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Saturday, 31 October 2015


Last month's theme for my online photography group - 'Empty'. It had to be a photograph in monochrome. I was a bit short on ideas but decided a shoe box would suffice. It may have paper left in it but as every woman knows, this box is nevertheless decidedly empty.

When I had new wardrobes fitted recently, I had to do some clearing out, which was not in the end as bad as I'd feared. Turns out I wasn't hoarding too much rubbish... though I do have a lot of empty shoe boxes. I always feel they might come in handy one day. Well, this one did.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Mind your head!

I noticed these workmen (well, you can't really fail to see those high-vis overalls, can you?) one lunchtime when I was out for my habitual walk to stretch my legs - and my back - after another desk-bound morning in the office. They were lifting heavy pontoons off the canal onto a lorry. I'm not sure what the pontoons had been used for. I can't recall seeing them around locally. A bit of rain wasn't putting anyone off.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Walking to school

A rainbow (two actually) in the morning is always lovely to see. I'm sure it cheered the children's walk to school as much as it uplifted me on my walk to work the other day.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

A Yorkshire lass

'I still don't know why, exactly, but I do feel that people can have a spiritual connection to landscape.' Hannah Kent

Thus ends my holiday - back to the city - and I leave the landscape that I have grown to love and feel as 'home' even though it isn't where I was raised. I guess I've lived in Yorkshire long enough now (45 years) to feel like I belong and to claim it as mine. (Some would say you can only claim it if you were born here... but then, I never actually wanted to play cricket for Yorkshire... ha!) I do love the open spaces, the wide valleys and the heather moors, the drystone walls and the limestone pavements, the trees, the barns and the stone cottages. Thankfully this view (looking down into Littondale and the village of Arncliffe) and others like it are only an hour or so's drive away from my home in Saltaire. So I shall soon return.

Of course, it's actually a few weeks now since I got back from the Dales and autumn is well and truly here now - fiery colours this year but some wind and rain coming in now too. I have been out and about trying to find some good seasonal photos, so watch this space....

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Dog tired at the Smithy

This sleepy labrador made me laugh! It was (rather uncomfortably) lying out in the sunshine on the cobbles outside Malham Smithy, in the centre of the village. These days the Malham blacksmith is Annabelle Bradley, who uses traditional techniques and contemporary designs to produce decorative items for the home and garden.

Monday, 26 October 2015


Malham village itself is a few miles south from the Tarn and below Malham Cove. There has been a settlement here since the Iron Age and in the 18th and 19th centuries it was a busy centre for mining and mills. Nowadays a few hill farms and tourism are the main activities - and it really is a tourist hotspot (especially since it featured as a location in one of the Harry Potter films). The limestone provides climbing and potholing opportunities and there are numerous beautiful walks around the area, to the spectacular Cove itself and to the local waterfalls and gorges. Bed and breakfast places abound and there are several good pubs - essential to cater for all those thirsty hikers!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Malham Cove

I was sure I had a photo of Malham Cove on my blog. I didn't go walking up to it on this trip, as I've been so many times. But I can't find a blog post about it so I must have dreamed that. I have, however, managed to locate an earlier photo I took (May 2007!).  It shows the cove and a group of birdwatchers. Peregrine falcons nest and breed on the face of the cove. They are relatively rare and endangered but wonderful birds to watch, so the RSPB sets up an observation post to monitor their breeding progress over the summer months. Volunteers are on hand to help people look through telescopes and see the birds.  See here.

The photo doesn't really convey the sheer size of the cove, which sweeps round in a big arc. There's a wonderful area of limestone pavement at the top (if you can face the climb; there are steps... hundreds) and at the bottom a small stream bubbles up from the base of the rock, flowing out from the labyrinth of tunnels and caverns that make up limestone country.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Smelt mill chimney

These days, the fells of the Yorkshire Dales seem vast, open and sparsely populated, home only to sheep and curlews. It makes them very attractive to walkers and photographers. Indeed, the Pennine Way long-distance footpath skirts Malham Tarn. But - in plain sight, as it were - the history of the area is there to be read. You might think this pile of stones is some sort of cairn, like those you often see placed by walkers beside mountain paths. In fact it is a mill chimney. Lead, copper and other minerals were mined in the area during the 18th century. The metal ore was crushed and then processed in a smelt mill. A long flue led from the mill to this chimney, where the toxic fumes were dispersed.  The 'feel' of the area must have been vastly different in those days.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Tarn Moss and Tarn Fen

