Kimmeridge Bay is situated on the Isle of Purbeck at the heart of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast and about three and a half miles south of Wareham and five miles west of Swanage Bay. It is easily accessible by road, although you will have to pay a toll (currently £5 for a car) as this is private land.
Famous for its geography, geology and fossils, the bay is approached through the village of Kimmeridge on a dead-end road. Currently a Jurassic Coast and fossil museum is being built in the village. The roads in this area can be narrow and winding so care should be taken, especially in the busier summer months.
Kimmeridge beach is pebbly, but the main attraction is the rock ledges that protrude into the sea for about 200 metres. Captured with the correct tide and technique, they make for interesting subject matter.
Many photographers will get no further than the first rock ledge, which is a shame as further around the bay the pebbles give way to rock that has the look and texture of elephant hide. Skirting further west around the bay and past the red military-range sign (if the flag is flying, go no further) there are some very interesting rock formations, which also make for good locations. To the east of the car park there are a few huts as well as a launch ramp for boats.
Time to visit
Kimmeridge Bay can be photographed at any time of year. However, I would avoid the summer for two reasons – there will be too many people around, and the sun rises and sets in the wrong place. This is a south-facing coast and the best time of year to shoot it is in winter, when you’ll be facing into the sunset, especially during mid-December on or around the shortest day.
Not only do you want the right weather, but you’ll also want the right tide. Kimmeridge Bay is one of those strange places that experiences a double tide due to its position on the English Channel. Check the tide times and then check them again. I prefer to work with an incoming tide, as it’s easier to anticipate where the water will be, how much time you have to make your shot and hopefully give you a dry exit route. Patience is a virtue and there will no doubt be a lot of hanging around in what is quite an open, unprotected space. Warm windproof clothing will make life a little more tolerable.
Food and lodging
In Kimmeridge village there is a fantastic café and restaurant called Clavells. Hot food, lunches and afternoon teas are available. My top tip is to have a bite to eat and then head out to the bay. They may have finished charging for the car park by late afternoon as well.
There is plenty of accommodation locally – everything from bed and breakfasts to luxury hotels. Try the Springfield Country Hotel at Stoborough for a hotel close to lots of good locations, or for something extra special try The Priory in Wareham.
Filters for increasing the exposure length and blurring the water would certainly be advantageous. Try the Lee Filters Big Stopper for some interesting effects. Naturally, a sturdy tripod and cable release are musts.
Good footwear is essential. Investing in a decent pair of neoprene-lined wellies is just about the best thing you can do,
as there is a strong probability that you’ll get your feet wet.
A rucksack-style kit bag is the best to use in these conditions. Take out the kit you need and keep the
bag on your back. Getting distracted by your location and shot is easily done – you don’t want to turn around to find seawater lapping at your bag.
Jeremy Walker is an award-winning professional photographer with many years’ experience specialising in high-quality landscape and location photography from around the world. www.jeremywalker.co.uk