Earlier posts

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

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Folk art

I loved this neat example of the traditional narrow boat folk art. 'Roses and castles' is what this art form is called - though the flowers often depict more than just roses and any buildings shown may be castles or cottages or anything 'romantic'. The boats themselves and many of the items aboard - pans, kettles, planters, lamps, doors, shutters, in fact practically anything - were often painted in this way, with colourful, stylised designs. Some say it reflects the traveller lifestyle (akin to Romany caravans, which are often similarly decorative). It is almost certainly one way that the boat families could show pride in the tiny living quarters of their working homes. See HERE for more info.


Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Birdlife on the canal

It's a while since I saw a swan on the Saltaire stretch of the canal, though there are often some further along in Shipley. It was very pleasing, therefore, to find one posing so prettily just by the changeline bridge at Dowley Gap, which I think is one of the most attractive bits of the canal locally, especially on a pleasantly sunny day.

When I returned from my walk, it had moved further along to the edge of Hirst Woods, where it was giving its feathers a jolly good preen in the shallower water. 

I see the (or a) grey heron, meanwhile, on most of my walks. I presume it is always the same bird, which seems to inhabit a range from the Roberts Park weir to the aqueduct, sometimes on the canal and sometimes on the river, which runs parallel. Here s/he was, between the two waterways, perched in a tree and just watching the world go by, which is unusual - although I know they nest in trees. This one is more habitually found paddling in the weirs or standing on the bank scouting for fish or voles. Maybe it had had enough lunch. 


Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Another walk from Burnsall

Burnsall, in Wharfedale, is a pretty spot with an attractive bridge over the river. The village acts as a focal point for visitors to the dale, with cafés, a good pub and a car park. A few days ago (HERE) I described a walk from the village, clockwise to the east. I returned to do a similar length walk, anti-clockwise to the west. It's an even more scenic route, initially following the Dalesway alongside the river to Linton.  

Some of it featured fairly recently on one of those 'Yorkshire Walks' type TV programmes, where a celebrity films themselves walking and chatting. I can't actually remember which celeb it was that did this one, but they filmed themselves with hand-held cameras on sticks (I think due to Covid restrictions), which gave a somewhat weird and jolty view to the proceedings, making the viewers feel a bit sea-sick. 

Further upriver from Burnsall, near Hebden, you have to cross the river over a narrow suspension bridge - quite thrillingly bouncy! - though that didn't make me feel sea-sick. 

It happened to be the autumn equinox, so some of the trees are beginning to look a little more golden. 

The stepping stones across to Linton church looked a bit uneven. Even though the river level was really low, I was glad the route doesn't make you cross here but skirts along the river bank to a wooden footbridge at Linton Falls. 

Leaving the River Wharfe behind, it was uphill to Linton village, which made a good place to stop for lunch. Again, it's a pretty spot, set around a village green with a ford and packhorse bridge over the stream. 

There's a good pub, the Fountaine Inn, named after the philanthropist Richard Fountaine, born in Linton in 1639. He made his fortune as a haberdasher in London, then when he died in 1722 his will provided for the building of an almshouse: The Fountaine Hospital Almshouse, in his home village. It's an unusual building, with a Baroque-style frontage significantly at odds with the local vernacular architecture. It's also a difficult building to photograph, as the frontage is north-facing and mostly in deep shadow against a bright sky. I did take a liking to this window in the facade, with the trail of bright flowers. The Almshouses are still maintained by Fountaine's estate and still house elderly residents. 

From Linton, the walk went uphill to the hamlet of Thorpe and then tracked back down across fields to the river and Burnsall, with some wonderful views across to Simon's Seat in the distance. 

 Another good day out!

Monday, 27 September 2021


The hamlet of Denton, where St Helen's Church (see yesterday) is sited, is a picturesque little place, originally part of the estate of nearby Denton Hall. Nowadays the original stone farm buildings and cottages have been extended and renovated to provide rather luxurious homes, like the former school house, below left.  

Denton Hall itself, a place with a long history, is now a wedding and conference venue. The present hall was completed in about 1778, designed by the celebrated Yorkshire architect John Carr, to replace earlier buildings that were twice damaged by fire. Carr's work is generally in the classical Palladian style, very symmetrical, and from what I could see of the hall from the gates, that is true of Denton. 

It's all very nicely kept, with colourful annuals brightening the verges.

The hamlet sits among meadows and parkland, partway up the hillside above the Wharfe valley and has lovely views over to Ilkley Moor and the Cow and Calf Rocks. 

