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Thursday, 30 November 2017

It's beginning to look a bit...festive

I'm trying to hang on the the mellow days of autumn a little longer, whilst others, it seems, cannot wait for Christmas. I spotted this festive wreath outside a house in Hirst Wood.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Autumn reflections

Though it's probably technically winter now, I'm loathe to let go of autumn, just as some of the trees seem loathe to let go of their leaves this year.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

End of season

The Ice-cream Boat is still moored in its usual berth on the canal beside Saltaire's church. Its season is surely over now - or maybe they are just continuing in business by serving hot drinks and bacon butties. It looked a bit sad, covered in autumn leaves.

Monday, 27 November 2017

The mill in autumn

That iconic view of Salts Mill again. The scene looks a bit messy at this time of year. The allotments in the foreground are well past their best and full of random bare twigs and piles of rotting leaves. But the silver birch tree seems to be hanging on to its golden sprays. I like the way the leaves tone with the honeyed stonework of the mill.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

River Wharfe at Addingham

Addingham walk
The stretch of the River Wharfe from Bolton Abbey to Ilkey is really pleasant so, once I accessed The Dalesway path, it was an easy stroll back to my car, parked in Addingham. The sun played peek-a-boo behind a bank of low cloud, which was a bit annoying. When it came out, the colours in the water and autumn trees were beautiful. There were a few birds about, although had I stopped and watched awhile I'm sure I might have seen more. I saw some grey wagtails bobbing on the rocks, a few mallards lazily cruising and a female goosander. She was busily diving for food; they stay underwater for ages and then pop up again, sometimes quite a way from where they disappeared.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Farfield Friends' Meeting House

Addingham walk
Once out of Lob Wood, my walking route joined The Dalesway long-distance path, following the River Wharfe as it meanders into Addingham.

Beside the road at Farfield, I came across this lovely little Quaker Meeting House and burial ground. It was built in 1689, the year that the Act of Toleration first allowed freedom of worship to nonconformists in England. (Prior to that, dissenters had to meet in secret and were persecuted.) The land was given to the Quakers (Society of Friends) by the Myers family of Farfield Hall, yeoman farmers, who were members of the Society. It is relatively unchanged and, although not considered to be a sacred place (Quakers consider everywhere to be sacred), it has a simplicity and charm that give it an undoubtedly peaceful atmosphere. It was a delight to spend a few minutes in silence here, enjoying the peace and sunshine.

Inside, there are simple wooden benches, where Friends gathered every week for their meetings, seeking together to come close to the spirit of God. They have neither clergy, liturgy or music and simply wait in expectant silence until anyone present might feel moved to offer witness or prayer.

The burial ground is unusual as it has a few engraved stones and some elaborate box tombs (see top photo), the graves of the Myers family, who gave the land and may have helped with the actual building of the meeting house. Originally Friends were discouraged from having gravestones, though now plain stones of uniform size and simple wording are accepted. There are a few of those too, Victorian and marked with the surname Lister. (Maybe they are connected to the Samuel Cunliffe Lister who owned mills in Addingham? See last Sunday's post.)  

I was unable to decipher the swirly writing on the stone shown below... Here lies (?) interred the body of..? wife of .?

The Meeting House is no longer used, though Quakers still meet in nearby Ilkley and Skipton. The building and burial ground are now in the care of the Historic Chapels Trust.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Lob Ghyll Viaduct

Addingham walk
My walking route descended the valley side, through fields of grazing sheep, who were not much interested in me. I then entered Lob Wood, where you unexpectedly come across this impressive viaduct. Built in 1888, it is now disused and getting overgrown but at one time it carried the Midland Railway from Ilkley to Skipton. The line closed as a result of the infamous Beeching cuts in 1965, though four miles of the line from Embsay to Bolton Abbey station were later reopened and now run as a volunteer-led heritage steam railway.

It was a bit hairy trying to negotiate the path underneath the viaduct. The banking seems gradually to be getting eroded and the drop is very steep. It was muddy and slippery and I started to wonder how long it would take for someone to find me if I fell!! Luckily, I safely gained a wider and flatter path on the other side. Phew. The perils of walking alone...

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Bolton Abbey

Addingham Walk
Climbing over a steep stile in a stone wall, at the highest point of my walk, I was quite suddenly treated to this stunning panorama of the Wharfe valley, with the ancient half-ruin of Bolton Abbey (see HERE) at its heart. 

This is where my long lens comes in useful, picking out some of the detail of the scene: 

Bolton Bridge, both the old and new crossings, looks pretty from this vantage point.

You can pick out Bolton Abbey itself, which has one end in ruins since the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. The other end of the nave was spared and allowed to continue as a church because it was used for worship by local people as well as the monks. It is still used to this day (see HERE).

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Golf, anyone?

