Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Bronte Way

Bronte Falls

Curious carvings on the back of the Stone Seat (click to
enlarge); the real thing?

The Stone Seat

Vicki in the Stone Seat

The Bronte Bridge

Moors, from the heights

Top Withins, popularly known, even by the Tourist
Information types, as "Wuthering Heights"

Vicki at Top Withins

The fine print

This is Vicki's third visit to Haworth--she's the Bronte fan and will tell her own story--and she has always wanted to walk the Bronte Way, out the valley from Haworth, past the falls and bridge, and up to Top Withins. So we did this Wednesday, seven miles, a relatively beautiful fall day. (Tuesday was a perfectly dreadful and dreary day, cold and raining, perfect for seeing the Parsonage Museum and Haworth.)

Vicki adds:

Haworth, England October 7, 2009

Today I finally did something that I have wanted to do for over twenty years ever since my first trip to the Bronte Parsonage in 1989. Today I walked the 7.5 miles to the ruins of Top Withens farm—the setting of Wuthering Heights. It was a beautiful day with much sun and temperatures in the 50s. I had prepared myself by reading both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights in the last two weeks and spending yesterday on my third tour of the parsonage, museum and church. As one of the men said when we passed him on the way “It's a fine day for a literary pilgrimage.”

It was a beautiful path through the bracken and heather hardly changed since Charlotte, Emily and Anne walked it. Though now it is marked the Bronte Way with stops at the Bronte Waterfall, Bronte Bridge and even a rest in the stone chair that Charlotte would sit in for inspiration. A mile past the waterfall is the farmhouse that inspired Wuthering Heights—abandoned since the 30s and now roofless with some of the walls falling in. I came away with a stone and some heather and many photographs.

On the way back I could not help remembering how I first felt when reading those books in my early teens. How awestruck I was that love could be so passionate and strong between two souls that nothing in heaven, hell or earth could separate them. How awestruck I am today in reading them again for the upteenth time that these women living in a what we would consider the most bleak and lonely circumstances could build worlds even more real than reality itself. It was a literary pilgrimage and I have been well rewarded for my efforts.

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