Lazy Photographer's Guide 06 - North-West England
by Chris Maddock assisted by Tony Parkinson
article is the sixth of a series of articles covering
much of the UK. It is basically a list of locations
I have programmed into my GPS Satellite Navigator
- most of which I have visited, the rest being other
places I intend to get to some day. It is not a
comprehensive guide to the North-West, only the
parts I have been to and photographed - or intend
to. It does not cover the Lake
District nor the Yorkshire
Dales which have ben covered in previous lazy
It will not contain any photographs, the intention
being simply to provide information about location,
access and likely subjects. I have photographs of
many of the locations in my Yorkshire Dales gallery
if you want to see what you could see before setting
called it The Lazy Photographer's Guide since most
of the locations are less than half a mile from
Probably the most famous resort town
in Britain, Blackpool is brash, loud and trashy
. . . but despite this, it still has much to offer
the lazy photographer
- From J32 of the M^ follow the M55 and continue
onto Yeadon way at the end of the motorway. This
will take you straight into the heart of the town
and offers thousands of parking spaces on the various
pay & display car parks alongside it. Ideally,
aim for the earlier car parks to the south of the
to see - From Early September to Early November,
Blackpool illuminations shine out, stretching for
six miles along the seafront (as do, at weekend,
the traffic jams), during this period illuminated
trams designed to look like steam trains, ships
and rockets also offer good photo opportunities.
To the south of the seafront, the various roller
coasters at the Pleasure Beach (especially the 256
ft high Pepsi Max Big One) offer excellent subject
matter especially when lit up at dusk. Blackpool's
3 piers (North, Central & South) also offer
good opportunities especially Central Pier with
it's Ferris wheel when placed against a winter sunset.
GR SD 931 268
Moorland with interesting wind-eroded rock formations,
The Great Bride Stones
- From the minor roads between Mereclough and Hebden
Bridge. Footpaths onto the moor may be found at
GR SD 929 272 and SD 937 267.
to see - moorland plants, animals & birds, the
Bride Stones themselves and the views around.
A small wooded valley on the western edge of the
Forest of Bowland, through which the River Brock
(a tributary of the River Wyre) flows
- leave the M6 at J32 onto the M55 and immediately
leave the M55 onto the A6 north. After passing through
Bilsborrow, take the turning to the right signposted
for Beacon Fell. Take the first right then first
left. Following this road for about 3 miles, arrive
at a junction signposted Brock Valley. Take this
road and descend to the car park.
to see - In May, the valley floor is carpeted with
flowers such as Bluebells, Wood Anemones, Celandines
and Wild Garlic. Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatches
and Treecreepers flit from tree to tree and Dippers
are frequently seen along the fast flowing river
small hill on the southern edge of the west Pennine
Moors named after Humphrey Cheetham, 17th century
lord of the Manor and founder of Manchester's prestigious
Cheetham's School of Music
- Take the A666 south from J4 of the M65 to Egerton.
After passing the Egerton House Hotel take the first
left and follow the road up to the moorland edge.
From there it is a short walk up onto the hill.
to See - Moorland view, especially with winter frost.
Views across to Winter Hill as the sun sets
Love them or loathe them, wind farms are now a permanent
part of the British landscape, and this is a particularly
- From the
minor road between Mereclough and Hebden Bridge.
For a mid-distance view there is a car park at GR
SD 894 288 where a bridleway crosses the road. Alternatively,
there is a car park with footpath access into the
turbine array at GR SD 892 285. However, the latter
seems to be popular in the evenings with the local
ne'er-do-wells, so exercise caution for your own
safety/security if you go thee in the evening.
to see - the wind farm, individual turbines and
the views around. Head-on views of the turbines
work well in early evening light, shooting from
the first location given. The area should also be
good for sunsets but take care as mentioned above.
GR SJ 797 052
Just outside Telford, Shropshire, Cosford is one
of the RAFs two museums (the other being in London).
Admission is free.
- best as described on the RAF
to see - Cosford has 4 main display hangers as well
as static exhibits outside. There is a wide range
of aircraft on display as well as collections of
missiles, aero engines and motor vehicles.
Cosford was one of the main RAF Prisoner of War
repatriation clearing stations in the latter part
of the Second World War, where POWs were sent upon
return to the UK, to receive medical examinations
and treatment (including simply feeding them up!)
before they were returned to their homes. There
is a fascinating display of POW memorabilia in the
museum, including letters, photographs and escape
New for 2007 is the Cold War Collection, a newly-constructed
hanger in which all manner of Cold War items are
housed - including, under cover together for the
first time, all three of Britain's V-Bombers, the
Avro Vulcan, Vickers Valiant and Handley-page Victor.
