Two Day Gentleman Jack Adventure for Literary Lovers
The magnificent landscape of the Calder Valley in Yorkshire has inspired generations of writers to greatness, including Sylvia Plath, the Brontë sisters and Ted Hughes – as well as Gentleman Jack’s writer/director and Calderdale local Sally Wainwright.
You can find out more about our rich literary heritage here.
Tread in these literary greats’ footsteps with our suggested itinerary for a Book Lover’s Break.
Morning: Head to Shibden Hall and its Estate. Set in the picturesque Shibden valley, just outside Halifax, Shibden Hall dates back to 1420 and offers visitors a fascinating journey through the lives of the people who lived and worked here, including the noted diarist Anne Lister (1791 - 1840). Explore the adjacent barns and their displays about traditional crafts, then roam the beautifully restored gardens, which were extensively remodelled by Anne Lister, and the Shibden Park Estate.
Afternoon: Head into Halifax to see some of the other places that Anne Lister knew. Visit the 900-year-old Halifax Minster, where Anne worshipped. See the font where Anne was baptised and her final resting place, learn about her damaged tombstone and hear about her ancestors and friends. Next, take a short walk to the magnificent Grade I listed Piece Hall, which opened in 1779; the only remaining former cloth hall in the UK. It was here that Anne watched the famous English aeronaut and balloonist Charles Green make an ascent in April 1824, which she wrote about in her famous diaries. Pop into the independent bookshop Book Corner in The Piece Hall or pick up some second-hand bargains at Brames on Silver Street or at Whiteley’s Book Exchange – the oldest stall in the Grade II* listed Victorian Borough Market.
Morning: Head to the charming canal-side village of Mytholmroyd, the birthplace of the former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes. Visit Ted Hughes’ childhood home, the house where he lived until the age of seven (you can also stay there if you like, details here). Before his death, Hughes said ‘my first seven years shaped everything’. The terraced house, which is surrounded by the rolling moors and spectacular countryside that inspired Hughes’ work, still features some of the original furnishings from the 1930s when he lived there.
Afternoon: head along the valley for lunch in the bohemian town of Hebden Bridge. Famous for its free spirit and packed with independent shops, cafes and restaurants, you’re sure to bump into one of the many local award-winning writers who call the town home (Zaffar Kunial, Amy Liptrot, Horatio Clare, Melvin Burgess, and many more). Pop in to the independent book shop Book Case for a browse. Head from there up to the hill-side village of Heptonstall to visit the grave of ‘King’ David Hartley, the leader of the Cragg Vale Coiners, the band of counterfeiters who are the focus of Benjamin Myers’ Walter Scott Prize winning novel The Gallows Pole. Sitting above Hebden Bridge, this small village offers breath taking views of the Calder Valley, and has been the picturesque location for films like Peterloo.
And the Brontë Parsonage is just a stone’s throw away in wonderful Haworth.