Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Ponden Hall to Ponden Kirk, Bronte Country

The other weekend I returned to the wonderful Ponden Hall, my favourite place to stay in the Bronte Country. This time my intention was to explore the dramatic countryside around Ponden and locations linked to Emily Bronte's novel "Wuthering Heights". I was particularly keen on seeing Ponden Kirk, a large rock high up on Stanbury Moor, the place Emily chose for Cathy and Heathcliff to meet in the novel.
It was a mainly cloudy, but dry day with the sun only very occasionally trying to break through the rather thick clouds. After a hearty English breakfast cooked by lovely Julie, the landlady at Ponden Hall, I set off by myself on the long planned 4.5 mile walk. I felt pure excitement and just a little bit of trepidation at the prospect of being alone on the top of wild and windswept moorland area as yet unknown to me.

I headed north-west of Ponden, along a rural track flanked with one or two farms.

The sun was trying to push through some menacing clouds creating beautiful light and painting the sky moody blue-grey .

Looking back towards the hamlet of Ponden....

.........I often turn around on my walks and look back at the scenery behind me not wanting to possibly miss any good shoots around me.

One of the stunning views over Ponden reservoir which Ponden Hall overlooks sitting high above it.

I soon turned up a different track leading to the moor, the reservoir still in sight.

Beautiful views across the Worth Valley accompanied me a good part of my way. I liked how the sheep was framed here by the dry stone wall.

The entrance to the moor and what is called "Ponden Slack" with a distant farm and a lone tree. The isolated farmhouse was very photogenic and pretty, and it was a good subject for my photography as well as orientation landmark.

Another breathtaking view of the Worth Valley.

I got close to the distant farmhouse and its lone tree.....

........they were a perfect theme for a bit of creative play in Photoshop with my Jessica Drossin's Macabre Sky overlays.

Love to see Yorkshire dry stone walls in any condition they can possible appear. They are always such a lovely feature to use in landscape photography.

Looking down over the Worth Valley in some rather atmospheric circumstances.

Ponden reservoir with moorland heather in the foreground. I was a bit disappointed to find that heather had already gone over more or less. Last year at this time it was still at its best. I'm going to make sure I come in the middle of August next year. I so love the moors when heather is in full bloom.

Approaching Stanbury Moor and Ponden Kirk area, the biggest point of interest on the walk.

Ponden Kirk or Penistone Crag as Emily Bronte named it in her "Wuthering Heights" novel. It is a large block of gritstone which in the past was thought to have magical properties. At the base there is a hole just big enough for an adult to climb through. Emily described it as a Fairy Cave. There are a few local legends about the hole, and one of them has it that if a couple crawl through the hole together they would die if they don't marry within a year, or they would commit suicide and haunt the rock together if either married someone else.

Beautiful stream with its little peaty weir. The stream merges with Ponden Beck which flows all the way from Ponden Reservoir.

A view of the beautiful, very picturesque Ponden Clough, a narrow gorge with steep sides and the stream running through it.

This is also the area where The Crow Hill Bog burst in 1824. Huge amounts of rain caused the soil to slide, and mud and water erupted into a devastating tidal wave. The Bronte children Emily, Ann and Branwell happened to be walking on the moor with their two family servants on the day, and they ran for shelter to the nearby Ponden Hall. It was a horrifying natural disaster that left a long lasting effects on their young lives.

Here the circular walk leads you over the stream and up an escarpment. However, there is no bridge over the stream which makes the crossing rather difficult. I found one spot where I could possibly jump across the water, but the rock I'd have to do it from was very slippy and the grass on the other side wet and possibly very boggy underneath. The map told me there was another difficult stream crossing soon after this one. I decided not to go any further on this occasion; I really enjoyed my walk so far and I didn't want to do anything that could possibly spoil it. I turned around and started walking back the same route I came.

I had to take a few more shots of Ponden Kirk as I stood in very good vantage point to photograph it from a distance. I liked the heather framing the rock in the foreground.

This is one of my favourite shots of the day with Ponden Kirk just visible on the left. The image conveys nicely the wild bleakness and remoteness of the location, and the light was kind enough to get detail in the sky and rich colours in my photo.

On my way back the sun was coming out and there was some lovely light over the Worth Valley.

Back in Ponden the sailing club members were out at the water's edge of the reservoir with their colourful boats and equipment.

And there was a warm and idyllic calm over the water. It is hard to believe that just minutes after I took this shot it started pouring with rain, so I quickly strode up the hill, the short distance to the Hall and cosiness of my room. I was so lucky it didn't rain sooner, while I was still on the moor (I was prepared though, you have to be!).

Back in my room I put the kettle on and thought what a great walk it was getting to know the part of the countryside the Bronte sisters knew well and were inspired by. And now I am inspired by it, and by them being inspired by it!! The following day I walked back to Ponden Kirk, this time the other side - via Buckley Green and Stanbury Moor. My next post will be about the lovely room I stayed in at Ponden Hall - The Giddings Room.


  1. That looks absolutely beautiful. Must try and visit here sometime.

    1. Thoroughly recommend it, Liz. Thanks for the comment. x

  2. Stunning photos Vesna. The heather looks lovely in your photos. I'm so glad you had another happy visit to Ponden Hall.
    Looking forward to your next post.
    Jacquie x