Six Great Cornwall Photography Locations & Seascape Hotspots
Cornwall's Best Photography Locations to Explore with your Camera
The dramatic and rugged Cornish Coastline with its vast Sandy Beaches, Magnificent Blue Watered Coves and the Wonderful Heather Covered Moorland of Bodmin Moor make it a fantastic location to visit for Landscape and Seascape photography.
Cornwall provides opportunities to acquire breath-taking views and dramatic scenes while exploring the beautiful wildlife and natural landscapes that Cornwall has to offer.
Cornwall really does offer a perfect backdrop to any photographer wishing to capture inspiring images of the counties seaside landscapes.
Lets be honest, if your visiting Cornwall for landscape photography, its probably going to be undertaken on the stunning Cornish Coast and in my opinion Cornwall offers some of the best seaside photographic locations in the world.
Having spent many nights away in our campervan exploring Cornwalls vast views along the South West Coast Path, I'm always looking for new places to explore with my camera.
With that in mind I hope this articles helps you explore the wonderful Cornish Coastline with your Camera.
See our Best 6 Cornish Seascape Locations for Visiting with your Camera.
1: Bedruthan Steps – Great for Wildflowers in Spring
Bedruthan Steps among the Sea Thrift Flowers
Cornwall's Bedruthan Steps is a great place to capture a range of stunning seascape photography with a strong foreground interest in the scene due to the diverse coastline that runs beside the stacks.
The Bedruthan coastline contains many shooting opportunities from its array of various locations and vantage points that surround the area.
You can also photograph the scene from the other end of the headland to capture a different angle of the rocks (as seen in the above image) or if you want to shoot away from the sun when creating your image.
Best time to Photograph Bedruthan Steps
Be sure to to visit during the spring season to capture an array of Cornish Wildflowers growing along the coastline such as the above images which were captured during May which shows the wild Sea Thrift (Sea Pinks).
Interesting tales from Bedruthan Steps
The local story of of the area involves a Giant called Bedruthan who used to walk across the 5 large sea stacks to have a shortcut whilst going from headland to headland, Hence the area was given the name Bedruthan Steps
Although that sounds great and who doesn't like a shortcut, for those who visit the area, it would hardly be worth the giants effort as the sea stacks are pretty close to the coast path anyway, but it makes a good story I suppose.
Opportunities when photographing the area
Being a coastal location the compositions are going to be semi-limited, but you can use the sun position and foreground interest to control the scene.
Like many of the Cornish coastline, most of the interest is best shot during Sunset apart from certain times of the year.
You can pretty much guarantee a good sunset at this location but you will want to check before your sunrise visit.
Recommended lens to use at Bedruthan
I'm a big fan of foreground interest when shooting seascapes and as such your going to want to utilise the wildflowers in the area and your going to need a wide angle to do this, focus stacking or a high F stop is also going to be needed.
There isn't really many other options here, so leave your telephoto at home and get low down with your ultra wide.
Getting to Bedruthan StepsBedruthan Steps can be accessed from the local National Trust carpark at Carnewas and is only a short walk to arrive at the various shooting locations. See the map below for the location.
Find out more about parking at nationaltrust.org.uk
2: Godrevy Lighthouse – Great for a Strong Subject
Cornwall's Godrevy Lighthouse, really is a must visit when in Cornwall. There is a great range of photographic compositions you can choose from when photographing the picturesque lighthouse.
You can photograph Godrevy from many locations from the nearby coastal viewpoints to a range of locations along Gwithian Beach and Upton Towans Beach.
But we are going to concentrate on photographing it up at the various viewpoints close to the Lighthouse.
Best time to Photograph Godrevy Lighthouse
If you want to capture the sun behind Godrevy your going to want to visit between the 1st of May and the end of July.
The area is also great to visit in Spring to capture more wildflowers, Sea Thrift also known as Sea Pinks and Sea Breeze can both be captured at the location.
Interesting tales from Godrevy Lighthouse
Godrevy lighthouse was build in 1858 after many centuries of ship wrecks plagued the area, with over 22 recorded altogether.
However the final push for a lighthouse to be built on rocks came after the Iron boat the Nile was wrecked with the loss of all passengers and crew in 1854.
Swiftly following this a lighthouse was designed and constructed a few years later after an article was sent to the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette
"Had there been a light on Godrevy Island, which the inhabitants of this town have often applied for, it would not doubt have been the means of warning the ill-fated ship of the dangerous rocks she was approaching. Many applications have been made from time to time concerning the erection of a light to warn mariners against this dangerous reef, but it has never been attended to, and to that account may be attributed the destruction of hundreds of lives and a mass of property … Scarcely a month passes by in the winter season without some vessel striking on these rocks, and hundreds of poor fellows have perished there in dark dreary nights without one being left to tell the tale." - Richard Short.
