MAPPING OUT a walk for my next book we make our way from Howarth up onto the moor-top plateau, crossing Dick Delf Hill, which rises to 452 metres up beyond the ruined farm of Top Withins, a remote cattle farm at the top end of the valley which is often suggested as the inspiration for the setting of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.
We return via an easier route along sections of the Pennine Way and the Brontë Way, a hill path that is unique in having footpath signs in English and in Japanese, although the parties of Japanese visitors that we passed on our walk today were back around the Brontë Parsonage Museum and main street in Howarth.
11.50 a.m., Sand Delf Hill, Haworth Moor; There are occasional drifts of cotton-grass, looking very much like the tail of the small startled rabbit that runs along the track in front of us.
A small butterfly that flies low over the bracken in the valley below. It suns itself with it wings folded shut but we see enough to be able to identify it later as a Small Heath, a smaller cousin of the more familiar Meadow Brown but more typical of rough grassland, from coastal dunes up to 2,000 feet (600 metres) in the mountains.
The name of the butterfly is a neat description of the habitat where we found it.
My little Olympus Tough is useful for insects like this which will pause when you crouch near them but it’s not so handy for butterflies which are likely to take flight, which is why I stood a few paces away and quickly sketched the Small Heath, adding the colour later.
The Very Hairy Caterpillar
Up on the plateau Barbara spots this Oak Eggar Moth caterpillar. Despite the name it is equally at home on the moors as one of its alternative foodplants is heather. The name ‘eggar’ apparently means just what it appears to mean; that it’s a moth that lays its eggs on a particular plant.
This caterpillar has stopped, motionless as we take a look at it. It’s just had a narrow escape as my size 13 hiking boots passed over it, so it’s a good subject for the macro setting on the Tough. I try to do a bit of ‘gardening’ to get a better shot of its head but when I try to gently lift up the heather twig it wraps itself around it. No chance of seeing either the head or the tail in this pose but at least I get a record of the black bands and white marks on its body.