Addingham walk
Bracken Ghyll Golf Club may enjoy some of the best views in England! I'm not sure what green I was standing beside but the view over to Beamsley Beacon is stunning.

A little further on I passed a beautiful old house called Highfield House, which dates from about 1780 and has unusually large windows for its period. Sadly the surrounding hedges were too high for a decent photo. A little further on though, I came to Highfield Farm, a laithe-house, where the farmhouse and barn are connected in one long-house. It dates back to about 1800, and to be honest it looked like it could use a bit of TLC. An ancient house like this, in such an exposed spot, must take a lot of looking after. A gaggle of geese and some hens in the yard didn't take any notice of me, thankfully.

Crossing the fields beyond the farm, the views are extraordinary. A stile crosses the ancient medieval boundary of Addingham Parish, which was marked by a serpentine wall and ditch. The path then follows a farm track, and the area is dotted with crumbling old barns and drystone walls. 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

On the way to Highfield

Addingham Walk
I was quite soon walking in open countryside, up a gentle incline with lovely views back down to Addingham and Rombalds Moor in the distance. The autumn colour has not been particularly outstanding this year round here but it's nonetheless pleasing to see the warm bronze tones, especially when the sun lights up the last remaining leaves. 

I was glad that the path was very clear and I just had to head for the next stile in the walls separating the fields. When I reached the stile in the photo below, which had stone steps and a little gate, I had to duck down under the low-hanging tree branch just at the other side. It made me wonder which came first, the stile or the tree...

This ruined 18th century building is called High Laithe. Laithe means 'barn' or 'granary' and this barn seems to have been for hay storage and winter shelter for cattle. It has some interesting old gateposts, with huge holes that once would have held timber 'crooks' as gate hinges, when iron was in short supply.

Monday, 20 November 2017

A walk from Addingham

I took advantage of a crisp, though bitterly cold, day to explore the area around Addingham. My walk took me out of the village up to Highfield, down to Lob Wood and back along the River Wharfe.

I started in the village centre, in the communal park called Hen Pen Garden. Perhaps there was a hen pen here once... but now it is one of several attractive little areas of colour and greenery in the village, cared for by volunteers (Addingham Garden Friends).

The walk took me up the interestingly named Sugar Hill. As far as I can discover, the building on the right (above) was once a bakehouse, which perhaps led to the name.

Further out, one of the last village houses I passed was obviously once inhabited by textile weavers. It has a bricked up 'taking-in door', where yarn and cloth could be winched in and out of the loomshop, above the living accommodation.

I love noticing these small details of history when I'm out walking, though sometimes (even with our wonderful and magic 'Google') it can be hard to piece together the information.

Sunday, 19 November 2017


Addingham is a sizeable village near Ilkley, on the banks of the River Wharfe, not far from the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  There have been settlements in the area since the Bronze Age but the oldest part of the existing village dates back to a farming settlement of the 17th century. The village really grew in the late 18th and early 19th century, as the textile industry developed, at first with small loomshops and later with mills. Samuel Cunliffe Lister (of Lister's Mill in Bradford) owned several mills in Addingham. Nowadays the village has swelled with modern housing and is a popular location for commuters and retired people to settle.

A walk round the village's network of streets reveals many ancient buildings and other things of interest... though the only ducks I saw were those painted on the road to celebrate the Tour De France cycle race when it was routed through Addingham.  The right hand side of the lovely old building above is, I believe, Lister's Barn. It was at one time a milking parlour and is now a residence. 

There are lots of little alleyways and steps connecting the principal streets. Along the Main Street itself, the imposing classical style building (above right) is, I believe, known as the Piece Hall. Thought to have originally been where pieces of woven cloth were traded, it later became retail premises (at one time a butcher's shop) and is now a residence.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Lost in translation

It took me ages to work out the name of this boat, moored up by the Hirst Wood Locks. 'Nofe Ixta Boad'. At first I thought it was a foreign language! But no...  obviously someone enjoying their peripatetic lifestyle on board.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Glory in the woods

Way back in September, it seemed autumn was going to come early this year, as the leaves started to look a bit brown. Somehow though, the season has ended up dragging itself out so that it is only now, mid-November, that the richest colours are showing through. The best of the gold is confined largely to beeches and birches. Walking in Trench Woods was delightful, with sprays of tiny gold leaves clinging on under the empty canopy of the larger trees.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Oh, frabjous day!

I met up with a friend and we decided to go for a local walk, even though it was very dull and threatening rain. We headed out along the canal towpath, up the carriage drive towards Milner Field and back through Trench Woods and Roberts Park. Our route took us past the old mill dam, built in 1911 to supply water to the Salts Mill dye works. It's a bit dark and gloomy there at the best of times. The surrounding trees take a lot of the light so it's not the most photogenic location. 

