A week on tour to discover the best photo-locations in Southwest England. On average, 125 miles every day covered and at least three beautiful photo spots visited. In my blog post here, I have put together my six highlights of this trip for you.
Best photo-location of Southwest England No.1:
Exmoor National Park with its sweeping views over green rolling countryside with scattered sheep, cows and Exmoor ponies. Our last stop today and located mainly in the county of Devon. It was slowly sunset, so that the sky with its yellow and the gray rain-heavy clouds conjured up drama in this scene. Exmoor has become one of the places for me to come back to. Come back, to take better photos because I’ve gotten technically better. Come back, because I can take it in more and be not as overwhelmed as the first time. But also to come back, just to be there again. And before I get to enthusiastic here are a few pictures from Exmoor.
What where the other spots of the day?
Travel route and further photo spots
We started at Bristol with a porridge at Boston Tea Party, my favorite cafe. Short stop at the second largest stone circle of England (Stanton Drew) and on to Cheddar.
In Cheddar you can taste the only Cheddar cheese made in Cheddar and watch its production. We instead explored the beautiful landscape on a two-hour hike. After a climb, the view rewarded us. A beautiful gorge with forest, rocks, wild goats and climbers. Lots of photo opportunities to shoot wide landscape as well. The dramatic sky has made our photos even better. Although Cheddar was not my highlight of the day (maybe because, I already knew it), it is always worth a visit. (Well, maybe not at a weekend in the summer, since then there are the most tourists.)
We continued to Wells, where my favorite cathedral, the Wells cathedral stands. Wells is the smallest city in England. The cathedral is not only impressive from the outside because of its size and its variety of sculptures. It is just as impressive from the inside with its delicate architecture and unique atmosphere. We quickly took a look at the street that is longest continuously inhabited next to the cathedral and then we went on.
Our day ended in Lynton, a small harbour town on the West coast of England on the South West Coast Path. Photographing and enjoying the sunset over the sea is always welcome.
Best photo-location of Southwest England No.2:
Today I had my highlight of the day right at the first stop. We went to the Valley of Rocks and I was overwhelmed by the scenery, definitely my best photo-location no.2 of the best photo-locations of Southwest England.
It poured with rain, but that meant only a few hikers out there and plenty opportunities for unspoiled landscape shots as long as you protect your lens from rain. We are standing on the South West Coast Path, that I wanted to hike half of his length this year and started. Read my blog post about the Bedruthan steps, if you want to figure out more about my enthusiasm about the path.
Despite the rain, we had to get out of the car here and at least run into it. Take time to hike when you come here. Worth it. The rough coastline with rugged rocks is simply overwhelming and unique in its kind.
Further photo stops on route
The next photo stop was Hartland Quay Beach. For you perhaps even more beautiful than the Valley of Rocks. I admit that it can be a tough decision between these two. Also, the Spekes Mill Mouth waterfall, one mile south of Hartland Quay on also on the South West Coast Path, was worth photographing.
Further South we went on to Cornwall. Sandymouth Beach was lovely, but it can not compete with the other photo stops today.
At the end of this absolute rainy day we stopped at Tintagel with Tintagel castle and Merlin’s cave, which we wanted to enjoy in the evening light. Again, the pouring rain did not leave us and the new bridge over to the castle was still a construction site and prevented us from even entering the castle.
Best photo-location of Southwest England No.3:
My highlight of the third day and therefore one of the best photo-locations of Southwest England was clearly the Bodmin Moor. Unusual for me, a location not on the coast made it into the list. It is so isolated that only a few tourists find their way here. I feel at home here not seeing any trails. The stones remind me a bit of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Swiss Saxony in Germany.
You can easily get lost here at the Bodmin Moor and we had a hard time to find our way to Rough Tor near Camelford. From the parking lot you have about one more mile to go up to the top. A dramatic sky changed to pure sun and back to clouds and rain showers. My companion was surprised that the ground was extremely wet despite such a barren landscape. It is really a moor with rushes and others typical plants.
Here I had the opportunity to try out a super wide-angle lens (10 to 24 mm) on an APS-C camera. of course I love to share my pictures from this trial with you. The super wide-angle lens is especially good for showing this depth and wideness of scenery before us.
Further itinerary today
We had a very good lunch at the Golden Lion in Port Isaac and strolled along the harbour afterwards. Most of the boats lay aground. This is a typical image you see at low tide on the West coast of England where the difference between low tide and high tide is up to seven meters. In my post about the Bedruthan Steps I described that there can be a nice beach and at a different time everything under water, depending on the tide.
The Bedruthan Steps were not my highlight this time, as I already knew them and had written an entire blog article (How to start a walk over 300 miles -Bedruthan Steps) about this beautiful place. It is by no means one of the best photo-locations in Southwest England, but I had decided to choose just one per day. Nevertheless, I was pleased to be able to show this place to my companion. We got many breathtaking photos, this time with a super wide angle. We had low tide which allowed us to walk very far into the bay getting several perspectives that were not possible to me before.
Two more places were on the agenda for today: Newquay, the surfing paradise to photograph surfers in action. The sunset we finally photographed in St. Ives, not at its beautiful harbour, because the sun wasn’t visible from there. Instead we went to the beach near the Tate gallery and got the true atmosphere of sunset in Cornwall captured.
Best photo-location of Southwest England No.4:
My highlight of the fourth day may seem a little unusual, since it is the rural Cornwall away from the coast. Its it solitude that I like most about it.
The knowledge of the ancient history of this region gives it something mystical. This is particularly evident in the 4000-year-old stone circles of whose importance we know next to nothing. The tin mines, which have long determined the lives of the people of Cornwall, are the last witnesses of a brief intermezzo of industrialization, but also a tradition of tin extraction since the Bronze Age.
Surprisingly, rural Cornwall is again mainly moorland (as the Bodmin Moor is) and offers plants such as cotton grass the right conditions.
Here you can see a small gallery of my favorite pictures of rural Cornwall:
The other photo stops of this day were a flying visit to St. Michael’s Mount, a walk through the Lost Gardens of Heligan at St. Austell and finally a short visit to Polperro, a beautiful little harbour town. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to enjoy it fully, since it got late. Our trip ended in Plymouth where we let the day end at the harbour site.
Best photo-location of Southwest England No.5:
My fifth best photo-location of Southwest England is much further to the East. It is Budleigh Salterton, a place I’ve been to before in much better weather conditions. Nevertheless, it has again cast a spell over me with the Ottertal, the pines and the deep red water. Sure, this is a little insider tip, as even South West Coast Path hikers often walk past it without stopping on their way to Sidmouth and missing the opportunity to fully enjoying it. A sunset between Otter estuary and sea is something special.
Best photo-location of Southwest England No.6:
Today we went along the famous Jurassic Coast. This World Heritage Site on the English coast has geologically unbelievable things to offer. With each step to the East you walk 100 years of geological history. You move through the geological eras of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous from the older strata to the younger ones with lots of fossils to be discovered yet. There are unlimited photo-spots along that stretch of coastline.
We started with red cliffs of the Triassic at Budleigh Salterton, drive through Sidmouth and Seaton, stop briefly in Lyme Regis where the coast is already white-yellow and stop in West Bay with bright yellow cliffs. If you enjoy fossils, here it is worth looking for and photographing them. After several more kilometers, finally the chalk cliffs in Dorset.
The highlight is the world famous Durdle Door with clear white limestone. Durdle Door is an archway in the sea, which was naturally formed in the rocks during the Ice Age and lies in a beautiful blue water.
Have you been to Southwest England? What were your highlight photo locations? As always, I would be glad, if you leave me a comment or question under this post.