Those of you who are familiar with the blog will know that most of our UK trips usually sprout from one very small idea or attraction. One simple thing that we plan a larger trip around. And this weekend’s very vintage day out in the village of Haworth was no exception.
As you may have noticed, the town is my (newly acquired) namesake. When we got married one of the easiest things I found to get used to was my new name. Not necessarily the ‘Mrs’ part, that took a bit longer to settle in – but the ‘Haworth’ part seemed to roll off the tongue as if it always had.
Armed with my fancy new alliterated name, there was one rite of passage that I simply had to do. Seek out my namesake town and get a selfie next to it’s welcome sign. And so our latest trip was planned. Lucky for us, Haworth had plenty more to offer than just it’s signage.
The drive in was stunning. We wound through sloping countryside, which was made all the more dramatic by the moody weather – grey but mild. I believe this area of North Yorkshire inspired Charlotte Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. (Haworth is famously known as the birthplace and home of the Bronte sisters.) It wasn’t difficult to see how the villages’ surrounding landscape could inspire a true English classic.
After parking up next to the Bronte museum, we wandered through a number of quaint lanes to find an equally picturesque high street. Cobbled streets, flagged bunting and an array of delightful vintage boutiques oozed English charm. A sweet aroma drifted along the aired luring us into a time gone by – otherwise known as the Rose and Co. Apothecary shop.
On entering the shop almost every sense was delighted. Chandeliers cast a warm glow across colourful displays of lotions and potions, many made to look like a delicious selection of treats.
Vintage trinkets and enamel signs lined the walls but my favourite pieces in the shop were the authentic barrels full of bath salts. I could easily while away an afternoon just soaking in the bygone atmosphere and sniffing out my favourite scents.
By far the focal point of the shop was the stunning cash desk display. Authentic glass cabinets lined with old fashioned bottles filled with liquids of every colour. It was more like being in a museum than in a shop. An absolute delight to start our day.
Aside from getting a selfie at the Haworth sign (which we had yet to do at this point) we had made plans to experience Haworth’s famous vintage steam trains. From the Apothecary at the top of the high street, we wandered down past more delightful boutiques including tantalising bakeries, cafes and unique giftwares.
We walked through Haworth Central Park, which I imagine would be an ideal spot to enjoy a lazy picnic on warmer days. By now it had started to drizzle so we upped our speed, full steam ahead (pardon the pun) for Haworth train station.
Tickets purchased, we had a short wait on the platform, long enough to get that all important selfie in front of a pretty Haworth sign, and a matching magnet to boot! Even the station and the platform at Haworth were delightfully pretty. I loved everything from the railway-side flowers to the characterful street lamps.
When we heard the distinctive whistle of our train and saw the steam billowing into the sky, it was not difficult to imagine yourself in a bygone era – in the most charming of ways. The sight of the steam train chugging into the station was akin to picture postcards you’d expect of a typical English countryside. How thrilled I was to be part of it today.
I’ve never been so intrigued by a simple train ride in all my life. Everything was novel. From the springiness of the old carriage seats to the nostalgic musk that greeted you when you sat down. For the short 5 minutes that it took from Haworth to nearby Oxenhope, I was in my own hazy world.
When we alighted the train I took a few more snaps for good measure before heading out of the station and across to the Oxenhope train exhibition. Now trains aren’t usually my thing, but there was something about the static, dark carriages that evoked a sense of nostalgia in me. It seemed reminiscent of a railway graveyard, but not in a sad way.
We enjoyed wandering between the trains, imagining how they’d steamed on and tooted their whistles in years gone by. How many passengers had they seen, how many reunion embraces and tears of goodbye at the station platforms?
It was a shame that you couldn’t climb aboard the carriages and feel what it was like to sit inside, but one or two carriages’ doors were open so you could take a sneak peek, and get enough of an idea.
Back at the station, there was an old carriage re-purposed into a quirky tea room, but since we had only just had breakfast before we left Haworth, we decided to wait for our train back in the cosy station – complete with log fire and very friendly railway staff.
The train back to Haworth was a real treat. We just so happened to be visiting during one of Keighley and Worth Valley railways’ summer event days, whereby they put on a number of special vintage trains. Truth be told I wasn’t entirely sure of the difference between them, but there were a lot of enthusiasts waiting on the platform so I was pleased to be part of something special, even if I didn’t know exactly what that was!
Andy and I hopped into a carriage all to ourselves – a novel concept I’ve never experienced before. Looking around the cart there were notices about Air Raids – something which brought to reality just how old these trains really were. A thoughtful train ride back to Haworth followed.
The walk back up to the top of the high street was tough. The incline was very steep, and being as unfit as we are we rewarded ourselves with a break half way up to claim some home-made Haworth fudge, and then stopped again to make friends with a resident cat who was sheltering himself from the rain under a shop awning. When we finally made it to the top, we refreshed ourselves with a drink at a traditional English pub.
I don’t think you can walk around Haworth without being pensive. The whole atmosphere from the vintage trains to the quaint boutiques invoke thoughts of times gone by. It thus seemed appropriate to pay a visit to the graveyard that we had passed at the beginning of the day.
We wandered among the gravestones, taking in the engraved snippets of the lives who had shared the town and experienced the vintage apothecary shops and steam trains first hand. I was in two minds about whether it would be fitting to take photographs, and in the end I decided for it. It really was a beautiful place to rest.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t think to visit a cemetery as part of a sight seeing exercise, but in Haworth it almost felt like we’d experienced part of their world – we’d had a glimpse into what the town used to be like, although perhaps with a modern twist – so to come and pay our respects seemed like the right thing to do.
Back in the car the drive was quiet. Contemplative.
For me and Andy, and our future family, Haworth will forever be a special place. Andy having visited as a boy; me having joined him as his wife and new bearer of the name; and hopefully one day we will return with children of our own – to complete the family ‘selfie’ we’ve started.
Or maybe we’ll go back sooner – perhaps when I run out of bath salts!