Slow Ways art #6: Irene Lofthouse


Slow Ways in poetry: writer and storyteller Irene Lofthouse walked a route and performs a poem in response to her journey from Shipley to Bradford

You can see the Shipley to Bradford route here, hear the poem, and read it below.

Slow Ways – Shipley to Bradford

Echoes of clogs clacking on cobbles
heading from Shipley’s steam-spurting
station down to Bradford Beck
close to its confluence with the Aire.
Walking upstream birdsong burbles
in harmony with the Beck,
dandelions smile in the Spring sun.
On the left a bridge spans old and
new ways, through housing,
under the road bridge, 
continuing the green way 
along the culverted Beck. 
Early butterflies flit through
silver birch, the single note
of the bullfinch toots, blackbirds
chase each other, people nod
‘hellos’ are shared, cyclists, 
dog walkers, families,
runners enjoy the car-free space.
A hill climb to an ancient
woodland spot, its quarried
stone regally staring across 
City Park from the eyes of
royal statues. Footpath signs 
disappear in these ‘wild’ woods
tracks proliferate, one to the
top of the world, a view across
the City to further Dales and
the few remaining mill chimneys.
The low track through fields
of grazing horses, through 
Low Meadows to another
beck dribbling through
housing to Bradford Beck 
under Canal Road.
A short shock on a busy
road where Kings and Queens
meet crossing to the source of 
water where legend says a 
ravaging boar was slain, whose
head lives forever on the
City’s coat of arms.
Small frogs leap in the
damp undergrowth, rowan berries
drip red, hawthorn blossom
floats on the breeze, water-boatmen
skitter on the pond, Spinkwell
drips as it has for centuries past,
daffodils dip, curtseying.
A gate – echoes again
of clogs on cobbles lead to
steps down to twenty-first
century hurry and haste,
taking traffic and people
into the heart of the City.

Irene Lofthouse, March 2022

Irene Lofthouse is a writer and storyteller, inspired by history, myths and legends. Walking the Shipley/Bradford route was perfect for her, combining all three elements, plus it's one that she's walked regularly with her dogs over the years. This route is redolent with echoes of Shipley and Bradford histories and heritage: waterways, Bradford Beck and the short-lived canal into Bradford centre; mills that once dominated; ancient woods, quarries, ravaging boars and how Bradford Dale developed through time.

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