Ponden Kirk Walk & The Fairy Cave
The Ponden Kirk walk is an off the beaten track trail to a crag of gritstone rock jutting out of the hillside. This is believed to be the inspiration for Penistone Crags and the Fairy Cave, as mentioned in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.
Ponden Kirk is quite difficult to find but definitely worth seeking out. Again, it's another of those wonderful places to sit quietly, collect your thoughts and ponder the day.
Ponden Kirk Walk
Ponden Kirk (kirk meaning church in Scots and Yorkshire) can be accessed across the moor via a less obvious route from Bronte Waterfall (thin yellow line) or via a path from Ponden Resevoir, passing Ponden Hall. Following the road round, you will then turn left dissecting a farm and then step over the fence onto the moor. Follow the track for approx 50 metres, then along the grassy trail to the left (may not be obvious) up and beyond the last remaining house. Follow the wall uphill and eventually you will find the stony path leading to Ponden Clough and carefully crossing the beck, to the grassy trail to Ponden Kirk.
The Fairy Cave is at the base of Ponden Kirk and is only a few metres in length. It's a little awkward to climb down to and quite narrow to crawl through on your tummy. It's a simple bit of fun and you get a sense of danger that the rocks may move and trap you at any time. If you do go through, please do so with care, especially when coming out the other end as it's a long, steep slope below. BEWARE - Folklore says that those crawling through the Fairy Cave will be married within a year. Dare you!?
Ponden Clough is where the beck passes over several flat layers of stone before descending below and has a beautiful view of the valley. While you are there, hunt out the 'Catherine Earnshaw' carving in the stone by the small, grassy clearing.
Extracts from Wuthering Heights
"The abrupt descent of Penistone Crag particularly attracted her notice; especially when the setting sun shone on it and the topmost heights, and the whole extent of landscape besides lay in shadow. I explained that they were bare masses of stone, with hardly enough earth in their clefts to nourish a stunted tree."
"This bed is the fairy cave under Penistone Crag, and you are gathering elf-bolts to hurt our heifers; pretending, while I am near, that they are only locks of wool. That's what you'll come to fifty years hence: I know you are not so now. I'm not wandering: you're mistaken, or else I should believe you really were that withered hag, and I should think I was under Penistone Crag; and I'm conscious it's night, and there are two candles on the table making the black press shine like jet."
Elf-bolts are stone arrowheads, which were believed to be made by elves, but which we now know to have been left by prehistoric people.
Ponden Kirk Walk Map
The outer route of the map below links all key landmarks on the moor and is 9 miles (14.5km) long, taking approx 4.5 hours hours to complete, subject to pace and rest periods.
Zoom in to follow the map! In case you are unable to receive a mobile phone signal, please refer to an Ordinance Survey map. If you do get a signal, you can check you're on the correct route by opening this map into the Google Maps app. You do this by clicking the [ ] icon at the top right corner of the map.
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