Tuesday, 28 September 2010


We have moved from Dorset to West Yorkshire, to a village called Haworth high up in the Pennines. It is a fantastic place to be, surrounded by miles of open moorland which climb into the sky and then drop down into deep valleys. Water tumbles down the hillsides and over rocks, brown tinged from the peaty soil, it finds its way to the becks below in any way that it can. These becks in their turn join the rivers, the same rivers which powered the many mills which dot this area. You are never far away from one, whether it is a crumbling ruin now overgrown or one which has been given new life with a more modern commerce. What land has been cultivated over the centuries seems to be purely for the grazing of livestock, there are no wheatfields adding their colour to the scene. It is little wonder that its most famous literary connections are with the Bronte sisters whose works were peopled with dark brooding characters, living embodiments of the landscape. It has a reputation for being a dour landscape, but this is a shortsighted view which does not do justice to the breathtaking beauty of this part of our green and pleasant land.
After living, as we were, at sea level in Dorset it is now a huge contrast to find ourselves (at 1000 ft) living in the sky. The sky is now our world and though our feet, by neccessity, still use the ground to walk about on this does at times go unnoticed. All around us is the deep blue of of clear skies or, in another mood, clouds. The blue is welcome because there is less chance of rain falling out of it but it is the clouds which give shape and substance to our new world. They come in colours which, if not so vivid, are more varied than those found in a rainbow-especially in the evening just before the sun sets. At this time we walk up onto Penistone Hill where the uncountable miles of panoramic views can give the clouds in all of their variations. From the west we get the dark, sometimes thunderous, clouds creeping towards us. Due to the setting sun behind them, these are usually tinged with gold. Where the cloud cover is more sparse the golden hue streaks through the black, its brightness giving lie to the threat of a storm.
On each side of the rainclouds-to the north and the south-are thick bands of clouds ranging from grey to pure white.These last form into strange, almost box-like, shapes over the far hills. To the east the clouds tend to be thinner and, catching the rays of the setting sun from a distance, have pinkish tints to them which deepen in colour as the sun sets lower. Here too we see the sky peeping through the breaks,  pale watery blue. But the most spectacular effect is back in the west during those short minutes when the sun has virtually dropped out of sight. Then it appears as if a fire is raging along the hilltops, moreso when there is wind to give movement to this illusionary inferno.
When it has burnt itself out this singals that we should make our way back down the hill. When darkness comes to the moors at this time of year it tends to be sudden and complete, so we head for the village and return to earth. Haworth is a one-off: it is dark and lopsided, oozing history from streets and buildings that make no apology for their failure to be picturesque. The energy that was spent in years gone by, when daily survival was a struggle, still pervades and feeds our imaginations. It is an exciting place to live.