Gawthorpe Hall and the Shuttleworth Textile collection

Whilst we were travelling through the abandoned industrial heritage of the Lancashire mills, we came across a National Trust Property within walking distance of the canal. Gawthorpe Hall at Hapton.

Gawthorpe Hall
Gawthorpe Hall

Never one to miss an opportunity I set off to indulge in a bit of house fantasy. The Hall’s origins were in the 14th century when the pele tower was build to fend off the marauding Scots. As with most old buildings like this, it’s been added to to and renovated many times over as fortunes waxed and wained.  What we see now is basically a 16th century Elizabethan country house that’s had a Victorian makeover. The guides were keen to point out that a lot of the internal structure was designed by Pugin, who had a hand in the Houses of Parliament. It was intended to be, and is, all very grand and ornate. My house fantasy prefers something with a few less nooks and crannies that need dusting.

What an Artex ceiling could look like

I was however bowled over by the Rachel Shuttleworth textile collection. Rachel was the last of the “family” to live in the hall, she was a great needlewoman, educator and philanthropist. In fact my Aunty spent a lot of time studying lace making in the hall. It was all very inspirational.

Now that’s my idea of an office

The other artifact inside the Hall that caught my eye was the Davy Automatic Fire escape.

The Davy Automatic Safety Fire Escape

It’s gears and braking system ensure a controlled descent. And it reassuringly says “do not hesitate, it is perfectly safe” and that these mechanisms are still for sale today.

Safer than jumping from the top floor

I always like to look out of the window and the Gawthorpe Hall garden is bordered by the Lancashire River Calder. The course of this river has been altered several times to enhance to view and to allow opencast coal mining in the fields behind the tree line. There are several Calder Rivers in the UK. The word Calder derives from celtic origins, meaning hard rapid water.

Looking out towards the River Calder and the now landscaped opencast coal field

On the other side of the hall, in a drought year, you can look down onto a ghost garden. As the outlines of the old Elizabethan garden emerge through the grass. I’m not sure whether to say luckily or unluckily I didn’t get to see this phenomenon, suffice to say that the Leeds and Liverpool canal has not suffered from water shortages this summer.

The ghost garden ( photo from google)

We didn’t linger long, as we’d got a break in the weather and set off cruising south towards Blackburn with the Forest of Bowland to our north west.

Looking back over Blackburn

Moored by the Moor Baht’at

The mooring at the top of Bingley five rise is tricky.  It’s either too shallow or there is a concrete shelf running just under the waterline. It’s frustrating because you don’t know you can’t get in until you try and fail, but this time it worked in our favour because we were forced to cruise on another 10 minutes to Micklethwaite. Close enough to walk back into Bingley and with a number of good country walks.

Micklethwaite mooring

My trusty OS map showed me that we were right on the edge of Ilkey Moor, so off we went, humming that famous Yorkshire anthem to ourselves

Running up that hill

The heather was stunning, and we could see for miles. That’s Keighley (pronounced keithly) on the hill on the far right. The canal meanders along the valley contours below Keighley towards Skipton.

Looking towards Keighley

And when we got to the top we realised just how vast and bleak the moor was. Can you imagine what it would be like in winter. Or how easy it would be to get lost. It was less than 4 miles to Ilkey but we decided we weren’t dressed for a proper hike.

On Ilkla moor

It was blowing a gale up here, so yes even if we’d brought our hats we wouldn’t still be wearing them.


It was a bracing and invigorating walk. And as we descended back to the canal we found a nice pub for Sunday Lunch . And enjoyed looking back up the hill, which was a lot higher than the photo suggests.

Looking up towards Ilkey Moor

The next day Eric needed to catch up on a few things so I took myself off to visit Riddlesden Hall, a NT property on outskirts of Keighley

Riddlesden Hall

A small but interesting manorial farm house, one of its outstanding features is the 400 year old Great Barn.

The Great barn at Riddlesden
The Great Barn at Riddlesden hall

It’s collosal and virtually unchanged since it was built. It was used as a threshing barn and also house 42 animals in stalls around the edge.
Inside the house is a collection of ornate needlework and some spinning equipment.

Lots to interest me.

Micklethwaite was another lovely base to spend a few days exploring away from the canal. If we had moored at the top of the five rise, we would only have stayed one night and missed all of this.

And for those of you that don’t know the full Ballard of Ilkley moor here are the words and a translation