Westward Ho! might not be up there as one of the best landscape photography locations in the world, the UK, or maybe even the South West of England, but we love it! Anoushka explains why she is so fond of this fabulous seascape and the opportunities it presents.
Westward Ho! is not as well known as nearby North Devon local beaches such as Woolacombe, Croyde, Putsburough and Saunton, to name but a few. But it is full of photo opportunities with a pebble ridge, a beautiful beach, rock pools, and some of the best sunsets, particularly from March through to October.
Top Tips for Making Great Images at Westward Ho!
1. Check the tides
Check the tides! At low tide, Westward Ho! is a huge golden sandy beach stretching for over 2 miles. Whereas, at high tide, all that is visible is the top of the pebble ridge! The sea reaches the pebble ridge for about 2 hours either side of high tide. I love to photograph at low tide when you can get beautiful texture in the sand and fabulous reflections of the sky. High tide can be equally spectacular with wet pebbles and dramatic waves. Make sure you stay safe and don’t get caught out by rogue waves! Also don’t forget to wipe down your kit afterwards to remove sea salt and spray!
2. Visit at sunset
For epic photographs, visit at sunset. The light at the end of the day can be golden at Westward Ho! No matter what time of year you can sense the change in the light. For me, the best time to make photographs is the first few minutes after the sun has set. The after glow and colours can be fabulous and dramatic. You often find the pebble ridge is lined with people enjoying the spectacular sunset.
3. Try long exposures
Long exposure filters at Westward Ho! can be great. The whole feel of the scene can change and you can create some really interesting moods – from dramatic skies, to cool and calm images. There is so much opportunity when you have an open mind. But even without filters you can begin to explore longer exposures as the light fades. The exposure for this image was 2 minutes and was achieved using a Lee Little Stopper, well after the sun had set!
4. Try something different
Try some abstract images. You can look for unusual patterns in the sand or try intentional camera movement. It is fabulous place for creating something different and unique. This image was taken using ICM, gently moving the camera in the direction of the travelling wave to create an ethereal feel!
5. Capture scale!
With its vast expanse of beach at low tide it can be hard to convey the sense of scale at Westward Ho! See what you can find on the beach to help tell a story of scale! I took this image on super windy day when I could barely stand up – it was a very brave kite surfer who took to the seas in those conditions!
More Practical Tips
Westward Ho! beach is very large and can be accessed from several locations.
At one end you have the village of Westward Ho! itself with shops, tea rooms, restaurants and bars. It is a small village with parking available in paid car parks. You can access the beach via the slip way, or walk down the promenade to see the beach huts overlooking the sea pool and rock pools.
You can access the beach via Northam Burrows. There are three separate entrances with charges applicable from May through to September. The first entrance is in Westward Ho! The second is off Sandymere road and takes you to a bridge where you can usually mange to comfortably cross the pebble ridge. A new visitors centre has been opened this year with a cafe.
The third entrance to Northam Burrows is closer to Appledore. Do not use this entrance for direct access to the beach. But this is a great place to explore, and always quieter if you want to escape the crowds. It can also be a great location for a sunrise shot, particularly at high tide!