I was recently asked by a fellow photographer where I would recommend for him to visit on a trip to Cornwall. Well where do you start? Cornwall has such an abundance of beautiful locations to capture, from heather clad moorland, ancient landscapes, golden beaches, remnants of the industrial heritage to outstanding sunsets on rugged clifftops.
Then there is the crystal clear water of the Atlantic Ocean and the subdued light at St Ives, favoured by so many artists down the years. Perched on a peninsula surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic, the higher than normal level of ultra-violet reflected off the ocean creates a bright, luminous quality that has attracted artists for over two hundred years. There’s a healthy smattering of galleries and independent boutiques to browse here, giving your creative side so much inspiration. The best way to visit St Ives in the summer season is to use the park and ride service because space really is at a premium down in the town. Once the fishing industry had dried up at the end of the 19th century, a new railway line brought in the holidaymakers and it's been that way ever since.
One of my favourite locations to photograph not only in Cornwall but anywhere in the British Isles is the magnificent St Michael's Mount at Marazion near Penzance. At low tide access to the island is via the causeway. Setting out from Marazion Beach, it takes just minutes to walk across the ancient cobbled causeway that stretches from the mainland to the island but at high tide frequent motorboats leave from landing points along the shore at Marazion for the Mount's ancient harbour. Be prepared to share the the causeway with numerous other photographers searching for that unique angle to capture this mystical site. I favoured a low perspective to emphasise the path leading out to the mount just as the tide was partially covering the stonework. There is evidence of people living in the area during the Neolithic period (from circa 4000 BC to 2500 BC) The medieval church and castle are now the centrepiece with a beautiful sub-tropical garden clinging to the granite cliff face. Now run by the National Trust any visit to Cornwall has to include this iconic scene.
Above is Trevaunance Cove which is the main beach at St Agnes. I took this photograph at sunrise with just a fisherman launching his small boat for company. The beach is accessed via a fairly steep road down, and there are several car parks in the cove, all within walking distance of the beach. Head up to the clifftops and you will find Wheal Coates, situated between Porthtowan and St Agnes. Wheal Coates is a former tin mine mine opened in 1802 and was worked until its closure in 1889. It was re-opened for a short period between 1911 and 1913 when it was finally closed. The site is most notable for its three engine houses and in particular the iconic Towanroath Shaft engine house, which is now a Grade II listed building.
The coastal path alongside the engine house is a glorious walk with nature and the flow of the ocean. You can just imagine the stories of folklore, mining and shipwrecks that are synonymous with this area.
Being on the west coast the sunsets in Cornwall are pretty special too. Despite the popularity of this holiday destination you can still find scenes like this to take in the solitude.
As well as the popular summer months for visiting Cornwall, spring time also lends itself to some vibrant colours similar to this field of daffodils at the foot of St Agnes beacon.
Port Isaac is a traditional fishing village with a vibrant local community in north Cornwall and home to the TV series Doc Martin starring Martin Clunes. It has been a fishing village since the early fourteenth century and its narrow, winding streets are lined with old white-washed cottages and traditional granite, slate-fronted Cornish houses. I wanted some foreground interest here to frame the little harbour below and the colourful flowers were perfect. The name Port Isaac is derived from the Cornish Porth Izzick meaning the 'corn port'.
With the breeze coming off the Atlantic ocean, Gwithian Towans beach is always a great place to watch windsurfers and kit flyers and backed by the heather, wild grass and sand dunes it's a perfect location for photography. You have the Sunset Surf Cafe to stop and refuel and indulge in the laid back Cornish lifestyle. It also doubles up as a surf school and independent surf shop.
Godrevy Lighthouse was built in 1858–1859 on Godrevy Island in St Ives Bay, Cornwall. Standing approximately 300 metres off Godrevy Head, it marks the Stones reef, which has been a hazard to shipping for centuries. The white 26-metre octagonal tower was made famous by Virginia Woolfe in her novel 'To the Lighthouse'.
Bedruthan Steps - According to legend, the giant granite rocks below are the stepping stones for the giant Bedruthan. Getting down to this beach is a little perilous and only the fit and agile should attempt it and it is only accessible at low tide, so obvious care needs to be taken. At the top of the cliffs is a National Trust car park and cafe.
I only discovered The Minack Theatre on my most recent visit to Cornwall and what an awesome sight it was. Perched on the cliffs high above the ocean below is an open-air theatre constructed above a gully with a rocky granite outcrop jutting into the sea. The theatre was the brainchild of Rowena Cade, who moved to Cornwall after the First World War and built a house for herself and her mother on land at Minack Point for £100.
Miss Cade and her gardener, Billy Rawlings, made a terrace and rough seating, hauling materials down from the house or up via the winding path from the beach below. In 1932, The Tempest was performed with the sea as a dramatic backdrop, to great success. Miss Cade resolved to improve the theatre, working over the course of the winter months each year throughout her life (with the help of Billy Rawlings and Charles Angove) so that others might perform each summer.
After visiting the theatre I managed to climb down the meandering path cut into the cliffs to Porthcurno beach. With gorgeous fine soft white sand washed by a sea that turns turquoise in the sun and high cliffs on both sides providing shelter.
Cornwall’s most westerly surf hotspot, Sennen Cove, not far from Lands End has a long, sandy beach and small harbour the village combines working fishing port with laid back surf style.
As well as spending quality time on the beach it is also home to The Roundhouse and Capstan Gallery a fabulous showcase for Cornish arts and crafts. This Grade II listed building was constructed in 1876 to house the huge man powered capstan wheel which was originally open to the elements on the Sennen harbour beach.
One of the most popular and spectacular beaches in Cornwall is to be found at Perranporth
A great place for surfing, snorkelling and sailing and of course photography. I found myself on the beach at sunrise photographing the magnificent cliffs reflecting in the water. Early morning you’ll probably see a few horses and their riders having a paddle in the surf and there’s a welcome cafe for a coffee stop halfway along.
To finish this mini tour of some of the best locations to visit whether for photography or just to take in the diverse landscape that this most westerly county has to offer, we arrive at Harlyn Bay.
Situated on the eastern side of Trevose Head, just west of Padstow. The wide sheltered crescent of yellow sand provides plenty of space and with clifftop walks for walkers there are delightful routes from the beach to Mother Ivey’s Bay and Trevose Head.