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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 15:51 GMT
Drivers offered guidebook to M6
Traffic on the M6
Mike Jackson chose the M6 for his 'journey of discovery'
Culture and history rarely spring to mind when stuck in a motorway traffic jam but a new book aims to let drivers appreciate the beauty around them.

Author Mike Jackson spent three months travelling 261 miles on the M6 and M6 Toll for the M6 Sights Guide.

The book - a follow-up to the M5 Sights Guide - lists more than 400 structures that can be seen from the car or are located near the road.

"Some people explore the Himalayas, I explore the M6," Mr Jackson said.

'Great joy'

Mr Jackson, a television producer, said: "We are trying to cover everything that a passenger in a car can see travelling either north or south.

"There are many things that bemuse when you see them for the first time.

"You then track them down with an Ordnance Survey map and camera and you find they're far more interesting.

"The great joy of the book and the pleasure of doing it is making people's journeys more enjoyable.

"Instead of travelling along an anonymous stretch of road, they can now realise they're going along a road full of a road full of interesting historical, commercial and cultural things.

"It's a journey of discovery for me."

'Cloud factory'

Mr Jackson, from Malvern, Worcestershire, says the Carlisle to Rugby road features factories, farms, warehouses and offices.

His book also lists churches, castles, homes, communication towers, shops, as well as railway lines, rivers and canals.

Among the entries are the so-called "Cloud Factory", near the Knutsford services in south Cheshire.

Clouds of steam - and occasionally flames - can be seen periodically from the road, prompting truckers to inform each other by CB radio when it is in operation.

On closer investigation, Mr Jackson found the factory dried grass for cattle feed.

Others include a paper cutting factory near Walsall, West Midlands, that was set up by a couple who ran a fish and chip shop after they ran out of wrapping for their produce.

It now handles 1.5 tonne rolls of paper that, if unravelled from their base in Darlaston, would stretch about 10 miles down the road to Fort Dunlop, just past Spaghetti Junction, in Birmingham.

'Tourist attraction'

Mr Jackson said the original idea for his motorway guides came about after he travelled the country with television presenter Michael Aspel for the BBC's Antiques Roadshow.

The result - a tour of the M5 from the West Midlands to the West Country in Mr Jackson's battered Rover 214 - was the M5 Sights Guide, with a preface by Mr Aspel.

The M6 Sights Guide follows a similar format and aims to turn the motorway into a tourist attraction rather than just being a means to getting to one.

Mr Jackson is currently working on the BBC's Bargain Hunt and Flog It programmes.

He is planning further books on the M4 between Chiswick, west London, and Swansea, and the M1, from north London to Leeds.

M5 beauty guide thrills readers
09 Apr 04  |  England


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