GR SD 784 442
A picturesque village in the shadow of Pendle Hill,
"Ormesby" in BBC's "Born and Bred"
- From the A59 east of Clitheroe take the turning
into a minor road for Chatburn (on the left if travelling
from the west, the right if travelling from the
east), then from Chatburn, take the road signposted
to See - St Leonard's Church, the village, Downham
Beck and bridge, Pendle Hill
GR SD 280 082
If sand dunes and seascapes are your "thing",
then Formby is well worth an visit. If not, then
how about the other things for which Formby Point
is famous, the Red Squirrels?
- From Formby town centre, head for Freshfield station
and follow the road west from the level crossing.
Formby Point is National Trust owned, so parking
is free for members, pay at the gate for non-members.
to see - a short walk from the car park takes you
to the dunes and the beach, offering good views
along the coast and out across the Irish Sea.
An even shorter walk takes you on the Red Squirrel
Trail, paths looping through the woodland where
the squirrels live and feed. You'd have to be very
unlucky not to see any squirrels, taking some bait
(hazelnuts look more natural, although the NT sell
peanuts at the gate) along helps a bit though. They
will come very close to you, easily close enough
for a 400m lens. With baiting and patience you could
use a shorter lens with little trouble.
Part of the National Trust's Arnside Knott Nature
Reserve, a 500 ft high glacier eroded limestone
hill close to the Kent estuary.
- Leave the M6 at J35 and head north on the A6 to
Milnthorpe. Turn left at the traffic lights and
follow the road to Arnside. From here follow the
Silverdale road and after approximately a mile and
a half, the National Trust Car Park is signposted
down a lane to the right
to see - Spring flowers, especially Early Purple
Orchids and Cowslips in late April/early May. In
summer the reserve is a haven for butterflies, especially
Purple Hairstreak, Pearl Coloured Fritillary and
the rare High Brown Fritillary in late June/early
GR SJ 218 898
Located on the north-western corner of The Wirrall,
Hoylake is a small coastal resort.
- Take the A553 from the M53 or Birkenhead, or A540
from Chester and follow road signs. Once in Hoylake
town, head for the shore road.
to see - mudflats and gravel banks, boats moored
up, shore birds, etc. It is very nice in early morning
light and undoubtedly would also do well with a
Moss RSPB Reserve
GR SD 479 752
An excellent RSPB Reserve and visitor centre close
to Morecambe Bay.
- Exit the M6 at J35 and head north on the A6, after
a few miles a turning to the left for Yealand Redmayne
is signposted for the reserve, follow the signs
through the village and shortly before reaching
Silverdale, the reserve is on the left with the
car park on the right. Alternatively, Silverdale
Railway Station is a 5-minute walk away
to See - Leighton Moss is the best place in Northern
England to experience breeding Bittern, Marsh Harrier
and Bearded Tit. Avocets breeding on the scrapes
can also be seen from the Eric Morecambe & Allen
hides to the west of the reserve and, at dawn, otters
can often be seen at the eastern end of the Reserve.
The best guarantee of successful images for the
photographer is the feeding station between the
visitor centre and Lillian's Hide where excellent
close up shot's of Robins, Blackbirds, Nuthatches,
Chaffinches, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Great Tits and
the occasional Marsh Tit can be obtained.
GR SJ 741 741
A small village in Cheshire, with a particularly
attractive church, a mixture of stone and tudor
framing construction with a nice roofed gateway.
Access - Lower Peover is about 3 miles south of
Knutsford, take the A50 towards Holmes Chapel, then
turn off onto the B5081. When in the village, follow
signs for the church.
to see - the church and churchyard, with a wide
variety of gravestones. Springtime is good with
a good display of daffodils.
GR SJ962 824
A large estate, acquired by the National Trust in
1947, with a herd of 400+ Red Deer roaming the parkland
to the north, and the moorland to the south of Lyme
- Easily accessible, adjacent to the A6 south of
to see - Red Deer, particularly in October &
November during the rut as stags bellow and fight,
locking horns to establish dominance. March &
April see the stags "boxing" as they seek
to re-establish dominance after shedding their antlers.
Lyme Hall itself and the surrounding parkland were
used as locations for many scenes of the BBC production
of Pride & Prejudice (and more recently, The
GR SD 352 205
Situated on the internationally important Ribble
Estuary. The reserve is home to wintering Pink-Footed
Geese, Wigeon, Golden Plover and Black-Tailed Godwits.
Additionally during winter months it also plays
host to Marsh Harriers, Merlins, Sparrowhawks and
the occasional Peregrine. Additionally in spring,
it provides nesting grounds for Redshanks and Lapwings
- Take Marine Drive north out of Southport, there
is a free car park on the left just before the sand
processing works. Park here, cross the road and
the main hide is about 100 yards along the road
to see - The birds mentioned above. Birds backlit
by the rising sun, flocks of geese in flight. Best
visited at sunrise (for backlighting) or late afternoon.
