Earlier posts

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

Sunday, 31 October 2021


A newly fallen birch tree was lying across the small mill dam in Trench Wood, adding another layer of interest to the familiar scene. It had not been able to penetrate a large rock in the ground so its roots had taken purchase only on one side, meaning that it must have been unstable for a while. As it grew, its weight (and perhaps a strong wind, although it's fairly sheltered in this bit of the wood) must have been sufficient to topple it. It must have come down with a mighty roar, and has comprehensively trashed the iron railings around the dam.  

When a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Such philosophical questions rapidly gave way to joy at the impressionistic possibilities of the silvery trunk and delicate leaves, just turning from green to gold, all reflected a million times over in the water in which they lay.  

I'm not sure these photos are the final edits... I may go back and play with them some more. 

Saturday, 30 October 2021

Trench Wood

Here are a few more photos from my walk through Trench Wood, Shipley Glen. A birch sapling provided a bright splash of yellow and a gnarled, fallen tree trunk has been left to provide a site for a colony of fungi.

Where Lode Pit Beck leaves the little mill dam, a tiny waterfall at the end of the concrete spillway adds interest to this part of the stream, while fallen leaves are starting to dapple the rocks. 


Friday, 29 October 2021

Flame in the forest

There still isn't a lot of autumn colour here. It seems late to me and maybe we won't get a dazzling display. Possibly it hasn't yet been cold enough, though I often feel chilly and have switched to warmer clothes and more layers both inside and out (especially given the hike in energy prices!) This photo is from a recent ramble through Trench Wood at the bottom of Shipley Glen. That bright spray of leaves caught my eye, like a little spark of flame among the dusty browns and yellowing greens. 

Incidentally, I note that Bradford Countryside Service (I assume) have recently done a lot of work levelling and repairing footpaths on the eastern side of the wood. It has made it much more pleasant and easy to walk through the wood and hopefully will reduce some of the mud, come winter. 

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Settling down

Salts Mill settles down for the night... The security guards keep a vigil, the cleaners move in, some of the businesses have late shifts, a few lights still burn, making it all look surprisingly homely and welcoming. Tomorrow is a new day and I know visitors, both locals and those from further afield, will once again enjoy the peaceful ambience that the late Jonathan Silver and his family have created in this wonderful old building. 

The warm lights and the safety railings in the stairwell windows give the west wall a graphic look, like an artwork.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Leeds Playhouse

The history of the Leeds Playhouse dates back to 1970.  The current theatre was opened in 1990 on the site of what was once a notorious slum and later the 'Quarry Hill Flats' (a huge 1930s social housing complex that was demolished in 1978). The surrounding area has also attracted several other cultural organisations, including BBC Yorkshire, Northern Ballet, Leeds Conservatoire and part of Leeds City College. The theatre has been renovated in recent months, and now has a bright, colourful entrance that overlooks the city centre. The building has two auditoriums and, as well as being a showcase for theatre productions, it aims to act as a creative hub for the city, working with both established theatre practitioners (writers, actors etc) and new voices and with community groups, schools, local organisations and those further afield. 

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

County Arcade, Leeds

The stunning Victorian County Arcade in Leeds was incorporated in the 1990s into a bigger shopping centre, including the neighbouring Cross Arcade and Queen Victoria Street, which was roofed over with glass. The original arcades were designed by a theatre architect, Frank Matcham and are suitably dramatic, featuring lots of Burmantofts faience (glazed tiles), mosaics, marble and gilding. Now dubbed 'The Knightsbridge of the North', retailers to be found there include Harvey Nichols department store and Vivienne Westwood. 

It all links up at the back with the newer Victoria Gate (see yesterday) and at the front opens onto the pedestrianised Briggate. I rather liked the effect of the banners (below) strung across Briggate, shimmering in the sunshine. 


Monday, 25 October 2021

Victoria Gate

More 'looking up' in Leeds, photos mostly taken around the newish (2016) Victoria Gate shopping mall, which houses the John Lewis department store and other relatively high-end retailers. It's a bewildering place, even more so on the inside than the outside, with lots of glass, shiny marble and soaring escalators. I find it makes me feel quite disorientated and a little light-headed, so that although I love the John Lewis brand, I don't much enjoy shopping here. I'd rather go to the branches in Manchester or Sheffield's Meadowhall, which feel a bit less dizzying. They also have very keen security guards who don't like you to take photos inside the mall itself, which is a pity since it is quite spectacular. 

My final photo is taken at the back of the Leeds Kirkgate Market Hall, presenting quite a colourful contrast to its grand and ornate Victorian frontage. 

