Last time I went to Northumberland I was with two course mates who were also studying photography, and we were on a mission to get some long exposure coastal imagery. We didn’t have a whole lot of money so we couchsurfed in Alnwick and hit all the touristy spots – Holy Island, Bamburgh, the Farne Islands. The last place we visited before we left was Amble, and for some reason one of the strongest memories I have from that trip was the amazing luxury gelato place that we visited before hitting the motorway back down south.
When I went back up that way earlier this month I was naturally on a mission to track down this gelato place and make sure I had another taste (the photography coming in second only). I was staying with my brother in Newcastle for a few days, and as I wasn’t working I decided to stay on for an extra few days to explore the coast. I’d never combined serious photography with a family visit before – my brother was very clearly not intending to join me for the 4am wake up to catch sunrise. I also was staying in Newcastle, which is relatively close to the coast but I didn’t want to be travelling for an hour for sunrise.
Lucky for me sunset was in such an awkward place around that coast that it wasn’t too tempting to stay out (although I was annoyed as they were usually lovely). I managed to drag him and his girlfriend to the Farne Islands and I spread some puffin love, which I am very proud of. Being where I was I decided to explore the southern Northumberland coast a bit more rather than going up north too much mid-summer and avoid the tourists. I was pleasantly surprised by Tynemouth, though not necessarily for sunrise photography. Whitley Bay was probably my favourite for sunrise, though Blyth would have been nice as well. The rest are rather unassuming and if you’ve exhausted some of the more obvious locations could present a bit more of a challenge if that’s your thing. Amble was lovely as always (I’ve never seen it at sunrise, could be very good!) and the ice cream was out of this world!! The place is called Spurreli and is a must-visit on any trip up there. In conclusion: if you’re going for coastal photography in Northumberland, I think staying north of Amble would be more worth your while.
On the Tuesday I took a bit more time to see Kielder Forest. I drove there up the A68 which was an absolutely gorgeous drive with straight roads and lots of hidden summits (very fun at 60mph). First stop was Hareshaw Linn on the boarder of the national park, which is a waterfall at the end of a well-marked trail. It’s a fairly easy hike and the waterfall at the end is worth it, so that one is a yes! I didn’t feel Kielder water impressed me very much and it’s not quite as forested as I’d imagined (the crag though provides a lovely 10K run). If you’re looking for a forest in the traditional sense you’re better off going farther north and possibly into the Cheviots, though I can’t confirm that. I did venture up to Hindhope Linn, which as a waterfall was a bit disappointing but the hike was very mossy and green – a bit more what I’d imagined. I was on a mission to find waterfalls, which aren’t too plentiful in the area, but it’s a lovely place to go exploring and I hope to go back up at some point to do some star trails and milky way shots up there.