Journeys in the North East (Part 4) - The Northumberland AONB

Blog - Phil-osophy on Landscape Photography > Journeys in the North East (Part 4) - The Northumberland AONB
23/11/2014 - 00:21



Day 3


I drove on my third day up to Alnmouth on the Northumberland coast. Well the intention was for John , Donna and I to all go up to the coast.  I managed to get 8 miles up the road when John’s car developed a problem and he insisted that whilst he sorted out that, that I take my own car and go anyway. “Phil man, yav gotta see the coast up there before ya go home!” was the marching order. Out of John's rather zippy Alpha Romeo car and back in the Jazz, the distance from Scotland ever decreased. Seeing the looming form of the Cheviot Hills far beyond confirmed that sense of being a long, long way from my home in Devon.


The breezy walk along Alnmouth Bay from the near the golf course and into the estuary was most pleasant. Bright sand; the lull of the North Sea; the sight of Coquet Island and its lighthouse; maram grasses in the dunes rythmically dancing in the salty breeze... the Northumberland coast was enchanting





'Alnmouth Strand' - Alnmouth Dunes (Site of Special Scientific Interest)
Northumberland AONB



In the image above, autumnal afternoon sunlight gilds the dune grasses sweeping in the sea brreze at Alnmouth - looking out over the river mouth and its strandline, to Coquet Island beyond.


Being alone on this day of my stay in the North East, I spent a few unhurried hours exploring the estuary and beach. I wandered about these boats, into the ebbing waters, around the sand banks and the edge of the marshes - exploring form, patterns, textures & hues.


All the time considering compositions, the ever changing light and shadows - framing ideas with my hands before photographing. I feel that such an immersion (no pun intended!) in time and space helped in making some rewarding photographs, an attempt at trying to get to know a place a bit more. I approached it as I imangine one may do so with a large format photographer's consideration, one of analysing my emotive reaction on each occasion and trying to subtracti things from my framing that distracted rather than added. One ever learns through reflective thinking though. The image below is a 'version two' (in a lower tidal state), having been beguiled by beautiful light and missed seeing the slight overlap of the front and right yachts, which seemed to detract from the otherwise harmonic aesthetics. Hindsight is a wonderul thing!



'Alnmouth Marshes'



The yachts, in the image above, are moored in the saltmarshes of the Alnmouth Site of Special Scientific Interest, on an autumn afternoon with a receding tide.


The marshes are largely made up of: Sea Purslane, Seepweed, Common Saltmarsh-grass, Sea Aster, Sea Arrowgrass, Marsh Samphire, Sea Plantain and Sea Thrift





The light on the scene below & the brooding weather front approaching from the south west was joyous and theatrical I thought. It was a fleeting moment of semi-chiaroscuro in a location where human engineered fences, distant rural buildings and the immediate boats seemed to sit harmoniously in a stage set of natural beauty.









“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary”

 Aaron Rose






'Mizpah' - a squaroramic stitch of two individual frames



The wooden coble boat 'Mizpah' sits beside more modern cousins in the low tide at Alnmouth.

The coble is a type of open traditional fishing boat which developed on the North East coast of England.

The distinctive shape of the boat — flat-bottomed and high-bowed — arose to cope with the particular conditions prevalent in this area. Flat bottoms allowed launching from and landing upon shallow, sandy beaches; an advantage in this part of the coast where the wide bays and inlets provided little shelter from stormy weather. However, fishermen required high bows to sail in the dangerous North Sea and in particular to launch into the surf and to land on the beaches. The design contains relics of Norse influence, though in the main it shows Dutch origin.


Local boat-builders constructed the clinker-built cobles locally as required, without the use of plans. The craftsmanship on many boats gave them a long working life. They had a reputation as dangerous to sail for an inexperienced crew, but in the hands of experts could move both safely and speedily.




There is something restful and yet quietly energetic about estuarine moorings, I feel. They seem to have a narrative quality despite the temporal  & sedentary nature of where the boats lay.


It is an enquiry that brings a sense of mystery and intrigue - of wanting to know something of the previous and planned voyages of these craft in calm or turbulent seas.







Yet there they rest upon the sandbanks with the sun accentuating their graceful forms under the mewing cry of guls and the gentle warm breezes of an autumn afternoon, vacant portals  awaiting to set out on future endeavours in the North Sea.




'Alnmouth' - a 3 frame panoramic view looking from the marsh samphire fringed estuary to the south east corner of the village.






The End






* I would like to thank very much the following people who helped make this wonderful and fun 4 day trip possible and brilliant in myriad ways:

John & Jacob A; Sarah W, Bethany and Ellis; Margaret and John; Donna, Paul, Bethany and all the Geordie's I chatted to on the first night too at the party,  a great bunch of people indeed.







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