Mist on the moor

NEARLY THERE: The village of Ilkley is in sight, from the top of Ilkley Moor. All pictures by Mary-Jane Richmond
BOOKS AND MORE BOOKS: Salts Mill, now an art gallery, bookshop and business space. The jars of Christmas lilies are a fixture and their fragrance fills the space. The red sculpture to the left is David Hockney’s Post Box.
CITY WALLS: Ancient stone walls surround old York.
YORK MINSTER: The cathedral of York city is known as the minster, a title attributed to churches established in the Anglo-Saxon period as missionary teaching churches. It is the second largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe.
DOWN TO EARTH: A chilli plant with a plentiful supply, and red onions hung up to dry, products of Chris’s abundant allotment.
BONUS: Cousin Joan and husband Chris during intermission at the Bradford Festival Choral Society concert in 'Hogwarts'.

Five days in West Yorkshire with family took Mary-Jane Richmond to the moors and the minster, an old woollen mill converted into an art gallery and offices, and allotments . . .

The day after I arrived in West Yorkshire I was out on Baildon Moor, on a 13km hike to Ilkley with my cousins Susan and Joan and Joan’s husband Chris.

It was the first week of November and the sky was grey and full of cloud. Baildon Moor, and its neighbours Ilkley Moor and Burley Moor, are criss-crossed with paths known well to my three walking companions. They are out most days, in most weathers, walking the moor trails.

They are Yorkshire folk through and through with a deep knowledge and love of the place where they were born. They are perfect guides for my week.

They are also well-equipped with good strong walking boots. All I have are trainers but they will have to do, with two pairs of socks.

So on that Tuesday, we walked out of their front gate in the village of Baildon and a couple of right turns later through narrow lanes, we are in the countryside and heading for the moors. The well-trodden tracks take us through farmland, with the occasional signpost for walkers unfamiliar with the different routes. The path climbs gradually up to the moorland and over the next few hours we make our way, sometimes on paths centuries old, others on newer trails formed as part of the Millenium Way, towards Ilkley in the Wharfedale valley.

By the time we sight this village — the trendiest, and wealthiest, of the settlements dotted around valleys I’m told — my feet are soaking wet and I’m wishing I’d thought to pack the walking pole a friend gave me the previous Christmas. It would have folded up and fitted into my suitcase easily.

Never mind, I managed not to fall over and my level of fitness was thankfully only a little less than that of my cousins’.
We walk down into Ilkley where we enjoy lunch at Betty’s Cafe, an elegant tea rooms serving traditional English afternoon teas as well as more hearty fare. We order a selection of sandwiches which are served, elegantly, on a tiered cake rack.

On our way out we buy three Fat Rascals to enjoy later in the day. These are a specialty of the house, a plump fruity Yorkshire scone decorated with a glace cherry and almond face.

The next day we head for the village of Saltaire, which I have been to before but it is always worth a visit.

Saltaire was built in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the Yorkshire woollen industry. The name of the village is a combination of the founder’s surname and the name of the River Aire. Salt moved his business from Bradford to this site near Shipley to site his large textile mill by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the railway.

Sir Titus built neat stone houses for his workers (much better than the slums of Bradford), wash-houses with tap water, bath-houses, a hospital and an institute for recreation and education, with a library, a reading room, a concert hall, billiard room, science laboratory and a gymnasium. The village had a school for the children of the workers, almshouses, allotments, a park and a boathouse. Recreational initiatives were also encouraged such as the establishment of a drum and fife band for school age boys and a brass band, precursor of today’s Hammonds Saltaire Band, for men of the village.

The village was designated a World Heritage site by Unesco in 2001.

Salts Mill closed as a textile mill in February 1986, and Jonathan Silver bought it the following year and began renovating it.

Today the magnificent, massive, honey-coloured brick building houses a mixture of business, commerce, leisure and residential use.

In the main mill building is my favourite place here, the 1853 art gallery, where several large rooms are given over to the works of the Bradford-born artist David Hockney. There is also a wonderful bookshop. A new Hockney exhibition when we visited featured the artist’s daily creations on an iPad, documenting the seasonal changes on the same stretch of road.

Another space worth visiting is devoted to the area’s great woollen mill history, complete with looms and display cases of the accoutrements of the industry, including dressmaking patterns and samples of the beautiful woollen fabrics that came out of these towns.

And when you need a break from looking at all that art and history, there are three eating places to choose from.
We drove into Bradford the next day to see if we could find the house where my mother was born.

On the way we called in to see Chris and Joan’s allotments, those plots of land unique to the UK and protected by statute.

A day in York

They have a decent-sized garden at their house, but the allotment is a quite different beast. Here Chris produces enough vegetables and fruit to supply a small army, and a tunnel house allows him to grow such delights as apricots, grapes and nectarines. There’s garlic and potatoes, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, lettuces ... the list is endless.

