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Bronte Land, Ilkley Moors, Rombalds Moor, with Traditional Songs and Recipes.

Haworth lanscape

Yorkshire Moors

Yorkshire Moors

Wild, Dangerous Moors

Rombalds Moor

Rombalds Moor

Little skirtful cairn

Little skirtful cairn


A Brief History of th Upland Moors

If you've ever read any of the Brontë’s novels you will be aware of how formidable, bleak, and awe inspiring the Yorkshire Moors can be. In books such as Wuthering Heights the Moors are painted as dark satanic areas, filled with dangerous and brooding characters. Even today, despite urban sprawl the Moors are still probably one of the few wildernesses left in England. I’ll return to the Brontes later.

Myth and legend tells that the moors of West Yorkshire were inhabited by giants. Rombald was a particularly nasty bit of work whose main hobby seems to have been frightening other giants and inhabitants by throwing rocks the size of humpback whales about. Probably the most well known of the rocks is called the Cow and Calf and is made from a rock known as millstone grit.

Myth has it that the Calf was split from the Cow when Rombald was fleeing from his wife; he allegedly stamped on the rock as he leapt across the valley. She dropped stones from her skirt to form the local rock formation known as The Skirtful of Stones. Sadly this cairn has been dug out over the years and now looks more like a volcano with its sunken middle. It is thought that the cairns could have been twice or three times the height of the present stones.

These upland areas, which are generally described as temperate are in some places sub-arctic and are cold and even in summer they are wild and windswept. Creatures left over from colder times such as Arctic-hare can now only be found in these upland areas of Britain.

The flora of the moors is adapted to moorland and subarctic landscapes and climates. The flora found here can be found in other areas of moorland in Scandinavia and some species are also found in areas of tundra.

In the Pennine millstone grit areas above an altitude of 275 m (902 ft) the topsoil is so acidic, pH 2 to 4, that it can grow only bracken, heather, sphagnum, and coarse grasses such as cotton grass, purple moor grass and heath rush.

Around 11,500 BC trees began returning to these planes after centuries of pack ice had scoured their surface. Willow, birch, and juniper were the first to return closely followed by alder and pine. By about 6500 BC palaeontology shows that about 90% of the dales were Forest, dominated by pine elm lime and oak, but on the limestone soils pine and birch tended to predominate.

Another change happened around 3000 BC when there was a steep decline in tree pollen and it was evident that Neolithic farmers had moved in and were clearing the forest to increase grazing for domestic livestock. In areas of millstone grit, shale, and clay, the topsoil were waterlogged in spring and summer resulting in a blanket bog of peat up 7 feet deep. As this peat has eroded over the years, it has exposed tree stumps and in places huge fir trees and oaks have been found perfectly sound.

People have lived on the moors since Neolithic times, there have been hundreds of stone carvings, and rock art found from that period of history.

Swastica Stone Iron or Bronze age carving

Swastica Stone Iron or Bronze age carving


Swastika Stone

One of the most famous carvings is known as the Swastika Stone, it probably dates back to either the bronze or the Iron Age. During the Victorian period a copy was made near to the footpath to make it more accessible for visitors.

In recent years a number of teams of archaeologists have tried to understand this type of rock art. Massive databases have been assembled using information from sites right across Europe.

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Haworth and The Bronte Family

Haworth is probably most famous for the Brontë family; they lived there in the 19th century. The family, in particular the girls wrote some of the best known English literature from that period. There is much more to the town of course, as I shall explain.

The town is in the city of Bradford Metropolitan Borough, in West Yorkshire. Despite modern urban sprawl Haworth is still quite isolated. It is surrounded by the moors as described by the sisters in their books; the high rolling hills are exposed and windswept with bleak, dark rocks and deep secluded valleys. The Moors in this part of Yorkshire can be dangerous, beautiful, awe-inspiring, they constantly change, turning luscious green in summer, yellow ochre in autumn, there usually buried in snow through the winter and then turn purple as the heather begins to grow.

The first settlement is thought to have been in the Bronze Age although the first mention of it is in 1209 A.D. its name is is thought to have been derived from a hawthorn enclosure.

