Moors the merrier for post-Christmas walk in footsteps of literary giants

Top Withens high on the Pennine Moors above Haworth, and Bridlington, below.
Top Withens high on the Pennine Moors above Haworth, and Bridlington, below.
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Looking for somewhere to blow the cobwebs away after the festive excesses? We round up the best places for a post-Christmas walk.

Brontë Way & Top Withens

While the full Brontë Way route tops 43 miles in length, don’t feel you have to do it all straight after your Christmas dinner. Instead, complete a more modest leg, and visit Top Withens, a ruined farmhouse just south-west of Haworth said to be the inspiration for the Earnshaw home from Emily Brontë’s world-famous novel Wuthering Heights. Needless to say, it’s best to wrap up warm, but pack your camera too, as the views really are breath-taking.

For a warming coffee stop, try one of the many delightful cafés on the cobbled main street. And to finish off a Brontë-themed day, swing by the famous Brontë Parsonage in Haworth itself where the sisters wrote their novels. It reopens after Christmas on December 27.

Brontë Parsonage, Haworth BD22 8DR

Bolton Abbey

With over 80 miles of footpaths and just shy of 30,000 acres of beautiful North Yorkshire countryside, there is plenty to see at the Bolton Abbey estate besides the magnificent ruins of the 12th- century priory. Other attractions such as the spectacular Strid and wood, the tranquil Valley of Desolation and even the stepping stones across the River Wharfe in front of the abbey are sure to please all visitors to the estate.

There are plenty of eateries for a warming snack too, including the Cavendish Pavilion, Dusty Bluebells, and Buffers – all provide a good choice of warming fayre.

Bolton Abbey, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 6EX

Bridlington beach

Maybe a visit to the beach isn’t the first thing that springs to mind in the middle of winter, but hang on. What better way to blow away the cobwebs than a bracing stroll along the seafront?

Breathing all that sea air will help you recover from all the food and drink consumed on Christmas Day, and visiting the beach at Bridlington will remind you just how good Yorkshire’s beaches are.

What’s more, the elegant promenades of Bridlington’s seafront and historic harbour ensure there’s plenty to explore without having to do battle with the usual summer crowds. The one downside? Sadly there are no donkey rides at this time of the year.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal

Set just west of the cathedral city of Ripon, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal is a World Heritage Site. With 800 acres of beautiful countryside on offer, as well as magnificent 12th-century abbey ruins and the beautifully landscaped Georgian water garden of Studley Royal, it’s the perfect backdrop for a stroll.

And if you’re quick about it, the Abbey will be illuminated by a spectacular spectrum of light for the final time this year on the Saturday and Sunday immediately after Christmas Day. What’s more, there will also be festive music being performed inside the Abbey.

Fountains Abbey, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3DY

Cannon Hall Museum, Park and Gardens

This country house museum is set in 70 acres of historic parkland which, for almost three centuries, has been home to a family who made their fortune in the local iron industry. Parkland and gardens were landscaped in the 1760s by a chap from Chertsey, and the historic walled garden adjacent to the main hall is enjoyable whatever the 

Don’t miss the greenhouse which is home to the 200-year-old Cannon Hall vine, a cutting of which was exported to Australia – its descendants produce today’s fine Australian wines. And if you have little ones in tow, then trails around the garden perfect for families are available from the museum’s reception.

Cannon Hall Museum, Bark House Lane, Cawthorne, Barnsley, S75 4AT

Wentworth Castle & Gardens

At Wentworth Castle, there are as many as 60 acres of formal gardens, reflecting different periods in horticultural history, ranging from a formally laid out Union Jack Garden to others with an informal feel, such as the Wilderness.

And even though it’s 
winter, there is still plenty to see as you amble around. Whether it is the final hydrangea of the previous season, or the first snowdrop of the new year, 
there’s always something to enjoy, and panoramic views are guaranteed. The Trust, which 
runs the estate, also cares for nearly 600 acres of parkland, woodland and farmland. 
Known as Stainborough Park, 
it’s brimming with wildlife, including herds of red and fallow deer.

Wentworth Castle, Lowe Lane, Stainborough, Barnsley, S75 3ET

Ilkley Moor

Ilkley is a pretty spa town well worth a visit on a grey winter’s days, but drive a little further, park somewhere on Ilkley Moor, leave the car, and explore the swathes of bracken and the famous Cow and Calf rocks.

Part of the larger Rombalds Moor, Ilkley Moor is home to many a curiosity, including the famous little and large rock formation, the Cow and Calf. Also known as Hangingstone Rock, they are made of millstone grit and a variety of sandstone. At the northern edge of the moor there are intriguing stone carvings, and just nearby White Wells Spa Cottage where you can drop in for a cuppa so long as the flags are flying.

Delve into the folklore behind all of these features, and you’ll discover stories of freezing cold baths, heavy-footed giants and Celtic influences from the Iron Age.

The Yorkshire Wolds

The Yorkshire Wolds are a broad crescent of rolling chalk hills and valleys, south of the North York Moors, arcing from the coast at Flamborough westwards towards Malton and then south to the Humber Bridge. 

There is plenty of opportunity to explore the Wolds, but if you’re feeling hardy enough, then try taking on a leg of the Wolds Way. In its entirety, the route is 79-miles long starting in Hessle and ending in the North Yorkshire coastal town of Filey, but with plenty of picture postcard villages along the way, there’s plenty to see.

Lotherton Hall

Once home to a family by the name of Gascoigne, Lotherton Hall on the outskirts of Leeds is now home to collections of pottery, porcelain, paintings and furniture.

Outside of the Hall, however, there are distinctive Edwardian gardens, a bird garden which is home to 150 different species, and even an orchard, with 109 varieties of mixed use trees including many from the Yorkshire region.

Elsewhere there are red deer and llamas and with a playground for the kids too, this is a great place to wrap up warm and explore following your Christmas traditions.

Lotherton Hall, Aberford, Leeds LS25 3EB

Brodsworth Hall

Not only is Brodsworth Hall a beautiful, true-to-its-time Victorian country house, it is also home to some wonderfully restored Victorian gardens which are ideal for a post-Christmas jaunt in rural South Yorkshire.

The gardens, fully restored by keepers English Heritage, are noted as a fine collection of grand gardens in miniature.

And don’t worry about it 
being winter – there’s still 
plenty to marvel at. Evergreens 
are in abundance, and looking better than ever thanks to spring and summer preening. And, pending some winter sun, walking through the flower garden should add a sprinkling of colour to your visit.

Brodsworth Hall, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN5 7XJ