Part of the terrain around Malham Tarn is extremely unusual. The area as a whole is underpinned by limestone and the lake itself is an uncommon marl (alkaline) lake. An area of fen and bog has developed since the last ice-age over a shallow area of the lake, gradually building up a dome of acid peat bog, now 10m thick in parts, that allows rare acid-loving plants and mosses to grow. It became a National Nature Reserve in 1992 and is now carefully managed to provide the right balance to support and nurture the plants, birds and other wildlife. Such bogs are an especially valuable resource as they store carbon that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

There are deer in the reserve and for a moment I thought I saw one... or perhaps a leopard? ... but no, just a piece of wood.

Thursday, 22 October 2015


I rather liked the windblown shapes of these trees on the edge of Malham Tarn. It can be rather bleak up there; there are few trees and things have to be pretty hardy to survive.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Malham Tarn

Finally, the sun came out (and then in and then out and then in again, as it is prone to do on an English summer day!) I headed to Malham Tarn, a large glacial lake above the famous Malham Cove. At 375 metres above sea level it is England's highest lake and is a rare example of an alkaline lake, sited as it is in an area of limestone. Geologically interesting and supporting many rare flora and fauna, the area is owned and managed by the National Trust, and Tarn House is used as a field studies centre. The lake is drained by a small stream that disappears underground into a huge network of caves and tunnels through the limestone and reappears beyond Malham Cove to form the source of the River Aire...  here today, flowing through Saltaire sometime thereafter.

You can take a lovely circular walk round the tarn, passing through a variety of areas of interest.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A penny for your thoughts...

Can you guess what this is?

It was up for auction at Tennants Auction rooms, on the same business park as yesterday's chocolatier. It is a Mini car covered in (old, pre-decimal) British pennies. Two 'Penny Minis' featured in promotional videos for the release of the Beatles' single Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever in the 1960s, though it isn't clear if this is one of the original cars used or a copy. We spotted it tucked away in a yard and unfortunately I could not get a clear picture of the whole vehicle  - but in a way the details are more fun, I think.  You can see the whole thing here though (and a pretty girl as an added bonus!)

Monday, 19 October 2015


Also, and perhaps of more interest to this particular 'tourist', I visited Leyburn's chocolate maker: The Little Chocolate Shop. It's not very romantically situated, being on a small business park, but once inside you can watch the chocolate being made by hand - and then buy in the shop, of course.  There are three machines constantly circulating the liquid chocolate (dark, milk and white - shown here). The young man was creating some chocolate sheep (what else, in Wensleydale?!) The factory area is in a kind of central glass cube so it is easy to see what is going on (but limited sight-lines and lots of reflections from the glass make taking photos a challenge).

Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Tea Pottery

There's always one, isn't there.....?

Back to the holidays: I visited a pottery in the town of Leyburn in Wensleydale - the Tea Pottery, to be precise. They make... you guessed... tea pots, in every shape imaginable. In theory they are useable for the nation's favourite brew but I imagine most are bought as decorative items by collectors.

My daughter has an Aga cooker in her new home, green, just like the teapot below (apart from the handle of course, haha.) She abhors kitsch though so I wasn't tempted to get her a gift.

Saturday, 17 October 2015


There is some spectacular colour in some of our autumn trees this year. As always, a blue sky sets the russets off nicely - pity we don't see too much of the blue at this time of year. I am not sure why the colours vary so much year on year but we must have had the right conditions for colour this year.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Perfect end to a perfect day

Driving home from my daughter's house after the birthday party, I was treated to this spectacular sunset. It was difficult not to get distracted from driving so in the end I pulled over and took a few photos. The road over the moors is narrow and twisty so it needs full concentration, especially when it is getting dark.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Not London

These are the views from the bottom of the garden at my daughter's new house. It couldn't be more different from London!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015


There are some more photos from my holiday to come but I'm interrupting the series, to celebrate that a whole year has passed since my second granddaughter was born. So much has happened in that time and I thank God that all's well. She is adorable (both of them are) - a happy, secure and easy-going little girl. They are settling into their new home in Yorkshire, although there is still plenty to do to get it all how they want it. My daughter found time to make this amazing cake for the birthday party. It's delightful to have them living nearer, so that it's now much easier for the whole family to get together.