Haworth's famous street

Haworth's famous street

Haworth Station

Haworth Station

Modern-day Howarth.

Modern-day Haworth appears at first glance to be all about tourism. The steep cobbled streets are lined by tearooms, antiquarian bookshops, pubs and hotels including the Black Bull which was a favourite haunt of Branwell Brontë and where he was alleged to have declined into the use of opium and alcohol.

The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway runs through Howarth and is a very popular tourist destination. The line has a number of restored, repaired, and much loved steam engines to its credit. Many special trains are run throughout the year; fish and chip suppers, gourmet evenings, and even Morris dancers entertain on these special trips.

(Keighley, is probably the most mispronounced name in England. It is pronounced-keyth-lee. but I've heard some amazing pronunceations of it.)

Most of the scenes in the film 'The Railway children', were taken using the trains and the Worth Valley. The trains of course are used in many period dramas both on TV and in the cinema.




The father of the girls, was in fact the vicar of the parish of Haworth, and today the old Rectory is a museum dedicated to the family.

There is very little I can say that hasn't already been said so many times before, about the talents and skills of those who lived in Haworth Parish so many years ago.

I grew up on stories such as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and other such literary classics. For me there will never age be out of fashion, and that is proved by the constant remakes of these titles.



Wuthering Heights Trailer- Kate Bush


Yorkshire England

Yorkshire England

Yorkshire Water Cakes

There seems to be a number of different recipes for these cakes which are really a type of bread or muffin. The term ‘water’ may be a corruption of the word ‘wafre’ meaning a thin cake. The origin seems to be the mill workers of various parts of Yorkshire. This recipe is known as Brompton Water Cakes originally thought to have been made by the women who worked in the linen weaving sheds as a cheap quick alternative to bread.


1lb plain flour

2 small teaspoons baking powder water to mix.

½ teaspoon of salt.

A knob of butter can be added and mixed with the flour first.

Mix the ingredients to a firm dough. If you use a mixer with a dough hook, knead it a little by hand just to stretch the dough out a bit and give it more elasticity.

Divide your mixture into small balls and then roll out into flat cakes and place on a baking tray allowing them to rise for about five minutes. [dust your tray with flour first to stop anything sticking]

Bake in a moderately hot oven suitable for bread for twenty or thirty minutes.

To serve split and butter, they can be eaten warm or cold.

The Moors above Haworth

The Moors above Haworth

Rododendrons on the moors

Rododendrons on the moors


Yorkshire Terriers

Ilkley Moor baht 'at

When I was a kid I remember on a number of occasions with my parents taking the train to Ilkley from Bradford and then walking back over the moors to end up at the public house called Dick Hudson’s for tea, and then we would walk down to Bingley and catch the train home. Most of the way we would sing and of course the song we sung most was, ‘Ilkla Moor Baht At’.

It is the best-known dialect song in the world, with the possible exception of 'Auld Lang Syne'. but, although the words are authentic West Riding dialect, they are sung to a tune written, not in Yorkshire, but in Kent, to a hymn-tune, in fact, composed by a Canterbury cobbler and conductor of Methodist choirs, Thomas Clark. He published it in 1805, naming it `Cranbrook' after the market town on the Weald, and it is typical of the tunes used by Methodists, who had been encouraged by John Wesley to `sing lustily'.


Within the lyrics there is one central verse to the song, the first, third and fourth lines are changed with each following verse. All of the verses in the song feature the second, fifth, sixth and seventh lines which are "On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at".

Yorkshire lyrics

Wheear 'ast tha bin sin' ah saw thee, ah saw thee?

On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at

Wheear 'ast tha bin sin' ah saw thee, ah saw thee?

Wheear 'ast tha bin sin' ah saw thee?

On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at

On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at

On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at

Tha's been a cooartin' Mary Jane

Tha's bahn' to catch thy deeath o` cowd

Then us'll ha' to bury thee

Then t'worms'll come an` eyt thee up

Then t'ducks'll come an` eyt up t'worms

Then us'll go an` eyt up t'ducks

Then us'll all ha' etten thee

That's wheear we get us ooan back


Where have you been since I last saw you, last saw you?

