Hills and lakes

Cumbria’s Lake District is one of the wonders of the British Isles. I’ve only just visited it for the very first time and have no idea why it took so long.

We stayed in the spectacular Langdale Valley, north of Lake Windermere. The hills were shrouded in fog throughout our break, adding drama to the landscape. It’s a place to clamber the pikes, walk the valleys and amble along lakeside paths. 

This is a beautiful world away from the urban cut and thrust of Manchester – and close enough to visit again.

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The Lancashire seaside

My latest exploration of Manchester’s expansive hinterland took me north to Lancashire. The coastal resort of Lytham St Annes is close to Blackpool, but a world away from its neighbour’s glitzy, brash vibe. 

I walked from St Anne’s and its green pier along a tranquil, sombre stretch of tidal coastline to Lytham, with its curious windmill and grand white-tiled church. It’s also on the estuary of the River Ribble – calm, mysterious and perfect for wide skyscape photographs.

This trip veered from brash man-made colours to stark minimalism. The kind of contrast I favour on a photo excursion…

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Salford soul

Salford is a city in its own right, but you might be hard-pressed to tell it apart from Manchester, its metropolitan twin. Nip across the River Irwell from Manchester’s heart and you’re on Chapel Street, the historic centre of Salford. 

Soaring into the sky is the slim spire of its Roman Catholic cathedral, a relatively short walk away from Manchester’s main Anglican church. It’s less visited but just as impressive, with a vastly glorious stained glass East Window and lofty wooden rafters.

Even if you’re not of a spiritual persuasion, it’s hard not to be moved by this architecture.

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On the edge of Manchester

Manchester carries on far beyond its big, handsome heart. In 1974, the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester was created, giving the city a suburban and rural hinterland.

I took a short train journey to its very edges, to the mill town of Stalybridge which used to be in Cheshire. And then the little rural town of Greenfield which sits in the shadow of mighty Saddleworth Moor and still has Lancashire in its postal addresses.

With tranquil canals, post-industrial grit, hill views and stone cottages, this was a long way from Manchester’s bright lights.

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Dusk on the quays

Whoever said that Manchester and its sister city of Salford are grey and rain-sodden might like to reconsider. If you take a dusk stroll by the waterways at Salford Quays by the end of the Manchester Ship Canal, you may be treated with a fantastic spectacle. The sunsets here are rich and golden and the modern buildings glint in the light.

I used my new lightweight Fuji X100T for these photographs. It performed nicely, although the fixed lens and lack of zoom means the legs have to do some extra work to nail down that desired frame.

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