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Repeat after me

The Bourse is both the name of a street in Leeds (possibly one of the shortest at just 41m long) and the surrounding office buildings. Tucked away near the station and just off Boar Lane, one of its revamps a few years ago gave it a curved, reflective glass frontage, which produces mind-blowing effects! 

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Looking up in Leeds

Since Covid struck, I have rarely been on a train and rarely been to a city, but there were a few things I needed from the shops and it was a beautiful day so I braved both train and Leeds city centre. Ironically, the main shop I intended to visit was closed 'for the foreseeable future', so that was a nuisance. Never mind, I amused myself by 'looking up' at the wonderful Victorian buildings that grace the city. I often wonder whether the glass and concrete structures springing up all over the place nowadays will age as wonderfully as these have. 

I'm not sure that many of the old clocks actually show the right time these days! Old Father Time on the 'Tempus Fugit' clock is above a building that was once a jeweller's and clock shop. John Dyson, its Victorian owner, is said to have added the clock to the building's facade to mark his wife's birthday. 

The Kirkgate Market Hall's roofline has many domes and turrets. 

Friday, 22 October 2021

River Ribble

It took us a few minutes to locate the right path after lunch in Feizor. Being relaxed and full of good food clearly dulled our wits a little! Eventually we found the route, which follows the Dales High Way long distance path over to the River Ribble at Stainforth. Lovely views again from the top and then a gentle stroll downhill into the valley, punctuated by some rather high ladder stiles and precarious stone step stiles. Those have cantilevered stones right through the wall, and are often slippery and uneven with use. As it says in an article I read: 'All is typically well until you reach the top, when realisation dawns that you will have to pirouette to face the other way before descending the other side, as the stones are the same on both sides.'  Pirouetting feels harder when you're full of Sunday lunch, I have to confess, not to mention the complications of heavy boots, bulky backpacks, a walking pole and my camera!  

Anyway, we successfully arrived at the river in Stainforth, beside the rather elegant old bridge, built around 1675 to span the river instead of the original ford. (Stainforth means 'stony ford'.) People call it a packhorse bridge but it is in fact wide enough for carts, and many true packhorse bridges don't have such high parapets, in order to allow the heavily laden horses to pass across unimpeded.

Below the bridge, the river tumbles over falls known as Stainforth Force. There was quite a crowd of people here and when we neared the falls we realised why. In the autumn, salmon migrate up river to spawn and they leap up the falls in spectacular fashion. We were lucky enough to see several fish attempting the jump, though I found it impossible to photograph them, what with all the spectators and the fact that the fish are very fast and you can't predict where they will appear.  I was frankly astonished to see them, having spent some time here in past autumns and never seeing one. Quite a thrill! 

Downstream of the falls the river becomes calmer, meandering along through meadows. There isn't much autumn colour in the leaves yet, but there are a lot of red hawthorn and rowan berries. 

And so back into Settle, past a couple of old mills that were originally fulling mills and then cotton mills, and nowadays are converted into apartments and small business units. 

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Improbable walls

The Yorkshire Dales are famed for the drystone walls that snake across the countryside. Ribblesdale is no exception and here the local limestone gives characteristically lumpy and quite light-coloured walls. I always marvel at the improbable constructions - tumbling down over crags or meandering round as if built by a drunkard. I often find myself asking... why on earth was that built there? Why is it that shape? Who built it in the first place? How old is it? Those questions never get answered but that doesn't stop me wondering. 


Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Settle Circular

My friend and I were fortunate to have a glorious early autumn day for an eight mile circular walk from Settle, a market town in Craven on the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales. The route took us from the River Ribble, up along Giggleswick Scar and over to the hamlet of Feizor. This is limestone country, with remnants of limestone pavement and the characteristic drystone walls everywhere. There are wonderful views up Ribblesdale. You could see Pen-y-ghent, the lowest of Yorkshire's Three Peaks, in the distance. I rather liked the way the tumbledown wall in the foreground echoed the shape of the mountain.  

Looking down along the valley, the village of Langcliffe sits downstream of Stainforth Scar. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, limestone was quarried in this area by Craven Lime Works and burned in a massive Hoffman kiln to produce lime that was used in agriculture and building (mortar and limewash) as well as in a host of small-scale industries: tanning, textiles, soap and paper making. I once visited the remains of the Hoffman kiln, which was very interesting. (See HERE

On the other side of Giggleswick Scar, part of the Scar has been extensively quarried for building materials. The huge quarry was closed ten years ago and the land is now earmarked for some kind of industrial development. On the far horizon you may just be able to see the distinctive whaleback shape of another peak, which is Pendle Hill in Lancashire. 

