Earlier posts

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

Wednesday 30 September 2020


It seems to be trendy to decorate our moorlands and wild places with quotes and poetry. Grimwith was no exception, and I noticed at least three stanzas carved into stone slabs in the drystone walls. I think it's quite a good initiative and it had the effect of making me slow down a little and start to see things more creatively. It's all too easy to 'feed my blog' with simply record shots, so it's good and enjoyable to be prompted into something a touch more adventurous. Here are a few from Grimwith. 

'Storms brush the water's surface swift like her anger and tears'

'A reflected landscape of shadows calling out from under the water'

I suppose this once again references the hamlets that were sacrificed for the reservoir, all the memories lying there under the flood. 

I noticed how the bright yellow lichen on top of the dam wall was echoed by the line of sunlight catching the far shore. 

Tuesday 29 September 2020

Barns and farmhouses

When Grimwith Reservoir was originally constructed, it involved the abandonment and flooding of two hamlets: Grimwith and Gate Up. Nowadays it all seems quite tranquil but the surrounding moorland was at one time mined for coal and lead and the area would have had more activity and inhabitants. There are still barns and farmhouses scattered around. The farmhouse pictured above lay empty for a good forty years, and now it has been renovated; a task not for the faint-hearted, as it lacked services like water and electricity. Some of it is now rented out as holiday accommodation (see HERE).  (The listing rather comically mixes up the nearby village of Hebden with Calderdale's Hebden Bridge! It is a very long way to Hardcastle Crags, mentioned in the blurb - though you won't miss that as there is an abundance of stunning places to explore around Grimwith.)

Perhaps the lines etched onto stone in a nearby wall relate to the farmhouse, or maybe to the submerged hamlets. 
'Ancient sanctuary on rocky shoreline awaits alone the never to return'.

Another notable building on the edge of the reservoir is this 400 year old cruck barn, High Laithe, moved from nearer the water and rebuilt when the reservoir was enlarged in the 1980s. Cruck barns are rarely seen in the Dales now. They have huge wooden A-shaped frames, and this one has a heather thatched roof. By the 17th century the big trees needed to make the frames were becoming scarce and so, as the cruck barns deteriorated, they were gradually replaced by the stone walled, stone roofed barns we see all over the Yorkshire Dales today.

A ruined building by the water's edge is a late 17th century farmhouse, originally part of the hamlet of Gate Up.

The barn above is more typical of the Dales, with its sturdy walls and stone roof. They make photogenic subjects, weatherworn, with muted colours and lots of texture. 

Monday 28 September 2020

Perimeter walk

You can walk right round the perimeter of Grimwith Reservoir, a lovely walk with good views and some interesting sights along the way. There is a wide, crushed stone track for much of the way, though opting for a narrower path takes you nearer to the water on the northern edge. 

The reservoir is fed by several streams - gills and becks - coming off the surrounding moorland. It must all look a bit different when it's full. There was lots of the rocky foreshore exposed when I was walking round. Such a large expanse of water attracts a lot of water birds, though of course late summer isn't really the time to see them. There was a large flock of Canada geese but too far away for me to photograph effectively. 

The whole perimeter circuit is 4.5 miles, a comfortable distance for me, with the half way point encouragingly signposted. 

Sunday 27 September 2020

Not so grim

Maybe because of its name, I'd never been attracted to visit Grimwith Reservoir, which sits on the moorland between Grassington (Wharfedale) and Pateley Bridge (Nidderdale), some 20 miles north of Bradford. It was built in 1894 by Bradford Corporation, one of a series of reservoirs to provide the city with clean water. 

It was only when a friend recommended it that I decided to visit and it turned out not to be so grim after all. In fact, with the last of the heather still blooming and the sun shining intermittently, it turned out to be rather lovely, with sweeping views and various points of interest along the perimeter walk. 

The reservoir was enlarged and deepened in 1983, which is I presume when the rather brutalist looking 'plughole' (properly called an outlet tower, I think) was added. These structures can be used to drain water in the event that the reservoir gets too full. Not much chance of that at present. The water level appeared to be relatively low, despite recent rainfall. 

The building you can see behind the tower is the yacht clubhouse, though since it was midweek there were no yachts or windsurfers out on the water. 


Saturday 26 September 2020

Spirit lifters

In these darkening days - both literally and figuratively - it is easy to feel a bit low and only to notice the negatives. Some days even a walk doesn't lift my mood so it is good to focus on the small things that do uplift my spirits - things like the wild clouds the other day that appeared to be streaming, like static, from this tree, almost as though the summer was flowing out of it and leaving it with autumn tints.   

