I used to work for Sue and she retired in Wakefield. We try to visit each other regularly, and we made it up north last month. As soon as we stepped off the train Sue told us we had a walk planned after lunch. I had been suggesting things to do over the previous weeks and Sue had decided we could do them all.
The walk was out to a stone village called Heath, just a few miles East South East of Wakefield, and accessible on foot via canal towpaths, a local nature reserve and some one-time mining dereliction now becoming a wildspace.
At the end of the nature reserve we found a huge wier:
and went on to cross the river and get lost twice in the ex-mining area, before re-grouping and heading for the village through a giant field of bamboo!
The Kings Arms in Heath sold Ossett Ales, and we tried Yorkshire Blonde, Silver King and Atomic Strike heading off to find a bus stop before it got too dark to see our way.
At the bus stop there was a lorry parking area with several trailers all announcing ‘Rawson – a world of fibres’. A passing reference to a one-time major industry around here, a apparently still big in non-woven textiles and carpets.
The Hepworth Gallery has a lot of Barbara Hepworth (she was born in Wakefield), and an exhibition of the work of Richard Long, including a room with a neat arrangement of willow stems all about a foot long, set out in a big rectangle on the floor. Sue told us that one local councillor asked of it, “What’s with the twigs?”. The Hepworth is beside the river and a heron visits regularly. The arty types at the gallery call it Patrick Heron (ho ho ho).
Though I like Hepworth bronzes I think I relate better to the painted plaster versions she started with. These were never for sale but they look great. Porthcurno (1964) has smooth green painted piercings through a rougher plaster outside finished in blue-grey paint, and Figure (Archaean) (1959) is finished with a brown shellac. You can see some of them here, on the video.
After the art came Fernando’s Bar, on the way back into town. Tried there own Green Gold (£2.50 a pint), Firebrand (£2.60) and Vanilla Porter (£2.80). Lovely beers at delightful prices. On the way back to Sue’s she took us past the closed but worth recording Labour Club, in the real ale guide, and known as the Red Shed.