Earlier posts

Earlier posts
This blog is a continuation of an older one. To explore previous posts please click the photo above.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Where sheep may safely graze

One of the odd little 'positives' from the Covid pandemic is the sense of joyful return to some of the places that I love but could not visit during the lockdowns. The 'forbidden fruit' effect means an increased appreciation of the freedom and the abundance of loveliness amongst which I'm fortunate to live. It was with that in mind that a friend and I had a delightful day out at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) near Wakefield. 

A 500 acre country estate, formerly belonging to Bretton Hall, it has a large 1720 mansion that later became a teacher training college. There are rolling fields, lakes and woodland - miles of countryside to explore - as well as galleries and gardens, all full of sculpture and art. Pretty much all that you see in the photo below is part of it, although the Longside Gallery, which you can just see on the hillside in the distance, is currently closed. 

The various sculptures, some permanent and some visiting, somehow fit perfectly into the landscape. The sheep in the top photo are oblivious to the Corten steel 'Crate of Air' by Sean Scully, and others graze safely near Henry Moore's 'Large Totem Head'. The swan on her nest in the reeds (above) didn't know she was reflected in 'Gazing Ball' by Lucy & George Orta (also below), originally commissioned for an exhibition in the water gardens at Studley Royal. 

As you wander the estate, you might not even realise that the steps up through the bluebells are an artwork by David Nash: 'Seventy-One Steps', charred and oiled oak embedded in coal. Or that the bridge over the haha (hidden ditch) is a clever and functional sculpture by Brian Fell. 

Then there are the galleries to explore, architectural masterpieces in themselves. I love the play of light and shadow in the Underground Gallery. 

The more formal garden areas are lovely too, and I was thrilled to see the wisteria blossom tumbling down the wall outside the Underground Gallery.

There's more to see than can be done in a day, so I am glad to live within an hour's drive and to keep returning to the YSP. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

What's inside?

It's a familiar building that I've shown many times on my blog, situated on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal just outside Saltaire. This is Shipley Wharf, originally canalside warehouses and then converted into business units. It houses part of a business called Radio Design, which makes RF technology (don't really understand this!) - something to do with wireless communication. It also houses a restaurant, the Waterside Bistro. At one time there was a gym in the end unit, which closed in 2018. It has recently been imaginatively converted into small studios: Wharf Street Studios. The brainchild of a local furniture maker, James Whittam, he was seeking affordable premises for his own business and, upon finding the three storey space, realised it could become a hub for creative businesses and artists. 

Two floors have been imaginatively divided into wooden 'pods', which carve the space up flexibly without affecting the building's original structure, whilst the top floor is a meeting room and conference space. It has recently opened for business and within the premises I found jewellers, artists, a florist, textile designers, an upholsterer, a milliner, a newborn and family photographer, a ceramic designer and several others who were not open when I looked round. There's also a coffee shop, conveniently sited for both the businesses and passers-by to pop in. 

A jeweller's workshop (above) 

Abigayl Lily, floral design (Claire Moses) 

Salt Weave Studio, textile design and weaving (Rebecca Ough) :

Marns Makes, upholsterer (Alice Marns):

Karolinka Designs, jeweller - although I think the cards might have been by an artist friend sharing the display space: 

The conversion has retained some of the original winding gear that would have been used to lower goods onto canal barges. I just love it when people have such great ideas for respecting the heritage of our lovely old buildings - and in this case it is another advance in making Saltaire and Shipley a real centre for the creative arts. See HERE for a press feature about it. 


Monday, 23 May 2022

Woodland whispers

So, I went back to Hardcastle Crags on the camera club outing I was planning in March when I last posted photos from there. It was a delightful spring day, sunny and warm and everything looked very different from when I was there before. Gibson Mill hardly changes, of course. It's been like that since 1800, when it was built as a textile mill and then became an 'entertainment emporium' in the 1900s. Now it, and the surrounding area, is in the care of the National Trust. 

