Earlier posts

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

Monday 30 November 2020

All the 'S's

The Stable block and Salt's Mill in Saltaire in the Sunshine. A nice bit of alliteration - and a nice cheerful photo, I thought. The view is from the front of the church, which Sir Titus Salt had built - very deliberately - right opposite the main entrance to his huge mill. The Stable block and its cottages date back to when transport was by horse and cart or carriage and there had to be space to care for the horses. Nowadays they are used as residences. 

We've had a lot of rain lately but also some sunny, blue sky days. Most of the leaves had fallen by the time I took this shot in mid November. Can you see the tree stump in the foreground? ( Another S for Stump!) A big tree sadly collapsed earlier in the year, leaving a gap, but the silver lining in that particular cloud is that it has opened up this pleasant view. 

Sunday 29 November 2020

'I will bless the Lord at all times'

'Blessing the Lord' has been an act of will for me, during this difficult year of rolling lockdowns and anxiety. I know from experience that 'counting my blessings' and being thankful is one of the ways I best protect my mental health - that and spending time outdoors in nature, preferably with my camera. Sometimes it is easier than others to lift my spirits and it's something I've had to work at this year, as I'm sure is true for others. 

I had cause to ponder all that when I noticed again the plaque on a rock up on Shipley Glen. I don't know how long it has been there or who placed it but perhaps it leads a few people stop and think. 

'I will bless the Lord at all times. God's will is goodness and loving kindness, 
and good are the paths he leads us on.'

Saturday 28 November 2020

The view down the valley

Not a view I often take, but the light was lovely on this occasion. The blocks of flats often seem to dominate, their stucco catching the sun's glare, but they looked a little softer in the slightly misty air. The church tower is St Paul's, Shipley. 

Friday 27 November 2020

Salt's secret

I don't often wander round the back of Saltaire's church but I was attracted by the beech leaves glowing in the sunshine, so I walked right round. There is a 'secret' that I guess a lot of visitors miss, which is Salt's Mausoleum, tacked on to the side in 1861 after the church was completed (in 1859) and rather ornately decorated with carved embellishments and a funerary urn. Interred there are Sir Titus Salt himself, who died in 1876; his children Whitlam, Mary and Fanny who predeceased him; his wife, Lady Caroline; his son Titus Jnr and his wife, Catherine (she was cremated but her ashes were sealed in the vault) and Mary Jane, son Edward's first wife. It seems that Salt wanted the family's remains buried together; Whitlam and Mary's remains were exhumed from their original burial place in Lightcliffe, to be reinterred here. For all the drama of Victorian graves, there is nevertheless something peaceful about these places. 

You can sometimes see inside when the church is open. It is rather lovely actually. (See HERE

Thursday 26 November 2020

Saltaire URC

Apologies for showing yet another picture of it but there have been days this autumn when the light around Saltaire's beautiful and historic church has been just sublime. In the late afternoon, the setting sun sometimes brushes the trees behind with pure gold. 

The church was opened in 1859, one of a number of West Yorkshire churches built in that decade by paternalistic textile mill owners, anxious to see their workforces adopt a Christian way of life. Architecturally outstanding, a grand and distinctive temple, it sits deliberately opposite the main entrance to Salt's Mill. This was Sir Titus Salt making a statement that his success was God-given and showing his determination to use his position and wealth for the betterment of his workforce, both temporally and spiritually.   

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. Hoping the coming year will be better for us all in every way. 

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Surprise view

It's odd isn't it, how the changing seasons can make us review familiar scenes in a new way? I was walking down towards Saltaire from the Upper Coach Road estate and suddenly noticed these four young trees, their autumn leaves blazing in the sunshine like Roman candle fireworks. I have really never noticed them in any other season; not even sure how long they've been there. The flat area beyond is a recently created nature reserve and some trees were planted along the riverside last year but these are bigger than those most recent additions. 

Over the hedge beyond the nature reserve is Roberts Park. The white building is the cricket pavilion and in the distance you can see Salts Mill, the round dome of the church tower and the tower of the Victoria Hall on the right. 

