North Devon Coastal Photography day

Blog - Phil-osophy on Landscape Photography > North Devon Coastal Photography day
01/05/2014 - 12:42

North Devon




The first stop on the jorney was at The Valley of Rocks, a hanging valley perched above the cliffs near Lynton.


'Castle Rock'

 Pentax Kx


The Valley of Rocks  lies in  Exmoor National Park. The area contains excellent exposures of the Lynton Beds, which are rich in fossil remains. They are the oldest Devonian units in the North Devon – Somerset area.

The Valley of Rocks also displays classic landforms, notably a dry valley and a range of periglacial features,

This stitched photo (3 frames in vertical 'portrait' format) was in challenging light of late morning in Spring - though a 2-stop graduated neutral density filter and a circular polarizer helped!



We headed then down to Lynmouth for fish and chips and a wander about.


Lynmouth at low tide - a panoramic stitch of two frames

Nikon Coolpix 5200 (digital compact)




Gul at Lynmouth

Nikon Coolpix 5200 (digital compact)




The Exmoor National Park Visitor Centre at the Pavilion is along the seafront here, along with the 19th Century funicular Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway.





Nikon Coolpix 5200 (digital compact)



The next destination was down in Lynmouth Quay. The sky was bright & blue, and without much interest in the clouds to add any narrative, so my attention was drawn to photographing boats and abstract details instead.


 Pentax Kx


 Pentax Kx


 Pentax Kx


Harbours are such fascinating places to explore. Bright colours, rusty metalwork, abstract patterns & structures, a wealth of natural weathered textures. There is more to see than the obvious pretty boats, allow yourself time to explore the abundant possibilites! Consider landscape & portrait format / panoramics  (both horizontal and vertical!) and square format ideas.



Then we drove east a fair way to the Hartland Quay area of the North Devon A.O.N.B. Its a fascinating area of geological importance, amongst vast cliffs that made me feel tiny and humbled by their magnitude of size & age.



Golden hour light gilds the ancient cliffs at Hartland Quay

 Pentax Kx


 'Upon the Shoulders of Giants' - Early afterglow light from a sunken sun permeates a deep zawn at Hartland Quay.

 Pentax Kx



*The foreground flowers are Sea Thrift (Armeria maritima)


The rocks of Hartland Quay are the remains of a mountain range.


Sedimentary rocks, as sequences of shales and mudstones were deposited in a shallow sea during the Carboniferous period – around 320 million years ago.


 Pentax Kx




Plate tectonics caused the collision of two super continents with Hartland Quay in the middle. Devon was at the southern margin of a super-continent called Laurasia, which collided with the super-continent Pangaea – to the South. Intense folding can be seen on the main cliffs at Hartland Quay.


The collisions which brought this about are known as the ‘Variscan orogeny’, which took place over about 100 million years.









The event created the Variscan mountain belt, which includes the mountains of Portugal and western Spain, southwest Ireland, Cornwall, Devon, Pembrokeshire, the Gower Peninsula and the Vale of Glamorgan. The Variscan mountains running through southwest England were possibly up to 3,000m high.


The orogeny resulted in intrusions and volcanics in Devon and Cornwall – including the granite intrusions that underlie the South West peninsular of the UK (this is known as the ‘Cornubian batholith’). The batholith is exposed at the surface at several places including Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor.





John Ashworth, Mark Dugmore and Lady (the dog)  - along for the photography trip

Nokia E5-00 Android phone camera



Much of the photography I had seen of this area, prior to visiting, concentrated on the reefs that are exposed at low tide. As we had arrived around high tide, we were clearly going to need to look for other possibilities. The area has a wealth of photographic opportunities, due to it's fascinating geology and flora - we were not disappointed to miss seeing the reefs that the area is so well know for.


'Whisperings'  - This was photographed in the late afterglow, twilight blues of the sky immediately overhead bestow a rich hue to the waters and the Sea Thrift flowers on the edge of the zawn are gilded by the gloaming hues of the afterglow itself above the distant horizon.

(Exposure duration = 30 seconds)

 Pentax Kx



The promontory rocks near the hotel make for a great vantage point at sunset onto afterglow and twilight. Ther is deep zawn to the west of this headland and great views northeast along the huge cliffs. It made it possible to make several compositions within a radius of 20m or so, whilst savouring the everchanging hues from sunset to the afterglow lights on the whispy clouds, as the earth's shadow of the twilight slowly headed across to chase the sunken sun. 'Whisperings' was to be the final photo I made that evening, but it was one that really made me smile.




The day was ended with a hearty meal at The Hart Inn at Hartland village about a mile away from Hartland Quay. The fine food, beer and atmosphere comes highly recommended.





* Other places to explore nearby include Speke's Mill waterfalls, Hartland Point, Blackchurch Rock on Mouthmill Beach, Clovelly, Welcombe Mouth and Bucks Mill  - to name but a few. Well worth spending a weekend or longer in this area if you get the chance. Plenty of opportunities for photography. The area is great for rock climbing, surfing, and walks along the delightful coast path and coastal woodlands too.






Margaret and John
11/05/2014 - 21:45
FABULOUS photographs of the zawn rocks and the sedimentary rocks...such detail! Very tempting when we have the money.

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