On a walk around the local lanes yesterday afternoon, Jen and I popped over to our friend’s farm to admire her new lurcher puppy, Eddie.
The farmer had heard via Jen that I’ve written a book about our local moor. She asked if I would like to borrow her copy of A Spring-time Saunter: Round and About Brontë-land by Whiteley Turner. I had never heard of the book, but of course I’d love to borrow it!
It turns out that A Spring-time Saunter is something of a local classic. First published 100 years ago, in 1913, it describes a four-day walk that Turner made from his home in Mount Tabor near Halifax over the moors to Haworth. Not having read the book yet, I’m not sure why such a journey would take four days, but I’m guessing Turner took a round-about route to take in some of the local attractions. Which would make it a far more satisfactory walk, as far as I’m concerned.
As a lad working in a local woollen mill, Turner lost his right arm (and, therefore, his job) in a carding machine in 1878. He was eight years old. He went on to sell newspapers and tea, delivering the latter for miles around on foot. He also eventually began to write articles for the Halifax Courier. A series of pieces published in the newspaper between 1904 and 1907 was later adapted into A Spring-time Saunter.
Initially supported by subscription, the book went through three editions during Turner’s lifetime. The third (1915) edition of 3,000 copies failed to sell as well as the earlier editions, until someone had the clever idea of distributing them to injured local soldiers to remind them of home. These copies, of which my friend’s is one, were paid for by the Halifax Courier War and Prisoners’ Comforts Fund.
Turner died in 1921, age 55. He is buried in the Wesleyan chapel yard at Mount Tabor. Perhaps I’ll pop over that way some time to pay my respects. And perhaps, once I’ve read his book, I might join him on one or two of his walks.
- Halifax Courier (18-Oct-2007): A moorland Saunter with Whiteley
- The Brontë Society (April 2013): BBC1’s ‘Countryfile’ features Whiteley Turner’s ‘A Springtime Saunter’