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Cat portrait

I had to smile when I saw this cat, both on account of the way it tones so nicely into the autumnal surroundings and because of the pose it adopted - 'look, hooman - u take photo pleez?' Of course, I did. 

Monday 23 November 2020

The day that changed everything

Scraping the barrel ('scuse the pun!), you might think, to be posting a photo of a closed, lockdown-empty pub. This pub however, has a special place in my heart. It is the Malt (formerly Malt Shovel) in Harden, built around 1550 and at one time, apparently, serving as a courthouse and prison, where travelling judges came to hear cases. It has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment. 

It has always been a cosy place for a drink and a meal and it was here, back in 1982, that we came with my parents for lunch. I was heavily pregnant, about a week overdue in fact and getting very fed-up. I had back-ache and could only feel comfortable sitting ramrod straight on a bar stool. When the menu arrived, unaccountably, I chose egg and chips - something I'd never normally order. I did enjoy them too! With hindsight I should have known... but it was only later, after we'd been home for a couple of hours, that I realised in was in labour. By 8pm I was cuddling my newborn daughter. It's a good job I had those eggs and chips too, as that was the last meal I had until breakfast the following day, by which time I was ravenous! 

Whenever I pass the pub, that day comes back vividly into my mind. In fact the pub acts as a boundary place in my mind between 'all that went before' and 'all that has come after'. Quite appropriate, I suppose, for a building that sits beside a bridge at the point where a Roman road crossed over Harden Beck.

Sunday 22 November 2020

Near, nearer, nearest

Three views of the entrance portico of Saltaire's historic church, wreathed in autumn leaves. 


Saturday 21 November 2020

Goit Stock Falls

The objective of our family walk was Goit Stock Falls, where Harden Beck tumbles over a rocky ledge on its journey down the valley. There was a fair amount of water cascading and the falls looked rather attractive. The protruding rocks produce a pretty, layered effect. I'm not too confident clambering over slippery boulders these days so I was unable to find a viewpoint beyond the tree, although it would have given a much better composition to my photo. 

The valley of Harden Beck is very pretty in parts, with several smaller falls along the walk. A few autumn leaves still holding on offered a welcome touch of colour. 

There was a bit of mist about. The sun was trying to get through but it never really managed to penetrate the wooded valley, so it was rather chillier than I'd expected. I guess I should now dig out my full 'winter gear' and weather-proof myself, since it's only walks like this that are keeping me sane and upbeat in these trying times. 


Friday 20 November 2020

Mud and mayhem


Thankfully, even in this second lockdown, we are still allowed as single people to meet with our designated 'support bubble'. That meant I could join the family on a chilly, misty November day for a walk in the woods. The girls were on good form - lovely to see how energetic they both are. Both of them will climb rocks and trees, splash in muddy puddles and paddle in the river quite happily. The little one (6) is particularly fearless and seems as surefooted as a young mountain goat, even in wellies!  Both of them are really observant too, so it is a joy to see the world through their eyes.


(Tree climbing - but I think big sister was a little disconcerted by having little sister's boot near her ear!)

Thursday 19 November 2020

Gold leaves

An impressionistic view of golden leaves, hanging on above the rushing waters of the river in spate. 

(This was taken a couple of weeks ago; most of the leaves have fallen now.) 

Wednesday 18 November 2020

A prime site

I mostly choose to share pictures on here of the more attractive parts of my world (of which there are plenty). Just occasionally perhaps it's good to show some more 'gritty' bits and this site is as gritty (literally) as they come! Just down the road from Saltaire, near Baildon Bridge, and adjacent to the Victoria Mills residential complex that you can see in the background, Airedale Mills was formerly the HQ of a shopfitting company. That business moved out and the buildings have been razed - although, curiously, a huge pile of debris and one half-demolished bunker remain. 

