Set along the dramatic Northumberland coast, Jon Gibbs reckons this remote location offers superb photo opportunities
Budle Bay is a stunning area along the dramatic Northumberland coast and a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. As a conservation area the 100 miles of coastline are protected from development, so its wonderful beach and dunes are great sources of amazing vistaas. Budle Bay also comprises a large area of mudflats that are a haven for wildlife, especially migratory birds during the winter.
The bay’s appeal lies in the wonderful vistas along the coastline, and the view inland towards the Cheviot Hills, either from the tops of the cliffs or at shore level.
Budle Bay is reached via the lovely village of Bamburgh, which is a short drive from the A1 – take the A1342 to reach the village. Bamburgh has its own wonderful locations, namely Bamburgh beach with its ever-popular view of Bamburgh Castle and the views out to sea towards the Farne Islands.
In Bamburgh village there is a large car park near the castle, but it is better to take the road in the village called The Wynding, which has ample opportunities for parking on the journey towards Bamburgh Golf Club.
If you can resist the temptation to shoot at Bamburgh, you can walk to Budle Bay heading north along the top of the cliffs and dunes bordering the golf club. If the tide is out you can drop down to the coast beyond the small lighthouse at Blackrocks Point and walk along the shore.
When I first visited Budle Bay, I couldn’t get over the wonderful view from the high dunes looking towards Ross Sands and beyond to Holy Island. It is a superb vista encompassing the wonderful shapes and contours of the bay that, in my opinion, are best photographed at low tide as the colours and shapes of the tidal channels viewed from above are marvellous.
It is also worth turning your viewpoint slightly inland from these high dunes towards the Cheviot Hills – they make a lovely feature for the horizon of your image. Reaching for a telephoto lens at low tide works wonders. Zooming into the tidal channels and dunes, and picking out the patterns and forms from above, produces wonderful abstract images.
The dunes at lower level are equally good to shoot from as they are still above the shoreline, so you can get a sense of distance and scale. They also provide the opportunity for abstract images. The weather can be wild and some of the sand patterns made by the wind are among the most photogenic I have seen.
This is very much a year-round location, but in winter the beach is devoid of footprints and has a really wild feel. It is worth visiting here for the view from the high dunes alone – one of my favourites in the whole of the UK.
Stop and stay
There are no real major centres of population on the Northumberland coast, but each village or town has its own selection of B&Bs and hotels. In Bamburgh there is The Victoria Hotel, which is a good option. Further south is the fishing village and seaside resort of Seahouses, which offers more options in terms of food and lodging.
When northerly and easterly winds blow, they can chill you to the bone, especially early or late in the day in winter. Make sure you are dressed properly – a good-quality windproof jacket is essential.
This is ideal for picking out abstract images from the shapes of the tidal channels of the bay.
Jon Gibbs is an award-winning landscape photographer and photographic gallery owner from Norfolk. www.jon-gibbs.co.uk