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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Five glorious gardens to visit and enjoy

The Easter holidays are with us and it’s a time to get out and about. Spring is also the time to visit some beautiful public gardens for fresh air and gorgeous views. Here are my five top tips – share yours by leaving a comment below.

Cheshire, UK

This stately pile just outside Manchester is a popular spot for walkers and day trippers. Aside from the acres of parkland there are sumptuous woodland and formal gardens with carpets of seasonal flowers – in April you may see swathes of colourful tulips. Tap/click image to see more

Dunham is renowned for its seasonal flower displays

Near Wakefield, UK

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is less of a delicate garden, more a spectacular playground. The extensive countryside grounds have water, woodlands and are studded with large artworks and changing displays. This place will definitely fill a day out. Tap/click image to see more

Landscape artworks at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a garden on an impressive scale

Manchester, UK

Walkden Gardens is tucked away in the south Manchester suburbs. It’s small but packs in value above its weight. The maze-like space has its own folly, a pergola walkway and many pretty plants. Definitely a lovely little escape if you’re in the area. Tap/click image to see more

Pergola walk at Walkden Gardens, Manchester

The cultivated walkway is one of Walkden’s little gems

Near Llandudno, Wales

Bodnant Garden has to be one of the gems of north Wales. It boasts carefully manicured and planted grounds, not to mention a lot of space to roam around and relax. The Pin Mill (below) is a total delight – not to mention your Instgram post of any visit. Tap/click image to see more

Pin Mill at Bodnant Garden in north Wales

Bodnant Garden: A place for reflection

Sao Miguel, Azores Islands

This far-flung garden may take a little more effort to visit, but if you happen to visit these mid-Atlantic Portuguese islands, it’s a must-see. A stunning place packed with sub-tropical flora, palm trees and even medicinal bathing waters. Tap/click image to see more

Water lily bloom at Terra Nostra gardens, Azores

Terra Nostra is replete with floral delights

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Beyond Blackpool

The glitzy, brash UK seaside resort of Blackpool is a huge tourist attraction. But keep going and there’s more Lancashire seaside to visit. CONTINUES BELOW

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I arrived by train from Manchester at Blackpool North station, and jumped on the sleek, modern tram service at North Pier heading north out of the town.

My stop was Little Bispham and the start of my Wyre Coast-hugging walk. First stop was Cleveleys and its elaborate concrete promenade and sea defences, which have Brutalist and Communist era vibes.

The sea front is also peppered with art works, the most prominent being Mary’s Shell which was being lapped by the high tide.

It’s easy to stay at Cleveleys but I pressed on along the wide seaside path, an invigorating trudge around this nub of land. At the top is Rossall Point, hard to miss with its striking observation tower made for bird watchers.

Stark and minimalist

The path leads you to Fleetwood, a small seaside town with two lighthouses (one little, one large), the elegantly domed Marine Hall and a smattering of beach huts and a few dunes.

Fleetwood marks the northern end of the Blackpool tramway, so a convenient way to return – unless you’re feeling energetic and fancy walking back. 

This stretch of coast was a welcome getaway from city life and a contrast the bright lights of Blackpool. Photographically it was quite stark and minimalist with eye-catching architecture.

So head to the Wyre Coast if you get the chance, you’ll enjoy the ride.

The small beachside lighthouse at Fleetwood

The ‘baby brother’ lighthouse at Fleetwood

The reluctant smartphone photographer

Billions of people around the world use a smartphone. That means billions of people have a camera with them most of the time. 

It’s no surprise that smartphone photography has taken over as an easy way to capture and share moments from our everyday lives.

And some photographers have attained great artistry with ‘just’ a phone camera. 

But I have a problem with using my phone as a camera. It’s a very mid-range Samsung which is made for using the internet, apps and keeping in touch. That’s where it ends.


That’s me in my comfort zone, viewfinder to eye (Photo: Dale Langford)

I’ve chosen to stick with my ‘proper’ camera, a Fuji X-E1 which I’ve used for a decade now and performs how I want it to. 

Here’s the crucial thing: it feels very natural to lift my camera to my eye and use the viewfinder, while my grip is secure and steady.

Peering through a smartphone screen to make the same decisions about a photograph is almost impossible. 

However, I’m trying to incorporate a little more smartphone camera use into my life. It’s starting to become handy for local snapshots and when it’s the only camera to hand. The results have created material for Instagram Stories, so they’re short-lived and maybe less valuable.

I’m acquiring a collection of pictures in portrait format that fill that screen, but they are in little danger of pushing my usual photographs out of the way.

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But at least these shots are minimally edited and can see the light of day instantly – a far cry from my usual workflow which is much slower and carefully nurtured. 

My camera isn’t in danger of being sidelined any time soon. It’s the workhorse of my operation, making me feel much more comfortable and confident in what I can achieve.  

Like the rest of the world, the smartphone camera is always with me and is beginning to be used in a limited way, somewhat reluctantly. 

I’d like to hear from other old school photographers out there who must feel the same? Or do you only use your phone? Please leave your comment below

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