Every night at the dinner table we ate the results of his labours in the allotment, and at lunch and breakfast there were pickles and chutneys and jam made from strawberries, blueberries, peaches and apples.

On the Friday, I gave my hosts a break and took a train into York. I made straight for York Minster, the huge 13th century Gothic cathedral, only to find it closed for a short time to accommodate a service for the Mothers Union. So I tackled the ancient city walls, which surround the old city. Stone steps worn by centuries of use take you up to the path on the walls, from where views of the city, both old and new, can be enjoyed. I came down close to Clifford’s Tower, the old keep originally part of York Castle. More climbing, more ancient stone steps up a narrow circular passageway and you’re at the top. The keep is in a premium spot for spying enemy advances, with 360 degree views of the surrounding town and countryside for miles.

By now it was lunchtime and I found the perfect cafe just off The Shambles, a popular tourist destination with its timber-framed overhanging buildings, some dating back to the 14th century. This was The Little Shambles Tearoom, and I sat upstairs and looked out on a market place while I waited for my meal.

Back at the now open Minster, I meandered around this massive building, wide-eyed at its many marvels. The cathedral took 250 years to build, and contains the finest and rarest collection of medieval stained glass windows in the world. Most of the important windows, including the Great East Window and the Five Sisters, still have their original, medieval stained glass. Some of it dates from as early as 1270. More than half of all the stained glass in England is in York Minster.

Joan and Chris sing in the Bradford Festival Choral Society and although I had originally planned to head for London on the Saturday, I changed my plans when I heard they would be performing in a concert that night. On the programme was Faure’s Requiem, a favourite of mine. We share a love of choral music — I have sung in the Gisborne Choral Society for over 30 years — and I was looking forward to seeing their choir in action. Earlier in the week I had gone to a rehearsal with them so I had an idea of what I would be in for.

The concert was in the hall of Bradford Grammar School, an institution with a history dating back to the 16th century. The Price Hall can seat 1000, and Harry Potter would feel right at home here. Indeed the school’s website says the hall is affectionately known as Hogwarts.

The choir was accompanied by the Skipton Camerata, a professional chamber orchestra.
A lovely evening of beautiful music, beautifully sung, ensued. A glass of wine at interval was an added bonus.

My last day in West Yorkshire began with a Remembrance Day service at the local Anglican Church, of which Joan and Chris are active members. In the UK, Remembrance Day is their equivalent of our Anzac Day. Poppies are everywhere as the country remembers the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1945, and the end of World war 2.

We walked home through the village after the service, and after lunch it was time to say goodbye to my cousin and her husband, until next time. They delivered me to the local railway station, where I boarded a train bound for London.

Five days in West Yorkshire with family took Mary-Jane Richmond to the moors and the minster, an old woollen mill converted into an art gallery and offices, and allotments . . .

The day after I arrived in West Yorkshire I was out on Baildon Moor, on a 13km hike to Ilkley with my cousins Susan and Joan and Joan’s husband Chris.

It was the first week of November and the sky was grey and full of cloud. Baildon Moor, and its neighbours Ilkley Moor and Burley Moor, are criss-crossed with paths known well to my three walking companions. They are out most days, in most weathers, walking the moor trails.

They are Yorkshire folk through and through with a deep knowledge and love of the place where they were born. They are perfect guides for my week.

They are also well-equipped with good strong walking boots. All I have are trainers but they will have to do, with two pairs of socks.

So on that Tuesday, we walked out of their front gate in the village of Baildon and a couple of right turns later through narrow lanes, we are in the countryside and heading for the moors. The well-trodden tracks take us through farmland, with the occasional signpost for walkers unfamiliar with the different routes. The path climbs gradually up to the moorland and over the next few hours we make our way, sometimes on paths centuries old, others on newer trails formed as part of the Millenium Way, towards Ilkley in the Wharfedale valley.

By the time we sight this village — the trendiest, and wealthiest, of the settlements dotted around valleys I’m told — my feet are soaking wet and I’m wishing I’d thought to pack the walking pole a friend gave me the previous Christmas. It would have folded up and fitted into my suitcase easily.

Never mind, I managed not to fall over and my level of fitness was thankfully only a little less than that of my cousins’.
We walk down into Ilkley where we enjoy lunch at Betty’s Cafe, an elegant tea rooms serving traditional English afternoon teas as well as more hearty fare. We order a selection of sandwiches which are served, elegantly, on a tiered cake rack.

On our way out we buy three Fat Rascals to enjoy later in the day. These are a specialty of the house, a plump fruity Yorkshire scone decorated with a glace cherry and almond face.