Sunday, 26 September 2021

St Helen's, Denton

Every year in England, we have 'Heritage Open Days', when unusual or precious buildings and monuments are opened specially so that the general public can visit them. I noticed that St Helen's Church in Denton, near Ilkley was open so I decided to visit.  There  has been a church here since the 14th century but the present building was designed and constructed in 1776 by the renowned architect John Carr (who also masterminded Harewood House). It was a private chapel linked to nearby Denton Hall. It isn't used for regular worship but it is often used for weddings. It has an attractive lych gate - a later addition. 

There is a pretty little graveyard and some of the graves predate the present church. 

The main reason the church was open was to allow visitors to see its rare painted glass window, the only surviving complete window painted by the artist Henry Gyles. It was commissioned by the Fairfax family of Denton Hall in 1700, and was later moved to this church from a chapel near the hall. Carr designed the church with Gothic windows, rather than his usual classical Palladian style, especially to accommodate the glass. The painting depicts King David playing a harp, surrounded by a choir and cherubs. The glass is very fragile and needs some serious conservation, so they are trying to raise money for this. 

Above shows the full window with its side lights, whilst below is a detail showing some of the cherubs.

The main window is flanked by two smaller lights, part of which may be by a different artist, William Peckitt. 

Alongside the ancient glass, there was a complementary exhibition: Journey - Teithiau - of contemporary painted glass panels by various artists. Those below are by Nicola Kantorowicz and the panel at the bottom is the work of Christian Ryan.  Very beautiful, very colourful - and very expensive to buy! 

All in all, it proved a fascinating afternoon and I'm glad I made the effort to see it. 

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Half way up

On a sunny Sunday stroll along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, I noticed there were a lot of boats moving up and down. It was the final weekend of the summer holidays, just before most of our schools went back, so maybe that had something to do with it. (School holidays inevitably inflate prices, so perhaps the first week back ushers in more reasonable costs for boat hire?) Every lock seemed to have a boat in it too. The Canal and River Trust staff were running around making sure everything was going to plan - very necessary with the multiple locks in Bingley. This widebeam vessel, hired from Bear Boating at Apperley Bridge (see the paw prints on the bow?), was half way up the staircase of Bingley's famous Five Rise Locks. Bear Boating is a company that prides itself on ensuring that novice boaters are properly trained before letting them loose, with a full two days training at the start of your holiday. Perhaps some of the other hire companies should cover more than just the rudiments before people set off. You do see people doing some rather silly things. 

Friday, 24 September 2021

Teddy Bears' Picnic

For whatever reason, someone has taken it upon themselves to crochet a teddy bears' picnic and fitted it like a cap on top of the postbox on Victoria Road. It's quite cute and colourful and has been crafted with some skill. No doubt it will bring a smile to a lot of people, though it's well above child height so kids won't necessarily be able to see it. 

Call me a party pooper but I'm not sure I'm entirely in favour of the trend for yarn-bombing / fabric wrapping / guerrilla knitting. It's harmless in a way but it's graffiti in a different form and once that starts there's no end to it. One person's 'cute' is another person's 'tacky' or 'kitsch'....  I could not, however, let it go without a photo, since this kind of thing is very much part of our urban environment these days. 

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Digging another hole

More demolition and digging going on... This time it is quite close to home, on Saltaire Road just next to Wycliffe primary school (which is the building on the left of the photo, with Salts Mill chimney behind it). This site was for many years a garage -  originally, I think, a petrol station before becoming a car repair shop. It therefore has a lot under the concrete and earth - old pipes and petrol storage tanks. (Apparently a mattress too!) The business moved to a new location locally and the site has been largely unoccupied for a year or two. It has, apparently, now been sold and permission granted for a small supermarket. I did read it would be a Tesco Express.  I'm not entirely sure that is progress. It may take business away from the corner shops and small independent businesses in the area. However, I'd better not moan too much. As I enter my dotage (!) it could well be helpful to have a small, reliable supermarket nearby. It will also look better than a deteriorating, vacant lot. And since the road's traffic is bad anyway, I can't see it will have much effect on that. 

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Another walk in Wharfedale

Not deterred by a slightly drizzly day, I walked a circular route from Burnsall, a Dales village with a rich history and a fine bridge over the River Wharfe. (See HERE for some photos of the village that I took a couple of years ago.)  Skirting the side of Kail Hill, the path gave lovely views across the rolling limestone scenery. I have read since that Kail Hill and others like it in the area are the remains of coral reefs that formed in the shallow tropical sea that covered the Dales 300 million years ago. Who knew? I find that fascinating. See HERE for an explanation. 

