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Thursday, 31 March 2016


Ooh, I had to be quick to take this. I was just setting off for my regular lunchtime walk from work when I heard the sound of hooves on the tarmac.  Turning round, I saw a horse trotting at a fast pace up the hill, so I had to whip out my iPhone and take a very quick snap as it went past. This version is cropped a lot from the original as I didn't even have time to zoom in, so the image quality isn't great. Nevertheless it conveys the speed quite well, I feel. The horse has the diagonal gait of a fast trot and all four hooves off the ground at once! The little buggy it is pulling is the kind they use for harness-racing. The man's flat cap is a Yorkshire working class stereotype but something you don't see a lot these days. (They've been replaced by the ubiquitous baseball cap, I guess!) I never saw a sight like this on my walks around Salts Mill, so there are some compensations for working in a new but not quite so idyllic area.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Hirst Weir

This familiar shot of Hirst Weir is less familiar since the Boxing day floods. The weir has been substantially rearranged, with stones strewn over a wide area. It has not stopped the fishermen, two of whom were right in the river below the weir, in their waders. The river looks benign again now and some repair work appears to have been done to the bank on this side but in December it must have been quite terrifying for those living in the apartments in the old mill, the lower floors of which were badly affected by the floodwater.  There is a wooden deck (around that conservatory) that is all ripped up even now.

Click the Hirst Weir label below to see what the area has looked like when I have taken previous photos here.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016


Even though it was quite early in the morning, there were several crews from the local Rowing Club practising on the River Aire. It must be quite a relief to them to be able to get out on relatively calm water. The clubhouse and boat storage were badly flooded on Boxing Day and they must have had a lot of work to do to get back up and running rowing. There are still hazards. There is a huge tree trunk lying submerged in the river. A small red buoy is tethered to the only part that breaks the surface of the water.  However, the path along the riverside has been repaired, the fallen tree removed and the rough little bridge (where I had to cut short a previous walk) has been reinstated.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Early morning

The weather forecast for the Easter weekend was dire, with wind and rain forecast. Good Friday, however, was warm and sunny and Saturday dawned fair, though overcast. I woke at my usual going-to-work time (sigh...) and then suddenly jumped out of bed and decided to go for a walk before breakfast. This is unheard of!! Actually, it's unheard of for me to leave the house without makeup either - but I did. Thankfully, I didn't bump into anyone I know. In fact there were very few people about - a few joggers and dog-walkers, that's all. I walked about three miles, enjoying the peace and the birdsong. It's a route I've taken many times before and one that regular readers of my blog will therefore know intimately too. So the photos are variations of familiar scenes.

I enjoyed the walk, felt suitably virtuous, had a shower and breakfast when I got home and was all ready to face the day by 9.30. Not bad. And it didn't start raining until teatime!

I have started to experiment a little with filters and textures in processing, just for fun. I can never decide if they end up looking better or worse than the originals - just different, I guess. The first image has some kind of vintage effect applied. Seems reasonable, for a scene that has changed little in many years (although the buildings that once surrounded the lock have long gone).

This is the remains of old quarry workings in Hirst Woods. There are similar little pockets all over the locality, where stone was hewn for our local buildings in Victorian times. You really don't notice them unless you think about it, they seem so much part of the landscape now and nature has softened what would at one time have been an open scar. This crater only really becomes obvious in winter when the trees have no leaves.

Spotted my first bluebells too - way too early. Go back to sleep, little ones!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Easter Day

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Passion Play

My church, along with others in Shipley, usually have a 'Walk of Witness' on Good Friday. This year a brave group got together to perform a full Passion Play.  Such events are tricky to photograph, I find, but these will give a flavour of the story. I actually found it very moving.

The Last Supper
'He took bread, gave thanks and broke it...'
In the Garden of Gethsemane
'Yet not my will, but yours be done'

Jesus arrested
'The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head'
Before Pilate
'Crucify him!'
To Golgotha
'Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull'
The Crucifixion
'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'

Friday, 25 March 2016

Shadows - up Spook Hill!

It's a great delight lately to have one of those rare days when the sun shines brightly enough to create some shadows!

I've started having a very short lunchtime walk 'round the block' when I'm at work. It only takes ten minutes but the area around my temporary workplace is really pretty uninspiring and desperately lacking in places to go (especially compared to my habitual jaunt along the canal and around Salts Mill). However, even a brief foray outside to stretch the legs and release the mind, is, I feel, a good thing to do.

