Cornwall’s Top 5 Photography Destinations

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Cornwall is amazing photographically. There is something for everyone with different geologies, rugged coastlines, wooded valleys and rough moors. We often get asked where are the best places to start. What would be Cornwall’s top 5 photography destinations? Just five?! Crikey that’s tough… ok here goes.

Godrevy Lighthouse - a place of long exposures of crashing waves
Godrevy Lighthouse – a place of long exposures of crashing waves

Godrevy Lighthouse – SW580 430

Not far from Hayle, Godrevy Lighthouse commands a photogenic position on a small island just offshore. Parking in the furthest car park there is a very short walk in, and a potential diversion to the seal beach, which can be viewed from a respectful distance (telephoto lenses required!).

Looking out to the lighthouse there are fantastic rock formations at low tide leading the eye and great opportunities for long exposure fun with waves breaking at high tide. Caution is required though, a trigger happy photographer could easily get swept off the rocks. Play it safe, check the tides and swell and get to know the location.

Godrevy also has the benefit of swinging the camera to the left to capture the sweep of sands leading to St Ives not to mention a rather nice cafe!

Crown Mines facing out into the Atlantic Ocean at Bottalack
Crown Mines facing out into the Atlantic Ocean at Bottalack

Bottalack Mines – SW364 332

An iconic shot even before Poldark put his stamp on it. The classic shot is of Crown Mines, perched on the cliff edge looking out to sea. This can work well shooting wide or with a longer lens. Best time is (arguably) at sunset, with a high tide and a stormy sea.

There is actually lots of photographic potential here with derelict mining architecture and a wild stretch of coastline, oh and did I mention the cafe?!

St Michael's Mount - Marazion
St Michael’s Mount – Marazion

St Michael’s Mount – SW517 304

Not exactly wilderness, but it is a uber classic Cornish shot that can work well in most conditions, even at night when the Milky Way will often oblige by rising behind the Mount.

Catching the causeway leading out to the island just as it gets covered by the incoming tide is an interesting composition. Calm conditions, a neutral density filter and/or polariser can help with this.

The Godolphin Arms will provide some sanctuary if you’ve frozen yourself getting those night exposures.

Hidden creeks along the Helford River
Hidden creeks along the Helford River

Helford River – SW749 253

The secret is out! The hidden creeks and wooded valleys of the resplendent Helford River got a mention in Lonely Planet’s list of top travel destinations for 2020. Reached by footpath from the village of Helford a good starting point is Frenchman’s Creek.

As well as woodland scenes and lots of wildlife and macro opportunities you can expect gnarled fallen tree trunks creating lead lines into the water.

The Shipwright Arms in Helford is well worth a visit on your way back to the carpark.

Wheal Coates - industrial past meets the wild sea
Wheal Coates – industrial past meets the wild sea

Wheal Coates – SW699 500

I don’t get tired of the visual opportunities despite being lucky enough to live a mile from Wheal Coates.

From the carpark you head out to sea and when the cliffs drop steeply the engine houses come into view. The ground is loose here so watch your step but with care you can find some fabulous vantage points to combine the industrial past with the engine house, the wild coastline and open ocean. Spare a thought for those poor miners that had to work in tunnels extending out under the seabed. Apparently, during stormy seas they could hear rocks moving around overhead! Come back later to create some cool star trails as this area is a designated dark skies reserve.

For sustenance, I would recommend the little cafe at Chapel Porth about 15 minutes walk or a short drive away. Never had bacon and mushrooms with clotted cream? You haven’t lived!!

Afterthought…

It wasn’t until I picked these that I realised that Cornwall’s top 5 photography destinations are all actually National Trust sites. Handy if you have a membership card! No affiliation, but you can learn more about what the National trust do here and find out how to support preserving these fantastic locations so we can visit and take photographs to our heart’s content.

You can experience these and many more incredible Cornish locations on our courses. Relax, let us sort the details, and enjoy what this diverse county has to offer.

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