The English countryside - quaint villages full of ancient stone cottages, roughly cobbled streets, "ye olde shoppes," and traditional local pubs surrounded by green moorland with smatterings of purple heather, segmented by crumbling dry stone walls. A nostalgic, picturesque image interrupted only by calls of market traders and the bleating of sheep holding up traffic.
If you share this improbable romantic image of England, then Haworth will confirm the existence of such an authentic vision of serenity. It's a traditional Yorkshire village nestled on the edge of the
Pennine Moors that sets you back a hundred years or more, not in a touristy, "recreated village" sort of way, but as a real working community open to visitors.
Arriving by car, there are many designated parking areas which direct one on foot to the top, and centre of the village where, to add to the romance, you can see the old church, cemetery and parsonage, home of the famous
Bronte sisters, authors of such literary classics as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.
If you are a fan of Victorian literature, visit the original parsonage museum located on Church Street where the ladies lived and were inspired to write their novels. The house is packed full of memorabilia with a magical feel to it; it's not hard to imagine the young Bronte children roaming the surrounding moors or huddled in the many nooks and crannies of the house inventing the intricate characters that would become literary icons. Take the blustery walk across the moors to
Top Withens, the house said to be the one upon which Emily Bronte based her Wuthering Heights.
If literature is not your passion, perhaps
a walk down the cobbled streets and a visit to the old sweet shop and the apothecary would be a more enjoyable way to spend your time. The sweets are displayed in old jars, sold by weight and distributed in tiny paper bags. The experience is almost as delicious as the sweetness of the candy itself! The apothecary also offers sweets, along with soaps and powders and all manner of other old-fashioned fare.
Stop for lunch at one of the many cosy tearooms or warm inviting pubs. Traditional favourites like toad-in-the-hole (sausage inside Yorkshire pudding) and giant Yorkshire puddings filled with beef stew will warm you up on a cool British afternoon, but make sure you save room for dessert! The bakeries are plentiful, and just try to walk past them without succumbing to the smells of fresh baked scones and cream cakes - impossible!
At the bottom of the village is the place that my children loved the most - the old railway station with a working steam engine. This is the setting for the classic 1970s movie,
The Railway Children. For my kids, the fascination was more about the fact that it reminded them of the train to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies! The labored sound of the steam train chugging away from the station made us feel like we were living in another era.
The outdoorsy should take their hiking boots or sneakers and follow one of the moorland trails that overlook the stunning village; the views are spectacular, and you'll need a little fresh air and exercise after those Yorkshire Puddings!
Between nostalgic curiosity shopping, eating traditional sweets, touring the museum and grounds, and visiting the railway station, you can happily spend a full day in Haworth; not a moment will be wasted.
Jane Hastelow is a former high school English teacher currently working as a Secondary Curriculum Coach in PEI, Canada. She has a Masters in Communication Studies from Sheffield Hallam University in the UK, and loves to combine her love of writing with her love of travel.