Part two of Bronte Country

Packhorse Bridge photos

After exploring the ruins for some time, we began to get hungry, and we decided to find a good spot to eat the picnic that had been packed in Victorian style into a white wicker hamper. After wandering about for some while, we sat down upon the remains of mossy wall that stood on a damp bank overlooking a brook. The riverbed was stony and the water rushed, now trickling, now gurgling, now roaring over the rocks. The peat in the water caused it to look a rich, brownish red as it rushed and tumbled by. Across on the other side the bank rose high and sheer like a low cliff, the ferns and moss growing in the gaps covered the sharp rocks with soft greenery. We unpacked our abundant picnic; two tins of little quails eggs (traditional Victorian picnic food) a custard tart each, a plain bun each, an iced bun each, and a bag of rock buns which we were all too full to eat. We bought some hot milk from a small café that stood round the corner, and them continued walking about.

We took these paths and those paths, but wherever we went the terrain was nearly the same; rushing rivers and becks; pools and marshes, ferns and mosses, squelching mud, green valleys and hills, bare trees, and rising always around us, the Bronte moors, purple in the distance.

There are many famous and ancient bridges in Wycoler, but there are only three that we saw, or at least that we noticed; Clapper Bridge, Clam Bridge, and Packhorse Bridge. Each of these has something interesting to be said for it. For Clapper Bridge, there is a very interesting story. The bridge used to have grooves in it worn by the pattens of the weavers carrying across their bundles, but when a farmer’s daughter tripped and was killed on the rocks below, he had the bridge flattened out and it is now perfectly smooth. Still more interesting is Clam Bridge; it is one huge slab put across the beck, and it dates back to stone age times. Twice it fell and was smashed to pieces in floods, and twice it had to be stuck back together. As for Packhorse bridge, the main reason that it was interesting to us is because Bobbie sits on it in The Railway Children. It is one of my favourite films and my mother also used to watch it when she was child.

After passing over all these bridges, we made our way finally up the steep, muddy slope, with the scraggy blue ridge of the moors around us, and taking a last look at Ferndean Castle as we walked – that castle that was the inspiration of one of the most wonderful scenes ever to pass in of one of the most wonderful books ever to be written – we reached the top, and climbing into our car/carriage, we drove in the direction of Ponden Hall.

Clam Bridge photo 1                                  Clapper Bridge photo 2


2 thoughts on “Part two of Bronte Country

  1. What an interesting account of your stay in Bronte country. Funnily enough, I can do a bit of Railway Children gossip for you: I knew the boy actor who played Jim. He was a young man when I knew him. He was a very good friend of a housemate of mine in London – he would come and stay with us regularly. He grew up to be a very tall man, well over 6 feet, and had riotously curly hair.

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