Earlier posts

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

Wednesday, 8 February 2023

A Waterloo church


Following the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo a Commission was set up to build churches as a means of giving thanks and commemorating the victory. The churches are also known as Million (Act) Churches because that was the sum, £1m, initially granted for their construction, in Acts of 1818 and 1824. Shipley Parish Church, St Paul's, on Kirkgate, was one of those built at that time, completed in 1826 to serve the growing population of Shipley. I still think it rather imposing. You can read its history HERE

Incidentally, whilst researching my family tree I discovered that I have a great grand-uncle, Henry Marriott, who, in 1888 aged 25, was married here to Selina Edmondson. He was born in Derbyshire, where that side of my family originated. He was a railway porter and must have moved to Yorkshire for work. It's coincidental that I myself ended up here 100 or so years later. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

The play of light


I enjoyed noticing how the light behaved in various parts of the Bolton Abbey estate's woodlands. There are quite a few fallen trees, casualties - I suspect - of the stress caused to nature by the very dry summer we had last year. I loved how the sun just caught a couple of areas here, glowing gold and yellow and somehow providing a focal point and focus in a rather chaotic scene. 


Drystone walls demarcate the woodland from the fields at the top of the valley side. Low sun shoots through the branches of trees and throws strong shadows to contour the grassland. 

Further down in the wood, the sun sends bright rays where it can, momentarily blinding if you happen to glance that way. 


At one point I was fascinated by the coppery toned reflections in the water, as the sun glinted off the tops of the trees. I loved the copper v blue combination, lifted with a few white highlights as the water ripples over rocks. 



Monday, 6 February 2023

Where the frost lingers

Deep in the Strid Gorge at Bolton Abbey, it was clear that the sun had not penetrated all day and the air temperature was chill enough for the frost still to be lingering. It was very beautiful. I don't often venture out in those conditions and it was a joy to experience. 


I was fascinated by the detail of the frosting on different surfaces. It looked like sugar sprinkled on the sawn wooden posts.

Coating the dead grasses and leaves on the woodland floor, it emphasised the shapes and reminded me somehow of Chinese characters, those wonderfully intricate logograms.  

On leaves, it has the effect of picking out the veining. 


I also spotted a couple of curiosities... This icicle was hanging from a fallen log, looking a bit like a snake's tongue. The orange colouration was interesting and I'm not sure whether it was a simply a result of the dead wood or caused by resin still dripping from the log. 

The other phenomenon I spotted, which I got quite excited about, was this hair ice. It is apparently a rare kind of ice formation, caused by the presence of a particular fungus, Exidiopsis effusa, that is found on moist, rotting wood. (See HERE) It needs very specific conditions before it forms. I've heard of it but never seen an actual example before. It looks soft and silky but was in fact hard and brittle to (a gentle) touch. 

I found it so enjoyable just wandering along and seeing what I could spot. 

Sunday, 5 February 2023

Moods of the river

The River Wharfe as it flows through the Bolton Abbey estate has many aspects and moods and, even in one day, can look quite different at different points and with varying light. The sunlight and shadow caused interesting effects (though a bit of a pain to photograph effectively!) I rather like the view above, just where the water flows out from the very narrow Strid rocks. 

From higher up, you get glimpses through the trees; here the water is very much in the shade because of the steep sided gorge and low winter sunshine. 


Frost lingered in the deep valley, washing cool blue grey tones over the scene: 


In contrast, where the sun broke through, rich golden tones flooded the woodland. This is the point where the river suddenly plunges into the very narrow straits of the Strid, deep, swirling and very dangerous: 


A little further to the north, upstream from the Strid, golden light in the distance tells you that the valley broadens out. 

Climb a little higher and you reach the viewpoint known as Turner's View, painted by the artist JMW Turner in the early 1800s. (Did you know JMW stands for Joseph Mallord William?) In the distance you can see the ruined Barden Tower, easier to spot in the winter sunshine than when I last photographed the view (HERE). 

Saturday, 4 February 2023

Down to the detail


There are wonderful views to be enjoyed at Bolton Abbey, and it's fascinating to see how differently things appear in various lighting and weather conditions. It was a clear, crisp, blue sky day with good sunlight but because of the steepness of the Strid Gorge, very little sun was able to penetrate to the valley bottom. It made for strong shadows and bright highlights, which are not really the best for photography but I always try to make the most of what is. 

Here are some of the details I noticed: above, the slender, brightly lit trunks of young birches, counterpointed by deep shadow. 

Dark, horizontal shadows across the leaf litter:


An ancient tree with tortuous roots that had effectively fused to a rock, giving rise to wonderful shapes, tones and textures:  


Some kind of pale-hued bracket fungus on a rotting log: 


Desiccated seed heads of a plant (below) which I think may be Common Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium). The stems were a couple of metres tall. If it is Common Hogweed, the plants are edible, including the leaves, flowers and seeds, which provide a spice similar to cardamom. You have to be careful not to mistake it for the very poisonous Giant Hogweed - but that is so dangerous that I can be pretty sure it would not be found alongside a path at Bolton Abbey! 

  
A medley of moss, ivy and russet bark seemed pleasing to me: 

 
I was overjoyed to see catkins appearing - a promise of Spring. Not sure what the tree was... it might be an alder, as they are usually the first to flower, or possibly a hazel. 


I also saw, but didn't photograph, lots of birds: a grey heron, the ubiquitous mallard ducks, less common and very colourful mandarin ducks, lots of robins, chaffinches, tits of various kinds, blackbirds, wood pigeons, rooks and crows, a wren, a dipper and a kingfisher. I'm sure there were more but I don't hear their calls and I wasn't carrying binoculars. It was a very good nature walk though. 
 

