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Haworth Village (West Yorkshire, England)

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Visit the home where the Brontë sisters penned their classic literary masterpieces, Haworth Parsonage, now a museum.

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      05.12.2009 13:33
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      When people from outside of the UK picture England, it is often a traditional and quaint image that they see: cobbled streets lined with higgledy-piggledy stone buildings; communities built around the local shop or church; and children playing with a ball in the streets. Those of us who live here know that this is, for the most part, not even close to the truth. It is in Haworth though. Haworth is like the land that time forgot and it has maintained much of its traditional charm to make it one of Yorkshire's favourite tourist attractions.

      Located in the Worth Valley, Haworth isn't much more than a street, but it is a street that is bursting with character and it is the heart of Bronte Country, a place where the literary sisters called home. As a result, much of the focus in Haworth is on the Brontes - everywhere you look you'll find museums and bookstores devoted to them. The Bronte Parsonage offers a very comprehensive look at the lives of the Bronte sisters, although at £8 per person entry, I would think you would need a prior interest in the subject to get your money's worth.

      If you like shopping, especially for little bits and pieces you can't get elsewhere, then Haworth is the place for you. Along the main street you'll find plenty of shops that you won't find anywhere else, selling all manner of things from souvenirs to local cheese. One of the most popular shops on the street is the Apothecary at the top where, on entry, you'll be whisked back to a bygone era. The shop sells mainly hand-made soaps in a mind boggling variety of shapes and sizes, some of which you wouldn't be sure whether to eat or put on display!

      One of my favourite shops in Haworth is the Yorkshire Relics shop, which sells all manner of collectables. They have an extensive collection of records, books and toys that, no matter how old you are, will have you dreaming of your youth and proclaiming that 'they just don't do it as well as they used to'! It's my sister-in-laws 40th birthday next month and we managed to get the Jackie Annual for the month she was born here for a very reasonable price.

      To break up the shopping, there are plenty of places to eat from cafes to restaurants, from bakeries to chip shops. Anything you can imagine is available in Haworth and, most importantly, it is all freshly and locally made.

      Aside from the main street there are plenty of other things to see. I've already mentioned the Bronte Museum. Just at the bottom of the main street is the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, which offers connection to many other places, but also offers you a chance to see many traditional locomotives. There is a viewing platform around the station that allows you to see into the shed where the trains are kept and maintained.

      Haworth is very proud of its charm and character, and does it's very best to attract tourists from all over the world and to give them a taste of olde worlde England. Nowhere is this more evident than the number of annual events that take place here. To start, there is 40s weekend and 60s weekend. Both of these are very popular and involve street parties, traditional fancy dress and general fun and frolics. There are events to mark all the major holidays - Easter, Halloween, etc, but the crowning glory is no doubt the Christmas festivities. There are six weekends' worth of events in all including Christmas markets, torchlight parades and visits from Santa. It makes it a great time to visit, take part in the festivities and do some Christmas shopping.

      One thing I will warn you about before I finish is the car parking in Howarth. Just as you enter the village, there is a car park run by a company called Car Stoppers. It is located at the top of the main street, opposite Edinburgh Woollen Mill. The company has a terrible track record of clamping for trivial matters (displaying her ticket upside down was what Betty Boothroyd got clamped for!) and for excessive fines. A quick search on Google will show you how notorious the car park is, to the point that they've actually marketed it somehow. There are plenty of other places to park - we usually park next to the parsonage on the council-run car park - so don't fall into the trap and avoid this place.

      I would recommend a visit to Haworth to anyone - whatever your interests; you will doubtless find something of interest here.

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        22.02.2008 13:11
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        The small village of Haworth in West Yorkshire.

        Quite recently my family and I were up in Yorkshire for a christening and decided to make a weekend break out of it. On our free day there we decided to take advantage of the beautiful but cold weather and do some exploring of the local villages in the area, one of which was a place called Haworth.

        Haworth is a hill top village not far from the town of Bradford (8 miles) and the city of Leeds in West Yorkshire. It's situated above the Worth Valley and can be found among the Pennine moors. It took us about 30 minutes to get here from central Leeds and the journey was largely through the hills and moors.

        Haworth is arguably most famous for being home to the Bronte sisters and consequently the place where they wrote the majority of their famous novels. This was one of our main reasons behind going to visit the small village due to the majority of my family being fans of the Bronte books.

