Favourite Locations: Crosby Beach

In the Favourite Locations articles we will be asking photographers to tell us about a particular location that they simply love to photograph.

It might be a small, local site that only a few people know about, or a huge expanse that requires some expert knowledge to get the best out of. It doesn't matter whether it's within walking distance or a day's plane flight away; it's all about the location, location, location.

Here, Gill McGowan tells us about one of her favourite photography spots: Crosby Beach

What?

If you’re planning some time at the beach with your camera, then a sandy stretch adjacent to Liverpool and the Mersey estuary may not immediately come to mind. However think again – this long, straight beach is home to Antony Gormley’s “Another Place” installation – 100 iron life size statues cast in his own image, placed at intervals along the beach. Add into the equation the Burbo Bank Offshore Wind Farm as a backdrop, Bootle Docks at the south end of the beach, a view onto the north end of Wirral, decrepit jetties and a variety of ships entering and leaving the Mersey, and you have a very varied photographic mix. Don’t expect much by way of traditional seaside facilities, though – there are no shops or attractions, and toilet facilities are only to be found at the north end of the beach, which has a deceptively rural feel due to the dune behind the promenade.

Where?

Another Place is located at Crosby in Merseyside, just north of Liverpool and Bootle. The area of beach included is 2 miles long – much to my surprise! I’ve had so much pleasure walking all over it, I really had no idea it was so large.

I’ve found 3 parking areas which offer access to the beach. At the southern end there is parking at The Esplanade – however this involves a fair hike past Marine Lake to access the beach. A mile further north, at the end of Mariners Road, there is parking at Crosby Leisure Centre, where the beach is only a couple of steps over a path through the dune. And at the north end of the beach there is parking by the Lifeboat Station at the end of Hall Road West, which again is right beside the promenade and beach.

Read carefully the signs about not walking out too far on the beach – the sand does get very wet and soft the further you get from the promenade. I’ve sunk into it to above the ankles myself when I’ve strayed a little too far, so tread carefully! Because of this and the shallow streams which are a feature of the beach, I recommend beach shoes or wellies, depending on the season.

When?

In terms of season, there’s no bad time to go really – however it is popular with families during school holidays, making the limited parking more difficult to secure. I’ve found it as interesting (if chilly!) to visit in January as I have in August.

I would strongly recommend you consult the tide table for Liverpool before your visit – when the tide is in it comes right up to the promenade. Whilst it’s quite interesting to watch the heads of the statues appearing as the tide recedes, you’ll get more from your visit if the tide is out.

Why?

This place absolutely entrances me - no two visits are quite the same. The statues have a wistful and isolated quality all on their own, staring out to sea. They’ve each aged in their own way, changing them from their original uniformity to give individuality. Some have gone green, others are covered with barnacles. Some stand slightly higher than the sand, and others have become embedded in it to thigh level. Occasionally visitors dress them up, giving them a real quirkiness. The wind farm, dunes, and even the docks form interesting backgrounds. And the beach is west facing, so if you time it right, you can get some great sunset shots.

It’s also interesting to try to capture the reaction of other visitors to the figures. These vary from disinterested dog walkers, to curious children, shell collectors, and people having fun interacting with the statues.

Wandering along this fascinating stretch of beach is a great stress buster – but be prepared to come away with a vast quantity of images to process!

Gill McGowan is a photographer based in North Wales. She started photography with her Mum’s Box Brownie, developing and printing black and white photos with her Dad in the garage 40 years ago. After dabbling with it from time to time in the meantime, it became a passion again three years ago. See more of her photos on Flickr

wex blog needs you!

Do you have a particular location you'd like to share with fellow photographers? Do you know a special spot that is so beautiful makes it almost impossible to take bad photos? Have you stumbled off the beaten path and found a landscape that others should know about?

If so, we'd love you to write a Favourite Location article for the Wex Blog! Simply write to us telling us what the location is, where it can be found, when people should visit and why it's one of your favourite places, plus include any of your own photos that show the location at its best.

We're hoping to publish one of these a month, so get thinking, shooting and writing and send your submissions to blog@wexphotographic.com.