Winter Sun at Three Cliffs Beach
We all love a day in the sun down the beach. Thankfully in South Wales we have a plethora of wonderful beaches to chose from. One beach I had never been to was Three Cliffs down the Gower. I have always driven past on the way to somewhere else thinking; I'll have to visit there one day. I knew that there is huge potential to get really wonderful pictures from there, with dramatic cliffs surrounding the beach, caves, rocks jutting from the beach and wonderfully fine sand. But I had never ventured there with limited time just like anyone in a full time job. However now with me setting up PhotographyMB I have all the time I need to visit the whole of my local area I have always wanted to but never have. So what better day to go than on a beautifully sunny day...at the start of November. Sun, sea and bitterly cold wind. However it did mean I got really great snaps with wonderful lighting and barely anybody around.
The first thing that I found out is that Three Cliffs is slightly awkward to get to. As far as I know there are two main car parks. The one in Parkmill by Shepards stores and the one in Pennard. If you go from Parkmill through the trail opposite the store, you follow the river and end up towered by Pennard Castle upon the hill (above). This way is fairly flat for the most part but looks like it might flood out on high tides. Also you may have to deal with a bull or two. I was unpacking my other lens (55mm-210mm) from my pack and looked up to see a bull running at me! Thankfully I was close to the river and just jumped down the bank into the river and the bull didn't follow...fantastic as I kind of didn't have anywhere else to escape to at that point.
However if you park up at Pennard the dramatic cliffs (below) are one of the first things you see. All along here are great photos with the textures of the rocks and potentially waves crashing around in the right day. There are steep narrow paths going down to all these mini beaches before you get to Three Cliffs. The beach below would have been good to get some long exposures of waves hitting the rocks. This I had intended to do on the way back to the car but I ran out of camera battery. Obvious tip: make sure your camera battery is fully charged before going out, why didn't I check? 50% is not so useful for a full day.
Getting to the beach from here is a bit of a walk but is all downhill. You have a fantastic view all the way there staying close to the edge and many a viewpoint for picture taking. At the end of the walk you have to go down some dunes to get onto the beach.
Ideally I wanted to get to the cliffs jutting out in the middle of the beach (above) which almost splits it in two. From there I wanted to take multiple pictures which I could then knit together at home to create a panoramic photograph. However getting up there was exhausting. It doesn't look that steep from the picture above however it was a climb. It was however worth it as I got a good capture (below).
Coming back took a lot longer and was exhausting. Whereas getting there was all down hill, back was all uphill and up dunes, which always feels like your going nowhere fast when going up dunes.
Overall I would say that anyone looking to take some great landscape pictures should go to Three Cliffs. As long a you don't mind a bit of a walk as well.