        The Village

        The village itself is very small, incredibly beautiful and situated around one main street. This is basically a long cobbled street which is built up the side of a hill and surrounded by little cottages, shops and tea rooms. The buildings are all low rise and made of traditional grey brick and stone. There's been very little done in the way of modernising the village which really adds to its character and makes it very pretty to look at.

        There are about fifteen shops on the street and these all cater to the tourist market with several second hand book shops, gift shops and a wonderful old style chemist shop selling all sorts of bath and skin care products. Several of these shops retain the appearance of how they would have looked while the Bronte sisters were alive and some even have their staff dressed in similar outfits which really adds to the atmosphere of the place.

        There are also about five or six small cafes on the street which all seem to be quite reasonably priced and decorated in a very homely style. We stopped off in one of them for tea and cakes and it cost just around £11 for the four of us which seemed quite reasonable. There are also several pubs and even a restaurant on the main street which cater for the larger meals and also into the evening as well.

        There are a number of pay and display car parks; we parked at one towards the top end of the main street and it cost us around £3.50 for a three hour stay which didn't seem too bad. There was also parking available on the sides of roads as well if you didn't want to pay the charges. I'm not sure how well served the village is with regards to public transport but I'm sure the local transport websites would be able to advise you better.

        Once we'd finished exploring the village we decided to go for a bit of a walk and found there were numerous footpaths on offer leading out of the village depending on which direction you wanted to take. We decided to follow one of the most popular paths which allowed us to look at the Bronte Falls, the Bronte Bridge and the Bronte Stone Chair where the sisters are meant to have sat to write at various times during their lives.

        The Bronte Way itself is 40 miles long although we only walked for about an hour before tiring and demanding more tea and cakes! If you do decide to walk further there are all sorts of sites to see including Top Withens which is a desolute ruin but apparently was the setting for Heathcliff's farmstead in Wuthering Heights. There's also Ponden Hall nearby which is believed to have featured in Wuthering Heights as Thrushcross Grange.

        There are also several themed days throughout the year which might prove very popular with visitors including the Bronte Vintage Tractor Road Run in April and a Fun Day in Haworth Park in May. For further information you can check out the Haworth Village website which can be found at www.haworth-village.org.uk.

        The Bronte Museum

        This is arguably the main attraction in the area and is located in the Village Parsonage where the Brontes lived for the majority of their lives. This is about a two minute walk from the top end of the main street so is very centralised. The Parsonage has been converted into a museum and is now maintained by the Bronte Society.

        The Museum is open every day all year round, except for public holidays, and opens from around 10.00am - 5.00pm depending on the time of year. Admission charges are £6 for adults, £4 for student citizens and students, £2.50 for under 16s and it's free for under 5s. A family ticket is priced at £15 and will allow access for up to 2 adults and 3 children so can save you quite a bit of money.

        Once you've bought your tickets you can view the museum itself which shows much of the house as it would have been when the Brontes lived there as well as giving you access to the church and the grounds of the house. We looked round it and found it took us just over an hour for the entire experience and thoroughly enjoyed it, I'd certainly recommend this even if you're not a fan of the Bronte works.

        Steam Train Trips

        In the nearby village of Keighley you can board an old fashioned steam train and travel through West Yorkshire's Bronte Country from the village of Oxenhope to Haworth and on down to Oakworth then to Keighley. This has also been used on the set of The Railway Children and in numerous other TV dramas. We didn't actually venture to this attraction but it I imagine it would be lovely in the summer months.

        My Opinion

        I really enjoyed my visit to Haworth and would recommend it to anyone wanting to spend a couple of hours in the fresh air in the Yorkshire area. If you've got small children it might not be ideal as the Bronte Museum is arguably the biggest attraction in the area and the main street is situated on quite a steep, cobbled hill which wouldn't be suitable for push chairs really.

        What really struck me about the area was the character and the charm of the village. It was so natural and unspoilt by any modern alterations or buildings that I found it so serene just to look at. There wasn't a modern supermarket in site and the village itself was so peaceful with the shops adding such an ambience to the area that it was hard not to feel myself relaxing as I walked around.

        With all this in mind I would have to say that it's probably not somewhere I'd choose to go back to in the near future as once you've spent a couple of hours there you'll easily have seen everything there is to see. There are plenty of other villages in the area that are similar in character and size which I'll certainly be making an effort to visit this year after such an enjoyable time in Haworth.

        Thanks for reading.

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        Other attractions include: Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and Haworth church.