The Giant’s Headless Body

Map Ref: SD 99034 35709 Landranger Map Number: OL21

Easy to get to, and a gorgeous walk too.

Several place to park – it you want a long walk, park in Haworth (beware, some car parks are extortionate and clamp if you are even a couple of minutes late). Or, you can go through the village until you find Moorside Lane and there is a car park there.Β If unsure, ask at the Tourist Offce or a local.

Pickup the trail for the ‘Bronte Waterfall’, and then go over the bridge and onto the open moorland – signposted ‘Top Withens’. Follow the path for 3 quarters of a mile, then look to your right and the stone is 20 feet away.

This can be a long walk – depending where you park, and how far you walk. If you go all the way to Top Withins (and I recommend you do – it can take at least 2 or 3 hours from the Moorside Lane car park and back, and maybe 5 from Haworth village.


This legend concerns a prehistoric standing stone which is at the side of the track to Top Withins – named ‘The Cuckoo Stone’.

The Cuckoo Stone

An unnamed giant lived on these moors – he wasn’t a good giant, he was a bad giant and he robbed and persecuted the folk who lived round about. The locals needed a hero who would fight and kill the giant, and after many years they found one. After a great fight, the giant was beaten, and just as he was about to die, he used his magic power to turn himself into the Cuckoo Stone.

But our unnamed hero was smart – he realised that the head is the source of the soul, and he chopped off the top of the Cuckoo Stone and rolled it down the hill to the beck below – thus seperating the head from the body and destroying the giant forever.

I visited this stone in late August 2018, it is in a beautiful location surrounded in a sea of heather. After spending a while with the stone, reimagining the legend, I set off to ‘Top Withins’ higher up the moor.

Top Withins is said to be the inspiration for Emily Bronte’s famous novel ‘Wuthering Heights’, the Heights being the Earnshaw home in the book. It is a wild, lonely place and is in a perfect setting with the beautiful Yorkshire moors all around.

It is several years since I walked up there and as it was a lovely late summer day I took lots of photographs and enjoyed the hike.

Enjoy the photos, and the moors!

Top Withens

For much more information, I suggest you read the Northern Antiquarian article here.

11 thoughts on “The Giant’s Headless Body

    1. it is a lovely walk, but I found it quite hard going toards the top – and it is steep too. But the views are superb. I must have passed the cuckoo many times and not known anything about it – just shows you πŸ™‚


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