Situated next to the picturesque Moors of West Yorkshire, Haworth is a small village with a big history.
It would have most certainly been another forgotten Yorkshire place if an Irish vicar had not made his way there in 1820 with his children in tow.
It just so happened that three of these children were to write some of the most famous novels of the 19th century, transforming the the literary world forever and Haworth along with it.
The village is now a Mecca for literary fans who flock in their thousands to to walk up the iconic cobbles and see the real Wuthering Heights. It is also my home.
Literary giants aside, Haworth boasts breathtaking scenery, quirky independent shops, cafes and a steam railway line, instantly recognisable as the location of The Railway Children film; neighbouring Oakworth was the station used.
Arriving on Haworth’s cobbled Main Street is like going back in time, other than a few modern shop fronts and the odd car it’s hard to believe it has changed much in 200 years.
The reality is of course that Haworth back then was a dire place to live, life expectancy was below 26-years-old and 40 per cent of children never saw their 6th birthday – grim times indeed.
Nowadays the Main Street is lined with independent shops, cafes and pubs and we regularly go there as a family to enjoy them.
Favourites for us including Lighthouse Lane, not just for their funny signs outside but for the unusual gifts. Harry loves Mrs Beighton’s Sweet Shop and I always go into Haworth Whole Foods; there are too many shops to name but really they are all fabulously individual.
Of course the star of the show is The Parsonage Museum situated at the top of the Main Street behind St Michael and All Angels’ Church.
Seeing the humble residence of the Brontes really drives home the magnitude of their achievements. It is staggering to think some of the most famous novels in history were created in dining room of a small parsonage.
And at a time when women enjoyed few rights and privileges – the vote not arriving for another 100 years.
The Museum is a treasure trove of artefacts from their lives, with everything from clothes and furniture to writing equipment and childhood toys.
Away from the museum you can immerse yourself in the Bronte experience further by heading up to Top Withens, said to have been the inspiration for Wuthering Heights.
It is not for the faint-hearted, Southerners beware these are proper Yorkshire hills and the weather is changeable at best. Dress accordingly, there is a reason she called it Wuthering Heights.
As a runner I have been up many times and every time I do I’m in awe at the beauty of the place; it is completely breathtaking, but almost always cold and usually windy.
If you want some thing slightly more sedate, or have younger children, head back down the Main Street to Cobbles and Clay, great for kids as you can paint a pot while you have lunch.
Children will also love a trip on the Worth Valley Railway Line and for adults there is just something fabulously romantic about chugging gently through the Yorkshire countryside.
Haworth is my home so of course I’m a huge advocate for the place but I do think it offers something for everyone.
As a literature fan or historian it is a must-see place and for families it is a quirky tourist-spot with plenty to enjoy.
So here’s an official invitation from a local to come and enjoy it. Although one word of warning – if you are heading up to Top Withens, do please take your big coat.
Things you might miss
- Visit the Black Bull and the The Cabinet of Curiosities where Branwell Bronte the ill-fated brother spent most of his drinking days and bought his opium.
- The Old School Room just near the Parsonage was built by Patrick Bronte and all three sisters taught there and it was the location for Charlotte’s wedding reception.
- The Souk is just about as quirky as it gets when it comes to shops, packed to the rafters with vintage clothing.
- If you can’t manage trekking up to Top Withens visit Penistone Hill for some lovely views, it’s a short walk out of Haworth but well sign-posted.
- Peaky Blinders fan? Get fully kitted out at H&L fashions at the top of the Main Street
- Avoid the crowds by coming off the Main Street to the newly opened Industry Barista. Turn left out of the Railway Station for craft beers and coffee.
- Hardened Bronte fan? Jump in the car and head over the Moors to Thornton the birthplace of the Brontes. It’s about a 15 minute drive, I’d recommend South Square for nice places to eat. Here’s a review of Plenty at the Square in Thornton.