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Whitby Abbey: vampires optional…

This is the impressive ruined Benedictine abbey which sits on the hilltop above Whitby, the delightfully picturesque fishing town on the coast of the North Yorkshire moors. The abbey forms an impressively moody sight in its own right, overlooking the North Sea and the quaint fishing harbour below.

However it (and the town below) found literary fame after Bram Stoker set part of his novel ‘Dracula’ in Whitby. The fictional count preyed on Lucy on the East Cliff, just a few yards from this abbey. 120 years after Bram Stoker wrote his gothic masterpiece, Whitby has become a regular place of gathering for goths from across the country. We arrived there on one such weekend, the day after Halloween, and the site was dotted with impressively-dressed goths checking out the ruins. The spectral figures added to the sense of other-worldliness. The skies were exactly what one would hope for in a setting like this: turbulent and rolling clouds, with shafts of sunlight breaking out above the autumnal moorland. Very evocative…

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, to see the location in Google Earth, or to view an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch compatible version.

Inside the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle is an archetypal mediaeval castle dominating a headland near the picturesque village of Craster in Northumberland. Much of the castle lies in ruins, derelict and neglected since its decline in the fifteenth century. It’s a pleasant walk along the coast for a couple of miles, although there’s not too much to see or do once you get there, as the castle is quite ruined. I’m sure kids would love to clamber all over the place, re-enacting battles and epic tales of derring-do, while adults enjoy the view and a cooling ice cream.

Incidentally if you do go, be sure to stop for a mouth-wateringly good Craster kipper butty in the car park… local smoked herring served in a bap. A perfect foil to the force of the elements rolling off the sea…

As it was a really overcast day the light was flat with little contrast, so I shot this as a 9 bracket HDR to pull out the best of the detail and dynamic range (like the grass though the windows and the stairwell in shadow). I tried to keep the colours as natural as possible… the damp greens contrasting with the warmer sandstone tones. I’m a sucker for the way sandstone weathers so beautifully, even when it’s been protected from the full force of the elements from the North Sea.

HTML5 version

Click the icons above to view a fullscreen 360° view of the scene with Flash (for desktop) or HTML5 (for mobile). You can also view the location in Google Earth or read more about it in Wikipedia. Happy viewing!

Setting sun over the Giant’s Causeway

Having grown up in Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway was the place you’d always take visitors. Internationally recognised, visually impressive, geologically distinctive, culturally neutral: even at the height of the Troubles when other places may’ve been off-limits , the Causeway was the tourist destination. Rightly so: it’s a wonderous and crazy-looking place, with hexagonal columns formed by basalt cooling rapidly. No wonder in the days before we had an understanding of vulcanology the locals believed it was built by the giant Fionn mac Cumhaill: a much more romantic explanation.

Trouble is, it’s (justifiably) extremely popular, and so viewing it without hordes of sightseeing visitors is nigh on impossible, except in publicity photographs. Apart from on a Friday night when there’s a World Cup match on, so most people are either glued to the telly or going out for the night. Result…

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the bay around the main causeway look as magical. The sea was calm, there was hardly a cloud in the sky, and the sun slowly dropped towards the horizon, painting the vista with increasing saturated colours. With so few people around we felt like we had the place to ourselves, for which I was incredibly appreciative. Such emptiness made it easier to understand the scale and beauty of the natural features. Truly magical.

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, to see the location in Google Earth, or to view an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch compatible version.

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, to see the location in Google Earth, or to view an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch compatible version.

Early evening at Ballintoy Harbour

A perfect summer’s evening. While much of the country was listening to the England vs Algeria football match, we had most of the north Antrim coast to ourselves. I’d rather enjoy this view over a game of football any day…

Ballintoy‘s long been a family favourite: a wonderfully diminutive harbour, nestled between fantastical rock formations. I’ve always loved the eccentric detail of Bendhu house, the solid understated character of the parish church, and the limestone cliffs and workings.

Click below for a full screen 360° view of the scene with Flash, to read more on Wikipedia, or see the location in Google Earth.