Thursday, 18 October 2018

Autumn gold

Autumn arrives differently every year. This time, the colour change is not developing uniformly. There are patches of intense gold amongst green leaves on the same tree, and small outbursts of red and orange can be glimpsed at a distance amidst the still mostly green woodland.

These are two sprays of colour that caught my eye on a recent walk.

I've been practising controlling the depth of field on my photos. I like the little patches of bokeh sparkle that I caught on the image on the left.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Ogden Water

A beautifully warm, sunny autumn day meant I had to get out and enjoy it, so I took a trip to Ogden Water, a reservoir and nature reserve on the moorland up above Halifax. Built over 160 years ago, originally to power mills, it was adapted to provide drinking water for Calderdale. The bad news is that they are running out of it! I was quite shocked to realise the impact our dry summer has had on our water reserves. Normally the reservoir would be full up to the treeline.

The surrounding estate and woodland is managed as a nature reserve, with a small visitor centre and café, and walking and orienteering trials. The path round the lakeside is flat and suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs so it is a popular spot. (Rather a pity that the car park is quite small, rough and difficult to access.)

I didn't get the autumn reflection shots I'd envisaged... but the colours in the woodland were attractive and I really enjoyed the sunshine.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018


I'm so happy to be able to access tranquil spots like this, a mere ten minutes walk from home. The top photo is the River Aire on the edge of Saltaire's Roberts Park. I just nipped behind the cricket scorebox to take it! I once took a winter photo from more or less the same spot (see HERE) and that has an equally tranquil - though different - vibe. 

The photo below is half a mile further upstream, at Hirst Weir. You can just see the rowing club headquarters on the bank on the right. Someone has recently thrown a plank across a narrow channel in the river, so that you can now stand on a small island beyond the trees on the bank and get a much better view of the weir itself. I wasn't getting my feet wet! (Most of my photos of the weir are taken looking downstream, from beside the fence you can just see on the right.) There's not much water coming down the river. It has continued relatively dry after our very dry summer. 

Monday, 15 October 2018

Early autumn in Saltaire

It fascinates me how different the same trees can look in autumn from one year to the next. Many trees this year have an interesting variation in colour, like this one on the church drive, showing red tipped leaves rather than colouring up uniformly. I suppose it all depends on the weather conditions we've had.

On the canal, fallen leaves are beginning to cover the surface and a slight breeze ripples the reflection of the New Mill chimney.

The New Mill viewed from the Victoria Road bridge, where the young tree in the foreground (a sycamore?) adds a bright pop of yellow to the scene.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

The gardener just popped out...

By the time we'd wandered round to the huge, walled kitchen garden at Clumber Park, it was raining heavily, which was a shame as it was the most interesting bit (to me). We had a quick walk up the main path, through the beautifully colour-graded herbaceous borders, to the vast glasshouses. It was too wet to explore the vegetable gardens and orchard though I understand that, like most of the National Trust properties with gardens, the produce grown there supplies the NT café on the site with fresh fruit and vegetables.

There are stores and offices behind the glasshouses, some used by the current gardening team and some set out with old tools and pots to suggest how they would have been used in the glory days of the estate. It was nicely nostalgic, bringing back memories of my grandfather (who was a keen gardener) and my dad, who was more a dutiful gardener than a keen one but who used to supply our family with potatoes, beans, rhubarb and suchlike from the plot at the back of our home.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Clumber Park

Clumber Park is situated in the area of Nottinghamshire known as 'The Dukeries' because of the number of country estates found there. Once the home of the Dukes of Newcastle, it is now owned by the National Trust. The original mansion that stood there was demolished in 1938, but the Gothic Revival chapel of St Mary the Virgin remains, as do some of the outbuildings and a large, walled kitchen garden. The extensive estate is landscaped around a lake, and there are acres of woodland and heath to explore.

One of the entrances is famous for having the longest double avenue of lime trees in Europe. (I didn't manage to get a photo of it.) The recent TV coverage of the Tour de Britain cycle race showed the peloton streaming down the avenue and it brought back childhood memories of family picnics there, as it is only a few miles from where I was brought up. I suggested to my sister that we should revisit it and we had a happy few hours exploring, even though the weather was a bit dull and drizzly. Sadly, the chapel was closed for maintenance so we couldn't see inside.

Friday, 12 October 2018

All Saints Church, Wellingore

The advantage of exploring rural villages is that their churches, unlike those in urban areas, are often left unlocked during the day. All Saints Church in Wellingore, Lincolnshire, stands proudly on the edge of the escarpment, its spire visible for quite a distance (and a useful location for a mobile phone mast!)  Like many of our rural churches it is Grade I listed so it must be considered of great historical interest, though I have seen many churches that appealed to me more.

It sits within a fair-sized graveyard and inside seems relatively light and bright as the majority of its windows are plain rather than stained glass. There has been a church on the site since Saxon times, and the existing building, with Norman origins but mostly 13th - 15th century, has been altered and expanded many times, undergoing a significant restoration around 1880.

The altar reredos (above) is relatively modern, a carved mahogany relief of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Supper', commissioned in 1969.

In contrast, the alabaster effigies (below) of a knight and his lady on a tomb chest are believed to date back to the 15th century. It is reputed to be Sir Richard de Buslingthorpe and his wife, Isabella. Over the years, the little animal at his feet has been stroked so much that it is wearing away! It may be his dog, but it is more likely to be a lion, a symbol of valour and nobility.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Lincolnshire villages

Our Lincolnshire walk took us through the villages of Navenby and Wellingore, which have a core of old, traditional houses as well as lots of newer builds. The beautiful house in my photo above is the Manor House on the Green, in Wellingore. It is a Grade II listed Georgian (early 18th century) house built in the local limestone with a pantile roof. The Green has an old water pump, as do some of the streets in the village, which is now a conservation area.

