A weekend in Bronte country

It’s official – Autumn has well and truly taken hold. And, for once, we lot in Manchester have been blessed with some truly beautiful cold, crisp, sunny days with lots of crunchy golden leaves to kick and a kaleidoscope of colours on the trees as more leaves turn – just as bloody well after the wettest summer on record!

This turn of weather good fortune really has been just as well, as the weekend before last we headed off to Haworth in Yorkshire, affectionately known as Bronte Country and the delightful cold bright autumnal weather meant we could enjoy our wanderings down the steep streets and across the wild open moors far more than if it had been wet and miserable. (In which case I’ll admit I’d probably have been a bit grumpy!)

I’ve not really seen a lot of Yorkshire (being a Scot who’s lived in England only relatively recently, there’s still an awful lot of the English countryside I’d really like to see) and was straight away taken with the charm of Haworth itself. With its steep cobbled high street high lined with quaint and quirky shops and pubs, you could really imagine yourself stepping back in time, as if nothing much had changed for 100 years or more. This sense of history was all the more keenly felt for trips on the Keighly & Worth Valley steam trains

and the almost-tangible presence of the famous Bronte family, particularly after a trip to the Parsonage. As the steam from a passing train billowed in your face, briefly distorting the people and sights immediately around you, you could feel yourself transported to another time. The feeling of the past was further compounded for me by the fact that we were staying in the Haworth YHA – which just so happened to be a converted Victorian mansion, complete with resplendent plasterwork, stained glass and impressive doorways. Being the massive history geek I am, I straight away pictured myself swanning around the house as if I were in Downton Abbey!

While not in the village itself, we continued to be blessed with beautiful weather as we lolloped our way up the Pennine Way and across heathery open moors, continuing to spot Bronte-related sights such as Top Withins farmhouse and Penistone Crag.

Of course all these activities in the bracing country air meant we worked up quite an appetite which meant lots of yummy food! Somehow, I managed to fail to take any food photos apart from of some cake (more on that later!) (I know, I’m a terrible food blogger!)

I do just have to describe the fantastic meal we ate on the Saturday night however, even if I don’t have a photo, as it was the most delicious chicken I have ever eaten in my entire life! Firstly, I would never usually order chicken when out for a meal, tending to plump for more indulgent choices or things we don’t often cook at home. Something about the description of this dish on the menu called out to me however and I am so glad I ordered it! The pan roasted chicken was glazed in maple syrup and wholegrain mustard (two of my favourite things – this reeled me in first!) and was served with a roasted butternut squash puree (oohh, another of my favourite things, I might just have to order the chicken!), apple reduction and cornbread and sage stuffing. The skin of the chicken was practically indescribably tasty – sticky and crispy and sweet and savoury all at the same time…. mmmm… the roasted butternut squash puree was so sweet and flavoursome, and the stuffing was a fantastic coarse texture and also bursting with taste. As I write this, I think I am definitely going to have to try and re-create this at home! So, a lesson for me, don’t always discount the chicken as the ‘boring option’! The other half also made an excellent choice with his hake, with a perfectly crispy skin, nestled on a bed of delicious tomato,  kidney bean and chorizo stew.

Of course no weekend in Haworth would be complete without at least one trip to a tea room for some restorative cake.

I even managed to earn an extra gold star by finding a tea room serving local ale! Sticky apple cake and a pot of earl grey tea for me, twice baked vanilla cheese cake and a pint of Blacksheep for the boy  – everyone’s a winner! And just look at this adorable milk jug!

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