Friday, April 24, 2015

North Yorkshire Day 2 – Sunrise, Staithes, Saltburn & sunset

Strolling down to Whitby harbour at 5.30 that morning, I was hoping for at least a blush of sunrise colour for my effort. The ocean on my left, and far below, as I walked along West Cliff in the cool pre-dawn air, seemed to have the consistency of molten lead, occasional, dull highlights fleetingly glimpsed and completely silent. In fact it seemed as if the whole town were hushed, the sound of my feet hitting the pavement the only thing disturbing the peace.

Once I had reached the end of West Cliff and descended the steps to sea level, I made my way along the outer reaches of the harbour towards the pier, just as the sky was beginning to come to life with dawn light. I walked onto the West Pier and saw that while the sky looked promising, with a smattering of clouds above, the horizon was out to possibly spoil things, with a thick bank of cloud reclining across the horizon in a disappointing ribbon.

The image at the top is looking towards Whitby, and before the sun started to rise, and the above image
is after it has crested the clouds, and the light is getting a lot warmer.

Using a long exposure I managed to get the sun's reflection between the pier struts to even out, in real
time it was just a rippling smudge of colour.

I got a few pictures of the piers as I watched the ambient light turn from a reserved blue to a lively orange, the sun cresting the clouds, having been kept at bay longer than it normally would have thanks to the haze along the skyline. After a little while I was joined on the pier by a couple of fishermen, who set up shop at the end of the promontory in the hope of catching something for breakfast no doubt.

This shot was taken when the sun was higher and the light had started
to cool down again.

After getting some of my own breakfast back at the apartment, I drove up the coast to Staithes for a view of this picturesque spot in the morning sun. Famous as a tourist destination, and where Captain James Cook first gained his passion for the sea while working as a grocer’s apprentice, this pretty little fishing village whose houses, with sparkling white walls and cinnamon hued roofs, tumble down the hill and squash together at the shoreline, was glowing on the crisp light.

Looking towards Staithes with some of the small boats in harbour rocking up and down in the current.

A more traditional view of the village and boats.

This rowing boat was tied up by the sea wall and almost begged to photographed.

After getting some shots of the colourful boats bobbing about in the glinting, silky waters, I sauntered round to the now rather busy harbour front, for a cup of coffee and a well earned slice of cake, before heading back up to the car and moving onto Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

Originally a hamlet frequented by smugglers, Saltburn, unlike Robins Hoods Bay for example, has, thanks to the discovery mineral deposits along the coast in the 19th century, grown into a large town, and now ‘boasts’ many of the traditional British seaside amusements. This, and the fact it was a beautifully warm day, and it was still the school Easter holidays, meant that the place was packed.

I spent about 15 minutes looking for a parking space along the beach, but I knew when I was beaten so I drove up into town, and spent another 10 minutes looking for one up there, before finding a spot near The Zetland. Opened in 1863, this grand hotel used to have its own private railway platform, as an extension to the Stockton & Darlington line. An indication of how much wealth was sloshing about the place back then. It’s now an apartment block, as per usual.

Saltburn pier in all its glory.

I took the steep footpath down to the shore, alongside The Saltburn Cliff Lift, one of the world's oldest water-powered funiculars, to have a stroll on the beach and take a few images of Saltburn Pier. Originally built in 1869 at a whopping 1500 ft, it has, thanks to a combination of gale force winds, collisions from errant ships, storms, partial dismantling against possible Nazi invasion forces, and more storms, been reduced to a modest 681 ft.

This would have been better if the tide was in.

I positioned myself among the supporting struts, below the promenade, to see if I could get some shots but it wasn’t up to much, so I got some views of the lanky structure and its reflection in the wet sand below. Considering its command over the beach even at the current length, it would have been quite something to see it in its original glory.

Back at Whitby for sunset.

I drove back to Whitby and later, as evening started to draw, I headed into town to see what I could see. After taking a walk through the old quarter I positioned myself overlooking the harbour and the west side of town, as the sun sank behind a veil of fog, creating a shimmering orb of rich crimson which slowly disappeared behind the rocky heights.

A view of West Cliff and the sun behind a haze of cloud.

With the last of the light lingering in the sky I walked down to the East Pier for a view back over the bay, and to watch the town beyond calmly begin to illuminate, while the clouds above were swallowed by the darkening skies.

Looking back towards the town in the last of the light.

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