To Haworth in West Yorkshire, now known as Bronte Country. The village has done well out of the brilliant but unlucky Bronte babes, selling cream teas and souvenirs to hundreds of thousands of dutiful pilgrims who trudge up and down the viciously cobbled hill on which they lived.
Mobility of the old folk in Haworth is kept up by a death penalty for anybody who can't manage the incline; it's no place for hip replacements and a wheelchair released at the top would hit the bottom doing 120 mph. Most places would put in a funicular railway and be done with it, but in Howarth every inch is a potential gold mine and so it is lined with gastropubs, holiday cottages, cheesemongers, toyshops and galleries. The tourist centre coyly gives the views at the top of the hill which flattens out in to a charming space fronting the church; it doesn't mention the ski-slope just beyond the Post Office. Photos are misleading; it is steeper than it looks.
The Brontes would always have been awkward, clever girls, following the footsteps of their impoverished but cultured Oirish father, but if that was not enough trouble, Haworth brought the strangeness out in them as even they struggled to portray themselves as ordinary genteel women.
It cannot help but do that; Haworth is a place which hums with Gothick presentments, where the everyday objects are caught in slanting light and for a moment look suspicious, as if they have been caught out having secret conversations with each other just beyond the range of human hearing.
A large hat with flowers will suddenly seem to have faces nestling in the petals, a cat walking along a wall seems stripey, then when you look again, it is plain. The Fleece pub has beer garden, but that is at the top of the fire escape above the roof and is built out over a precipitous drop, or what would be a drop if it wasn't filled with lean-to sheds snuggling against a cliff-face. If you could slip through the treads - which you can't, it is perfectly safe - you would crash through umpteen layers of glass in to the hidden crevasse.
Loitering by Spooks at 22 Main Street - Specialist Bookshop for Psychic Phenomena supplies - a vortex of strangeness is there, right on the stone slab by the side window. There is nothing whatever strange about a shop selling psychic accoutrements, books on Dowsing, Clairvoyance, Healing, Reincarnation, Alternative Medicine, Astrology, Local History, Tarot Cards, Crystals, Essential Oils, Incenses, Runes, Pendulums, Celtic and Mythical Pendants. Those are everywhere
What is strange is the planning application. There is a plan to change the ground floor in to an adult entertainment shop and the basement in to booths for private lap dancing. Maybe it's nominative determinism seeping through the stone. The sign on the wall says Purvs Corner and the shop stands on the junction with Butt Lane.
This is West Yorkshire, no more than a longish bus ride outside Bradford. It is moorland. It's not the fleshpots of York or the Dales with their undulating hips and ice cream parlours. It's not even Whitby with its unique approach to diversity. It's Haworth, dammit, where a lady changes her sheepskin mittens for crochet fingerless gloves indoors. The one place where going about in a burkha is considered foolhardy exposure to the weather, unless you can get it on over a hat and coat.
Who exactly is going to patronize this place? The stag party organizers Red Seven may have a point if sloping up and down the street, visiting good pubs and having great food is your thing. No shortage of those. However, as they say:
Boat party, Bobsleigh, Bungee jumping, City break, Clay pigeon shooting, Coasteering, Day at the races, Drive a supercar, Fishing, Fly a MiG jet fighter in Moscow, Football trip, Go-karting, Golf, Horse riding , Horse racing, Indoor skydiving, Kayaking or canoeing, Off roading, Paintballing, Powerboating, Quad bikes, Rally driving, Rock climbing, Skiing or snowboarding, Skydiving, Surfing, Tank driving, White water rafting and Zorbing (or Sphering). Not all of these are available in Haworth so you may want to consider other locationsThe plan seems to be that stag parties will drift about the pubs before their booking in to the club. Are there enough stag parties to warrant this optimism? Despite the international visitors and the good value which Haworth offers them, you won't find "raunchy" on a list of the ten qualities people commonly associate with the town. If you are looking for raunch it's best to start in Leeds.
Haworth does a fair line in repressed passion, though. If unattached it is a good place to look for a certain kind of woman i.e. an available one, but a stag party is unlikely to want to settle down for a night of passionate readings no matter how much significant eye contact is involved.
The planning application closed on 20th March and we shall see what happens. The vortex by the paranormal bookshop giggled and determined that the Clerk to the Council be called Gordon Bashami-Ghoulis.
Update: A controversial Radio 3 dramatisation of Wuthering Heights is being aired. It has gone all DH Lawrence and has Cathy and Heathcliff swearing at each other.