Following in the footsteps of a notable if tragic family
with Bob Clare of www.lancashirewalks.com
This month sees the 200th anniversary of the birth of that remarkable talent in a remarkable family, Emily Bronte author of ‘Wuthering Heights’ which has been a cornerstone in the canon of English literature ever since it was published in 1847. Emily was born in Yorkshire but was briefly schooled at Cowan Bridge. The School for Clergy Daughters had been founded by the Reverend Carus Wilson at a time when few people believed that girls should be educated at all. Despite the enlightened principle that established it in practice it was a place of abuse and privation later bitterly recounted by Emily’s sister Charlotte in ‘Jane Eyre’. On Sundays the pupils were marched from Cowan Bridge to the church of St John the Baptist at Tunstall where they had to endure fire and brimstone sermons of their patron not once but twice on subsistence rations. For the Bronte family there was a tragic outcome from this regime when two of Emily’s sisters - Elizabeth and Marie - died from complications following an outbreak of typhus at the school. The walk described below in part follows the route to Tunstall Parish Church as well as exploring the lovely countryside nearby.
Start: From Tunstall Church LA6 2RQ
Distance: 4.6 miles
Time: 2-2 ½ hours
Grade: Mainly easy with some undulations. Caution demanded near the end of the walk using the busy A683 Lancaster Road
Map: OS OL2 The Yorkshire Dales southern and western areas
1. Leaving the churchyard turn left. In just under 100yds almost opposite the drive leading to Churchfield House turn right onto a track between properties leading to fields. Now on a public bridleway go through a metal gate and then bear slightly left across a large level field to a corner and stone footbridge. After crossing this bear left to a metal gate in the far left corner. Go through the gate and turn right to follow the hedge for 250yds. Go through a six bar wooden gate to join an enclosed path leading to Cantsfield. When you arrive on a lane turn left. Follow it to a junction before Abbotson Farm. Bear left. Pass the farm’s outbuildings and keep ahead on a track that crosses a bridge into Cowclose Plantation. Stay on this track when it leaves the wood to enter rolling pastureland. After a metal gate with a hedge to the left follow the track as it bends left to climb a rise and then crosses the narrow part of the field to two gates. Go through the wooden gate on the right. The track is less obvious now and at times seems to almost give up being a track but it will lead to a barn marked ‘Wigginber’ on the OS map. Passing this structure to its right keep ahead as the track crosses the field to a corner and then swings left, passes through a gateway and climbs a rise to a second barn - Longriggs Barn.
2. From here there is a superb view of Ingleborough one of the Three Peaks of Yorkshire. As you arrive at the barn turn left in front of it. No longer on a track keep the fence-line to your right as you undulate over three pastures. After the third wooden gate join a track that leads back towards Tunstall. After passing properties on the right the way crosses a footbridge and cuts a corner of the field to arrive on a lane. Turn left.
3. In a little over 200yds turn right onto a drive leading up to Churchfield House. Keep ahead through the complex to locate a wooden kissing gate behind a drive. After a slight rise keep ahead to a metal gate. Follow the hedgerow to the left cross a wooden stile - the only stile in the entire walk - and continue keeping to the left of Kirkriggs Barn. Now on the drive to the barn pass by farm buildings to reach Woodmans Lane. Turn left. Follow the lane down to the busy A683 Lancaster Road. Pass the Highway Inn on your left. Usually we would recommend readers to cross the road in order to face on-coming traffic but it would be safer to keep well in to the left rather than cross the road twice. Just before the speed signs go through a metal gate on the left to join a public bridleway. Bear slightly left across a large level field to pass through a wooden gate. Keep ahead reaching another wooden gate at a field corner. From this point the bridleway goes left but the route carries on straight towards Tunstall Church. After a gap between fields go through a third wooden gate and across a field to the rear of the church. The church of St John the Baptist is often open to the public and has a number of interesting monuments and features including a 16th century Venetian painting. Follow the front path to Church Lane and turn left.