On Ilkley Moor without a hat

Where have you been since I last saw you, last saw you?

Where have you been since I last saw you?

On Ilkley Moor without a hat

On Ilkley Moor without a hat

On Ilkley Moor without a hat

You have been courting Mary Jane

You are bound to catch your death of cold

Then we will have to bury you

Then the worms will come and eat you up

Then the ducks will come and eat up the worms

Then we will go and eat up the ducks

Then we will have eaten you

That's where we get our own back

Some singers add the responses "without thy trousers on" after the fourth line of each verse, and "where the ducks play football" after the seventh. Other variations include "where the nuns play rugby", "where the sheep fly backwards", "where the ducks fly backwards", "where the ducks wear trousers", and "an' they've all got spots".

Yorkshire Promotional Video

Ilkley Moors

Ilkley Moors

The Cow and Calf Rocks  A favourite of climbers and Lovers alike.

The Cow and Calf Rocks A favourite of climbers and Lovers alike.

The Yorkshire Flag with a white rose flutters in the breeze

The Yorkshire Flag with a white rose flutters in the breeze

Last but certainly not least I would like to pay tribute and say how proud I am of the service men and women of Yorkshire who over the centuries have helped keep Yorkshire and England a free, safe and democratic country.

Take a look at Angie's page on Yorkshire


Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on June 05, 2015:


sorry for long delay responding to your comment. thank you for taking the time to send me an interesting few lines.

good luck

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on November 14, 2014:

'Ullo lad! Got 'ere at last.

Interesting that bit about the giant Rombald. There's another story about giants on and around Fylingdales Moor. The Hole of Horcum by the Whitby road (east of Goathland) is supposed to have been where a couple of giants scooped up earth to throw at one another. There's a car park where you can lay up a few hours and take in the scenery, have a bite. Stopped off a few times after passing Saltersgate Bank from Pickering.

I stayed at Haworth at a B&B, just across the road from the Parsonage on that steep hill when I visited the Embsay railway near Bolton Abbey (1903 NER Petrol-electric Auto-car). Anne Bronte was buried in the church yard near the castle at Scarborough. She went there to recover from inhaling the fumes from the open sewer down the middle of the street but didn't survive. Charlotte lasted the longest of the children.

Passed Ilkey a couple of times on the way to Pateley Bridge and Wensleydale (we were booked in at self-catering at Bellerby and Carperby respectively), and passed that military installation north of Harrogate.

Those were the days, eh?

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on July 02, 2013:

Old Albion

Proper champion to hear from thee mi-owd luv. Thank you for visit and comments.

Tha's noan had a reight good start to life what wi comin thro Lancashire an all, but tha seems to al reight.

kind regards

AL seethee


Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on July 02, 2013:

As a Lancashire Lad I 'as to say Tony as 'ow tha's done a gradely job 'ere tha knows.

Voted up and all and following!


Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on May 18, 2013:


thank you for kind comments and votes. I think anyone who has been to school knows of the Brontes and most have enjoyed them. The moors around Haworth have been tamed these days, but they are still as beautiful and I suppose a romantic place as they were back then. You mau also be interested in my other hub regarding moorlands in Yorkshire.

Another personal look at another formibable landscape.



Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on May 18, 2013:


thank you for kind comments and votes. I think anyone who has been to school knows of the Brontes and most have enjoyed them. The moors around Haworth have been tamed these days, but they are still as beautiful and I suppose a romantic place as they were back then. You mau also be interested in my other hub regarding moorlands in Yorkshire.

Another personal look at another formibable landscape.



Abdus Salam from Bangladesh on May 17, 2013:

This is very informative and useful topic! Voting up, thanks for sharing..

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 17, 2013:

Hi Tony,

I have never visited England so found this hub about Yorkshire most interesting. Of course I read the Bronte books with relish but never saw the movie featured in this trailer that you provided. Will have to see if I can locate it and watch it. Your descriptions of the area and photos of the moors, etc. were wonderful. Thanks for assembling this most enjoyable hub. Voted up, useful, interesting and will share with my followers.