What has changed is the lushness of the woodland, with bright new leaves on the trees and a multitude of woodland plants and flowers in bloom. Bluebells and wild garlic predominate but there were others - tiny, pink, five-petalled stars that I have failed to identify; red campion; bistort; stitchwort; buttercups; dandelions and huge patches of something with grass / lily-like strap leaves that had already flowered and had delicate seedheads (near the top of the photo below). There were butterflies, among them sweet little orange-tips... though never as many as I recall from my younger days.   

My companions reported birdsong. Being deaf, I no longer hear the birds unfortunately but I did spot a grey heron on the hunt for a juicy frog or two. 

The ferns are unfurling. I love the fiddle-head appearance as they roll themselves outwards. I remember being fascinated by the complex life cycle of ferns when I studied them in biology at school. 

It's a pity blogs can't transmit scents as the woodland fragrances are rich and varied, and at this time of year the pungent scent of the wild garlic is memorable. 

It's a lovely walk down the streamside to Gibson Mill, where the café offers drinks and snacks and we (seven of us) were able to sit and chat. Beautiful place, good friends - what a blessing. 

Sunday, 22 May 2022

The Humber Bridge

I've lived in Yorkshire for all these years and had never seen the famous Humber Bridge. I remedied that recently when I went to Hull. I made the lengthy journey mainly to see the annual exhibition of the federation of Yorkshire camera clubs, which was on display at Hull University and in which many of our club members had images accepted. A slight detour to view the bridge proved quite a pleasure. It's a lot more elegant and slender than I had expected. Sadly it was raining at the time so the sky was very dull but perhaps that shows the bridge off better... ?

The bridge spans the Humber estuary (into which both the River Ouse and River Trent flow) and joins north Lincolnshire with Yorkshire. It was opened in 1981 and the whole project, including the approach roads, took almost ten years to complete. For 16 years it held the record as the world's longest single-span suspension bridge. From the viewing area on the north side, where I stopped, it wasn't possible to get both towers in one shot.  

The mural (below) was near the building that houses the Humber Rescue boat. It made me smile. Humber Rescue is an independent charity that provides search and rescue services on what is one of the most unpredictable and treacherous stretches of water in the world, with strong currents and shifting sandbanks. 

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Hidden spaces

I have no shame when it comes to taking photographs, so I hope the owners of this attractive garden will forgive my intrusive lens poking over their garden wall. I was walking down Hirst Mill Crescent, which is a rather delightful row of old houses and cottages - large and small - that appear to have grown in a hodge-podge fashion over many years. They are associated with the old Hirst Mill, at the bottom on the riverside, which was originally a fulling mill, where lengths of woven wool cloth were washed and pounded to felt them and make them sturdier and more windproof. (Incidentally, the cloths were then stretched and hung to dry on frames called tenters which is where the phrase 'being on tenterhooks' originated. You learn something every day!) Anyway, I just thought this garden, which is rather hidden away, looked charming. 

Friday, 20 May 2022

Pond life

After visiting Wycoller, my camera club buddies and I went for lunch at the lakeside café in the nearby nature reserve of Ball Grove. Once the site of a large tannery, built in 1860 and powered by two weirs across Colne water, the business went bankrupt and was demolished in 1974. The site was cleared and turned into a park, woodland and a fishing lake, with numerous trails and footpaths through it. 

I decided I'd have a play with some slightly different styles of photos and processing. 

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Vaccary walls

I first heard of 'vaccary walls' in connection with the Chevin ridge in Otley. When we visited Wycoller, I discovered there are a lot of them in that area. They are believed to be medieval field enclosures, associated with the vaccaries: small scale commercial cattle farms in the area in the 14th century. Unlike the more familiar dry-stone walls, vaccary walls consist of large irregular slabs of stone placed upright. 

I can't decide between colour and mono for this image - both have their merits, I feel. 

There seemed to be no cattle around (medieval or modern) but lots of sheep and some very sweet lambs. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

The Atom Panopticon

The recent camera club outing to Wycoller in Lancashire included a walk up to the curious Atom Panopticon. Looking like a space ship has landed, it is actually a sculpture cum shelter, constructed in 2006, that sits on the hillside above the village. It was one of a series of sculptures designed as 21st century landmarks in East Lancashire, as symbols of the renaissance of the area. Made of ferro-cement coated with a metal-based paint, it has sadly been subject to some vandalism, with graffiti daubed in it and the removal of a reflecting steel ball that was in the centre. (So much for renaissance!) 

