August 1 – A Yorkshire Day Celebration on Ilkley Moor at the Cow and Calf Rocks

A Visit to Salt's Mill, Saltaire, Thompson Lane and Shipley Glen

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Today is Yorkshire Day and we all met at the “Cow and Calf” on Ilkley Moor at 10 am, signed in and received our wooden coin. There is very little car parking so there were cars parked all up against the sides of the road. We managed to sneak in behind someone else and we both backed up so that we were not blocking the entrance to a track. Just across the road from where we had parked, there was a traditional cache marked by the fact that geocachers kept stopping beside the rock.

The date, 1st August, alludes to the Battle of Minden, and also the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, for which a Yorkshire MP, William Wilberforce, had campaigned. The day was already celebrated by the Light Infantry, successors to the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, as Minden Day. Together with five other infantry regiments of the British Army, a rose is permitted to be worn in the headdress. In the case of the Light Infantry, the rose is white.

Ilkley Moor is the site of the famous “Cow and Calf”, a large rock formation consisting of an outcrop and boulder, also known as Hangingstone Rocks. The rocks are made of millstone grit, a variety of sandstone, and are so named because one is large, with the smaller one sitting close to it, like a cow and calf. Legend has it that there was once also a “bull”, but that was quarried for stone during the spa town boom that Ilkley was part of in the 19th century. However, none of the local historians has provided any evidence of the Bull’s existence.

According to legend, the Calf was split from the Cow when the giant Rombald was fleeing an enemy and stamped on the rock as he leapt across the valley. The enemy, it is said, was his angry wife…… She dropped the stones held in her skirt to form the local rock formation – The Skirtful of Stones.

Near the cafe was a group of four musicians playing brass instruments. We listened to them while collecting numbers for the multi from the sign. Just as well there were others there all clamouring for the same information as I initially went to the wrong sign.

Later while we were up on the hill near the top we hear the band strike up the folk song, often described as the unofficial anthem of Yorkshire, “On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at“. The song’s words are written in Yorkshire dialect, its title translates as “On Ilkley Moor without a hat.” We stood and sang along as they played as did many of the geocachers who knew the song. It was quite a moving moment.

Next on the agenda was a series of earthcaches and we did not do them all but we did do ten which gives us the numbers for a challenge where we have to do ten earthcaches in one day. At the Mega in Wales, we only did nine. The earthcaches were not difficult but were quite straightforward. Most of the subjects we have covered at least once before but it still takes hours to write up, googling information, logging and later adding photographs to complete the requirements.

The Flagstone cache was similar to one we did in Greenwich recently about why the stones have ripples in them from when they were formed. The Cow and Calf Fossil were interesting as there was a symmetrical long hole in a rock which must have been formed by a tree being caught and later decomposing leaving a perfectly shaped hole. The Cow and Calf itself is a massive chunk of rock with a smaller but still huge piece of rock about 30 metres down the hill. It is quite obvious that it broke away from the rock above as there were matching geology on both rocks but at some time in the past broke off and rolled away. It was lucky that it was so huge so it did not roll all the way down the hill. Another earthcache was called depositation and was about the striations caused by the tectonic stresses. Particulate was about erosion by wind and there was another about stream erosion. Biological staining was another subject and another was Glaciation which coming from New Zealand we have come across many times before. Rombald’s Thumb was the most difficult earthcache of the day and required a bit of clambering down hillsides to find a slickenside which we had never heard of before. A slickenside is a smoothly polished surface caused by frictional movement between rocks along the two sides of a fault. This surface is normally striated in the direction of movement.

As well as this there were four traditional caches including one where Mike had to slither into a cave though I think he got a young geocacher to retrieve the cache for him since he and his mother were at the cache when Mike arrived. There were several AR (Augmented Reality) caches on the Moor which are new and similar to Wherigos. Someone gave us the coordinates for this one and Mike went down the hillside to retrieve the cache. It was another hot day and we made sure we had our hats on to shade us but we are building up quite a tan by being out in the sun daily. I had bought a string to sew onto my hat but had not got around to it so I just tied it around the whole hat. It was very comfortable and worked very well but does look a bit dorky in the photographs. We stopped and had our picnic lunch with several other geocachers who enjoyed hearing about the Medieval Mosaic and our adventures over the last two years.

About 1.30 we decided to head off and drove across the moor in the direction that the car was pointing. I had no idea where we would end up but it had to be somewhere. Then we started seeing street signs for Baildon pointing straight ahead so we kept going. Eventually, we saw a sight which we both recognised and realised that we were at Saltaire. Michael lived in one of the houses in Albert Terrace as a baby and young child as did his older sister Angeline while their parents and grandparents all worked at the Saltaire Mill. It is possible that the families relationship with Sir Titus Salt’s empire went back many more generations but we are still looking into that. Michael’s father worked as a weaver, and his Mum was a mender and burler from the age of 14.

Sir Titus Salt, 1st Baronet (20 September 1803 – 29 December 1876), was a manufacturer, politician, and philanthropist. He is best known for having built Salt’s Mill, a large textile mill, together with the attached village of Saltaire. This mill brought together all the processes of the woollen industry from scouring and carding through to the finished product. He opened Saltaire Mills (now known as Salt’s Mill) with a grand banquet on his 50th birthday, 20 September 1853, and set about building houses, bathhouses, an institute, hospital, almshouses and churches, that make up the model village of Saltaire.

People have been telling us all about the mill being turned into a gallery where David Hockney shows his paintings and today we were able to go to see this. Mike had never been into the mill before but remembers standing on the railway bridge watching all the workers leaving the mill at the end of each shift. The mill is massive! The front part is three stories high and hugely long and this is where the galleries, some boutique shops and two cafes are housed in the renovated part of the factory. However, behind the main building are even more buildings and it seems to be nearly as wide as it is long. The weaving sheds are back here but all the machinery is gone. These buildings are part of an ongoing renovation programme. There was a very interesting film about the mill, past, present and future and we watched the entire film wondering if any of the family might be in the footage.

After that, we walked down Albert Terrace and onto the Saltaire railway platform. Mike was disappointed that the two overhead walkways that he and his cousin used to run along to watch the steam trains before returning home black with the soot. We also visited the Saltaire United Reformed Church which is a lovely church. We just checked against Mike’s parent’s wedding photographs and they were married in this church in March 1951. During the film heard that in 1953 the staff at the Salt’s Mill went on a train trip to Blackpool to commemorate 100 years of the Mill. We wondered whether Mike’s parents went on the trip and if so what month it was. Tonight I googled the trip and found a wonderful piece of Yorkshire film archive footage. It is nearly 20 mins long and showed shots of everyone on the train and at Blackpool. What surprised me was that it was an adult only trip, no children. Anyway, ten minutes into the film was a very clear shot for several seconds of Mike’s parents. It was very moving.

Later we went to visit the house where he lived as a child until about 8 years of age at 51 Thompson Lane in Baildon and walked over to the Shipley Glen Railway, one of his childhood memories. The tramway only runs at the weekend now so we could not go up the Glen on it. It used to be a penny up and a halfpenny down in 1960 – 62. Even the fish and chip shop is still there in the same place just around the corner from the house.

After a wonderful day full of memories and discoveries we returned to Ripon to do some laundry and we had lovely fish and chips for tea then we called at the Newby Hall campsite to log in to the Country and Western Evening. Already people are arriving in their country and western clothing but I am afraid we did not stay too long after such a big day we were exhausted and there is another busy day tomorrow.