Or the cloud that seemed to have brought Salts Mill chimney back to life, like the smoke that once issued from it in its heyday. 

I'm not one for kitsch, either in my home or in my garden and I'm not usually fond of garden ornaments, but this little guy seems to have wormed his way into my affections. I pass him quite regularly on my walks and he always waves and smiles. Such a cheerful little chap. 


Friday 25 September 2020

Prince of Wales Park

So many of the amenities that we enjoy today came to us thanks to the vision of public-spirited Victorians. Often they were the gentry and mill owners, motivated by paternalistic care for their workers. In the case of Bingley's Prince of Wales Park, it was the combined funds of millworkers themselves and their own hard labour that transformed a steep hillside on the edge of town from rough moorland littered with quarries and underground streams into a verdant green space to be enjoyed by all. Opened in 1865, it was a much needed breath of fresh air, away from the dirty, smoke-filled valley bottom where most of them lived and worked. 

Thanks to many years of minimal local authority funding, these days the park seems rather overgrown and a bit neglected. (I suppose anywhere with a lot of foliage isn't at its best in late summer, when the greens darken and the thick canopy cuts out a lot of light. These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago.) There is now an active Friends Group striving to improve the amenities, though it will, of course, take time. They have recently improved a patio area to provide a space for picnic tables. I'm sure there is colourful planting at some times of the year - there are spring bulbs, and an azalea walk - but not much seemed to be in bloom when I visited apart from some blue hydrangeas and a few orange crocosmia bordering the paths.  

There are seats scattered throughout the park, some of them rather elegant, though sadly very dirty. This one is sited next to one of the natural springs that surface in the park and provide little water features. 

The steep site is criss-crossed by paths, ranging from narrow tracks to wide promenades. Higher up is an area of open heathland. It seemed to me that if the tree and shrub canopy was thinned out a bit, it might provide more light for smaller plants to grow as well as the possibility of some panoramic views across the valley. Trees planted in Victorian times are now huge, of course, and so places look very different from how they were initially imagined. 

Some of the original buildings and structures in the park have been left to decay and be vandalised, and the historic buttermarket and market cross, at one time relocated to the park, were moved back into the centre of Bingley some years ago. There is still an impressive park-keeper's lodge at the main entrance, though the original iron gates have disappeared, leaving only the massive gateposts. 

Other rather quirky features include a drinking water fountain (no longer functioning), donated by the Total Abstainers of Bingley in 1866. 

The park is quite pleasant even now but has so much more potential. It is such a shame that there rarely seem to be any public funds made available for community projects like this. I guess the pandemic-fuelled recession now makes any such funding something we will never realistically see. We'll have to depend on the various Lottery funds, as they do seem to do some good in some directions. 

Thursday 24 September 2020

Allotment colour

Just above the Five Rise Locks at Bingley is a well-kept area of allotment gardens, looking rather colourful despite it being a dull day. There were a lot of cheerful sunflowers, set off by touches of blue in containers and water butts. 

A little further along, an orchard was brimming with apples and there was even a bucket by the gate where you could help yourself to windfalls, for free.

It may be a good autumn for fruit. There's an abundance of rosehips (a lovely subject for close-ups, so shiny and bonny) and the blackberries are ripening and ready for picking.

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Steel or ice

I walked up to the Five Rise Locks at Bingley, always a busy spot with boats and people. The locks themselves were taped off, allowing only CRT (Canal and River Trust) staff members to walk around them. There is a wide (steep) towpath alongside so it is still possible to walk along the canal but I suppose they need to keep the gongoozlers (people like me, who enjoy watching the activity on the canal) out of the way because of the need for social distancing during the pandemic. There are staff permanently on duty here at the Five Rise. It is such a complex staircase of locks to navigate and, with the wrong sequencing, a lot of water can be wasted. (See HERE for a photo of the locks themselves). 

Beyond the locks the canal is wide and there are always boats berthed. The moorings on the right are permanent moorings. Those on the left are boats stopping for a breather and/or queuing up to go down the locks. 

It was such a dull day - the banked grey clouds made the water look like steel or ice. 

Tuesday 22 September 2020

A bit of a squeeze

Exploring Bingley, I was intending to cross over the Leeds-Liverpool Canal on the swing bridge by the Three Rise Locks. Just as I arrived, a CRT staff member was opening the bridge to allow two narrowboats to enter the locks. So I nipped along to the end of the top lock and stood on the walkway across it, to get this photo. These were both standard narrowboats but it shows that getting two boats in side by side is a matter of precision, both in the engineering in the first place and in the manoeuvring the boaters have to do. It's a snug fit. Mind you, at this point they will be well practised, having just come down the entire flight of the Five Rise Locks a quarter of a mile upstream. After this top lock, there are two more to negotiate in this flight as well. Thankfully there are experienced staff on duty to assist. 