Suddenly, my friend (who has some new glasses) spotted a kingfisher! I could barely see it. (I think I need some new glasses!) It was right on the other side of the mill pond, tucked on a branch under some bushes. It sat long enough for me to attempt a photo. With my lens on its longest telephoto and a very high ISO, and even so with a quite slow shutter speed, the photos below (cropped) are the best I could manage in the short time before it flew off. We waited quietly for ages but it didn't come back. However, we were overjoyed to see it. They are not uncommon if you know where to go, but they are small and so quick, you rarely see more than a flash of blue. I've never managed a photo before. 


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The old and the new

Liverpool trip 
A final selection of photos of Liverpool, showing the way history has been preserved, particularly around the docks, by a visionary usage of the older buildings alongside eye-catching new developments. It really is an exciting and vibrant city.

This is the Albert Dock, opened in 1846. At that time it was a revolutionary development, where ships were unloaded directly into secure warehouses built of brick, stone and cast iron with no combustible wood. Now it's a major tourist draw and the largest collection of Grade I listed buildings in the UK.  It has been transformed into offices, shops, galleries (including the Liverpool branch  of The Tate), two hotels and many bars, cafés and restaurants.

There are a couple of 'tall ships' permanently displayed in Canning Dock. One, Kathleen and May is the only remaining three masted topsail schooner of her type in the world. I'm not sure of the name of the one in my photo but it's a beautiful ship.

The Port of Liverpool building's domes contrast sharply with one of the newest additions to the Liverpool waterfront, the Mann Island buildings. Opinion is wildly divided as to whether these statement glass edifices add to or detract from the area. Me... I liked the reflections in them!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017


Liverpool trip 
Liverpool's waterfront holds some splendid statues. I particularly liked the horse, a work by Judy Boyt, unveiled in 2010.  Entitled 'Waiting', it honours the 250 years of working horses in Liverpool. In the heyday of the docks there were many thousands of horses and their carters, hauling goods from dockside to warehouse, warehouse to railway or canal barge and often then on to wherever those goods were destined. During WWII, they ensured the flow of food and fuel through the port. Immensely strong but easy to handle, Liverpool cart horses were considered the best in the land. Of course, motorisation and then containerisation spelled the end for the traditional docks and their workers and horses. Nowadays, ships are loaded and unloaded by cranes in hours, rather than days.

I have a soft spot for working horses. One of my great grandfathers was a blacksmith and supplier of hay and straw for working horses in Sheffield.

The other statue I particularly like in Liverpool is 'Legacy' (2001) by Mark de Graffenreid. It shows a young family migrating from Liverpool to 'the new world', America.  Something like nine million people, from all over Europe, are thought to have emigrated through Liverpool, undertaking a brave and pioneering voyage to start a new life. The sculpture was given to the people of Liverpool by the Mormon church.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Museum of Liverpool

Liverpool trip 
The new award-winning Museum of Liverpool sits right beside where the Leeds- Liverpool canal terminates, in Liverpool's Pier Head. Opened in 2011, it explores Liverpool through its geography, history and culture - the port, the people and their economic, creative and sporting legacies. I only had time for a quick visit but I was fascinated to read about the docks and their development, and to see old photos and newsreel footage. The history is both good and bad; the docks were a cornerstone of the 'slave triangle', taking goods such as guns and liquor to Africa to trade for slaves, who were then shipped across the Atlantic to the West Indies and North America, the ships then returning with sugar and rum to sell in England. So much to learn about. I must go back!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The Fab Four

Liverpool trip 
This statue, unveiled in December 2015 on Liverpool's waterfront, really needs no explanation. It is The Beatles, Liverpool's most famous export. Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon were all Liverpool born and bred and started their playing career as a band in Liverpool's Cavern Club. The statue commemorates their last public appearance in their own city on 5 December 1965 - over fifty years ago now. I must admit to being a bit horrified when I read that! I was brought up on them, the first pop group I really fixated on. Paul McCartney was my idol as a young teenager but I have come to appreciate just how talented and unique they all were. Their music lives on too. There was no shortage of tourists wanting a 'selfie' in front of the group.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

The end of it all

This photo shows the end of it all... that is, the end of what I think of as 'my' canal, the Leeds-Liverpool, which runs from Leeds through Saltaire's World Heritage Site and then across the Pennines to Liverpool. Until recently, the navigable canal ended at Stanley Dock in Liverpool. It has recently been extended by 1.4 miles so that boats can go right into the heart of the old docks, now a thriving tourist area that is part of the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The canal terminates in front of the buildings known as The Three Graces - that is, the Royal Liver Building (Liver birds atop its domes), the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building (not shown in my photo) and passes the Mersey Ferry terminal (the modern building to the left) and the new Museum of Liverpool.

It was nice to say hello to 'my canal' at the other end of its journey.

For the next few days, I'm posting some photos I took in Liverpool earlier in the year. I've hit one of those patches where I've run out of interesting current photos so I'm going to have to trawl the archives...