Opportunities when photographing the area
Although this is a coastal location, the landscape by Godrevy Lighthouse is quite diverse and an array of foreground interest can be utilised.
Like much of the Cornish coastline, most of the interest is best shot during Sunset and you can get some great shots of the sun setting behind the lighthouse in Spring, otherwise you might want to shoot later in the year to get some side light onto the lighthouse.
Another good location is further down towards the beach, you can utilise the dramatic rocks to create a different type of image of the lighthouse.
Recommended lens to use at Godrevy Lighthouse
I'm a big fan of foreground interest when shooting seascapes and as such your going to want to utilise the wildflowers in the area and your going to need a wide angle to do this, focus stacking or a high aperture is also going to be needed.
That being said if your interested in shooting the rock or getting some compression consider heading back along the beach and utilising a telephoto lens
Getting to Godrevy LighthouseGodrevy Lighthouse can be accessed from the local National Trust carpark which is a right next to Godrevy Island and is only a short walk to arrive at the various shooting locations. See the map below for the location.
Find out more about parking at www.nationaltrust.org.uk
3: Wheal Coates – Great for story telling
Towanroath Mine on the Cornish Coast
Towanroath mineshaft at Wheal Coates is one of my all time favourite places to visit in Cornwall, it lies on the stunning St Agnus Heritage Coast which is a designated AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
It really is a must visit when in Cornwall for the great scenery of the area and of course spectacular photographic opportunities across the rugged Cornish coastline looking out to the North Atlantic Ocean.
Photographing the Towanroath Mine stack offers many great photographic compositions, but your going to want to include the views out to sea and your going to have to get relativity close say within at least 100m of the Mine to get the best pictures.
Best time to Photograph Towanroath Mine
If you want to capture the sun behind Towanroath your going to want to visit around the longest day and during sunrise to capture the sun when shooting South, otherwise when shooting North you want to be at the location around the shortest day of the year to capture the Sunrise.
Both these times will allow you to have a good position of the sun whilst allowing a bit of side light on the mine.
Sunset I'm afraid doesn't do well at Towanroath apart from during the Golden hour when you can get some great golden light on the side you are photographing, Sunset should generally work well in the Golden hour for anytime of the year.
The area and Wheal Coates in general is also great to visit in Spring and Summer so you can capture an array of wildflowers, you can capture Sea Thrift in early May, Sea Breeze in June and Heather a bit later in the year.
Cornwall's Towanroath mine
Interesting tales from Wheal Coates
Towanroath is an engine house built in the late 19th century and partly rebuilt in the 20th century. It was built to hold a beam engine for pumping water out of a tin mine that ran out beneath the sea.
The engine house is part of Wheal Coates (wheal in Cornish meaning "Place of Work"), which opened in 1802. In 1872, the mine had three engine houses. The mine could produce tin and copper at depths of up to 90 fathoms and employed 70 people at its peak.
After it closed, efforts were made to reopen it, but these failed by 1911.
The nearby ruins at Wheal Coates show the extent of how much of an active mining area Wheal Coates was.
Opportunities when photographing the area
The landscape at Wheal Coates is very diverse with wild flowers such as Gorse, Heather, Sea Thrift and Sea Breeze. Sloping banks that catch the sunlight in different ways and an array of things to photograph.
Towanroath mine is good as it can be photographed well at Sunrise which is something that Cornwall doesn't excel with.
Your going to want to photograph down along the coast and include the sea and sweeping landscapes, this means you going to be shooting predominantly South or North, as such try and plan your shot to make use of the sun as best as you can.
If you like strong colours in your sunrises shoot into the sun before rise, if however you prefer softer hue's and a lit subject such as the mine shoot away from the sun.
Recommended lens to use at Towanroath
I'm a big fan of foreground interest when shooting seascapes and as such your going to want to utilise the wildflowers in the area and your going to need a wide angle to do this, focus stacking is the best option, but its best not to try it is there is any movement in the flowers, just go for a high F-stop instead.
If you want a view with more compression try and line the flowers up with a telephoto, although you might find it hard due to the gradients at the location.
Getting to Wheal Coates
Wheal Coates and Towanroath mine can be accessed from the small National Trust carpark next to Wheal Coates, to get to Towanroath, just follow the path past the old mine buildings at Wheal Coates and continue down the cliff towards the mine, There are lots of path too use.