Even on a rather dull day, it all made for a colourful photo. I never tire of watching the activity on the canal. 

Monday 21 September 2020

The Bingley Gallery

There's been a very good art gallery in Bingley for many years. (The Bingley Gallery, on Park Road, just up the hill from the canal.) It used to be managed by the artist Jane Fielder. You can see some of her paintings below. When she retired the gallery was taken over by David Starley, whom I've mentioned several times in my blog as he lives in Saltaire and contributes to a lot of the artistic endeavours in the village. David does big, colourful, impasto oils of nature, particularly trees, and local scenes. You can see some of them in the window. The gallery also has many other paintings, ceramics and other pieces, mostly by local artists. There were some beautiful textured wood panels by Gavin Edwards that caught my eye - and the ceramic sculpture 'Landladies' by Mandy Long was there, a piece I fell in love with at the Saltaire Arts Trail one year. 

It's a lovely gallery to visit. They are really happy for you to browse and it needs a lot of looking as there is so much stuff packed in there. The gallery space in the cellar is particularly atmospheric; the rough hewn decor seems to set off the artworks very well. I enjoyed wandering round and stocked up on some greetings cards. I always try to buy a little something in galleries and craft shops, even if I can't afford (and haven't space for) the big works. Especially in these difficult times when so many exhibitions, art fairs and markets have been cancelled, I guess artists need all the support they can get.  


Sunday 20 September 2020

Soft sepia memories

I was in Bingley one day and decided to revisit one of my old 'stamping grounds'. This is Wingfield House, now a nursing home. Many, many years ago it was a training centre run by Bradford Council and I spent a happy decade from the late 1970s to late 1980s based there. My desk was beside that first floor window on the left hand side - though I spent more time in front of flip charts in the other rooms than at my desk. It was a lovely place to work, a grand old mansion with beautiful woodwork and some lovely stained glass and tiles. It was also a fantastic team to work in and, looking back, they were among my most treasured and fruitful working years. Very happy memories, both of my working life there and my personal life at that time. 

It was here that I first discovered I was going deaf (when a colleague suddenly left the office to answer a ringing phone elsewhere that I hadn't heard); here that I made some of the best and closest friends I have ever had (and still have). Here that I navigated pregnancy and my daughter's early life. (The fridge used to get stocked with expressed milk, labelled so my colleagues didn't add it to their coffee!) It was from here that I made the dash to collect her, then aged four, from school, that time when I forgot it was my turn to fetch her. Still one of the most guilt-inducing moments of my life! (She said: 'I thought perhaps you didn't love me any more.'!) The gates I used to enter through are now bricked up, since the extensive grounds (orchards, snowdrops, bluebells, lawns!) were sold off in the early 1990s to become a luxury residential housing estate. My memories aren't bricked up; they all came flooding back. 

Wingfield is sited in one of the most attractive residential areas of Bingley, with some beautiful old houses infilled with more modern properties. When I worked there, I wasn't much of a walker and didn't have much free time anyway, so I didn't really take advantage of the lovely surroundings - with hindsight, a missed opportunity. 

Saturday 19 September 2020

Skipton boats

There's always a lot of activity around the canal basin in Skipton: boats, ducks, tourists and shoppers congregate here. It's quite an attractive spot, with the old bridge that marks the start of the Springs Branch Canal and old warehouses now converted to restaurants and shops. I caught a snap of three gentlemen chatting. Even with face masks and Covid concerns, nothing gets in the way of a good old natter. 


Friday 18 September 2020

Strong girls in Skipton

After years of not visiting, I've now made two trips to Skipton Castle this year! The latest was a celebratory day out with my daughter and my two granddaughters, just prior to them going back to school. Despite all the rigmarole of having to book, wear face masks and use hand sanitiser at every turn, we all had a good time. Over 900 years old in parts, the castle is a sturdy old place, which is probably just as well since both the girls were in active mode, jumping and climbing and skipping about like little human whirlwinds. It remains in very good condition, largely due to the care of Lady Anne Clifford (1590-1676) after the English Civil War in the 1600s. She ensured it was rebuilt and reroofed after it was beseiged for three years by Cromwell's troops. She planted the yew tree in the central courtyard, which still stands proudly. 

This last photo was taken by my daughter, who was quicker with her phone to capture the cheeky little misses than I was with my camera. Perhaps Lady Anne - a legend in her own lifetime and a very proud and strong woman (see HERE for a short biography) - would be glad to see two strong girls playing around her tree.