otherwise unruly life maybe???? Oh Margaret, what have you done to me this Monday morning? 😉

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    1. I don’t know Kiki! But I don’t really like the square image here. It’s domesticated the scene too much for my liking. I love being in touch with my lonely and abandoned self up on those moors.

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      1. you’re right. What I meant to say is that I love doing squares to bring out the tree or whatever to its prime position. I also absolutely love the large second view. We mustn’t limit ourselves to just like ONE take…. And I see that the moors have an alluring impact on you. I get it 🙂

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  2. I always think of a monochrome image of the late Fay Godwin’s when Top Withens is mentioned, seriously bleak and forbidding, remind me to show you it when we speak on Wednesday! I actually like your square one here

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  3. Very Wuthering Heights. On a warmer day I could happily sit up there and read the book again. I prefer your 16×9 version, but that is a format I always love – though I do enjoy squares, too 🙂

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  4. Yes, what a difference this makes to a photo! I visited Top Withens some years ago with a group of English teachers from all over the world. A magical walk up there. Sun shining and sheep munching away or sleeping in the shadows of the few trees. And we were all lovers of Wuthering Heights of course… Do I see some sheep far away in your photos as well? I think so.

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    1. Of course you do! Sheep are obligatory in Yorkshire. I’m so glad you’ve visited the real thing, though for authenticity’s sake it should have been raining and blowing a gale.

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  5. Here you go again, taking me back to my teenage self, walking here on an English trip! I seem to have spent a lot of time in these spots what with Geography and English trips – probably one reason why I actually enjoyed my school days. On the whole. Not the dinners.

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      1. What’s wrong with battered fish, mash and beetroot? Or that weird cold custard and jam slice? But you must have loved the cornflake/toffee cake? Ah, memories 🙂 🙂

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      2. Cornflake and toffee cake? Battered fish? Not a chance. Gristle stew and spotted dick and for-what-we-are-about-to-receive-may-the-Lord-make-us-truly-thankful.

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      3. I was a girls’ grammar school type too, and loved it. Luckily we weren’t in a prefab but in a room overlooking the gym. The gym roof provided a perfect feeding ground for pigeons who liked spam fritters. Places by the windows were highly prized.

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  6. Well, that was provocative of you to link to that review in the Guardian! Rather than the book being a hot mess, Emily Bronte carefully constructed the book so, for example, it had not one but two narrators (Mr Lockwood and Nelly Dean), each of dubious reliability … Needless to say I could go on, but I won’t 😀
    Perhaps the reviewer might moderate her tone had she read some of Emily Bronte’s poetry, such as https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/52309/i-am-the-only-being-whose-doom
    I like how your photo conveys the bleakness of the moors and how the house is so exposed to the elements.
    (You have probably guessed that I do not regard “Wuthering Heights” as merely being an earlier version of “Fifty Shades of Grey” – I do confess though that I have not read the latter.) 😀

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  7. I lived near Haworth for a few years growing up – we lived in Silsden below the moors on the other side of Keighley. I was always fascinated by the Brontes and loved Wuthering Heights as a teenager but find it far too dark and forbidding for my tastes now! Hardly romantic and those moors always look so bleak to me. Funnily enough relatives on my mum’s side lived lived atop the Moors near Colne (now Lancashire but I believe Yorkshire in the mid 1800s). Anyway that’s the line of The Scandal we were discussing on your family history blog – maybe something to do with living in such a wild and desolate place?!

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    1. I think the world divides into people like you, and into those like me who absolutely love bleak. So long as I have a cosy bolt-hole afterwards. We pass through Colne every time we visit my daughter – lovely countryside there. But what with Pendle Witches, and Heathcliff not too far away, probably best avoided at night.

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      1. I read the stories about the Pendle witches when I was researching my family stuff- very spooky! The branch of my family near Colne lived in a small place called Trawden – their farm was called Stunstead, which I think is a small community on the edge of the town (or village I believe its very small). The family had lived there for generations but my 2 times great grandmother moved to Bradford when she married my 2 times great grandfather in 1859 (well on paper that is!). There is a stark beauty in the bleakness, which I do appreciate, though like you would feel the need for somewhere cosy to go afterwards. I can imagine arriving back on a wild night at the farmhouse and coming in to a roaring fire in the kitchen! It must have been a tough life back in the day. We went up the Yorkshire Moors near Haworth a lot when I was little but don’t think we ever got as far as Colne and I would like to explore there some day 🙂

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      2. My maternal grandmother’s family is from that area too, so maybe our ancestors met. Colne is very down on its luck these days – at least those parts we see on our journeys to my daughter. And Wikipedia is describing Trawden as a medium sized village!

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      3. How interesting! Trawden was part of the Chapelry of Colne back in day (1700s and 1800s) so am guessing it wasn’t that big. My family were the Midgleys who owned land round those parts – they intermarried with Hartleys Shackletons, Harrisons and Sagars amongst others it got very confusing trying to work it all out but I made a lot of progress!

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