The next day we head for the village of Saltaire, which I have been to before but it is always worth a visit.

Saltaire was built in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the Yorkshire woollen industry. The name of the village is a combination of the founder’s surname and the name of the River Aire. Salt moved his business from Bradford to this site near Shipley to site his large textile mill by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the railway.

Sir Titus built neat stone houses for his workers (much better than the slums of Bradford), wash-houses with tap water, bath-houses, a hospital and an institute for recreation and education, with a library, a reading room, a concert hall, billiard room, science laboratory and a gymnasium. The village had a school for the children of the workers, almshouses, allotments, a park and a boathouse. Recreational initiatives were also encouraged such as the establishment of a drum and fife band for school age boys and a brass band, precursor of today’s Hammonds Saltaire Band, for men of the village.

The village was designated a World Heritage site by Unesco in 2001.

Salts Mill closed as a textile mill in February 1986, and Jonathan Silver bought it the following year and began renovating it.

Today the magnificent, massive, honey-coloured brick building houses a mixture of business, commerce, leisure and residential use.

In the main mill building is my favourite place here, the 1853 art gallery, where several large rooms are given over to the works of the Bradford-born artist David Hockney. There is also a wonderful bookshop. A new Hockney exhibition when we visited featured the artist’s daily creations on an iPad, documenting the seasonal changes on the same stretch of road.

Another space worth visiting is devoted to the area’s great woollen mill history, complete with looms and display cases of the accoutrements of the industry, including dressmaking patterns and samples of the beautiful woollen fabrics that came out of these towns.

And when you need a break from looking at all that art and history, there are three eating places to choose from.
We drove into Bradford the next day to see if we could find the house where my mother was born.

On the way we called in to see Chris and Joan’s allotments, those plots of land unique to the UK and protected by statute.

A day in York

They have a decent-sized garden at their house, but the allotment is a quite different beast. Here Chris produces enough vegetables and fruit to supply a small army, and a tunnel house allows him to grow such delights as apricots, grapes and nectarines. There’s garlic and potatoes, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, lettuces ... the list is endless.

Every night at the dinner table we ate the results of his labours in the allotment, and at lunch and breakfast there were pickles and chutneys and jam made from strawberries, blueberries, peaches and apples.

On the Friday, I gave my hosts a break and took a train into York. I made straight for York Minster, the huge 13th century Gothic cathedral, only to find it closed for a short time to accommodate a service for the Mothers Union. So I tackled the ancient city walls, which surround the old city. Stone steps worn by centuries of use take you up to the path on the walls, from where views of the city, both old and new, can be enjoyed. I came down close to Clifford’s Tower, the old keep originally part of York Castle. More climbing, more ancient stone steps up a narrow circular passageway and you’re at the top. The keep is in a premium spot for spying enemy advances, with 360 degree views of the surrounding town and countryside for miles.

By now it was lunchtime and I found the perfect cafe just off The Shambles, a popular tourist destination with its timber-framed overhanging buildings, some dating back to the 14th century. This was The Little Shambles Tearoom, and I sat upstairs and looked out on a market place while I waited for my meal.

Back at the now open Minster, I meandered around this massive building, wide-eyed at its many marvels. The cathedral took 250 years to build, and contains the finest and rarest collection of medieval stained glass windows in the world. Most of the important windows, including the Great East Window and the Five Sisters, still have their original, medieval stained glass. Some of it dates from as early as 1270. More than half of all the stained glass in England is in York Minster.

Joan and Chris sing in the Bradford Festival Choral Society and although I had originally planned to head for London on the Saturday, I changed my plans when I heard they would be performing in a concert that night. On the programme was Faure’s Requiem, a favourite of mine. We share a love of choral music — I have sung in the Gisborne Choral Society for over 30 years — and I was looking forward to seeing their choir in action. Earlier in the week I had gone to a rehearsal with them so I had an idea of what I would be in for.

The concert was in the hall of Bradford Grammar School, an institution with a history dating back to the 16th century. The Price Hall can seat 1000, and Harry Potter would feel right at home here. Indeed the school’s website says the hall is affectionately known as Hogwarts.

The choir was accompanied by the Skipton Camerata, a professional chamber orchestra.
A lovely evening of beautiful music, beautifully sung, ensued. A glass of wine at interval was an added bonus.

My last day in West Yorkshire began with a Remembrance Day service at the local Anglican Church, of which Joan and Chris are active members. In the UK, Remembrance Day is their equivalent of our Anzac Day. Poppies are everywhere as the country remembers the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1945, and the end of World war 2.

We walked home through the village after the service, and after lunch it was time to say goodbye to my cousin and her husband, until next time. They delivered me to the local railway station, where I boarded a train bound for London.

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