I haven't managed a decent picture of either of the girls for ages. The one below was taken by their mum on a recent day out. I love my older granddaughter's expressions when she is looking at her sister - sort of loving and amused at the same time.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Estate houses

The village of Wensley, which gives its name to the dale, must have been more important in the past. Nowadays it is a quiet and unremarkable place. Until the 16th century it had a market, always a sign of significance since market charters were granted by the King. In 1653, however, it seems the village was devastated by the plague and the surviving villagers fled, so that it took nearly a century to recover. There is a private driveway out from the village across a beautifully landscaped estate, which I believe leads to Bolton Hall, a mansion built in 1678 and then rebuilt in 1902 after a fire. It is still lived in by Lord Bolton's family. They also own nearby Bolton Castle, which is open to the public. Some of the houses in the village are clearly 'estate houses' built for the estate's staff.

My paternal grandfather worked for the Duke of Portland on his Welbeck estate in Nottinghamshire so I grew up around 'estate houses' and can recognise their distinctiveness, even though they tend to have regional styles.

[Interestingly - and completely off topic! - the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was a guest of the Duke of Portland at Welbeck in 1913, almost a year prior to his assassination that precipitated WWI. He was almost killed at Welbeck in a hunting accident when a loader's gun accidentally fired - an accident that could have changed the course of history but, sadly, did not.]

Monday, 12 October 2015

Cottage garden

I loved everything about this quintessential cottage garden in front of a house in the village of Wensley. There are so many plants and colours crammed into the small space. Sweet peas entwined through the fence, delphiniums adding a touch of their distinctive blue and pretty hanging baskets too.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Treasure within

Holy Trinity Church, Wensley is a veritable treasure trove of interesting features inside. The octagonal font is dated 1662 and has an attractive, carved pineapple finial. (Pineapples are a symbol of welcome.)

In the chancel is a pretty three-bay arcade dating to the early 14th century (1300s).

The choir stalls have some lovely carved pew ends, dated 1527. I rather liked this dog with its bone.

As in many of our English churches, the stained glass is beautiful. This one is 'The Light of the World', reminiscent of the famous Holman Hunt painting and so I assume the window glass is Victorian.

There was some wonderful and vibrant tapestry work in the kneelers.

The nave has some box pews and holds the Scrope family pew, set high up over the rest of the congregation. It is comfortable with cushions and curtains, either so that the aristocrats need not see or be seen by the riff-raff or perhaps so they could snooze during long sermons, who knows? The Scropes were the Lords of Bolton and resided nearby in Bolton Castle (which is still owned by the family) - where Mary, Queen of Scots was housed for six months after she fled Scotland. The pew still holds prayer books and hymnals inscribed 'Lord Bolton'.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Holy Trinity Church, Wensley

The church in the village of Wensley in the Yorkshire Dales, built on the site of an 8th century Saxon church, dates back to the mid-13th century and is a Grade I listed building. The tower was added in 1719. It is a 'redundant Anglican church', rarely now used as a place of worship. Instead it is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, a charity whose purpose is to protect historic churches at risk.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Wensleydale flora

A selection of plants found in Wensley:
a teasel seed head, some variation of a convolvulus and a cranesbill of some kind. I don't think any of these were 'wild' flowers as they were growing in a little cultivated garden in the village, set aside for quiet contemplation.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Candle rainbows

I just love this photo. The dipped candles seem to be made in every colour under the sun and many with lovely patterns and markings too. As well as the dipped candles they make chunky pillar candles, scented ones, marbled ones and cast ones - cupcakes, sheep, toadstools - you name it! A feast for the senses.

