shewhomust (shewhomust) wrote,

The alpacas of Saltaire

Our apartment is in Victoria Mills, a development of renovated historic mills and newbuild, between the river Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool canal. It's not exactly a gated community, but it is sufficiently security conscious that access to either of these is not as easy as the map might suggest, but after a few wrong choices yesterday morning we found our way to the canal and almost immediately we were within the World Heritage site of Saltaire village.

Our destination was the Shipley Glen Tramway, a cable-hauled tramway run by volunteers, and only open on Sunday afternoons - so we turned away from Salt's Mill and through Roberts Park, to the bottom station of the tramway. There are two canopied tramcars, one red one blue, and as one rises, the other descends. As we rode up the wooded hillside, the voice of one of the volunteer staff behind me asked: "Did we all watch the tennis last night?" and [personal profile] durham_rambler admitted that he had. (My impression is that he was not the only person who had watched, and I was not the only one who had not). From the upper station it's a short walk to a country park, but we didn't really investigate this: we had just come for the ride, so after a drink and a sit-down in the pub, we returned to the tramway, and back down to the park.

This time instead of skirting the park, we went straight through the middle, to the bandstand (where people in 'Yorkshire Choral Group' - or something close to that - were massing) and the statue opposite, which is, of course, of Titus Salt, erected to mark the centenary of his birth. If the light had been favourable, I might have put some effort into taling his portrait, but as it was what caught by eye were the plaques on the sides of the plinth. On one side was a splendidly horned 'Angora goat' and on the other this - as the label says - 'Alpaca goat':

Salt's alpaca

This was unexpected, but makes sense: these magnificent mills were all about the textles. In fact, it makes even more specific sense than that: this post about Saltaire makes the alpaca part of Titus Salt's origin story and no doubt this explains the alpaca statue outside the park's café:

Family alpaca

If it needs explaining; quite apart from the family in possession, the polished ears and very shiny nose confirm its popularity.

We were ready for lunch at the Boathouse Inn - nachos to share and the same beer order as previously, leaving me baffled that Saltaire Brewery seem not to do a bitter, and I had to make do with Black Sheep (not a hardship). Next stop should have been Salt's Mill, which our information told us housed the Tourist Office - but we were distracted by a local art group exhibition in the basement of the impressive church, and it seems the Tourist Office has moved ...

By the time we turned for home, I was feeling that I was already near the furthest extent of my walking ability. We had not walked far, but when did I last walk even this far? Midsummer on Lindisfarne, perhaps? We had the prospect of a sculpture trail along the river to distract us - and if, as I suspect, it was designed to entertain fractious children rather than to gratify the culture lover, that would be about right! Some of the exhibits made me laugh (the cat in the bath, the one [personal profile] durham_rambler greeted as 'the frog and filing cabinet' which sounds like a pub, and which was not a frog but a goldfish), some made me inexplicably angry (the two snails snogging on a bollard, the very ugly dog) and as for the snowman, I am speechless. By this time we were following the wall of the development, had passed the side of the car park which holds our car, and were wondering how much further we must go. Having refused to photograph the dog sculpture (too horrid) I thought I was done for the day, but no - there was one more alpaca:

The third alpaca

which is both thematically apt, and serves to illustrate the style of the sculptures on the trail. It also cheered me up enough to carry me home... This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
Tags: saltaire, sculpture, walking, yorkshire

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