I understand that a planning application has been made for a new Lidl supermarket and a Costa coffee drive through. That is being opposed by the recently formed Shipley Town Council, on the grounds that it would draw custom away from the town centre half a mile away and increase traffic congestion. Shipley already has a large Asda and an Aldi supermarket, as well as markets and other food shops, so I don't know why we need another. I expect the arguments will rage and the site will remain an eyesore for a while yet. What's really needed, I think, is some decent social housing but I expect this is classified as a commercial site. We'll have to wait and see. 


Tuesday 17 November 2020

Circle of gold

On the days when I don't really have anything planned or anywhere special to go (a lot, this year!) I fall back on what I think of as 'my usual walk'. With minor variations, that is down through Saltaire, out along the canal to the lock, through the woods and back along the canal, or along the canal to the aqueduct and then back along the river bank. I count myself lucky to have such a pleasant, circular walk with its several possible minor variations. It doesn't seem to get boring (to me) and the options take account of the light/weather, general muddiness of the terrain and time available. I sometimes take photos, often don't. Some days it all seems a bit dull and I'm doing it for the sake of exercise rather than anything - but then there are the days when it all looks so very beautiful that I am stopping every few steps to marvel and enjoy. 

Here are the photos from one such late afternoon recently, when the whole circuit was bathed in gold. 


Monday 16 November 2020

Puddle peering

'When life gives you a rainy day, play in the puddles' - or at least seek to see the world differently because of them. I could get grumpy because of all the puddles on the towpath after a rain shower. It does make for a muddy walk. Then again, I could instead notice the New Mill's reflection, which adds an extra dimension to this oft-photographed scene. 


Sunday 15 November 2020

The path by the river

The path by the river was muddy and slippery with fallen leaves. The river level was high, almost to the top of its banks, though the path was still navigable all the way along. There is a tiny beck that joins here, flowing down from Milner Field. A rough concrete bridge takes the footpath across it, but it has no arch - in fact it's a bit concave - so that is the weakest link in the whole route. Once that gets underwater, basically you've had it unless you're wearing wellies. It was near to flooding but just passable. If you arrive at this point and find it blocked, it's quite a long walk back! 


Saturday 14 November 2020

Wood smoke and damp leaves

Until the latest lockdown began, boaters on the canal seemed to be making the most of the mild weather and prolonging the boating season. This walk (on the last day of October) was full of colour and scent. The narrowboat pictured above had herons (or egrets?) painted on the glass doors. Rather nice, I thought. 

The colourful boat below had wood smoke curling from the chimney - such an evocative and comforting smell. Coupled with the damp, earthy scent of wet leaves, you would know it to be autumn even with your eyes closed. 

And this is the kind of vista they'd be enjoying as they cruise. This is the stretch of canal through Hirst Woods going towards Saltaire:


Friday 13 November 2020

Roberts Park sunset

The best place from which to view a sunset locally is probably up on Baildon Moor. However, I wouldn't fancy being up there on my own in the dark so I have to make do with the next best place. I think that is arguably the footbridge across the river into Roberts Park, where at least there is the bonus of a reflection in the river itself. That reflection was quite extensive on this occasion, as the river had been swollen by several days of rain and was almost - but not quite - bursting its banks.

The best time to view a sunset locally (for me!) is this time of year, when the sun dips around 4.00 pm. We are so low in the valley that the actual sun disappears below the trees well before darkness falls. I'd love to see the church silhouetted against a really blazing sky but that rarely seems to happen, as far as I have ever noticed. You're more likely to see an effect of what appears to be a bonfire in the allotments behind the church, as below.  


Thursday 12 November 2020

Thanks to Sir Norman Rae

I enjoyed a sunny autumn stroll through the woods of Northcliffe Park, giving thanks to Sir Norman Rae, whose bequest of land to the local council in the 1920s means that we have this lovely area to enjoy at our leisure. The woods line a steep ravine, so there is a high path and a lower path. I often take the lower path alongside the stream but this time I stayed high, enjoying the sunlight filtering through the canopy of beech and oak trees. I noticed how beeches are often straight trunked whereas oaks tend to have twisted trunks and branches, looking like they're dancing. You can just glimpse the stream glinting in the valley, through the trees. 

