Picture perfect Padstow
David Chapman turns his lens on Padstow
Padstow is a brilliant base for a photographic trip, whether that’s a full-blown holiday or simply a day out. Not only is it packed to the gunnels with trendy eateries, charming back streets and a photogenic harbour but from it lead a network of paths, cycle ways and boats which allow visitors to explore and photograph the surrounding area in a multitude of ways. In this article I aim to share some of my own experiences of photographing in and around Padstow.
I said in my intro that the harbour in Padstow is photogenic and that is the way I always think of it, but having said that I always struggle to find the ‘perfect’ composition. There are some lovely old buildings around the harbour, particularly on the west side, and a good range of boats in the water which is often calm enough to provide wonderful reflections. The early morning light can be fantastic and I love photographing harbours at dusk when the streetlights have just come on. So what is the problem? I always like to include foreground interest in a landscape photo and I have always found that a struggle at Padstow harbour. The big boats are too close and too big to use; the small boats are too small and too far away to be clearly defined but before I start to sound too much like Goldilocks I think I should move on, there are plenty more fish to fry in Padstow.
Should the weather be stormy I recommend a drive out to Trevose Head. Here it is possible to get big waves breaking in Stinking Cove with the lighthouse in the background. Also from here it is a short walk around the coast path to Padstow Lifeboat House. On the cliffs near Merope Rocks there are nesting fulmars which can be photographed with a telephoto lens and often there are shags on the rocks nearby, but take care on the cliff edge. Continuing along the coast path the views over Mother Ivey’s Bay from the cliff top are stunning and it is possible to cut across to Booby’s Bay to complete a wonderful circular walk.
I hope we have fine sunny weather rather than storms, but you never know. If it is sunny and calm then I recommend a boat trip. One of the most exhilarating
‘At about the one hour mark I spotted a dolphin off the starboard bow and within ten minutes it had brought all its friends to come and play around us.’
boat trips of my life was on the Padstow Sea Life Safari RIB. A few years ago in summer I went out on a three hour cruise looking for wildlife and we found it, or more accurately, it found us!
For the first hour our trip was dominated by seabirds,
particularly the large rafts of Manx shearwaters. At about the one hour mark I spotted a dolphin off the starboard bow and within ten minutes it had brought all its friends to come and play around us. It is difficult to say why dolphins are so appealing but the group of my boat trip were entranced, enchanted and enthralled.
My trip on The Jubilee Queen was slightly less exhilarating but very enjoyable. Being early in July we were lucky enough to see the last of the puffins on The Mouls (but not close enough to photograph) and generally had a relaxing trip photographing the coast.
I have also explored the estuary by kayak, which in late summer allowed me to photograph the sandwich terns and Mediterranean gulls which rest on the buoys in the estuary. Taking photos from a kayak has its challenges, though, and with expensive gear the risk is obvious.
There is a regular ferry across the estuary to Rock from where it is possible to walk through the dunes to St Enodoc Church. The church, resting place of Sir John Betjeman, is delightful and photogenic, providing you have a very wide-angle lens, but for me the highlights are the wildflowers and butterflies of the dunes.
July is a great time to explore the dunes, it is the peak flowering time for the pyramidal orchid and other flowers to look out for include viper’s bugloss, ivy broomrape, eyebright, wild thyme and knapweed. Butterflies enjoy feeding on knapweed and here, during July, it is possible to see dark green fritillaries and marbled white butterflies as well as the more common species such as gatekeeper, meadow brown, red admiral and small tortoiseshell. To photograph flowers and butterflies it makes sense to have a macro lens, though most compact and bridge cameras have a built-in macro facility, making them ideally suited to this type of photography.
Now I’ve run out of space and I haven’t even mentioned the Camel Trail, but I did tell you there are plenty of things to see and photograph around Padstow.
‘The church, resting place of Sir John Betjeman, is delightful and photogenic’
OPPOSITE: Padstow Lifeboat House seen from Mother Ivey’s Bay.ABOVE:I like photographing the harbour at dusk when the yellow of the streetlights contrasts with the blue colour of water and sky.
Mother Ivey’s Bay is a stunning beach seen from above.
The Denis Hill monument seen from a kayaking trip.
The church at St Enodoc oozes with character.
A common dolphin seen on a trip with Padstow Sea Life Safaris.
Fulmars can be seen and photographed around the coast near Padstow lifeboat station.
Trevose Head is a dramatic place to be in stormy weather.