So for anyone who has read a blog by me before, or knows anything about me, will realise I am a Bradford lad.
Now much to the annoyance of anyone who lives outside the traditional city limits of Bradford it is true to say that the city status of Bradford appplies to the Metropolitan Borough of Bradford not just the traditional city!
That being the case the towns of Keighley, Bingley, and Ilkley (and how people of Ilkley hate that comsidering they have a Leeds post code and their own dialling code) fall within the Bradford city limits.
Now when me and my future wife first moved in together in Bradford I was keen to make sure she saw the best parts of it, as opposed to some of the more dog rough areas around the borough. At the time I thought it didn’t give me too many choices of where to live so to cut a long story short I found a small 300 year old through by light terrace in a place called Cross Roads just outside Haworth in a very picturesque place.
We lived there for 2 years before moving to be cloer to jobs in Bradford and have regretted that decision ever since!
I remember when me and my other half were in what in UK terms is a longish distant relationship as I came home to Bradford and my now wife finished her final year of university, and she was coming over for a visit.
I was thinking of something to do that would hopefully impress and remembered she was doing a degree in English and Drama and loved to read. Well in Bradford if reading and literature is your thing there is only one place to go Haworth.
Now looking back I have no idea why I was surprised by the fact she already knew about the three sisters born in Thornton who became some of the greatest writers of all time (certainly from this country), and was very enthusiastic about the visit.
I also found out that she had never been on a steam train before, and with the Keighley and Worth Valley railway (another attraction of the area) running all the way to Oxenhope and through Haworth our trip was set.
Now Haworth is set in the foothills of the Pennine mountain range known as the spine of England, and the village itself is carved into the hillside just off Pennistone Hill.
As you walk the main street from top to bottom the hills that surround produce a spectacular view all around. Viewing the various independant retailers selling all sorts you feel at peace with almost everything in the world for the entire time you are there.
Have a pint in one of the various pubs on the main street, or a coffee in the many cafe’s that litter the main street as you walk along.
Central Park at the bottom of the main street is almost stepped as it can be quite steep virtually everywhere in Haworth, and is a great place to sit picnic and view the idyllic surroundings.
The melee of stone built buildings hugging the hillside provide picture post card images.
Penistone Hill just outside the village and the moors in general formed the setting of some of the Bronte novels. If you have ever read the novels and walk the moors your mind is a wash with images from the novels, expecting to see Wuthering Heights on the horizon.
You can sit and ponder at Bronte Falls, or see what many believe to be the Wuthering Heights inspiration at Top Withens.
So that is the idyllic and some of the beautiful however there is also the tragic as well. As you walk down from the world famouns Parsonage (well worth a visit) you come upon the graveyard of the church of St Michael where Patrick Bronte was once Parish Priest.
Now the church was rebuilt in the late 19th century from the one Patrick would have known (all except the tower), and there are now trees where in the 19th century there were non. However the gravestones when read give you an idea of the tragedy of Haworth. I have read once there is supposed to be etween 20 and 60 thousand bodies buried in the graveyard at Haworth, a testament to the unsanitary conditions of the village back in the 19th century, and the fact disease was rife (tuberculosis was the killer of Bramwell, Emily, and Ann).
Additionally the tree’s in the graveyard were put there to try and take away some of the liquid from the bodies as they decomposed as it was getting into the villages water supply causing yet more disease, and to stabalise the land.
Looking at Haworth it is easy to forget that in the 19th century it was so unsanitary (as were most major cities at the time).
For me though it has another very personal very special place in my heart that goes beyond the home of the Bronte’s, or the gorgeous setting (although it is because this it has such an effect).
We have always found during bad times when things get tough we can always go to Haworth or nearby by Penistone Hill and literally escape for a couple of hours at a time.
When we lost the twins we went to Haworth to clear our heads in the now fresh air. We sat in the Black Bull towards the top of the main street in the shadow of the church and talked over our grief in a calming setting.
When things go wrong we go to Haworth to be somewhere we love where we can clear our heads and find ourselves coming back to reality, and better able to face the world when we comeback.
I can’t tell you exactly why Haworth resonates with us so much, or why we use it as a go to place when clearly Yorkshire alone has so much to offer.
I think everyone whoever you are has a place they can go when things go wrong, or if you just want to be away and loose yourself for a while. Whatever it happens to be just a place to clear your head, a place you can go to be alone with your thoughts.
Haworth the village and surrounding moors are our place.
As always my opinions are my own. Thanks for reading.