The beauty of landscape photography is that it gives you an excuse to travel and discover different parts of the country. The Northumberland coast was a place I had longed to explore for a while. It regularly features in photography magazines with images of romantic looking castles and wild windswept beaches I decided it was time to find out for myself exactly what this coastline had to offer.
Our base for the week was a holiday cottage on the coast midway between Bamburg Castle and Lindisfarne with the added bonus of a footpath from the door to the beach, great for early morning outings without having to use the car. The beach was amazing, miles of pale sand backed by low dunes topped with a sea of marram grass. Wonderfully wild, fully of wildlife and in December pretty deserted.
Sand dunes at Ross Beach
Ross Beach and Bamburg Castle
From Ross it is only a 20 minute drive to the enigmatic island of Lindisfarne. A long winding causeway links the island to the mainland and access is limited to about 5 hours in each tide. Despite the huge number of tourists that visit every year the island has retained its sense of wild, peace and tranquility. It is a beautiful place which tugs at the soul and its easy to feel a deep connection with the landscape here.
On the edge of the harbour is a brand new building, the “window on wild Lindisfarne” which is part visitor centre part bird watching hide. Its modern exterior faced in silvered wood and local stone has been designed to fit unobtrusively into the surrounding landscape whilst its interior is filled with all sorts of information on the island and its wildlife. From here we followed the way marked island path past the harbour and castle before turning left to continue a circumnavigation of the island. Photographically Lindisfarne has much to offer, although to really make the most of a visit here I would recommend staying on the island as this may be the only way to get sunset and sunrise images.
Following the coast northwards it doesn’t take long to reach the Scottish boarder and the coastal town of Eyemouth. The geology of the coast is completely different here despite the short distance. Sandy beaches are replaced by rocky cliffs and small harbours with narrow entrances. We parked on the edge of Eyemouth harbour which despite it’s relatively small size has deep water and is capable of handling larger fishing boats, many of which were tied up along the harbour walls. Outside the narrow harbour entrance the sea crashed and rolled whipped up by a strong north easterly wind, inside all was calm, a flock of eider ducks making the most of the shelter from the raging sea.
A little further north is the pretty fishing village of St Abbs. From here it is possible to pick up the Berwickshire Coastal path, a 48km route which runs from Cockburnspath in the north down to the English Border and Berwick-upon-Tweed the south.
St Abbs has a lot of character and is a lovely pace to explore. Its tiny harbour lined with fishing boats and creel pots sits on a rocky stretch of coast surrounded by red cliffs which teem with nesting seabirds in the summer. Outside the visitor centre is a tiny bronze statue called “Widows and bairns of the disaster” which is one of 4 such artworks erected to commemorate Scotland’s worst fishing disaster which occurred in 1881 when a total of 189 men were killed in waters just outside Eyemouth when a hurricane struck the coast.
We followed the footpath from the village to St Abbs head with its lighthouse sitting snuggly in a hollow in the cliff. The walk took us through some stunning scenery and was well worth the effort for the views at the top.