Manchester at dawn

Summer mornings start very early, so I got up, grabbed my camera and had a wander around Manchester city centre. But this wasn’t a normal Saturday… CONTINUES BELOW

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This was a extra long weekend to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Both Thursday and Friday were designated public holidays, very unusual in the UK.

As I wandered around the centre of Manchester from 5am in the early summer light, I got the distinct impression that this was the morning after the night before.

The streets and squares were practically deserted as most Mancunians decided to sleep in after their celebrations.

It meant I had the place to myself and could go about photographing some familiar landmarks that can be difficult in a bustling city centre.

What gets you up early to go out and take photos? Let us know below!

An empty Deansgate in Manchester on an early summer morning

You can’t usually stand in the middle of Manchester’s busy Deansgate

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A wonderful Yorkshire wander

Yorkshire is just a hop from Manchester, and I took a day trip to explore the scenic Calder Valley. CONTINUES BELOW

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The thriving canalside town of Hebden Bridge appears at first glance to be traditionally Yorkshire but is filled with lovely little independent shops and cafes, making it a real draw for visitors.

It is also home to a sizeable LGBT community, making it an unexpected place to find rainbow flags proudly flying and gay friendliness.

I decided to take an uphill hike to the village of Heptonstall, enjoying delightful views of Hebden Bridge and surrounding countryside as I climbed.

Historic Heptonstall is a beautiful little place of dark stone cottages, but most famed for its shell of a church which was abandoned in 1847 after a devastating storm. A new church was built next door. The ruins still feel oddly alive.

I got so caught up in this abandoned building that I forgot to visit the grave of poet Sylvia Plath. Next time…

The visit ended with a hearty pub lunch and getting caught in a sudden shower of rain. I would return to this area and heartily recommend it.

Have you visited Hebden Bridge? Why not share your impressions below.

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Manchester wildflowers

Here in the middle of Manchester you look for every scrap of nature – and it can flourish in the most unexpected places.

A stone’s throw away from my Castlefield home is a vast, very busy interchange where major traffic routes meet.

One central section has burst into life with yellow, white and pink wildflowers – a stunning show bringing nature alongside a stark man-made creation.

Less than a mile away is a rust-coloured branch of a self-storage company where alium flourishes, while cow parsley grows undisturbed on an area of the canal towpath. 

We need wilderness more than ever, especially in our urban centres. Why mow it down for the sake of neatness? Please share your thoughts on this below

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Clitheroe: A castle and sausages

Clitheroe is an ancient Lancashire town with a castle, great views – and famous sausages. I visited recently armed with my camera. CONTINUES BELOW

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It took me around an hour by train to reach Clitheroe from Manchester, which sits at the heart of Lancashire’s picturesque Ribble Valley.

The town is dominated by its compact castle keep, and climbing up there will reward you with good views of the surrounding countryside, and also well-kept grounds to amble around.

Clitheroe is a decent size to explore on foot and I even took the time to find a ginnel – a Lancashire alleyway at the back of houses – and a typical line of terraces.

You have to pay a visit to Cowmans, a well-known sausage seller with a bewildering array of varieties. That was tea sorted for a few nights!

View of church and factory smoke in Clitheroe, Lancashire

Clitheroe’s cement factory emits a plume of smoke over the town

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Salford skies

Salford. A city in its own right? A Manchester borough? Manchester’s twin?

It’s a debate that’s never gone away, but Salford is a large area with waterways, sparkling new buildings, gritty urban pockets and even its own village. 

Salford is literally on my Manchester doorstep and an immediate place for me to explore with my camera. This gallery is based on three walks with architecture and light at its heart. 

What do you think of these Salford views? Please leave a comment below.

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