My favourite place - Mark Gilligan

PUBLISHED: 00:00 21 March 2019

Mark's shot of the Esk Valley - from sheep 'manicured' fields to magnificent mountainous terrain

Mark's shot of the Esk Valley - from sheep 'manicured' fields to magnificent mountainous terrain


Salford-born Mark Gilligan is award-winning photographer whose work in the Lake District has brought international acclaim.

Mark GilliganMark Gilligan

I love all the Lake District. There, I said it! It is so special to me for many reasons both personal and professional, but I have a particular love affair with the Western Lakes. I am lucky to be able to travel around and photograph all of the national park throughout the seasons but now I find myself regularly drawn to the Esk Valley as my ‘go to’ place.

While not possessing a lake, mere or large body of water as such, it has the magnificent River Esk that flows from its mountainous origins under the Scafells, meandering through rugged terrain that is almost akin to an American wilderness then dissecting farmland and classic picturesque villages before finally arriving at the Irish Sea near Muncaster. A walk from Brotherilkeld to Lingcove Bridge and back will give you a flavour of the valley from a low perspective but if you can get yourself up on higher ground you will be able to gain views of both ends. There, the views are magnificent.

Easiest way to do that is via the car park to the old Roman fort on Hard Knott. It will allow you easier access and after a short, five minute trundle across the fell, will afford you the most magnificent views. To your left are the farmlands with the Herdwick manicured fields and to your right, you will see the imperious ‘pointy’ Bow Fell magnificently overseeing all that is below and beyond. I never tire of those views. Even when it is inclement, I will often wander up there to catch the ‘god light’ as it bursts through and I am mesmerised as the celestial torch punches through the clouds and gives me a fantastic natural light show. I always feel it is a privilege to stand there and witness it!

Mark Gilligan’s work features regularly in Lancashire Life. As well as being named one of Britain’s top landscape photographers by The Sunday Times, he received an award for excellence from the Outdoor Writers’ and Photographers’ Guild. He hosts workshops, gives talks and guides walks in the Lakes.

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