Best visited when there is a high tide as this will
tend to push birds off the mudflats along the Ribble
estuary and onto the reserve.
GR SD 428 144
Situated close to the Ribble Estuary and Morecambe
Bay, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve at
Martin Mere is an internationally important wintering
ground for tens of thousands of geese and over 1,000
Whooper Swans. It also houses an extensive collection
of captive birds including the Ne-ne or Hawaiian
Goose, saved from extinction by the WWT's captive
breeding and reintroduction program.
- From the south, leave the M6 at J27 and follow
the A5209 to Burscough. At Burscough, turn right
onto the A59 and turn left immediately after crossing
the railway line. The visitor centre is around 1
mile along this road. From the north, leave the
M6 at J28 and follow the B5248 to Tarleton then
at the roundabout, take the A59 towards Liverpool.
At the traffic lights, remain on the A59 by following
the left-hand filter lane. On reaching Burscough
railway station, turn right immediately before it
and follow the road mentioned above to the visitor
centre. From Liverpool, take the A59 towards Preston
and follow the directions given for approaching
from the south.
to see - Erm, wildfowl !! seriously though, in the
morning a stroll around the collection will give
you ample opportunity to practice your skills before
heading over to the hides to photograph the wild
birds on the reserve. In winter, the Swans are fed
daily close to the hides and this can provide opportunities
for good backlit shots using moderate (300-400mm)
telephoto lenses. Additionally, as many hides face
west or south-west, there may be opportunities to
get images of swans and geese in flight against
bay sweeping from Barrow-in-Furness in the north
to Fleetwood in the south, Morecambe Bay is renowned
for it's sunsets, it's bird life and more recently
it's cockle beds.
- Morecambe is easily accessed from the M6 via Junctions
33, 34 & 35
to see - sunsets, the Lakeland fells reflected in
the bay at high tide, wading birds feeding on the
mud. a statue of Morecambe's most famous son, the
iconic comedian Eric Morecambe. Just to the south
of Morecambe at Heysham, the ruins of an ancient
Celtic chapel and a number of rock-cut graves make
an excellent foreground for a dramatic late-afternoon
GR SJ 857 573
A folly on top of the hill in Mow Cop village near
- from the A34 south of Congleton, follow signs
for Mow Cop. There is a car park beside the folly,
to the west.
to see - views from the hill and the folly itself.
Because it's high up, the folly works well in most
light, although early morning and late evening are
Situated on the northernmost corner of The Wirrall,
New Brighton is a late-19th century seaside holiday
resort looking out over Liverpool Bay and the River
- form the M53 (Junct 1) take the A554 through the
outskirts of Wallasey and follow the coast eastwards.
There is a large car park by the fort at the end
of the road, and the lighthouse is just offshore
from the fort.
to see - the lighthouse works well in morning light
or at sunset (during the summer the sun sets far
enough north). Additionally there is the Fort, views
across the Mersey to Bootle docks, shipping entering
and leaving the Mersey. On a calm day, the Marine
Lake offers beautiful reflections of the buildings
along its southern shore.
GR SE 015 335
The road across the moor, between Hebden Bridge
and Oxenhope, can offer good views.
- leave Hebden Bridge or Oxenhope on the A6033 and
keep your eyes peeled. There are a couple of parking
locations at GR SE 015 335 and SE 013 330.
to see - views north across the moor to Oxenhope,
moorland flora and fauna. The moor is access land
so a little wander will undoubtedly reveal more
GR SE 004 158
An old packhorse bridge beside the A672 and M62
between Rochdale and Huddersfield
- from the M62, leave at J22 and take the A672 towards
Ripponden. The bridge is about a mile along the
to see - the old bridge and the newer turnpike"
bridge over whuich the A672 runs. The moorland and
associated flora & fauna. A foothpath leads
to Green Withens Reservoir about a mile away if
GR SD 777 163
A 120-foot high tower on Holcombe Moor built in
1851 to commemorate Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister
and founder of the modern police force, who was
born in nearby Bury.
- From Bolton take the A676 towards Ramsbottom,
bearing left onto the B6214 at Holcombe Brook. The
car park is about 3/4 of a mile along this road
and a short uphill walk then leads to the tower.
to see - the tower surrounded by moorland against
a dramatic early morning or late afternoon sky.
Various paths offer lead-in lines and the Millennium
Bench, a distinctive curving metal seat offers foreground
interest. A 10-minute walk to nearby Harcles Hill
provides longer views across the moors to the tower
and also to Winter Hill to the west. NB despite
regular confusion, this is not the same place as
GR SD 665 213
First planted in 1904 by the Liverpool Corporation
to protect the catchment areas of it's 3 reservoirs,
Roddlesworth Wood is now one of the largest areas
of deciduous woodland in Lancashire.
