Tag Archives: Co Durham

It is said that persistence is one of the greatest attributes that a landscape photographer can posses. Having discovered yesterday that there was a cave to get past the point from Byer’s Hole (or The Wherry) that might give access into the bay at 2.1m over datum it seemed obvious to have another go if the weather forecast look good – which it did.

I got round the point at 0630 with 2.0m over datum hanging onto the cliff to steady myself and timing the waves – the last 2 meters involved bolder hoping to avoid going over my wellies. The cave was easy and I was on the beach with more water than I had seen before and off to the arch for 0739 sunrise. There was a dark cloud but a free horizon so a nice sunrise but no post glow as the sun then went ‘into’ the dark cloud.

Off Lizard Point below Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn

Off Lizard Point below Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn

Arch at Lizard Point below Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn

Rangefinder at Lizard Point below Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn

Arch at Lizard Point below Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn

Arch at Lizard Point below Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn

By 0840 (low tide 1.0m over datum) I was at the point on the entrance to Byer’s Hole taking a photo Byers Hole-Prof Ian Purves-20130209-0840and met a nice local bloke who was heading off to winkle ‘harvest’ just past Lizard Point. I mentioned the tide and seemed to have no anxiety so we got talking – he regularly uses the cave then climbs the cliff – he also comes down this way! He also mentioned you can walk to Marsden Rock but once past Lizard Point the rocks get bigger and its a bit of a scramble – might have a go.

In post processing I noted some diffraction again – I have got into the bad habit of using f/16 in the dark as it gives more chance of getting foreground and horizon in focus plus it gives slower shutter – comparing one shot when I opened up to f/8 from f/16 and took the identical shot you can see the blurring.

Personal learning notes

I was using the D800 and Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/21 ZF.2

  • Diffraction can be seen in the images over f/8.0 (especially f/16) – got to stop using apertures over f/8.0 unless I really need to
  • The Lee filters are great – whilst I can apply a grad filter in post processing you get some noise pulling the foreground – note the images with 18 point star on the sun (from Zeiss 21mm) this was missing with the Cokin filters.
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Having been to Lizard Point a few weeks ago I had been disappointed that the tide prevented me from taking a set of dawn shots of the arch. Today was the return trip with the only favourable tide in 2013!

The upside was that I discover that maybe it is possible at other times of the year – more of in a moment. The downside was it was a cold miserable dizzily day and the sun was nowhere to be seen – not anything vaguely resembling golden hours – except a bit of glow from Sunderland. So I took few long shots then raced back to the point for the tide – I only had 1hr 15 mins on the beach as the low tide was 1.28m at 0750 with sunrise at 0744.

I got round the point at 1.5m over datum with a 60cm swell – had to time it between waves at the apex.

Lizard Point

Coming back I noticed a cave in the rock above me and so explored it – it comes out where the blue circle is (on the iphone photo below) – its a bit tight but its a good 4m above datum.

You can go up to where the blue arrow is and you are faced with the rock face in the inset its a ‘difficult’ climb and a bit loose, there is a metal stake hammered in where the red circle is – that helps. If you are competent scrambler you might risk it? … coming down is another thing I wouldn’t recommend it especially in the dark … plus the top is very loose.


The route round I have been using is the red arrows – below where the head of the second red arrow is where the tide is lowest.

Rather than climb up you should come back onto the beach, if you can, and then lowest point is mid the first red arrow – maybe 1.8m above datum though its protected and in wellies I bet 2.1m is OK.

On my way back to the car I noticed this sign naming ‘Byer’s Hole’ (as on OS Map) as The Wherry – the sign is right above the entrance to the beach.

The Wherry Whitburn

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So yesterday Simon Owens recommended Chemical Beach in Seaham and I was intrigued by the sea stack, the posts, the wheels (but these would be under water due to tide) and the arch. Plus looking at few other photos was encouraging. The weather forecast was good and so it was a go – the plan was see what there was but also try to get the sun through the arch. Great metaphor for drawing you into a new day – loved it since the “The Bridge” in Namibia!

Sunrise at The Bridge at Spitzkoppe in Namibia

Sunrise at The Bridge at Spitzkoppe in Namibia

Simon gave great directions (see map below) and I parked in the dark in the first parking bay, hopped over the barrier and headed left. Really glad of the new wellies it was steep and muddy – the path curves back on itself as it goes down and you have to hop over the large granite boulders – not easy in the dark! On reaching the beach it’s a shale one and there was a feint gold glow on the horizon.

The beach got its name from Seaham Chemical Works which occupied a nearby site in the 1860s. By the 1890s, both it, and Seaham Iron Works, former occupier of the Dawdon Colliery site at Nose’s Point, were ‘disused’. The wooden piles on the beach were supports for a rail track used by wagons for tipping mine waste from Dawdon Pit into the sea. In the middle of the beach is a magnesian limestone stack (Liddle Stack) and the far end is Nose Point where the arch is through to Blast Beach.

Sunrise At The Cave

Sunrise At The Cave by Dave Brightwell

It was 0730 by the time I got to Nose Point at the far end and it was clear the tide was too high (high tide 0944 neaps) to get round the first part of the nose you clearly need low water (and probably not a neaps one) Dave Brightwell has a great photo of the arch on Flickr (see right) – even this is too high a tide to see through but I am sure it can done. So I got down to looking at the stack and the posts.

Thanks Simon, some of the photo’s below (click for lightbox) and perhaps some others in my North East Gallery.

Personal Learning Notes:

  • Visit Chemical Beach at low tide to check out the arches
  • The D800 auto colour balance gave different results today compared with yesterday and so did Lightroom? Back to explore colour balance with ND filters!

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