The path then drops down into the area known as Trollers Gill, where, reputedly, a vicious tribe of trolls lived, who would throw boulders at passing travellers, There is also a mythical wolf-like beast that could kill anyone who stared into its eyes. Luckily I met neither!  The Gill is a dry limestone ravine but partway down it, the little stream of Skyreholme Beck bubbles up out of the limestone and begins to make its way down to join the Wharfe. (See HERE for more photos).

Appletreewick and Skyreholme are pretty villages that sound as though they come from the pages of a children's book. A farming hub and also a centre of leadmining in the 19th century, they are now a draw for tourists and visitors, with holiday lets and campsites. 


Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Fun and frolics

The school summer holidays seemed to go in a flash and my family made the most of them with a few weeks away. I did, however, enjoy a couple of days out with the girls before they started the new school term. They seem to have grown up so much during the last two years. With lockdown, I haven't seen them quite as much as I normally would, though I'm lucky that they are not far away.  

We had a trip to a small local zoo; no big animals but there were reptiles and lemurs, wallabies and alpacas and some rather cute otters. The girls enjoyed it and also happily explored the large and well-equipped adventure playground. 

Then I took my eldest granddaughter climbing, to a local rock-climbing gym, Clip'n Climb. She'll soon be ten and I was impressed at how fearless (and yet quite sensible) she was. Climbers are securely roped so they can't fall, but the pitches are still a good test of co-ordination, strength and grip. Despite being a beginner, she was soon racing up the easier climbs, delighting in hitting the bell at the top. She thoroughly enjoyed it and I enjoyed watching her learning, testing herself and growing in confidence. 


Monday, 20 September 2021

A pinch of Salt

Take it with a pinch of Salt... but during the Festival, Sir Titus was spotted riding around on a rather frisky alpaca with wondrously long eyelashes.  Only in Saltaire... 

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Drama and dance

On offer in Roberts Park, as part of Saltaire Festival, there was a performance of Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. (In Act One, a group of tradespeople meet to discuss performing a play for Theseus' wedding.)

It was a lovely day: warm, sunny and breezy, so there was a good crowd gathered to watch.  Further down the promenade, our local Morris side, Rainbow Morris, were dancing, again with a sizeable crowd watching - and several enthusiastic children joining in.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Setting up for the Festival

On Thursday night, before the second of the Saltaire Festival weekends, Exhibition Road was closed to allow the vendors time to set up their stalls for the Continental Market. In past years, many of the stallholders used to come from Europe (or at least have their roots there) but with Brexit and the pandemic, I'm not sure that is the case this year, though the food still has a European vibe. The pitches sell a bewildering array of street food, plus sweets, cheese, meat, bread and baked goods, as well as gifts and clothing. Whatever you want to eat, it is probably on sale here! 

When I went past, there was a loud hum of generators and lots of activity as white vans were unpacked, stalls and street kitchens laid out. These will stay right through until Sunday night, three full days of trading. At night there are security guards keeping watch to make sure no-one runs off with the goods. 

I always feel a bit sorry for the people living in the adjacent streets, as the noise of the generators must get a bit wearing, not to mention the closed roads, the hot food smells and the crush and noise of people. I imagine some resort to going away for a few days. If I lived much nearer, I probably would! But still, it is good to see people enjoying themselves and our village. It all helps to 'put us on the map'. 

Friday, 17 September 2021

Hidden spaces

Saltaire Festival is back! After a hiatus of a year due to Covid (with just a few online activities last year) the Festival returned. The first weekend (last weekend) always has a very local, community feel with community markets, 'pop-up' events and residents opening their gardens for visitors. I must confess I gave the smaller gardens a miss this year. Even outside, I am wary of being in close contact with others and some of the yards are rather confined. I did, however, have a wander down the path through the allotments behind the church. It's usually out of bounds to all but the allotment holders but I do love it down there. On the strip of land between the canal and the railway, it feels like you're in the country and a million miles from the city. 

At the entrance I chatted to Michael, John and Snezhina, allotment holders who were showing some of the abundant produce grown there. You get the feeling that it's a very happy collective of gardeners. 


Thursday, 16 September 2021

Kilnsey Park

No trip to Kilnsey would be complete without stopping for a brief look at what I consider one of the most attractive vistas in the dale - looking across one of the trout fishing lakes at Kilnsey Park, towards Kilnsey Crag. The ancient hamlet of Kilnsey sits under the crag, with very old houses, some dating back to the 17th century.  It was at one time a busy place, situated on a drovers' route that was once a Roman road.