Beth100 from Canada on December 14, 2012:

It's great to know the history and the timeline. :) I really appreciate the clarification, and yes, I was referring to the Sir Norman Haworth.

Merry Christmas!


Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on December 14, 2012:


if you mean the nobel prize winner, he is several centuries too late to be the inspiration for the name, he was a Lancastrian too which reduces any chance of him being acknowledged here in Yorkshire.

The name was probable Hawthorn related, probably Viking or early Britain.

thanks for visit and interest.

Merry Christmas


Beth100 from Canada on December 13, 2012:

Beautiful photos Tony! The moors are amazing! One question: is there a relationship between Haworth the town and Sir Norman Walter Haworth? I was once told that the town was named after him. Is this true?

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on November 20, 2012:


thank you for your visit and comment. I know Penistone quite well and you are right it does have some similarities to Haworth moor, the accent is different.

I'm curious how a Yorkshire lad ends up in Peru.



lemonkerdz from LIMA, PERU on November 19, 2012:

Thanks for the comprehensive hub. it brought back so many memories. i was from penistone nr barnsley and it looks very much like Haworth. thanks for sharing.

Anne from United Kingdom on October 02, 2012:

Na then cocker. I just saw a comment from you on Angies hub about Yorkshire, so just nipped over to check you out. This is such a great hub I´m going to link it with one of mine about north and west Yorkshire. Hope that´s Ok with you love. Obviously I´m a Yorkie too, and it looks like were banding together some what. I love the way you mixed so many elements together, and it was a great pleasure to see and hear the beautiful kate Bush doing her stuff, and learn so much I didn´t know before too.

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on September 07, 2012:


very pleased you enjoyed the hub.

many thanks for calling and sharing your memories of this wonderful place.



Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on September 04, 2012:

Ah this brings back so many nostalgic memories. I used to do a lot of camping and walking as a teenager, did the lyke wake walk just the once. Camping with school at Malham, and a little rock climbing. The last time I was on the moors was about 1986 I think.

Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, were two of my favourite books.

Loved this hub and thank you for the memories and a few stories/myths I didn't know.

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on August 28, 2012:


I think the cannabalism at the end is a great metaphor for life.

I'd like a dollar for every time I've sung this song, it really is an anthem here, or it was in my distant youth. I did teach my friemds in Russia the words, but something seemed to get lost in the translation, you know how that is.

You'd love Rombalds moor, full of interesting flora some only found in areas of tundra, full of ancient history.

If you played the youtube video of Wuthering Heights, you will see the top of Malham Cove, we were talking one time of clints and grikes and limestone errosion. No little pup fish here, but the river suddenly drops through the rock and now emerges at the base of Malham Cove.

many thanks for calling by.



Derdriu on August 28, 2012:

Tony, Are you known to play and/or sing "Ilkley Moor baht 'at"? The ending lines seem so eerily ancient and cannibalistic.


Respectfully, and with many many thanks for sharing such excellence in illustrations and words, Derdriu

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on August 28, 2012:


Delighted to see a comment from you again, you are always so thoughtful with your remarks.

It was going to be a haworth Bronte hub, but I saw just how over cooked that was and decided to look at the wider picture. I've always lived on the edge of these moors so they are pretty much home to me. So I took my camera up to the moors one day and snapped away. they still can be wild especially in winter, despite that they have their own charm and beauty.

I know the version you mention in your remark, and I agree it was a good drama.

I like all the Bronte girl's books, around here we have so many links to them, down the road The Red House Museum is where Emily worked as a teacher for awhile and across the road is Oakwell hall that was the setting for SHirley, and a favourite haunt of the Bronte family. Clifton Church about a mile from here is where old man Bronte first worked as a minister, it just goes on and on. The clints and grikes are on top of a dry waterfall called Malham Cove a well known landmark in the Dales.

many thanks for your visit.

