Is it really time to write about my trip to Haworth? Has it become an event to report on and not to be living?
Immediately after I left C. S. Lewis’s grave, I took a train north, to Brontë Country.
My train was delayed and I missed all of my connections, so seven hours after I arrived at the train station I finally pulled up to my bed and breakfast, past midnight and in the rain. I collapsed into sleep.
The B&B is called Ye Sleeping House
My room was on the third floor of a small stone town house, which had its own narrow staircase and low, slanted walls. Mike, who runs Ye Sleeping House, is a lovely man who has an enormous collection of knick knacks. One wall of the hallway is covered in cat portraits. Letters from past guests peek out from shelves and picture frames. The narrow, high-ceilinged walls are painted deep green. He has dozens of VHS movies, and a VHS player in each of the three rooms. I woke up to the biggest breakfast I have ever eaten.
The view from my room, which I delighted in seeing that first morning.
Mike has two kitties, Charlie and Cosmo. This is Charlie, who cuddled with me each of the three days that I stayed. Cosmo is 22 years old, but he still came to the kitchen every morning to greet the diners.
The movies in my room. Some classics!
The best vegetarian sausages I’ve ever tasted. Fried toast. Fried eggs (from a local hen house). Mushrooms. Baked beans. Stewed tomatoes. Roasted potatoes. While it cooked, Mike convinced me to begin with cereal. I ate this for three mornings. It is amazing how quickly one can adjust to such a ritual.
View as I walked down the stairs to breakfast. This is just beyond the wall of cat paintings.
My first order of business was to tour the Brontë Parsonage. Mike sent me off into the world with an umbrella, a thermos of tea, and a sleeve of cookies.
The old graveyard was gorgeous and strange, with slabs of stone sliding and stacking against one another. Trees shaded them, but these were only added after the Brontë’s time in an effort to purify the soil and keep it from from eroding.
A gravestone prop from the 1992 British adaptation of Wuthering Heights with Ralph Fiennes. Didn’t see it? Neither did anyone else.
Statue of the Brontë sisters sculpted in the 1960s.
The Parsonage was filled with letters, first editions, paintings, photographs, clothes, and locks of Charlotte Brontë’s hair. Ah, to peruse a museum at leisure! In one room biographies of Brontë enthusiasts lined the walls; people who once hunted down and donated memorabilia for the museum. It was fun to see pictures of people from other eras and realize we had read and loved the same authors. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights were unchanged in 1910, 1970, and 2012…and everyone in those time periods got it.
I followed wooden signs to a stone path that led to the moors. This has to be one of my favorite pathways in the world.
It was impossible to get a picture with the wind whipping my hair!
After my typical commune with nature, I walked back into town and sat down at Cobbles ‘N Clay, a cafe and paint-your-own ceramics studio. I worked on these kitties until the cafe closed.
I ended the night with more cookies and The Railway Children, a movie I loved as a child but since forgot completely. Still liked it!
The next morning I walked up my favorite stone path again and hiked through the moors. Stunningness.
I went to the Brontë Waterfalls and Top Withins. Halfway through, a retired couple befriended me (with an adult daughter named Catherine) and we journeyed together.
On the bridge, to the right of the waterfall.
This tree was beautiful, and so wild. The wind pulled me towards it, and I grabbed onto the bark. I had the immediate sense of the moment slipping away from me, as if I was already in the future and returning to a memory. The seconds that passed did not let me hold on.
Reviewing my pictures again, I knew this tree had looked familiar. Here is a print from the edition of Wuthering Heights I read. Hmm…
The top of Top Withens.
Somewhere in the universe, I am always walking through the moors.
I returned to town and found a cafe known for its home made cakes. I had two half-slices and talked to the owner and cake-maker herself.
In one day I had kitties (of the fluffy and ceramic kind), glorious nature, walking, horses (pet a foal not pictured here), and cake. One of my more perfect days, I think. I felt a little guilty having the time of my life in Haworth, when in the Brontë’s time this town was pretty wretched. The days and years change a place…I wonder what Santa Rosa will become in 150 years?
The third and final morning I rode the steam train to Keighley, then a few more trains back to Cambridge.
It is better to have traveled and yearned to return, then to have never traveled at all. At least that’s what I’m telling myself, because I want to go back so badly.