So it is: across the car park, up a bit of a hill (Spook Hill in my mind!), past the old but still functioning textile mill, through a 'dark canyon' between the old buildings where no sun ever penetrates, past the shabby but busy little sandwich shop (all those workers have got to eat), past the scrapyard that seems to extend across both sides of the road and onto the pavements too (marvelling at the way they can pierce a car windscreen with the prongs of a forklift truck to lift them on to a pile - and how a broken car windscreen appears to be made up of thousands of little turquoise gems), past a couple of old and beleaguered terraced houses (fancy living in the middle of an industrial estate and next to a scrapyard?), along a snicket beside the railway and back down to work again, enjoying a brief but interesting vista across the whole city, which lies in a bowl below the surrounding hills.

Even on such an uninspired walk, I enjoyed the shadow pattern created by a few spindly little trees and some railings.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Playground fun

Playground fun...  something little girls and boys have been enjoying since time immemorial and my own two granddaughters are no exception. E loves the trampoline. She wanted me to jump too but I'm not sure my pelvic floor would stand it these days!! M meanwhile was happy on the swings and happy to give me a shy smile for the camera.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016


Bored and playing... with a nondescript image of the canal, some trees still with a few autumn leaves and a lot of leaf litter on the banks. It made quite a good, rich tapestry effect, I thought, with an air of mystery...

Or we can go all pale and interesting. Actually I think I like this one best.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Thackley and Esholt 9

Heading back to the start point now. A steep hill down and then up again takes in one of the highest points on the walk, with a view over towards Apperley Bridge and Leeds (though it was a very hazy view on this particular day). Somewhere around here, the railway line (Leeds to Shipley) disappears into the Thackley tunnel and there are huge circular air shafts rising out of the ground to ventilate the tunnel. (Must have been interesting when there were steam trains...)

Even though it is right on the edge of an urban area, there are a few small farms dotted around. There seemed to be a lot of horses grazing in the fields so there must be an equestrian centre nearby.

Maybe this is a farm cat. He looked as though he'd been in a few scraps.

I hope you enjoyed the walk.  I recommend a leisurely soak in a hot bath now - and a glass of something refreshing.

I've been following Facebook posts from people who have signed up to walk 1000 miles in a year (an initiative started by a magazine called 'Country Walking') and I am amused and intrigued by how many words we have for 'a walk': hike, amble, yomp, saunter, bimble, daunder....

Once started, it seems people can get quite addicted to building up mileage and I am not sure I'd want to do that. There is so much to enjoy on a walk as well as the actual walking, if you know what I mean. I do, however, think I might get a Fitbit when I retire, as it might motivate me to walk a bit more, when I no longer have the enforced commute.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Thackley and Esholt 8

Varied monochrome studies: a railway bridge over the canal, a spectacularly twisted tree and a huge electricity pylon (I wonder if it carries biogas electricity from the sewage works?).

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Thackley and Esholt 7

We're doubling back now to cross the River Aire again. Here it flows through a man-made cutting skirting the sewage works, with all the hallmarks of early 20th century municipal 'works', including a very elaborate metal footbridge that looks as though it has pretensions to being the drawbridge of a castle. Luckily I am quite slender but even so I had a struggle to squeeze past the metal post!

In contrast, the Leeds-Liverpool Canal on this stretch has a gentle, rural tranquillity.

Spring is on its way and the cheery yellow gorse is bursting into bloom.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Thackley and Esholt 6

Just outside Esholt village there is an attractive railway viaduct. It carries the train from Shipley to Ilkley; a pleasantly scenic route, although I can't remember being aware of the viaduct when you're actually on the train.

Esholt also has an educational farm park that schools and groups can visit to see the animals and learn about farms. Unless you've booked a group you can't just wander in, but there was a pony fast asleep in a field (so fast asleep I didn't like to wake him by clicking my camera!) and lots of hens and geese gaggling around.

Then a walk through the woods... It was quite hard to follow the track and I need to hone my map-reading skills.