The quickest path is just to walk past the buildings at Wheal Coates and straight down the cliff (its not as bad as it sounds there are lots of safe paths, for a slower but more gentle path take the left path as you leave the carpark, which will loop around to the bottom where the mine is.
Have a look at the map to find its location or check out the National Trusts website for parking
4: Botallack Mine – Great for dramatic sea's
Botallack mineshaft which is part of the Crown Mines that lie not far from the rural village of St Just, is part of the Penwith Heritage Coast and truly is a beautiful spot to visit with a very dramatic coastline and is a great place to visit for dramatic pictures of the North Atlantic sea against the rugged Cornish coast.
The Crown mines add a great amount of interest among the rocks and allow you to capture some amazing imagery of Cornwall's old industrial mining industry.
Be sure to visit during windy and stormy days to capture some dramatic sea's as they crash into the land, Long exposure's often work well here to capture some movement and detail in the sea from the white froth that forms as the water swirls around the rocks.
Photographing the Crown Mine's offers many great photographic compositions, although the top two in my opinion are opposite the mines on the stretched out headland and looking down upon them from a slight elevated view from the top.
Best time to Photograph Botallack Mines
The Crown mine engine houses don't photograph well during sunrise, the land will cast them in darkness well beyond the golden hour so you will want to visit the location for sunset.
You basically have two options, to capture sun setting behind the mines you will want to visit around the summer, whilst visiting in the winter months will allow you to have the mines well lit.
The cliffs at Bottalack are quite dark and so suck in the light quite well so if you want to avoid the silhouetted look try and capture the scene with the sun rising to illuminate the mines.
There isn't much scope for wildflowers I'm afraid at Botallack so instead go looking for dramatic sea and colours.
Interesting tales from Botallack mines
Mining in Botallack has been dated back to the 1500's in recorded history but local artefacts have been found dating to the mid-Roman period showing that mining in the area likely took place a lot sooner as far back as 200 AD.
The mine finally closed in 1895 due to falling copper and tin prices but during it's operation would have produced roughly 14,500 tonnes of tin and 20,000 tonnes of copper.
Botallack is a submarine mine and many of its tunnels were dough diagonally up to half a mile out to the ocean.
Opportunities when photographing the area
Botallack mines really do lend them self to photography and your going to want to use their dramatic location to your advantage.
Try and work with the sea conditions and weather to capture these during stormy sea's which will help to create dramatic swirl effects in your long exposures as the water breaks across the many rocks in the area.
You will likely be photographing down along the coast and out to sea, so panoramic shots might be a little tricky with rough weather and sea's so try and capture long exposures to smooth the sea out which should make the blend and stich better.
Visit during sunset to capture strong and vibrant colours across the sea, and remember to think about where the sun is going to be located to illuminate the mines.
Recommend lens to use at The Crown Mines at Botallack
The Crown Engine houses can be shot with a full range of lenses and angles, I favour wild angles here but you can equality use a telephoto to capture a more isolated picture of the mines
Getting to Botallack mines
Botallack can be accessed by parking at the carpark nearby, its then a 5 min walk down to the view-points some of which can be a steep so take your time and be careful of bad weather.
Have a look at the map to find its location, parking is available at The Count House
5: St Michaels Mount – The Island Castle
St Michaels Mount on the Coast
There’s something so frightfully enchanting about St Michael’s Mount, the castle that stands on top of the great rock that lies off the Cornish coast next to the historic village of Marazion.
The castle which started of its life as a Church and Priory began construction in 1135 when under possession of the Benedictine abbey of Mont St Michel in Normandy.
Since then St Michaels mount has stood the test of time and in today time it has become a popular tourist attraction in Southern Cornwall
The castle is a great photographic opportunity for anyone in the area, you can photograph the castle from various location along the East Cornish Coastline from Penzance to Marazion.
Best time to Photograph St Michaels Mount
The time of year can make a big difference to photographing St Michaels mount, the sunsets to the East of the Castle (as your looking at it from the shore) and rises to the West.
In the Summer months it will set and rise behind you illuminating the castle in the Winter months it will be behind the Castle.
There isn't too much foreground interest that is determined by time of year, you will be able to find wildflowers to use in the Spring and Summer months, but these won't be at the traditional photographic spots.
Interesting tales from St Michael Mount
According to legend St Michaels Mount was once home to Cormoran the Giant, at an impressive 18 foot tall fella, sporting twelve fingers and toes to help carry all that extra weight around.
Cormoran with his wife Cormelian are believed to have created the island and raised it from the sea, before creating the castle we see today.