The views from up here are pretty stunning, with the whaleback shape of Pendle Hill on the horizon. The holes in the structure capture glimpses of the scenery in an intriguing way. Certainly worth the walk up to see it. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Wycoller - mono and blossom

It was summer last year when I visited Wycoller before (see HERE), so in some ways I felt I'd exhausted its photographic possibilities - but that didn't stop me meeting up with camera club friends for a summer outing there a couple of weeks ago. Arguably a mono treatment suits the ruined house, Wycoller Hall, that was reputed to be the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre

The very old bridges across Wycoller Beck are always photogenic. The packhorse bridge dates back (probably) to the 15th century. We were speculating whether it was constructed with a wonky arch or whether it has twisted over time. It still seems remarkably solid to walk over, just wide enough for a horse or one person to cross. There is a ford too, but the packhorse bridge must have been used if the beck was in flood. It has the characteristic low wall profile that would have allowed a horse loaded with panniers to cross unimpeded. 

I was attracted to the contrast between the delicate apple blossom and the time-worn, rough stonework, though I don't know that I made the best of it. 

Monday, 16 May 2022

Was that summer?

Saturday was FA Cup Final day here. (Liverpool v Chelsea. Liverpool won on penalties after extra time. A most enjoyable match.) It was a late kick-off at 16.45 so there was ample time for a stroll beforehand, which was lovely as it was a perfect spring day, sunny and warm. If I had it my way, we'd live in May all the time, since both nature and temperatures seem to me to be just right. (Though I suppose I would miss the changing seasons.)   

I was in Ilkley to watch the match on TV with a friend, and wandering there is as delightful as strolling around my own patch here in Saltaire. The River Wharfe was very low as we've had so little rain lately. There were lots of people enjoying the sunshine and paddling in the river. (I wouldn't especially recommend that, although apparently this side of the suspension bridge is about the safest place, at least in dry weather. Despite being a designated 'bathing river', there is an ongoing fight by local activists to prevent pollution from sewage effluent being discharged into the river through storm overflow, which is allowed.)  

The river skirts the foot of Middleton Woods, which is a notable site for bluebells and there were still a lot in flower, though somewhat past their best. 

The view downstream from the old packhorse bridge in the town is verdant and lovely - and there is a very good ice cream stall by the bridge. Yum! You always wonder if these lovely bright days are the last we're going to see of the warm sun, though I'm pretty sure I'll find another lovely day and another ice cream at some point. 

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Lob Wood viaduct

Here are a few more photos from my walk to and through Lob Ghyll, near Addingham.  I was looking for the viaduct, once part of the Midland Railway's Ilkley to Skipton route, abandoned in the Beeching cuts in the mid-1960s. I did walk down the valley once in the winter, slithering on the mud and rather fearful of the steep drop, but it was slightly easier ascending from the road. The viaduct is now well hidden and very overgrown. 

Finding it wasn't easy either. The map clearly showed a path up from the Dalesway trail, but on the ground the Dalesway was poorly signed and I made a navigational error, so I then had to retrace my steps. I wasn't the only one who made the mistake, as I passed another two sets of walkers who'd missed the turn as well. (You don't expect the Dalesway to pitch you out onto the side of a busy road and expect you to walk along it with no footpath for half a mile!) The missteps did, however, lead me through some lovely bluebells:

Where they were growing in amongst stitchwort, it looked especially pretty: 

I can't resist sharing another picture of the bluebells and wild garlic along the streamside:

In the same vicinity there is a charming and very old Quaker Meeting House and burial ground, now in the care of the Historic Chapels Trust. It was built in 1689, the year that an Act of Parliament allowed non-conformists to meet freely to worship. It is a very tranquil little oasis. I wrote about it on a previous visit - see HERE