5 literary themed breaks to take in Yorkshire

PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 May 2020

Whitby Bram's View

Whitby Bram's View

Archant

Yorkshire is well known for its literary connections, from the humour of Alan Bennett and Gervase Phinn to the romantic Brontë sisters. Time on your hands to delve into the pages – and plan a literary escape

Haworth Bronte Parsonage Museum (c) The Bronte SocietyHaworth Bronte Parsonage Museum (c) The Bronte Society

HAWORTH

Literary connection

The Brontës; The Railway Children; Ted Hughes

Visit

No literary pilgrimage to Haworth would be complete without a look around the Brontë Parsonage Museum (bronte.‌org.‌uk), where Emily, Charlotte and Anne wrote their famous novels. There’s a year-long exhibition looking at Anne’s life and work. From there, head to Keighley and Worth Valley Railway (kwvr.‌co.‌uk), which featured in the film of E Nesbit’s The Railway Children. 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the making of the film, and a programme of celebratory events was planned. The railway has launched an appeal to help survive the current hardships. Finally, for those inspired to pick up a pen themselves, book a place on a writer’s retreat at nearby Lumb Bank, Hebden Bridge (arvon.‌org). The 18th century mill-owner’s house was once owned by poet Ted Hughes and now houses an Arvon creative writing centre. Courses run throughout the year.

Lumb Bank, a writers retreat (c) Sarah MasonLumb Bank, a writers retreat (c) Sarah Mason

Stay

Where better than Ted’s House (cottages.com), the sensitively restored childhood home of Ted Hughes, in Mytholmroyd? Meanwhile, Ashmount Country House in Haworth (ashmounthaworth.co.uk) boasts a connection to the Brontës: it was owned by Dr Amos Ingham, who was the family’s doctor. Sykes Cottages (sykescottages.co.uk) offers several quirky self-catering options, from Moor Skies, a cosy shepherd’s hut in Oxenhope to the pretty and romantic Curiosity Cottage in Oakworth. The Dairy in Haworth, comes complete with purple Aga.

They say

‘He said the pleasantest manner of spending a hot July day was lying from morning till evening on a bank of heath in the middle of the moors.’ Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

Whitby Abbey (c) Nigel Wallace-Iles/English Heritage TrustWhitby Abbey (c) Nigel Wallace-Iles/English Heritage Trust

WHITBY

Literary connection

Dracula; The Woman in Black

Visit

Something about the Yorkshire coast inspires spooky stories, with both Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black taking inspiration from the likes of Whitby and Scarborough (Hill’s home town). Stoker stayed in Whitby in 1890 and, while there, discovered the story of a 15th century prince who impaled his enemies on stakes, known as Dracula. Pay a visit to the dramatic Whitby Abbey (english-heritage.org.uk), where a performance of Dracula is staged every summer. And, if you’re feeling brave, try an evening ghost walk (whitbywalks.com).

Bram'sViewBram'sView

Stay

For something suitably spooky, check into the gothic guesthouse Bats & Broomsticks (batsandbroomsticks.net). Or follow in the writer’s footsteps at Bram’s View (cottages.com), an apartment on the West Cliff of Whitby where Bram Stoker stayed.

They say

‘Right over the town is the ruin of Whitby Abbey. It is a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits.’ Dracula, Bram Stoker

The Kitchen Garden in summer at RHS Garden Harlow Carr. (c) RHSThe Kitchen Garden in summer at RHS Garden Harlow Carr. (c) RHS

THE DALES

Literary connection

Alan Bennett; Gervase Phinn

Visit

As spring turns to summer, let’s hope we can get out and explore the Dales. The area is home to geographical delights including Malham Cove and Ingleton Falls, and to such literary treasures as Alan Bennett. Explore his home village of Clapham on foot (visit claphamyorkshire.co.uk for a walking map of the area), then venture over to Harrogate for tea at Bettys (the author featured this favourite haunt in Talking Heads). Or enjoy a giggle by touring some of Yorkshire’s more amusingly named villages, inspired by former school inspector Gervase Phinn. ‘God’s own country is particularly rich in imaginative and wonderfully expressive names: The Land of Nod, Bedlam, Idle, Wetwang, Blubberhouses…’ Close to Bedlam are numerous Dales attractions, including the blooming RHS Garden Harlow Carr (rhs.‌org.‌uk).

Afternoon Tea at BettysAfternoon Tea at Bettys

Stay

Fancy staying in Bedlam for a bit longer? The Vicarage (thevicarageharrogate.com) is a smartly decorated B&B nearby. Or dip your toe into the outdoor life with glamping in a swanky timber pod or bell tent at Catgill Farm (catgillfarm.co.uk) on the Bolton Abbey estate.

They say

‘We don’t put people on pedestals in Yorkshire, they nobbut want dustin’.’ The Other Side of the Dale, Gervase Phinn

Thirsk (c) Kevin Gibson Photography LtdThirsk (c) Kevin Gibson Photography Ltd

THIRSK

Literary connection

James Herriot

Visit

The iconic vet’s diaries reach the ripe old age of 50 this year, so visit the World of James Herriot museum (worldofjamesherriot.‌com), in Thirsk where he lived, worked and wrote them. Then, for more animal magic, take a trip to nearby Monk Park Farm (monkparkfarm.‌co.‌uk) to feed the calves, stroke the rabbits and pet the goat kids, or fly high at Thirsk Birds of Prey Centre (falconrycentre.co.uk).

Cundall Lodge Farm (c) MarcinCundall Lodge Farm (c) Marcin

Stay

On a farm, of course. Cundall Lodge Farm (cundall-lodgefarm.‌co.uk), a B&B on a working family farm, is a touch of luxury in the countryside and is just a short drive away.

They say

‘At times it seemed unfair that I should be paid for my work; for driving out in the early morning with the fields glittering under the first pale sunshine and the wisps of mist still hanging on the high tops.’ All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot

One of six Stanza Stones carved with poems written by Simon Armitage on Marsden Moor. (c) National Trust/Jon MillarOne of six Stanza Stones carved with poems written by Simon Armitage on Marsden Moor. (c) National Trust/Jon Millar

MARSDEN

Literary connection

Simon Armitage

Visit

Current Poet Laureate Simon Armitage grew up in this Colne Valley village, and much of his work is inspired by its people and places. Six of his poems are inscribed along a walking route from Marsden to Ilkley, known as the Stanza Stones Trail. Explore part of the 47-mile route, taking in the rugged Marsden Moor (nationaltrust.org.uk) and ‘those looking hard enough might stumble across a seventh secret Stanza Stone,’ says Armitage.

Crow Hill (c) Barry WoodCrow Hill (c) Barry Wood

Stay

Good old Airbnb (airbnb.co.uk) has some incredible houses on offer along the Stanza Stones Trail. Crow Hill is a large Victorian country house on the edge of Marsden Moor. It sleeps 14 people, has its own banqueting table and formal grounds (also available to rent is the West Wing at Crow Hill, which sleeps eight). At the end of the trail, in Ilkley, settle in at one of the cottages at Westwood Lodge; Orchard Cottage is full of original features and has its own children’s play den, while pretty Applebarn Cottage is the former gardener’s quarters.

They say

‘The village became the drawing board or board game on which I could practise my poetics and play out my perspectives.’ Magnetic Field: The Marsden Poems, Simon Armitage. 

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