Thursday, 31 July 2014


The pale mauve, thin-stemmed bell-like flowers of the Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) are a lot tougher than they look.  This little tumble of bells was growing in the corner of a wall in the ruined nave of Bolton Priory. The plants like dry, thin, poor soil so they can successfully colonise old walls. They look rather pretty, nodding in the breeze. They were one of my mum's favourite flowers and I have a bone china mug decorated with them, that reminds me of her every time I use it.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Bolton Abbey estate

A little closer to our destination and it becomes clearer that we're walking by the River Wharfe, in the Duke of Devonshire's Bolton Abbey estate, heading for Bolton Priory.  It's a well-known beauty spot, only about half an hour's drive from Saltaire, just inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Once an Augustinian monastery and dating back to the 12th century, the Priory is partially ruined. Half of the nave is still roofed and is used as a parish church. Very beautiful inside and in a wonderful setting, it is popular for weddings.

A warm, summer evening is perhaps the best time to visit. It gets very crowded during the day but by the time I arrived many people had packed up their picnics and gone home. The stepping stones across the river make it popular with children, though parts of the river can be extremely dangerous.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

An evening walk...

Can anyone recognise our destination?

Monday, 28 July 2014

The Old Glen House

It's a steep walk from Saltaire up the hill to Shipley Glen, though you can sometimes use the Tramway. After all that climbing you may be hungry or thirsty, in which case you can do as countless visitors and locals have done for years - call in at The Old Glen House. If you have children with you, an ice-cream from the adjacent tea room might be more appreciated.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Up hill

This is still Shipley Glen, though looking in the opposite direction from yesterday's photo. Further up the hill, the land is farmed and grazed. There are also a couple of well-hidden caravan sites up there. Beyond that you climb to the top, to the trig point on Hope Hill and the open moorland of Baildon, from where you can venture further, on to Rombalds and Ilkley Moor. But be careful not to go there 'baht 'at' (without your hat.  See here..) I noticed a few patches of heather coming into bloom, but it's a bit early for that yet, better in August.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Ghosts on the Glen

A recent walk was the first time this year that I have ventured up the valley side beyond Saltaire to Shipley Glen. It was a humid, brooding sort of a day but in some ways that kind of weather suits the craggy hillside, strewn with boulders, rough grass and heather. It's not quite moorland, but very typical of the area. You have to walk on and up further to access the real open moorland, above Baildon. The hillside has been used for recreation by generations of families, as I have mentioned in previous posts (see here and here). In fact, compared to Victorian/Edwardian times (when it was the site of the Pleasure Grounds, with all sorts of exciting rides) it's very quiet up there these days... though if you listen carefully, I'll swear you can hear laughter and children squealing.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Hidden treasure

I am often surprised that I can still be surprised in Saltaire, knowing the place as well as I do. Taking my habitual lunch-break walk, I suddenly noticed this... office? shop? gallery?  I wasn't quite sure. It's situated beneath the Information Centre, in the part of Salts Mill that was at one time Sir Titus Salt's private quarters (though he actually lived in a mansion over towards Halifax). It turns out to be the studio headquarters of The Art Rooms, though there is not a lot to give it away.

The Art Rooms is a small company, started in 2007 by Jacky Al-Samarraie. She produces a range of lovely things: bone china mugs, greetings cards, tableware, cushions, notebooks and prints with a range of mostly landscape-inspired scenes. Many are simple, graphic, black and white images married with a distinctive block of rich colour. Some have a more oriental flavour. I have admired them for some time in high end shops and galleries, including our own Salts Mill, though I didn't realise Jacky had found a base in Saltaire.

Some of her most recent designs include a range celebrating the recent Tour De France Yorkshire Grand Départ. Two of the mugs (below) provided a perfect gift for my daughter and son-in-law. She has even done some Saltaire designs.  Take a look at her website, I'm sure you'll be impressed.  She mostly sells to trade (look in the up-market, larger department stores) but also through her website, where you can pick up slight seconds at reasonable prices (if, like me, you can't afford the high end shops very often!)

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Hirst Locks garden

The little garden that was planted by the Hirst Wood Regeneration Group a few years ago has matured nicely and has really improved the area beside Hirst Lock on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.  It's a pleasant 15 minute or so stroll from the centre of Saltaire along the towpath to the lock and the swing bridge - and there is often something to see there. Even if there are no boats, there are usually some ducks.  That makes it a popular destination for families, particularly at weekends, as it is not too far for little ones to walk. You often see kids on cycles too, as the towpath is good and flat.  I'm always glad when local folk take the trouble to make something nice to be enjoyed by others; the garden is attractive and quite well-maintained.

There used to be a small garden centre in that area too, but it is now derelict and becoming quite an eyesore.  Hopefully one day someone will come up with another imaginative use for that patch of land.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Practice makes perfect

A typical Sunday scene on the River Aire just upstream from Hirst Weir. It's where Bradford Amateur Rowing Club (BARC) have their clubhouse, built on land gifted to them in 1893 by Sir Titus Salt. This particular Sunday, those out on the river seemed to be single sculls, and there were trainers on the bank shouting out instructions. All the boats have names with 'Aire' in them - the one most visible in the photo was Solitaire.  Further along there was Heavyaire and Lightaire.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


Oh dear, I'm having one of those spells when every time I'm free to go out with my camera the weather decides to be horrible - and when I'm stuck in at work or otherwise engaged, the sun comes out and all is hunky-dory. On my way to meet a friend the other day, I was held up for ages at a level-crossing during a cloudburst. There are very few level crossings in this area; most of the railways go over or under the roads on bridges. This crossing is on the busy Leeds to Skipton line and every quarter of an hour or so the gates close for what feels like a good five minutes. (Perhaps not that long, but it feels like forever when you're in a hurry!)  Anyway, so desperate am I for pictures that I decided to use the time productively.

Voilà ... we have 'watching the rain fall'  and ... quick wipe of the windscreen, to show.... 'train passing'.

I do hope you enjoyed that. Right, we can continue our journey now...

Monday, 21 July 2014

This is Saltaire

Just on the edge of Roberts Park, across the river from Saltaire, there is a large and well-used playground with activities for all ages from the littlest toddlers to teenagers on bikes and skateboards. It has a curving wall to separate the skatepark from the rest, which has been painted numerous times. My favourite so far was a tiger's eye. The most recent mural was designed and executed by pupils from the nearby Titus Salt School, with guidance from local artist Tim Curtis. It depicts Sir Titus Salt himself and thus reminds visitors approaching Saltaire from the Baildon side of the river that they are entering an historic World Heritage Site.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Feed the birds

The local football pitches at Salts Sports Club have had all the turf ripped up and the ground reseeded this summer. So far I can see no sign of sprouting seed ... but there are an awful lot of fat wood pigeons hereabouts.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Uncle Tacko's Imaginarium

I popped into Shipley one Saturday to take some stuff to the charity shop (one of the many charity shops!)  [Note, I require a round of applause for starting to clear out some clutter, though I haven't got very far.]  Anyway, I found the town centre busy with street artists, musicians, magicians - and Uncle Tacko's Imaginarium. This mysterious tent pops up at festivals and delivers 20 minute family shows, to an audience of 20-30 seated inside, several times a day. And you never know what you are going to be treated to - magic, music, stories, puppets or even a flea circus! (I didn't know they still existed.)

Friday, 18 July 2014


I haven't seen much of this little one all summer - but whenever I do see her, she is never very far from an ice-cream!