I have pretty much given up burning candles at home on account of the damage the smoke causes, over time, to the decor. White Rose Candles say theirs are such high quality they don't smoke... so I was tempted but not entirely convinced.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The candlemaker

The candlemaker, White Rose Candles, has been in the old watermill in Wensley since 1978. It's a family-run business, producing high-quality beeswax and paraffin wax candles using a mixture of traditional and modern dipping and casting techniques. Some of the equipment, like the dipping machine above, was designed and made by Mick White (shown) and verges on the eccentric, the pulley mechanism apparently made out of bicycle wheels. The whole place seemed like a glorious muddle to the untrained eye. It obviously works though, producing some exquisite and colourful candles - from church candles to cupcakes! - available to buy in the shop and online.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Workshop in the woods

Wensleydale is the next of the Yorkshire Dales north from Wharfedale, a scenic drive over the fells and into a valley with a very different character.  It is unusual in that the dale doesn't take its name from the river flowing through it, which is the River Ure. Nor is it named after one of its principal towns, which are Hawes and Leyburn. There is a small, quiet village called Wensley though and I visited to see its church and its candlemaker. The candlemaker's workshop and gallery is situated in an old watermill, along a woodland path. Behind it there's a waterfall, making the whole area scenic and worth a visit.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Posforth Gill and the Valley of Desolation

I spent absolutely ages trying to find this waterfall!  Happily, it was worth the effort. The Bolton Abbey estate covers a large area with varied scenery. There is a walk - known as the Valley of Desolation - which I'd never done before. It follows a little stream (Posforth Gill) up the valley and eventually on to Barden Fell and the hill known as Simon's Seat. The Gill flows over this lip in a rather attractive waterfall. Whatever desolation there once was (caused apparently by a huge storm in 1826) has long since been repaired by Mother Nature.

To find the falls, you had to take a steep path down to the left off the main footpath but I missed the turn and went on upwards, nearly making it onto Simon's Seat, before I realised my error. Never mind, it was a good walk and good to get the exercise. I do a lot of walking but mostly along fairly flat paths (like the canal towpath) so striding up a hill for a change is good for my heart and lungs!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Priory Church

The Priory Church of St Mary and St Cuthbert at Bolton Abbey is a thriving church in the (newly formed) Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales. One of it's loveliest features, in my view, is the painted wall (Victorian), which replaces what would have been the rood screen separating the nave from the now ruined chancel which lies beyond the wall. It has plants and symbols with a biblical and Christian meaning: lilies, barley, olives, roses and palms among them. I like it but apparently Queen Mary did not (!) and it was covered for some time with a tapestry.
There are also some lovely Pugin stained glass windows from the 19th century set into the 13th century lancet windows. Augustus Pugin was the architect of much of the Palace of Westminster in London (our Houses of Parliament).

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Hey diddle diddle

The mist was still hanging over the hills by the time I arrived at Bolton Abbey, a very popular beauty spot in Wharfedale, on an estate owned by the Duke of Devonshire. The river meanders around the partially ruined Augustinian Priory, stripped of its assets during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, by order of Henry VIII. The nave survives as a church to this day, because it was successfully argued by Prior Moone, the last Prior, that it was a place of worship for the local community. Interestingly, the nursery rhyme "Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle" is reputed to be about a dispute Prior Moone had with a local farmer over a cow. For that story, see here (and scroll down the page).

Friday, 2 October 2015

Pointing heavenwards

I was staying, as I have done before, at Scargill House: an international Christian community, holiday, retreat and conference centre. It's in Upper Wharfedale, just outside the village of Kettlewell. The iconic chapel's roof made a bold statement, looming out of the mist. On a better day, the views from inside the chapel through those huge, clear windows are awesome. It's a wonderful place in which to worship.  For more information about the Scargill Movement - and more photos - click the Scargill House label below and also look at their website.

My very first post about the Centre, back in 2009, described how it had been forced to close and a rescue plan was taking shape. The news on that is tremendous. Much practical work has been done to bring the buildings back into good repair and many of the bedrooms have been completely updated to lovely, ensuite rooms. There is a growing and lively community of families, couples and single people at its heart. Many of them are young people, from all over the world, who come for a year or so to serve, learn, develop skills and enjoy community alongside a core of more mature leaders who tend to stay for a few years. The community therefore constantly changes, which must be challenging but also makes it exciting and vibrant. It's a great success story, a lovely place reborn and reinvigorated with a compelling vision to see lives transformed by the love of God in Jesus Christ and to offer hospitality to all.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Misty and moisty

My holiday week didn't get off to a great start weather-wise, as the first morning saw heavy fog that took a while to lift. Even then, the light was dull and flat and the sky an unappealing flat grey. Never mind, a bit of mist makes for an atmospheric woodland walk. There are flashes where the leaves are beginning to change colour but so far most of the trees are still green. There is a decidedly autumnal feel to the air though.