Wirral at high tide

November in the UK can be dank and turgid. When a day of bright blue skies was forecast, I booked a train to the Wirral, one of my favourite coastal spots. Enjoy the photos and read more below

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West Kirby is the last stop on the Wirral shuttle from Liverpool. It boasts a large marine lake, islands in the estuary and acres of sky.

But this day was different from previous visits. The tide swell was unusually high, filling the Dee estuary next to the peninsula.

Nearby Caldy Beach was underwater so I took the cliff path and enjoyed the views and winter sunshine.

After I headed back to West Kirby, the pathway which rings the Marine Lake was resurfacing. But my walk resulted in a pair of wet shoes and sodden socks!

Since that day Manchester has been cloaked in a blanket of dense cloud and is feeling truly wintry. Maybe some cheery, warm Christmas lights will provide respite from the gloom.

Boats on the Dee Estuary between Wales and the Wirral peninsula

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A glimpse of Brontë country

Haworth is a picturesque Yorkshire village famous for being the home of literary giants the Brontës.

It’s a train and bus ride away from my home in Manchester, and I paid a visit on a sunny autumn day.

Enjoy the photographs and read more below

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When you arrive in Howarth on the Brontë bus from Hebden Bridge you’re drawn up hilly Main Street, lined with dark stone cottages and a plethora of shops and eating stops for visitors.

At the top of the hill is the little parish church and parsonage, home to the Brontë family and the sisters who penned Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre among others there.

Howarth Parsonage, home of the Brontës

The Brontës lived at Howarth Parsonage

The graveyard is filled with old headstones and was intensely atmospheric yet peaceful under the dappled autumn sunlight.

It’s impossible not to contemplate where the Brontës trod and what their lives were like in this remote place.

There are various pathways leading out of the village and to the beautiful surrounding countryside. You can take a lengthy hike to the Brontë waterfall or a gentler meander to Howarth viewpoints like I did.

A last essential stop was a delicious plate of pie and chips at The Fleece Inn, one of Howarth’s surprisingly numerous pubs.

The village is a real mecca for literary types and casual tourists alike and can get very busy. A weekday out of season would be my tip for a contemplative, memorable visit.

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Yorkshire: A coastal road trip

At the end of the summer I packed my bag and went on a really enjoyable road trip along the spectacular coast of North Yorkshire – without getting into a car. 

I visited four places on my journey and captured them with my camera. View the photos and read more below.

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I boarded a three-hour TransPennine Express train journey from Manchester to Redcar in the north-east of England, and a shuttle train took me the short distance to the coast.

Saltburn was my first port of call, but some grey, drizzly weather curtailed my stay. It’s a traditional seaside resort with sandy beaches, a slender pier and a funicular built for genteel Victorians and now a novelty for visitors. I caught the X4 bus which runs along this Yorkshire coastal stretch – my regular lift for the next few days.

Staithes is a pretty harbour village with visitors in mind, with many places to eat and buy gifts. When the sun came out, the colours popped and it was a pleasure to explore. Climb higher for bird’s eye views, clifftop panoramas and a breathtaking sunset if you’re lucky. I stayed overnight in a comfy pub with a hearty breakfast to set me up for another day on the coast.

Runswick Bay isn’t far on the bus. While smaller than Staithes, it’s sat beside a beautiful curve of sand. It feels far more tranquil than the likes of Saltburn and is a place to relax and enjoy being by the sea. There are fewer amenities but that may well keep the hordes away.

Whitby, my final stop, is a coastal mecca with a lot of offer, from its Dracula connection, astonishing ruined abbey on the clifftop and tasty seafood. Its streets take some exploring and this hilly town is full of steps. I stayed here for the night and beat the crowds with a very early start for sunrise – my top tip if you want Whitby to yourself.

My mini adventure ended with a train back to Manchester. There are some trips that are a headache without a car, but this wasn’t one of them. I’m still looking back on these photographs and enjoying those recent summer memories.

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Two seasons on the reservoir

Entwistle Reservoir in Lancashire is just a 30 minute train journey from Manchester. It’s a beauty spot that changes greatly with the seasons. Enjoy the photographs and read more below

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My first visit to Entwistle was on a chilly February morning. The area was cloaked in a ghostly blanket of fog while the reservoir’s levels were very healthy.

Fast forward to July and a summer heatwave with piercing blue skies. The waterways were noticably depleted and green blooms of algae were taking hold. It looked a very different place to the winter.

A walk to the magnificent Entwistle Viaduct on both visits was a real contrast. In winter it reflected perfectly in plump waters. By summer the scene was drought-ridden and tainted by algae.

No matter what the season is, Entwistle and the adjacent Wayoh reservoir is a popular place for walkers and their dogs, with the calm waterways and surrounding tranquil forests.

Back in the heat of July, I had to stop for a refreshing drink and hearty pub lunch at the Strawbury Duck before heading back to Manchester.

Entwistle Reservoir is a place I’d go back to for a good walk with my camera and to observe the changing seasons.

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Cromer: Norfolk’s seaside gem

Cromer is an English seaside town perched on the edge of the Norfolk coast. It’s traditional, picturesque and holds a lot of personal memories. Enjoy the photographs and read more below

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This was my first visit to Cromer in 25 years. I completed my initial stint as a fledgling newspaper reporter in the town. It was a time of new experiences, including a first significant relationship.

Cromer felt essentially unchanged, with its iconic pier at the centre of things. It was thronged with holidaymakers, relaxing with ice-creams and munching on freshly fried fish and chips.

Back in the late 1990s I wasn’t a habitual photographer, but this time was struck by the beauty of Cromer’s location. The wide stretch of coast that glimmered with gold at dusk, and the rows of candy-striped beach huts.

The town’s architecture is richly-coloured with turreted Victorian houses and full of the detail I maybe didn’t notice the first time around.

Cromer is a long way from Manchester and north-west England’s Irish sea coast but was worth the trip. Nostalgia and fresh eyes can often work hand in hand.

Have you gone back to a memorable place years later? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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