Wild and remote landscapes, uneasy characters, and an ominous sense of supernatural influence: gothic literature has retained its place in today’s goth subculture. And without it, we may never have eventually ended up with black lipstick, occult symbolism or the Cure. Why not indulge your inner raven on a day out in one of the UK’s best gothic locations?
Autumnal weather helps: moody clouds add the foreboding atmosphere that’s always there both in the music and the novels. (After all, Heathcliff didn’t stride out to find Cathy on a sunny Yorkshire afternoon.)
The good news is that if you’re reading this, you’re probably already wearing the appropriate heavy footwear. All you need now is a flask of hot tea, your favourite Robert Smith album cued up and you’re ready for an adventure on the dark side. Here’s our pick of the best gothic days out in the UK.
The number one gothic location in the UK, Whitby was of course the key setting in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Poke about in the gothic abbey that inspired the book, go for a guided walk through its winding lanes and passageways to discover local legends or attend (pandemic allowing) the Whitby Goth Weekend, which incorporates the Bizarre Bazaar where you can stock up on faded Victoriana.
Jamaica Inn, Cornwall
The famous windswept Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor inspired Daphne du Maurier’s famous novel after she stayed there in 1930. The story goes that she went out riding with a friend and then a sudden mist came down, causing them to get lost. It was growing dark, so they dismounted and hoped their horses would lead them back again. Luckily for us they did, and she stayed at the Inn for the next few days to recover, which is when she discovered the smuggling history of the place and found the inspiration for her renowned novel. The inn has a museum dedicated to the author, and you can even stay in a haunted room, if you’re brave enough.
Haworth, West Yorkshire
The moors around Haworth were the inspiration for Wuthering Heights, the haunted house at the heart of Emily Brontë’s tempestuous classic novel. The Brontë Parsonage museum library, housed in the stone cottage that was the Brontës’ family home, contains the world’s largest collection of letters, manuscripts, poetry and early editions of the sisters’ novels. Haworth is a pretty town, and the path next to the parsonage is the starting point for an atmospheric walk through the village and out into the South Pennines.
Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein, Bath
The 1816 gothic masterpiece Frankenstein was written in Bath, so where better to open a museum that celebrates both its author and the cultural impact of the book. Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein also contains a laboratory-themed Escape Room. Contains ‘some scenes of a disturbing nature’.
Leeds Castle Maze and Grotto
Is there anything more beguiling and romantic than getting lost in a maze? The maze at Leeds Castle in Kent is one of the country’s best kept, and there’s a fantastically atmospheric underground grotto to explore on the way out. Inside the castle, soak up the gothic fantasy of the grand Banquet Hall, music room and French newel staircase in the courtyard.
This tiny village includes the largest megalithic stone circle in the world. Nearby West Kennet Long Barrow is amazing – a huge late stone age burial chamber you can go sit in – yes, it’s basically an underground cemetery. The village itself has a lovely gift shop on the high street, filled with New Age artefacts such as crystals and tarot memorabilia, and the Red Lion pub has uninterrupted views of the 6,000-year-old site.
Pendle Hill, Yorkshire
Rising above an ancient hunting ground, dramatic Pendle Hill was once home to wild boar and wolves. It’s also where the notorious Pendle Witch trials took place in 1612, which resulted in 12 women being tried and executed for witchcraft. These days it’s a peaceful landscape dotted with hamlets and farms, and fantastic walking country with panoramic views. But to the discerning goth, it’s an unholy pilgrimage.