Further on, the path meandered through upland meadows, which in summer are rich with wildflowers.

We then dropped down to the hamlet of Feizor, where there is a very popular café: Elaine's Tea Rooms, a real hidden gem, with plenty of outdoor seating. (I think it's still advisable to sit outside in these Covid times, even though it's getting colder.)  It's not often I have a full Sunday lunch halfway through a long walk. It was delicious - though it maybe made for a slower walk onwards, since I was rather full and thus quite sleepy! 

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Baildon Green

I had an errand to do in Baildon so I walked up to the village along the lane through the hamlet of Baildon Green. Tucked under the quarried crags of Baildon Bank, it's a hotch-potch of old houses and small mills, mostly related to the 19th century textile industry. Some are now converted into residences, whilst some are still used for businesses. There's also an historic non-Conformist chapel, all overlooking an extensive 'green' or common. 

Further down towards Saltaire there is what was once an old farm and barns, now converted into residences. 

The view from Baildon Green is pretty spectacular, looking down over Saltaire and Salts Mill... although my photo really isn't, being a grainy crop of a phone pic. Still, you get the general idea. 


Monday, 18 October 2021

Happy birthday

Happy 10th birthday to my beautiful granddaughter. She was sweet enough to pose for some photos last time she visited me. I was grateful both for her patience whilst I fiddled around with my camera and for her amazing ability to strike poses like a real model. I wanted somehow to capture a glimpse of who she is at this significant milestone, as she moves into the 'pre-teen years'. I think I got it! 

She loves Minecraft and Lego (and builds some amazing houses), reads a lot (particularly fond of comic books and graphic novels for kids). She's physically strong and brave, enjoying walking and climbing and yet she's sensitive too, concerned - like a lot of children - about the state of the world and the plight of people less fortunate than herself. She's also a brilliant 'big sister' and it warms my heart to see how well she and her little sis get on, and how kind and thoughtful she can be. 

It seems ages but also bizarrely only like yesterday that she made her appearance in the world, rather suddenly and 8 weeks early. If I'd known then how healthy, strong, brave and bright she would be by the age of ten, I wouldn't have worried nearly as much! 

I love you to the moon and back, my precious first granddaughter, and I always will. ❤︎

Sunday, 17 October 2021

A walk round Bolton Abbey Estate

There are numerous possibilities for walks around the extensive Bolton Abbey Estate. I often walk north along the river, through the woods and past the famous Strid gorge. This time I chose to cross the river and do a circular walk to the south. The bold cross the river on the stepping stones. I opted for the safer footbridge alongside! 

The path climbs steeply and affords lovely views of Bolton Priory, through the trees.

The route eventually drops down, following old trackways, through fields and back to the river. 

Intermittent showers never lasted too long but made for some interesting cloudscapes. 

Saturday, 16 October 2021

Bolton Abbey

I count myself very fortunate to live within a 40 minute drive of the Bolton Abbey Estate, since people travel from far and wide to visit the area. It all belongs to the Dukes of Devonshire, who ensure that the priory and surrounding estate are well-managed, well-maintained and welcoming to visitors (though you do pay handsomely in the car parking fees to enable that!) 

Originally an Augustinian priory founded in 1154, it thrived until 1539 when Henry VIII stripped all monasteries of their assets. Most of the original buildings now lie in ruins but part of the priory nave (to the left on my photo above) was saved, when Prior Moone negotiated to keep it as a place of worship for the local community. It continues to serve as a parish church to this day. 

The Priory church has quite an attractive and extensive graveyard. (There's a well-known photo collage by David Hockney of his mother sitting on a tombstone, well wrapped up against the Yorkshire drizzle. See HERE. )

Another famous Yorkshireman is buried here: Fred Trueman, the cricketer who played for Yorkshire and England in the 1950s and 60s. He's acknowledged as one of the greatest fast bowlers in history, and is equally remembered for his outspoken and often controversial views. His grave has a photo and a couple of cricket balls that have been placed there in memoriam. 

The Priory Church was closed when I visited (though you could peep through a screen into the nave). It had some beautiful flower arrangements on display, probably left from a wedding. Such an attractive and historic spot means that is frequently used for weddings. Indeed, Fred Trueman's daughter Rebecca was married here, amid much fanfare, to Damon Welch, the son of the film actress Raquel Welch, though the marriage proved to be short-lived.