Friday, 3 February 2023

Wishes


There's an old saying: 'If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.'  It popped into my head as I walked along the river path at Bolton Abbey, when I came across a tree stump fashioned into a seat. It might have made a good seat with a fine view of the river - except that it had been studded with hundreds of coins. These coin-studded 'wishing trees' are found all over the UK. In fact, there are quite a few on this one estate. The custom dates back centuries, related to the superstitious belief that if a sick person pressed a coin into a tree it would take away the illness, driving it into the tree. Conversely, if someone pulls a coin out, they may fall ill. 'Wishing trees' exist all over the world, often with tokens or ribbons hung from their branches, and I guess the custom also links to the habit of throwing coins in a fountain and other such traditions. Once one person starts, others follow - perhaps not even really knowing why they are doing it. Anyway, there are a lot of 'wishes' here... hopefully some of them got answered. 

PS: Yesterday’s weather vane shows a fisherman, though it may have some bits missing. 

Thursday, 2 February 2023

Bolton Abbey riverside

As I've said before, it's a joy to live quite near the Bolton Abbey estate, which belongs to the Dukes of Devonshire. It's a very beautiful area, with the River Wharfe flowing through, and is justly popular with visitors from all over the world. In summer it can get really busy so I particularly value the chance to explore in winter when there are fewer tourists. 

These photos were all taken near the Riverside Pavilion tearoom and visitor centre. It's one of the few river crossing points within the estate, with a wooden footbridge spanning the water. There are some information boards (not yet brought up to date for 2023!) and a working Royal Mail postbox. There are quite a few estate houses dotted around, so no doubt a postbox is handy for residents and visitors. 

As with most of England's ducal estates, the houses tend to have a distinctive style - here they are made of good Yorkshire stone with some attractive embellishments. 



The middle part of the river valley within the estate, the area known as Strid Woods, is narrow and attractively forested.  To the north and south of that stretch the views open up to the surrounding fells. The photo below is looking south east from the far side of the bridge. 
 

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Icons in the fog

Fog strips the warmth out of Saltaire's honey-coloured stone and, I think, brings in a bit of an air of menace or spookiness. I suppose it's for that reason that some dramatic films use fog machines to wreath a scene in mist for added atmosphere. In these conditions our iconic buildings: Salts Mill, Saltaire United Reformed Church and the New Mill, have a very different ambience. The big mill chimney, so tall, almost gets lost in the murk. 



 

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Grassington

Grassington is approached by a sturdy road bridge over the River Wharfe, and the village, slightly higher up the hillside, clusters around a cobbled square, with a network of streets and alleyways branching out. It's a tourist honeypot even in winter and (although there's a massive car park some distance away) the centre is plagued by cars, both parked and trying to navigate their way through. It would be very pretty if it weren't for all the people! I should hate to live there. It has been made even more famous because the TV series 'All Creatures Great and Small' about the Yorkshire vet has been filmed there. 



There are plenty of cafés, so it met my need for a leisurely lunch and a stroll but I find it a frustrating place to photograph (and I'm not very motivated photographically right now, anyway).  Sometimes 'detail' shots work better. I was much taken with this little twisted-stemmed bush outside a house - but imagine having the road so close to your door and windows! At least we have pavements in Saltaire. 

Monday, 30 January 2023

Linton Falls

After all the rain we'd had, I wanted to see Linton Falls near Grassington. When I went last summer, the Wharfe was merely a trickle but after rain it's a gushing torrent - noisy and exhilarating. 



The lower falls (above), where the footbridge crosses, tumble over natural shelves in the rock, below a weir. There used to be a mill there, and the bridge made it easy for the mill workers to walk down from the village to work. The upper falls cascade over another weir, and there's a hydro-electric plant there.  

Sunday, 29 January 2023

Nature (and fitness!) notes


It's a tad unnerving how a few weeks of inactivity, having been unwell, has impacted my strength and fitness. Muscles seem to atrophy at an alarming rate! I'm now determined to build back to where I was but it is easy at first to overdo things. 

Take yesterday for example...  It was a lovely sunny start to the day so I decided I'd go out for a walk, which I hadn't really planned. (Though by the time I'd had breakfast and changed my clothes for something more suited to mud (!) the sun had more or less disappeared.) I opted to go across to the little mill dam at the bottom of Shipley Glen. It's a round trip of roughly three miles, so I don't think of it as 'far'... but I was cream-crackered by the time I got home! I was puzzled, since I thought I'd walked much further a few days previously without any problem. When I checked my phone health tracker I found I'd walked almost as far in about half the time, so maybe it was the pace that did me in. It just shows how one's perceptions aren't always accurate. I'd have sworn that the earlier walk was a lot further but, on checking the distance, it was only half a mile more. It just took me a lot longer, with stops to take photos and a sit down whilst I had a packed lunch. Luckily, I wasn't planning on doing anything else energetic when I got home so I was able to rest. I'll be fine. I just need some patience. 

The mill dam walk wasn't especially scenic. We're at that time of year where most places look a bit scrappy, mucky, muddy and dull. Some over-excited dogs running around near the dam ruined any chance I might have had of seeing the kingfisher that is sometimes there. There were a few mallards on the pond, looking beautiful in their breeding plumage. 


On the canal there was a swan, one of last year's young by the look of its mottled feathers.  I reassured it that it wasn't just an ugly duckling. I don't know if it understood me. 


Up the track by Trench Meadows nature reserve, a length of holly hedge has been newly 'laid'Hedgelaying is a historic method of caring for our old hedgerows. You cut through the hedge stems almost completely, then lay them at an angle to the ground. Laying the branches (‘pleaches’) down like this invigorates growth where they’ve been cut, so gaps in the hedge fill up and the hedge looks younger and fresher. Some of the cuts looked fairly drastic, so I will have to check in a few months and see how and if it is regenerating.