- From Bolton, take the A675 north, 2 miles after
Belmont, take the right turn for Tockholes and the
visitor centre is about 1 mile on the right. Alternatively
leave the M65 at J3 and take the A675 for Belmont,
after 3 miles the turning for Tockholes is on the
to See - Woodland, streams and reservoirs, autumn
colours in October and November, Bluebells and Wild
Garlic in April and May
Since the Port of Manchester closed in the 1980s,
Salford keys have undergone a renaissance with many
new commercial, residential, retail and leisure
developments, together with new tramways and stations.
- From Manchester, take the Metrolink trams for
Eccles which pass through the Quays and alight at
either Salford Quays or the Anchorage. Alternatively,
take the M602 from the M62 and at the end follow
the signs for the Quays
to see - Architecture, particularly the Victoria
Building by Erie Basin, The new Imperial War Museum
North and The Lowry Centre. The evening hours provide
the best time for photographing these buildings
as the warm light gives the buildings a golden glow
then as darkness falls many of the buildings are
transformed by floodlighting and internal lights.
Located on the southern
edge of the Ribble Estuary, Southport is a major
Lancashire resort town, though somewhat more staid
than its neighbour to the north, Blackpool. With
its vast Mud Flats Southport Beach is a magnet for
wading birds. Southport Pier also provides good
opportunities for silhouetting it against a dramatic
- From the north, exit the M6 at J31 (Preston) and
follow first, the A59 then the A565 to Southport.
From the south exit the M6 onto the M58 at J6 then
leave the M58 at J3 and take the A570 to Southport.
The beach is easily accessible from Marine Drive.
Be aware that as even when the tide is in, it can
still be a good 1/2 mile walk out to the tide line
so this may not be a location for the very lazy
to see - Wading birds along the water's edge - Oystercatcher,
Knot, Dunlin, and Bar-Tailed Godwit. Pink-Footed
Geese roosting on the sandbars. The pier silhouetted
against a sunset.
St Anne's began as
a small seaside town, the result of the ambition
in 1872 of several Lancashire businessmen to build
their ideal health resort on Lancashire's Fylde
Coast. There are several excellent examples of high-class
late Victorian Residences in the town together with
the pier built in 1885. St Anne's joined with it's
neighbouring town in 1923 to become the single borough
of Lytham St Anne's (though it is now part of the
borough of Fylde) and is today best known as a regular
host to one of Golf's four Major tournaments, the
British Open. It is however far more sedate than
its brashy, trashy neighbour, Blackpool
- From J32 of the M6 take the M55 for Blackpool.
At the end of the M55 take the A5230 signposted
for Blackpool Airport. After passing the airport
and crossing the railway line, turn left at the
traffic lights onto the A584. Continue past Pontins
Holiday Camp and turn right at the 2nd set of traffic
lights and the pier is in front of you.
to See - spectacular lighting on the pier at dawn
and sunset, typical English Seaside resort scenes,
wildfowl on Fairhaven Lake just to the south, Fairhaven's
White Church, the windmill on the fine green alongside
the Ribble Estuary in neighbouring Lytham. The lights
and sights of Blackpool are a 10-minute drive away
A high outcrop of rocks above Congleton, looking
out over the Cheshire plain.
- from Congleton take the A54 Buxton road and turn
right for Key Green just outside Congleton. There
are a few places you can park along the minor road
that runs around the eastern side of The Cloud,
with a footpath that leads up onto the top.
to see - the rock formations and the views. Just
below The Coud to the north-west is the impressive
Congleton Viaduct, whilst beyond is the Cheshire
Plain. If visibility is good, you can easily see
the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank. The Cloud is
home to a wide assortment of wildlife, including
2 breeding pairs of ravens.
At 1496-ft high this
is the highest point in the West Pennine Moors and
with its 100-ft high TV transmitter is a
landmark for miles around.
- footpaths leading from Belmont on the A675 or
Rivington Country Park just north of Horwich easily
reach the summit. For the more distant views from
Turton Moor described below, leave the M65 at J4
and take the A666 through Darwen. Shortly after
passing the turning on the left for Turton Tower,
a right turn leads to a large lay-by on the left
of this road immediately after the junction and
a footpath across the road from the north end of
this lay-by leads out onto Turton Moor.
to see - Open moorland. Winter Hill is best used
as an element in the image particularly when lit
by morning light or when silhouetted against a dramatic
evening sky. The best views include the aforementioned
Cheetham Close and Harcles Hill close to the Peel
Tower, but probably the best images of all can be
taken from Turton moor where a ruined farmhouse
or two solitary hawthorn trees provide foreground
interest. For refreshment afterwards the Black Dog
in Belmont offers a fine pint.
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text and photos are copyright © Chris Maddock,