There is no shortage of attractive old buildings, mostly built of limestone but with a few built of mellow old bricks. It's all very pleasing.

Some of the street names are interestingly evocative of earlier times: Blacksmith's Lane and the oddly named Egg Shell Alley.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

A Lincolnshire amble

My sister lives in rural Lincolnshire, on a ridge of high ground that runs south from the city of Lincoln. I visited recently and we went for a late afternoon amble along the escarpment, looking westwards across the Vale of Trent. So different from where I live, you could see for miles across the predominantly agricultural landscape, though it was a hazy sort of light.

This year's harvest is in and the fields were being ploughed ready for planting. As we walked home along the byways, the traffic mainly consisted of tractors and ploughs making their way back to their farms. Tractors these days are huge and very high tech. Look at those wheels!

There was an abundance of berries on the trees and some blackberries in the hedgerows, as well as boughs heavy with fruit on the apple trees. I'm never quite sure if the amount of fruit simply reflects the conditions over the past spring and summer or if it really does foretell of a hard winter to come. We'll find out soon enough!

Although I love Yorkshire's valleys and stone walls, all the Lincolnshire green and the open sky gives me a lovely sense of space and freedom.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

On the sunny side of the street

I spotted this cheery sunflower just peeping over a back wall in Saltaire. Gorgeous, isn't it? So aptly named too. A burst of sunshine in our gritstone streets.

Monday, 8 October 2018


I've lived in Saltaire for 20 years and photographed its square mile for the past ten of those years, yet still it manages to surprise and often delight me. I was up fairly early one morning to catch a train. It was a beautiful, sunny morning with a hint of autumn in the chill air. The ticket machine was behaving itself and there was no queue, so I bought my ticket and still had a quarter hour to wait for my train. I walked the short distance down to the church, enjoying the sunshine, and was astonished to notice how lovely the trees at the end of the drive looked, with the sun's rays filtering through. (Even more astonished that my photo conveyed the atmosphere rather well.) What a lovely start to my day!

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Gawthorpe's Great Barn

In the grounds of Gawthorpe Hall, there is the Great Barn which was built around 1603. The adjoining coach house, a Victorian addition, is now used as a tea room.

You can't enter the barn, which appears to be used for storage and events, so I took a photo through a window. It is rather magnificent, said to be one of the largest aisled threshing barns in Europe. The aisled design allowed greater space for threshing grain and for storage. Interestingly, in the 1950s the barn was used by Burnley Football Club as a training ground. The club now have modern facilities on the estate.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Gawthorpe's Brontë connection

I loved this rather beautiful tryptych showing different views of Gawthorpe Hall. There was no explanatory label but it obviously depicts the Hall after its renovation by Sir Charles Barry in the 1850s.

What is now the drawing room (below) was at one time a dining room, and has original 1603 Jacobean panelling, though the fire surround and some of the furniture date to the Victorian restoration. The inlaid table on the right, a teapoy that held a tea chest (when tea was such a valuable commodity that it was kept under lock and key), is by A W N Pugin, who collaborated with Barry on this private house, as well as more famously on the Houses of Parliament.

The Hall has connections with Charlotte Brontë, whose home in Haworth was about eighteen miles away. She visited Gawthorpe in 1850 and again in January 1855, where it is said she caught a chill from walking around the grounds, from which she never recovered. She died in March 1855. Apparently the green sofa in the drawing room dates back to that time and the Brontë bottom may have settled upon it! (Wow!)

There are many wonderful portraits displayed in the Hall, many loaned by the National Portrait Gallery. There are also some touching family photos. The grouping below shows members of the Kay-Shuttleworth family, whose two sons (in the heart shaped frame) were both killed in the Great War.

The magnificent four-poster bed (below) was a 21st birthday gift to Miss Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth, the last of the family to live in Gawthorpe Hall. She was an accomplished needlewoman, and from 1905 to 1918 she made the bedspread and hangings, embroidered in crewel work. They were finished on Armistice Day 1918, commemorated with a little palm tree and the date. During her life, she amassed a huge collection of textiles from all over the world, as a means of preserving them and disseminating information about the traditions and skills involved in their production. Some of these are on display in Gawthorpe Hall. See here for an interesting blog post about the Gawthorpe Textile Collection.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Gawthorpe Hall

Continuing to make the most of my National Trust membership, I ventured 'over the border' into Lancashire to visit Gawthorpe Hall, near Burnley.

It started out as a 14th century pele tower (a defence against invading Scots) and was extended into an Elizabethan house in the early 1600s by the Shuttleworth family, who owned it right up until it was given to the NT in 1970.The Hall as you see it now was redesigned in the 1850s by Sir Charles Barry, who designed the Houses of Parliament and Highclere House, known to many as 'Downton Abbey', so it has become known as the 'Downton of the North'.

It's in a relatively urban area, set in a small area of parkland and estate. It is run in partnership with Lancashire County Council, who have some offices in the hall.

As these kinds of places go, it's a modest house in modest grounds, but interesting nevertheless. The small ornamental terrace, overlooking the River Calder, was laid out as part of Barry's design.

I was surprised by a flock of sheep, evidently used as lawn mowers! Even more surprised to find the wifi code engraved in stone on a seat on the terrace... Actually it says: Kynd Kynn Knawne Kepe - 'kind friends know and keep', the motto of Sir James Kay, who married into the Shuttleworth family in 1842 and took the surname Kay-Shuttleworth. It was he who commissioned Sir Charles Barry to restore and improve the house.