Once out of the woods, so to speak, you enter the area of Esholt Sewerage Treatment Works. It's a huge enterprise, dealing with the waste from 750000 people in Bradford and North Leeds. The filter beds are spread over a large area that used to be the Esholt Hall estate.  When Bradford's population exploded during the late 19th century as a result of the Industrial Revolution, waste poured into the little stream called Bradford Beck and led to a stinking and disease-ridden city. An embryonic sewage system was begun in 1862 but the Esholt site wasn't conceived until the 1920s. It has had several modernisations since and now produces biogas which is converted into electricity to run the plant and power about 7000 homes. Even walking around the edges of the site, it is quite well-screened, so you don't really get any idea of its size and complexity.

Some of the old Esholt Hall estate buildings have been attractively converted into a business park and educational centre.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Thackley and Esholt 5

The village of Esholt is mostly famous these days as being the original film location for a popular and long-running TV soap called 'Emmerdale Farm'. Outside shots were filmed here for 20 years, from 1976 to 1996. The landlord of the village pub eventually changed its name from The Commercial Inn to The Woolpack, to save having to keep changing the name board! It remains The Woolpack to this day, although the village is no longer used for filming. Eventually, to spare the villagers the inconvenience of TV crews and tourists, they built a replica of Esholt on the Harewood Estate nearby, which continues to be used to make the TV programme. Many tourists, however, still end up in Esholt. Not surprising, as it is quite an attractive village with some very old buildings - and you can have still a pint in The Woolpack.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Thackley and Esholt 4

We arrive in the village of Esholt and make a little detour to see Esholt Old Hall and the church. The Old Hall (on the left) is a Grade II listed medieval manor house, dating back to the 16th century. Adjoining it is an old barn, now converted into an attractive home with its main entrance through the huge arched barn doors.

The little church of St Paul is tucked away at the bottom of the lane, overshadowed now by a huge old yew tree. We often find yew trees in church yards and some of them may be over 1000 years old. These long-lasting evergreens had pre-Christian spiritual significance, linked with life, death and protection of the soul on the journey to the next life and this then became linked with the Christian concept of resurrection.

The church was  built originally as a private chapel for the family who owned the Esholt estate. It is now a parish church. It is unadorned inside, apart from some simple, patterned stained glass.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Thackley and Esholt 3

Oh dear... I had forgotten that a walk along the riverbank might not be so pleasant at the moment. The trees and banks are still strewn with debris left by the Boxing Day floods and in parts the path itself is barely negotiable. There have been many volunteer 'clean-up' days but it doesn't look like they have got this far yet. Anyway, it would be pretty difficult and not very safe to collect up the plastic and waste that is lodged in the branches overhanging the still fast-flowing river.  Here is someone's mattress - perhaps out of a caravan or something.

A trailer from a farm or industrial unit is lodged against the bridge.

Further down there are tyres and a huge metal container, swept several miles downstream from the Baildon Bridge area. I also saw a large wooden pallet and a car hubcap way up high in a tree, and plastic plant pots everywhere, perhaps from my friend's allotments!

A little further on there is a long section of collapsed stone wall that will keep a dry-stone-waller busy all summer. And oh, the mud everywhere!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Thackley and Esholt 2

Suddenly the view opens out and we can gaze across the Aire Valley towards Baildon. In the foreground is the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and beyond that the River Aire is just visible. There is a new industrial park being built on the Otley Road. I'm not sure that the modern, grey metal buildings enhance the view! I prefer Sir Titus's vision of honeyed stone for his mills.

We cross the Canal over a little swing bridge.  Further on there's a long metal bridge over the river and it's flood plain. All those struts make attractive patterns in the sunshine.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Circular walk - Thackley and Esholt - map

I just had a brainwave! Since I was following a pre-planned walk, I can include the map. We're following the route anti-clockwise from the orange symbol. I'd printed it off to take with me (easier than a full size OS map) and it's a good job I carried it with me or I might have gone off beat a couple of times. As it was, I wandered around in the woods for rather longer than I wanted to! Woodland paths are always harder to follow unless they are particularly well-trodden. It's not that long a walk, only about 5 miles or so, though it felt longer and took longer than I might have expected. I suppose I stop to take photos so often, it all adds time.

Circular walk - Thackley and Esholt 1

We are having typically March weather - snow a week or so ago and warm Spring sunshine this last weekend. It was so beautiful on Sunday that I just had to go for a walk. I hope you'll enjoy coming with me...

We get off to a cheerful start with massed daffodils right beside where I parked the car in Thackley.

Thackley is now a suburb of Bradford but was once a village in its own right and there are some attractive old buildings amongst the more recent housing stock.

The old worn stones suggest this is a well-used and ancient footpath.