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Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland

billabongmac's picture

Dunstanburgh Castle is an iconic ruin that stands spectacularly isolated on the clifftop at the south end of the bay. It creates an atmospheric focal point which dominates this stretch of the Northumberland coastline. It is by far one the the most photogenic photography hotspots in the UK; probably in the top 10 of all landscape photographers 'must visit' locations! As a result this location never disappoints, regardless of your skill level all photographers can hope to get a brilliant shot from this location.  

It can be beautifully lit at both dawn and dust throughout the year, although it's probably best to wake up early to catch the sun rising behind the cliffs and avoid the tourists. The beach looks at its best when the tide has recently receded to leave the boulders damp which then reflect the beautiful colours found in the sky at sunrise, so aim for the ebb tide. Neutral density filters are a must to control the sky and lengthen exposures, if you have one, a 10-stop filter is extremely useful for creating breathtaking shots at this location. Hence a tripod is essential as is a lens cloth to wipe clean the spray from the large North Sea waves.

Dunstanburgh Castle is suited to a huge variety of shots, for example close-ups of those lovely boulders, mono-colour, astrophotography (I've even seen shots of the Aurora taken at this location) and of course long exposures. 

Although most shots are taken from the north beach, for something a little different the southern beach is also worth a go, it's also more suited for sunset. 

The castle is now owned by the National Trust and managed by English Heritage, so access to the castle itself is subject to opening and closing times, as well as an entrance fee. However the beaches to the north and south of the castle are freely accessible.

A local camping site

You should note the equally impressive castle of Bamburgh from the beach (Bamburgh from the front) a few miles up the coast.


Dunstanburgh Castle

5 Courtyard Cottages
EmbletonNorthumberland NE66 3DT
United Kingdom

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MJacksonPhotography's picture


I'm heading up here for sunrise on Sunday morning I think all being well. Is it best photographed with the tide all the way out or in? I'd like to get some good 10stop shots with water around the boulders but dont know if this will be possible at low tide?


billabongmac's picture

For best results with water around the boulders, somewhere in between high and low is best. However, at low tide you may find some of the boulders still wet which can give them a lovely shine when the sunlight catches them. 

Beware though as the boulders are extremely slippery!