He spend the next several years raiding the mainland and the surrounding villages for food to eat. Unfortunately this often involved him having Men, Women, and Children on the menu!
The legend says that eventually Jack a local man dug a pit and made a trap that Cormoran fell into and Jack finished him of with a pickaxe.
Opportunities when photographing the area
The landscape that surrounds St Michaels mount is predominantly beach so your going to have the tide and water to play with, as well as interest in the water hitting the shore during long exposure.
During high tide you can also photograph down the causeway to capture some extra interest in the scene.
Recommended lens to use at St Michaels Mount
Seascape's at this location can be shot with an array of different lenses and their combined DOF's you can find a use for your Ultra wide to your telephoto.
The beach at Marazion (where your probably going to want to position yourself) is quite long, this is also where the photogenetic causeway starts. So the distance between you and the mount can vary a lot making it great for a range of focal lengths.
If you fancy visiting at night time you can capture great astrophotography of the area, just make sure you bracket enough to make up for the bright lights on the island, like all astrophotography the wider the better, but in this instance as your shooting towards the island from the land, you can get away with fast lenses, like 50mm F1.4 or F1.8
Getting to St Michael's Mount
St Michaels mount can be seen out to see from many location on the South East, you going to be able to access the best views from Marazion, which is the village and beach that links the causeway to the mount, the ferry also leaves here.
You can also photograph it from Penzance harbour for a different composition.
The carpark at Marazion can be found at www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk
Have a look at the map to find its location
6: Lands End – Enys Dodnan arch
Enys Dodnan arch on the Cornish Coast
Lands End is famous for being the most westerly point in England right down on Cornwall's South Coast on the edge of the South West Coast path. The views here are magnificent whether you want to see a sunset or a storm.
It is a great spot to walk along the coastal path and is a fantastic place for dfgdfgdfgdfgdfgwhy not continue a bit further along the coast and spot the famous Enys Dodnan sea arch which can be very photogenic
Best time to Photograph Lands End
Enys Donan arch really is a sunset location with the sun setting North West and behind the arch in the Summer months and in Winter behind you at a South West, the later will illuminate the arch for you at the same time.
I haven't seen many or taken any wildflower shot here so I'm not aware if they can be utilised that well, that being said you will find odd pockets of sea thrift along the coast.
The tide times and weather can affect the scene a lot, moody weather can work well as well as strong sunset colours, and the height of the tide can affect how much arch you will see.
Tony Armstrong-Sly Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0
Interesting tales from Lands End
Lands end has been home to many tails over the decades and has been inhabited since over 10,000 years ago.
"Throughout the ages, Land’s End has held a fascination for many people and the place has inspired many stories and works of art. The mythical ‘Lost Land of Lyonesse’ is said to lie beneath the waves between Land’s End and the Isles of Scilly. According to legend, Lyonesse was a rich part of King Arthur’s realm that was drowned by the sea on a cataclysmically stormy night."
"There are over 130 recorded shipwrecks around Land’s End, as well as countless more unrecorded. In modern times, Longships Lighthouse at Land’s End forms one point of an important protective triangle – Longships Lighthouse, Wolf Rock Lighthouse and the Lizard Lighthouse collectively create one of the most well lit waterways in the British Isles." - Lands End Public Website at https://landsend-landmark.co.uk/nature/lands-end-history/
Opportunities when photographing the area
Lands end offers a range of photographic opportunities, you can photograph the standing knight rock formation, capture Enys Dodnan arch and even get some close up shots of the Long Shits Lighthouse with a decent telephoto lens.
The area is vast and many more compositions and location can be found along the coast.
Recommended lens to use at Enys Donan
Your going to want to bring a full range of lenses to Lands End, but make sure you have a wide-around for the arch, something along the lines of 24-50mm should be perfect.
Getting to Lands End
Lands end has a very decent sized carpark and you can park right next to the area. to get to the arch, just walk to the left of the carpark and follow the coastal path, you can see the Enys Donan, The standing knight and the Long Ships Lighthouse all together about 5 mins further up the path from the farm house.
The carpark at Lands End can be found at https://landsend-landmark.co.uk be sure to spend some time in the area and even visit the Lands End attraction which is full or a range of great stories from the area, including the story of King Arthur and the Dragon.
Have a look at the map to find Enys Donans location
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Meet the Author:
I am a Dartmoor photographer, who enjoys travel, hiking, rugby and photographing the beautiful world in which we live in, I see photography as a creative expression upon visiting beautiful places. Each picture often tells a story.
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