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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Pearl of the Adriatic

The ancient city of Dubrovnik needs little introduction. It’s Croatia’s coastal gem and provides some of the backdrop for TV fantasy drama Game of Thrones. There is a lot crammed into a relatively small space – rambling orange rooftops, grand churches and sleepy back streets. 

Good weather brings the crowds to this infinitely explorable place, so my advice is to start out early to walk the old ramparts, and climb up away from the main thoroughfares. But it’s a visitor magnet, so be prepared for the throngs. You should also see the city’s port area, just a bus ride away from the old town. It’s very easy to get snap happy in Dubrovnik, but if you can, take a step back and just enjoy this wonder.

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End of the Wirral

This memorable day trip started with a train from Manchester to Liverpool and then my first ride on the ‘Scouse Metro’ which takes you beneath the Mersey to Birkenhead and deeper into the Wirral peninsula. At the end of the line is the town of West Kirby.

It sits on the estuary of the River Dee as it flows into the Irish Sea, with the north Wales coast across the water. But for much of the day there’s little water as the tide is out, creating a vast expanse of open sand. This was a day of rain and leaden skies, making the sense of space even greater.

West Kirby also has a marine lake circled by a road – a natural place for walks. It adds to the sense of place in this distant part of a great northern peninsula.

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