Keep the ankle moving



stessily on August 27, 2012:

Tony, Back for another visit to this well-presented journey to Brontë land. I recently saw on DVD "The Brontës of Haworth"; apparently it was produced back in the 1980s. It's impressive to see Michael Kitchen's stunningly poignant performance as Branwell; I only know of Mr. Kitchen's more recent roles, and so I could not help thinking, "The Child is father of the Man" (William Wordsworth, "My heart leaps up when I behold").

This is one of my favorite writings by you. It's well done. As "Wuthering Heights" is one of my all-time favorite books, I am especially pleased to see that you've included a YouTube trailer for one of its many film versions.

I'm thinking of butter slathered Brompton water cakes for tea time whenever I next voyage across the pond.

Ta ta, Stessily

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on July 05, 2012:


thanks for the visit and the interest.

The Brigantes tribe were the dominate force here for quite some time, until the Romans subdued and defeated them. They had a leader named Caractacus who was betrayed and shipped off to Rome, it is a very interesting story if you look it up.

Rushworth is a very Yorkshire name, not found across other parts of England.

I hope you enjoy the paralympics, but don't think that London is England, far from it. You will be stunned by the scenery of Yorkshire if you do make the pilgrimage here.

regards Tony

Paul Brown on July 04, 2012:

Great Hub, I have just finished my family tree it appears that my ancestors were from Haworth Paternal name Rushworth. I believe, after DNA testing that we were part of the Briantes tribe way back when. Haplogroup R1b M343. I will be in England in September for the Paralympics so I will certainly make an effort to get up to Haworth to visit the village where my family originated. Cheers


Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on July 01, 2012:

Hi Kash, how are you my friend? thanks for the visit and votes and nice comments.

I hope you are having a good weekend too.



Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on June 30, 2012:

Hi Tony, I really enjoyed reading this very interesting hub, and learned something i did not know before. I loved all your beautiful photos and they all helped me see what you were writing about. Well done my friend !

Vote up and more !!! Hope your weekend is a good one so far !

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on June 30, 2012:

stessily, well Scottie looked after your message, which arrived safe and sound.

In a few places you can forget which century you are in, but sadly it is all being lost to housing and commercial development.

The Worth valley railway has been going almost since the end of steam power, but it has such a fantastic following worldwide that it goes from strength to strength.

Traditionally they were just buttered,but I suppose their have been countless eaten with a dollope of jam.

Thank you for appreciating my world, it does have an enormous amount to offer.

We are having some dodgy weather too, flash floods, this afternoon it has thundered and rained buckets full. We are pretty safe from floods here, if we get flooded most of Europe has been drowned. Up the valley people have beed washed out of their homes twice in ten days.

take care



stessily on June 30, 2012:

Tony, Nice presentation of your homeland. The wildness of the moors is palpable in some of the photos. I always felt so much affinity for those moors as a children reading and re-reading the Brontës.

Perhaps some day I'll venture there by way of the Keighley and Worth Valley steam engines and their wondrous "fish and chip suppers, gourmet evenings, and even Morris dancers entertain on these special trips."

Are the Brompton water cakes traditionally slathered only with butter or are there some traditional jams or jellies or other toppings?

Thank you for sharing your world which also was the world of those famous sibling writers. Everything + sharing.

Appreciatively, Stessily

P.S. I'm crossing my fingers as I press everything; cyberspace is a bit distorted today after last night's exuberant storm with high high winds which brought down many branches and signs.

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on June 30, 2012:


thank you for your visit. You know that you really have not been to England until you've been to Yorkshire. You are always welcome in Yorkshire.

take care, regards


GClark from United States on June 30, 2012:

Great Hub providing lots of insight and in-depth details along with photos and illustrations. Even though I have travelled to England many times over the years, there are still many parts of it such as Yorkshire that I have yet to explore. There is nothing that beats actually being on the spot to make history come alive. GClark

Tony Mead (author) from Yorkshire on June 30, 2012:


Thank you for your comments and votes. Yorkshire is indeed beautiful, and has so many different faces.



Claire on June 29, 2012:

I loved this hub, Yorkshire and the suroounding areas are so wild and beautiful and steeped in so much history. Voted up and beautiful.

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