I was up early in the hope that there would be a decent sunrise, and as I drove out of Sunderland towards Seaham, it looked like I might be in luck. I parked up along the seafront at Nose’s Point, and quickly realised I should have arrived a bit earlier, as the dawn colours were already making themselves known above me.
|Sunrise colours over Blast Beach.|
I quickly scooted down to a point overlooking Blast Beach, (I didn’t have time to get down to the beach itself unfortunately) and set up the camera in readiness for sunrise. Known locally as ‘The Blast’, the beach, along with much of this part of the Durham Coast was once home to the biggest coal mines in Europe - the three Seaham Collieries reached 3 miles under the North Sea - and also to some of the worst coastline pollution in the world.
Buried under no less than two and a half million tonnes of colliery waste every year, the beach was a no-go area for people and wildlife. It was not far from here that the closing scenes in Get Carter were filmed, and thanks to its desolate atmosphere, it was chosen as the location for the opening sequences of the 1992 movie Alien 3.
Since then, under the auspices of the National Trust and partner organisations, the area has seen the benefits of a massive clean-up project, and the now boasts some beautiful beaches along its fascinating stretch of coastline.
|Looking towards the rising sun from the cliff edge at Nose's Point.|
Once I had taken a few shots of the vibrant morning sky I headed back to the car and drove into the small town itself. There was a solid breeze rustling in from the ocean and it was causing quite a commotion around the harbour wall, as waves crashed and exploded against the stone barricades.
I took an unreasonable amount of photographs, trying to capture the breakers as they pounded the curved defences under the morning sunlight. In the end I had to concede that I had taken enough and headed back for a bit of breakfast.
|Waves smash against the harbour wall.|
|Needless to say the harbour wall access was closed.|
After a day spent with family, I headed into Sunderland to spend the late afternoon at Roker, an affluent area of the city, bounded on the south by the River Wear and on the east by the North Sea. I was hoping to get some dramatic pictures of Roker Lighthouse at sunset, but the weather was not playing ball, the the wind had died down, so no spectacular waves.
|Roker Lighthouse in the distance.|
The foundation stone for the New North Pier (Roker Pier) was laid on 14 September 1885. Applauded at the time as a triumph of engineering, the 2,000 ft pier is built of granite-faced concrete blocks, which were manoeuvred into place by a gas-powered crane nicknamed 'Goliath'. The lighthouse at the pier head was completed in 1903. Its distinctive stripes are of naturally coloured red and white Aberdeen granite. When built it was said to be Britain's most powerful port lighthouse. It still functions today.
The pier was closed for refurbishment in 2014, and it was still closed when I was there so I couldn’t gain access to the pier itself to get any shots either.
|Looking towards Sunderland docks in the evening light.|
Instead I took a wander around the other side of the harbour, looking towards the city, and took some skyline shots of the buildings and docks as the sun slowly set, leaving a vivacious, psychedelic pattern of colour on the low clouds, as they gallivanted above the urban sprawl below.
|Looking across the harbour towards the city skyline and docks.|
|Three tower blocks under a tangerine sky.|
|An orange blush coats the workings of Sunderland docks.|
|As the suns set it lit up the clouds a fiery red.|
|A long exposure shot of the moving clouds.|
|A final shot of the three tower blocks against the fading light.|
It wasn’t my usual subject matter but I enjoyed myself nonetheless, thanks to the light show the sunset afforded me.