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Wuthering Heights. Journey to the Yorkshire moors

Wuthering Heights. Journey to the Yorkshire moors

An old steam locomotive with tarnished windows and wooden interiors under the license plate 90733. A red-haired girl tries to clean the window, but beyond the rain there are only clouds of smoke and fog. The journey from Keighley to Haworth is a step back in time. The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Line, built in 1867, transports the visitor to a world that stopped earlier, in 1820, when Reverend Patrick Brontë moved to Haworth with his family. The small hamlet of Yorkshire and the heath that surrounds it are the spectators of the tormented loves told by Emily Brontë in stormy peaks. And it is really almost a storm that today welcomes us when we get off the steam train: an atmospheric turmoil caused by the winds of the north.

The station remained as it was, with its cast-iron lamps and the rain-soaked bricks. A bridge over the railway leads to the village nestled on a hill. Going along he main street you get to the church of St. Michael and All Angels, where the Reverend Patrick Brontë, father of the three writers Emily, Anne and Charlotte, worked as an Anglican pastor. Of the original building only the bell tower remains, already present in the fifteenth century, because what you see is the new church built and inaugurated in 1879 by the successor of the Reverend Brontë. An inscription in the crypt indicates that all Brontë are buried here, except for Anne resting in Scarborough.

Around, the cemetery is of a unique suggestion. The smell of wet grass, the slabs planted in the earth like stone ghosts, those lost lives told in the epitaphs: everything makes us think of the Elegia in a country cemetery by Thomas Gray. From what we read, the oldest burial dates back to 1645. Some say that under the lawn of the cemetery there is a large city of the dead, perhaps 40 thousand. Chasing a shy ray of sunshine, a black cat emerges from the stone slabs and leads us first to the Old School Room, the school for poor children opened by the Reverend Brontë, then to the Parsonage, the Georgian house where the family lived between 1820 and 1861. Built in 1778, it is now a museum.

Continuing beyond the Parsonage to the west we find ourselves in the wild moor of which Emily was in love and that appears in her novels and in those of her sisters, as in the intriguing Jane Eyre of Charlotte. Nearby are Ponden Hall, which inspired Trushcross Grunge, the Linton house in the Tempest Peaks; the villa where Anne's tenant of Wildfell Hall is set; Top Withens, the Earnshow family farm; the area of ​​Penistone Cragg (actually Ponder Kirk) where Catherine and Heathcliff went to play as children; the waterfall and the bridge where the Brontë sisters often went.

Around us, now, only sheep and a bird perched on a dry stone wall that guards him. As soon as it stops raining, the grass becomes a dazzling green. Every now and then there is a "small row of dingy stumps of pines that stretch their arms from one side as if to beg for alms". On the way back, a vintage book store has Tempest Peaks in the window. Opposite, the Black Bull, the pub frequented by Branwell, the brother of the writers. The rain is beating strong again as we walk on the slippery cobblestones of Main Street, to go and get that rusty train that will take us back to the present. On the train, we leaf through Charlotte Brontë's life by Elizabeth Gaskell: "My sister Emily was in love with the moor; in her eyes, in the darkest corners of the land, the most vivid flowers blossomed, her mind could transform into an Eden the most gloomy little valley sunk on the bruised side of a hill. In the squalid solitude he found the rarest delights; and certainly, not least, indeed, the most beloved, freedom. Freedom was the air Emily breathed... » Think about those three young women who lived here, isolated from the world, and as a single outlet they had reading and writing.