It’s funny how one single moment can change the whole course of your life and the places you end up in. Would I have traveled all the way from Lisbon to Saltaire two years ago? Probably not. There are so many exotic destinations worthy of exploring, so I doubt this small Yorkshire village would have ever made my travel bucket list in 2016, but somehow it did.
Ever since I met Nick he’s been telling me stories about Bradford, the so-called curry capital of the UK, Shipley, his hometown and a few things about Saltaire. It’s one thing to hear about a place, it’s another thing to actually see it in person. Having only visited London, I was excited to see a different part of the UK, the North.
Finally, on the day after Christmas we flew over to Manchester, one of the nearest airports with connection to Lisbon and within a couple of hours we landed on British soil.
Nick’s parents were anxiously waiting at the arrivals and all I can think about was food. Luckily there was a Greggs around the corner. At last, I had the famous pasty every English expat back home keeps going on about. It’s basically the British version of an empada, but it’s consider more of a guilty pleasure than a delicacy.
The next few days were spent exploring the best sites in Yorkshire, catching up with friends and tasting a variety of beers and ciders in some of the coolest bars/pubs I’ve ever been to. Nick had all the plans and I simply tagged along.
Yet, out of all the places we visited, there was one that took my breath away and that was the Salts Mill in Saltaire. Once a textile mill, this building is now a shopping area, an art gallery and a dining spot, all under one roof. The moment I stepped into their bookshop I was baffled with the variety of books, no wonder Nick came here to seek inspiration. If we didn’t have a train to catch I would have stayed there the whole week…
It certainly felt a lot more Christmasy here, with fairy lights hanging on every storefront and Christmas trees in every house, it was only missing the snow!
The stone houses and the colorful doors reminded me of the Portuguese village, Piodão, which we visited on our last road trip.
Unlike Piodão, this wasn’t a tourist stop for Nick, it was his home. He was familiar with all the streets, the buildings and even the next-door neighbours. Now he had to play tourist guide and show me around.
Our tour started in Saltaire’s independent art shops and finished at Robert’s Park.
In between, Nick told me all about Sir Titus Salt, the man who founded Saltaire. He was a famous textile industrialist in Yorkshire in the 19th century that decided to create a village for his workers, where he included houses, a church, a school, a concert hall and much more, all of them still standing today.
While there were a lot of benefits of living in Saltaire, Salt had a few restraints including not hanging your wash in front of the house or avoid selling alcohol in the village’s vicinity. To this day most of the bars are located just outside Saltaire, except one bar (ahem Restaurant) called “Don’t Tell Titus”.
I thought doing a tour in Parede (my hometown) was strange, but I don’t think it will ever become a World Heritage Site like Saltaire! It has everything going for it, great architecture, delicious food, friendly people and a beautiful river.
We visited a few other villages in Yorkshire but I will never forget that afternoon in Saltaire…
What to see in Saltaire?
If you happen to find your way to the land of Sir Titus Salt, here are a few things you shouldn’t miss:
- Salts Mill – I think I’ve said enough about this place, but it really deserves a visit! Whether you’re looking for art supplies, house items, books, antiques or just a bite to eat, you will find it all in here.
- Robert’s Park – This massive park is full of incredible features like the river promenade, a bandstand that hosts concerts in the summer and it’s also home to the Sir Titus Salt statue, which funny enough is not facing Saltaire.
- Victoria Hall – Built in the late 19th century as a cultural centre for the villagers, this is where most of Saltaire’s events still take place today.
- Radstudio – this small art shop has the cutest decor and sells unique items selected from designers all over the globe.
- Saltaire United Reformed Church – I would have never thought this building was a church until Nick pointed out to me. It has a unique style that mixes Victorian architecture with Greek-style columns.
Looking forward to share more of our adventures in Yorkshire in the next couple of weeks 🙂