Lytham is one half of a a charming pair of Fylde resort towns, the other is St. Annes, on the Lancashire coast a little to the south of Blackpool . It’s about an hour’s drive away from where I live so it’s an easy destination to make for with my camera. It’s a bustling place with plenty of life and a busy centre, which means there are many opportunities for the candid image. Sunday is a favourite day, when people ease back a little and take time over the small pleasures, like reading your newspaper in the sun.
Watch carefully, is it here, or is it there? The quickness of the hand deceives the eye. This is Edinburgh, on the Royal Mile by St. Giles Cathedral and the Festival is at it’s height. This event is in my top five of locations for candid street photography. You just have to pick a spot and it all unfurls before you like a tapestry of a carnival. Here a magician was working the crowd with an assistant picked from the crowd. Time and again the young lad carefully followed the action but at each reveal that darned magician had done it again.
For candid images I always think that monochrome is the only way, colours can distract from the action, plus for me the black & white tones always add a timeless quality.
I like to get in at least one visit to Edinburgh each year and timetables are being consulted as I type this.
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, is another of my favourite destinations, I travel; there by train from Manchester, the route goes through the Hope Valley in the beautiful Peak District passing through the villages of Edale, a stopping off point for the Pennine Way and Castleton a village dominated by Peveril Castle. Grindleford, also popular with hillwalkers, the station sitting at the mouth of the 3.5 mile Totley Rail Tunnel through which you leave the stark beauty of the Peaks behind and enter the bustling outskirts of Sheffield, it’s centre sat on a cluster of hills. The railway station nestles at the foot of the city Centre and was built by the Midland Railway and still keeps its Victorian elegance.
There were once two railway stations, the other, Sheffield Victoria, now long gone apart from a few scraps, was owned and built by the Great central Railway, a company that was the last hurrah of the Victorian idea of railways. You leave the station onto the bustling Sheaf Square, a pedestrianised precinct formed by the diverting of a busy road to give the station a easier to use setting. A black & white image of the water features and the stainless steel wall fountain that forms part of it head this post.
One of the places I like to visit when I am in the city is the Botanical Gardens off Eccleshall Road, you can use the bus but I prefer to walk, it provides me with more camera time as I make my way through the busy streets. There as been much modernisation over the years but much remains.
The waterworks offices now have a new life selling something a little stronger than before, it’s now a Lloyds Bar.
The Botanical Gardens sit on a hilltop, away from what would have been the smoke and fumes of the steel industry which made Sheffield it’s fortune and opened in 1836.
As well as the Garden’s own restaurant the area around is well provided with places for the hungry photographer to refresh his or herself either before or after whiling away a couple of very enjoyable hours in Sheffield’s little paradise.
There are a couple of routes I can take back to the city centre, depending on time. weather and my mood. I always fit in a walk through the streets for candid images, something the city rarely fails to provide. One spot I visit is the old General Cemetery , opened as a private burial ground but now used as a public park. It contains memorials of the high Victorian style along with chapels, all now at rest beneath a spreading carpet of trees and wildflowers.
Once back into the city it’s time for a look around the streets before the train home, Fargate in the city centre is always a hive of activity.
Generally I make time for a quick visit to the very civilised ‘Sheffield Tap’ a bar on the railway station that has been opened in what was a former waiting room, it also has it’s own micro brewery which you can watch in action as you enjoy a drink. It’s a very pleasant way to wait for a train. Try it if you are ever in the area.
I like fish and chips, I also like really good fish and chips. One of my favourite ‘chippies’ is in the small town of Knott End which faces out over the wide expanse of Morecambe Bay.
This is the chip shop in question, it’s easy to find, it’s the only one. You can do take away or be posh and sit in. Depending on the bracing Lancashire weather I usually take my fish and chips al fresco and sit out on the nearby promenade and enjoy the views across the bay.
Now to get to Knott End, the origin of the name is lost in the mists of time, it may have referred to twin mounds of stones which once stood on the shore but were cleared when nearby Fleetwood Harbour was built, I can either drive all there way there or make my way to Fleetwood which is on the opposite side of the River Wyre estuary and take the Knott End Ferry. This may sound odd but the road distance between two towns is approximately 11 miles as you skirt the Wyre estuary to the first road crossing then head back along the other side. The ferry journey is about three minutes.
This is the Pharos at Fleetwood, one of the two navigation lights built by the architect Decimus Burton to aid shipping using the channel into the town’s harbour. Fleetwood has it’s beginnings as a planned town in the 1830’s on land owned by local magnate Peter Hesketh Fleetwood. The original plan had the street laid out in a half wheel pattern centered on the largest of a series of sand dunes near the shore, this became the Mount and it’s surrounding ornamental gardens.
The ferry leaves from the landing stage opposite the tram stop for the famous Blackpool trams which also serve Fleetwood. The current ferry boat is the ‘Wyre Rose’ and it runs through the day on a regular timetable. some days the crossing is smooth, sometimes not but at only three minutes or so there’s not a lot to worry about. There is also small waiting room on the Fleetwood side if the weather is being unfriendly.
The ferry has it’s regular users, it’s a pleasanter prospect to use the short ferry crossing to Fleetwood with it’s market and shops, than to drive or travel by bus along the winding roads.
Things at the Knott End side are a little more basic, or bracing depending on the height of the tide but it’s only a short walk up the slipway to the promenade and its cafe, converted out of the old station buildings of the former Knott End Railway, an extremely local line with a very chequered financial history
On your way across, you may see the skeletal remains of the Wyre Light, the now ruined third of the estuary’s lighthouses. Built by the engineer Alexander Mitchell it dates from the 1840’s.
There’s a handy clock by the chip shop, so you can keep you eye on the time for your ferry back.