The western side of the park has sweeping areas of grassland, with specimen trees lining the paths. The coppery leaves of this one looked amazing against that blue sky, though my phone didn't do a great job of rendering the bright clouds. 

I read an interesting piece, reproduced by Saltaire History Club from a newspaper dated June 1922, that notes how Sir Norman Rae declared, in a speech when he was opening the Northcliffe Golf Club (adjacent to the park), that he had been influenced by Sir Titus Salt's philanthropy. Worth a read: 

He was right! 

Wednesday 11 November 2020


11 November is our Remembrance Day in the UK and across the Commonwealth (although many ceremonies take place on the nearest Sunday). This year, celebrations have necessarily been low key and socially distanced, with not even church services allowed. Even the national Act of Remembrance at the Cenotaph was small and muted this year, the Queen choosing to view it from the relative safety of a balcony whilst the younger family members did the wreath-laying. 

I made a visit to Saltaire's war memorial, on a damp and foggy day that seemed well suited to the sombre act of thinking about lives cut short, whether by war or coronavirus. There have been too many of them. There was a single poppy wreath laid, though I guess there may be more placed there today.

Tuesday 10 November 2020


I didn't expect a late afternoon walk in the rain would conjure up any photos. It was more a case of clearing my head and getting some thinking space... so I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful these trees looked, alongside the river that was swirling around dramatically after heavy rain. This was taken a couple of weeks ago, from the aqueduct that carries the canal over the river. The colours were deepening but a few days of high wind and rain afterwards stripped a lot of the foliage. It's amazing how subtly and yet, with hindsight, how fast nature changes her clothes. 

Monday 9 November 2020

Blue sky day

Taking advantage of a crisp, breezy, blue sky day, a local walk took me up past Saltaire's almhouses around Alexandra Square. Built in 1868 by Sir Titus Salt, here he provided rent-free housing and a weekly pension for carefully selected aged and infirm occupants. Some are still used as social housing. The green square provides some attractive 'breathing space' in the village, although nowadays the mature trees, though magnificent, are huge and must take a lot of the light from the small dwellings. Some large conifers have recently been felled. Before that, the garden was even more congested!  


Sunday 8 November 2020

Truth or beauty?

Do I go for truth... That these small maple trees are the only redeeming feature of this dreadful modern carpark? At least they look attractive in the autumn and tone in a little with the cladding. 

Or do I choose a different viewpoint, that might suggest the area looks rather nicer? 

The car park provides space for vehicles belonging to residents of the large Victoria Mills complex - old mill buildings that have been converted to apartments, with several futuristic new glass and steel apartment blocks at the rear, by the riverside. There seems to have been little effort to design a car park that might look more in keeping with the surroundings. Considering this is only a mile or so from the Saltaire World Heritage Site and visitors must pass it to get to the main car park at Salts Mill, I am surprised it got the approval of planners.

Saturday 7 November 2020

Adel Dam Nature Reserve

Tucked away at one end of Golden Acre Park is the Adel Dam Nature Reserve, managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. It too has a lake - the eponymous Adel Dam, originally a working dam for a mill in the 1700s, then used as a reservoir, later incorporated into a Victorian garden, when many trees were planted. It is surrounded by wet and dry woodland, 'wet' woodland being characterised by willows, birches and alders, with swampy pools and bogs. There is a circular trail around the reserve and two bird hides, from which you can usually spot woodpeckers and kingfishers. I looked into the hides but they are quite small. Since they were already occupied by several birdwatchers, I decided not to enter. In these pandemic days, I felt I had to be careful. So, no kingfishers for me though I did spot a jay, which always cheers me - such pretty colouring. He wouldn't look at me though!

I enjoyed a lovely peaceful walk. It almost felt like a secret place, just me and the wildlife (plenty of busy squirrels), damp, mossy and muffled from the noise of the world, though the city isn't that far away.