Winter wonderland

Much of the UK has had its first taste of winter. Here in central Manchester, the show of snow was disappointing.

But in the lower reaches of the Pennines on the edge of Greater Manchester, we found a wintry wonderland. The hills near Marple were transformed to create a very memorable walk.

Snow can be a serious challenge to photograph – time to furiously adjust the white balance and find what colour you can. Worth the freezing fingertips…

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A poet’s sanctuary

A spa break in south Wales all about relaxation and good food was rounded off with a homeward stopover at the little town of Laugharne in Carmarthenshire.

It was where Welsh writer Dylan Thomas lived at the end of his life. With beautiful views across the River Taf estuary and a commanding castle, you can see it was an inspirational spot – even on a fleeting visit.

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Manchester soul

I’ve already featured my visit to Salford’s Catholic cathedral – lofty and full of impressive stained glass. Manchester’s Anglican counterpart is on the tourist trail in the city centre and no boasts beauty and atmosphere. Hushed and low-lit, its centrepiece is an organ built only last year. 

Having two ecclesiastical marvels in close proximity to one another is a joy. My favourite building? I couldn’t possibly say…

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Northern winter sunset

This is when your return from a lovely day out is so well-timed that you catch a beautiful sunset.

Winter is closing in here in Manchester, and the walkway near Deansgate-Castlefield tram stop is an excellent place to watch the sun slide away. The sky is pierced with urban silhouettes, adding detail to sundown frames. Down by the canal, there’s a purple haze to the water and a few lit windows beckon you into cosy interiors.

The northern chill seems to bring more dramatic colour schemes to the darkening sky. It may no longer be warm and the nights are lengthy and dark, but isn’t that a small price to pay?…

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Mersey meets the sea

It didn’t take me long to return to the Wirral Peninsula after being bowled over by the seaside and estuary town of West Kirby. 

On the opposite of this nub of land is the resort of New Brighton, which sits at the mouth of the mighty River Mersey and close to the great city of Liverpool. In Victorian times it was a coastal mecca with a pier, mighty tower and many visitors.

That period magnificence may have disappeared, but this area has engaging views, open seas and industrial colour, fishermen and a landmark lighthouse. It’s a northern spot well worth visiting.

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