Identifying Fords at first sight may seem difficult, however those Fords that still exist in the UK are shown on some of the Ordnance Survey and other maps. However it is a big task to take a map and just search it, it is shown on the map using the word 'Ford', not by any symbol. Tidal Roads are not defined on maps that allow you to identify them easily. Fords of course only occur on roads that cross rivers, streams or brooks, so you can take a look at where this happens, but in many cases there will now be a bridge it will only occur where the word Ford has been used. Tidal roads that go to islands from the mainland may be noticeable on a map, but not always. Okay so you can identify fords on maps but from this you cannot get any idea of whether they are worth visiting. You can also not identify a ford from a wet lane, tidal road or Irish bridge from the map itself. Some may still have water on them, some may have now been converted or have even dried up.
So at first sight there does not appear to be an easy way of identifying them. While researching this topic I have come across nearly 2,000 places, but there are going to be many more. Most of the sources I came across which had lists of them were built by those who have an interest in driving through them, usually with converted 4x4 vehicles, but not always most fords are suitable for cars and other forms of transport. Using a printed map will be easier than using an online mapping system to identify them initially, as the area covered is larger than you can get on the screen in anyone go. Of course once you've identified a potential ford on the printed map using the online mapping systems such as Multimap and Google Maps are ideal for pinpointing them closer and as these systems also use aerial maps and have 'birds eye' views you can even see if the ford is worth visiting.
For example: For the Ford at Eynsford in Kent the OS Map shows where this ford is, it's position within the village, the aerial version and using the Birds Eye view you get to see what can is around it and can be seen when you get there. Turning the road labels on will also allow you to identify the name of the road it is on, and which ones lead up to it, as they are not usually signposted until you are right on top of them.
However to make it easier for you I have put together 5 lists of the fords I found during my research. The following four lists identify where you can find Fords, Tidal Roads, Wet Roads and Irish Bridges broken down by country. Within the list it is organised by county. If you want to get to a county quickly then use the Ford Topic page to quickly get to the county of your choice.
Being organised by county you can use them to help you identify which are those that are closest to you, or in an area that you intend to visit. Within these lists you will find Grid References (NGR) for all of them and this is linked to a map which allows you to identify where they are. There are also many links to pictures that I was able to identify using Geograph which allows you to find out if you feel it is worth visiting before you make the trip. The Type column highlights those that are Irish Bridges (IB), Wet Lanes (WL) and Tidal Roads (TD). If you come across lists created by others you will find some have graded them, this has usually been done from the perspective of how much fun they are to drive through. I have also graded those in our lists from 1-5 which you will find in the Grade column. My grading system however is different in that I have graded them based on their photographic potential. I have graded them as:-
So my grade 5's in some cases may not have much water in them, but there are other features around them that make them really photogenic and therefore worth a visit to capture.
To help you identify the Grade 5's more easily I have extracted and created a further list of Featured Fords - which includes all the grade 5's and others that we have location guides for.
During the summer of 2009 I visited and photographed a number of Fords in different parts of the country. Using the Featured Fords list I identified those I wanted to visit and then used the main list to find others nearby to capture at the same time.
Another useful source may be go use an online photo system like Geograph or Flikr to take a look at pictures others have done. These can give you a good idea of what you can see and photograph when you get there, and you may also see images of them taken in dry and very wet times. With Geograph you can do a key word search for 'Ford' and this will bring up around 6,500 images all over the UK, or you could use their classification system for Fords which returns around 2,500.
Fords Explained, incl. Irish Bridge and Wet Roads, tidal Roads etc