Yorkshire Coast Photography Part One – Saltwick Bay

Posted by on June 21, 2012

Saltwick Bay - The Wreck of the Admiral Von Tromp, Black Nab and Saltwick by Mark Sunderland

"The Wreck at Black Nab" by Mark Sunderland

Saltwick Bay is a fantastic location to photograph at all times of the year and is well worth many repeat visits to capture all it has to offer. Particularly in the height of summer – due to its Northeast facing coastline this means that at certain times you can get sunsets as well as sunrises over the sea, which makes this bay quite unique.

Also due to the many features within the bay, the weather doesn’t stop photography in any way, from Saltwick and Black Nab to the Wreck of Admiral Von Tromp to the really interesting rock pools and textured rocks there is no shortage of subjects.

Black Nab, Saltwick Bay, East Coast Yorkshire, England

From the costal path looking into Saltwick Bay at high tide by Sam Oakes

Located just south of Whitby, take Hawksker Lane from the Abbey until you reach a signpost for “Whitby Holiday Park” – take the lane to the end and before you reach the holiday park entrance, there is a car park on the right. From here there is a well-worn path down to the bay itself or alternatively there is a costal path to the right for views up high.


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The best times of day to photograph the bay are usually at sunrise when you can get some great light looking towards Saltwick Nab at all times of the year, and of course sunsets, which at the height of summer you can capture over the sea. This is possible from late May to late July.

During the day the bay is full of rock pools left by the receding tide and some amazing textures in the rocks, which can be great on a day with flat light using longer exposures. They also make excellent foreground interest especially if the light is just right you can get fantastic reflections of Black Nab or cloudy skies.

At the northern end of the bay you will see the instantly recognizable Saltwick Nab, which has the shape of a huge whale rising out of the water. The beach is littered with rocks fallen from the surrounding cliffs and along the shelf you will find what’s known as Shield Reefs which are circular patterns in the rocks that make excellent subjects in themselves.

Saltwick Nab and Bay, East Coast Yorkshire, England

Sunset at Saltwick Nab by Sam Oakes

At the other end of the bay you will find Black Nab, an unusual domed shape rising out of the rock caused by erosion of softer surrounding rock. At low tide you will find the Wreck of the Admiral Von Tromp a fishing vessel from Scarborough, which came aground in 1976 due to a storm and claimed two lives.

Before planning your trip you should check the tide times by following this link http://www.pol.ac.uk/ntslf/tides/?port=0174 and see when is best to visit, its worth noting that the tides are really important to watch as the flat shelves can only be accessed at low tides and you have short times when you can photograph before you get cut off. Therefore always photograph on an outgoing tide, which will give you plenty of time, and the rock pools will be nice and full.

Black Nab, Saltwick Bay, East Coast Yorkshire, England

Black Nab by Sam Oakes

Also some useful information is the sunset and sunrise times, which can be found here http://www.thesunrisetimes.com/Great_Britain/Whitby,_England_.aspx its best to try and coincide the sunset or sunrise with low tide to get the best positions.

Don’t forget to take with you sturdy walking boots or wellies and usually a waterproof. The best equipment you will need is a wide-angle lens plus a lens cloth for the sea spray, but most importantly is a tri-pod and cable release to get the best out of the long exposures. If you are shooting the sunrise or sunset don’t forget to take with you torch.

As well as the tides to look out for, be aware when close to the cliffs, particularly after storms or during winter, as the rocks can be unstable.

It’s an addictive location to photograph and its rare to see two images the same because the weather is ever changing and there are so many points to photograph from.

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