Our trip down the coast included some driving down the Pacific Coast Highway. This is undoubtedly a gorgeous place to be. Each turn in the coast brings with it another lovely view of rugged cliffs and crashing waves. Add some sun and it really is wonderful. There is little point in saying much more. Instead, here are a few shots to show just how great it is.
When my mum was visiting, I thought it would be a good idea to take her to Devil’s Slide to walk along the coastal trail. We drove out there and, coming across the bay we went into some pretty thick fog. I was tempted to bail on the plan at that point but we decided to keep going and see how things were. Even as we were on Highway 1, it was still foggy. It really didn’t look like a good idea at all. The best bet for turning around was at the parking for the trail so we went there anyway. It still looked bad but we got out and decided to take a look. The sun felt like it was trying to poke through the overcast so we took a chance.
Turns out we were lucky. As we walked along the trail, the sun was burning through and the view was opening up beneath us. There was still a lot of cloud around but it seemed to be receding from us as we walked. Equally importantly, the conditions meant there was little wind unlike my previous visit when I felt like I could get blown off my feet at some times.
We walked most of the trail and then headed back. It was a great time to be up there and the waves crashing below us looked great. The whole time, I was only shooting with my phone. I hadn’t anticipated the walk working out so I had left the main camera in the car while we checked things out. Instead, we kept going. I was shooting in RAW for the first time on the phone and that will get a post of its own in due course. It turned out our timing was really good. Once we were back and driving up the coast, the cloud started to drift back in again. I think we got rather lucky.
The headland at Santa Cruz includes a narrow inlet in the cliff face. As the waves come in, this inlet can concentrate the wave and result in some spraying up out of the top when the wave runs out of places to go. The wave action varies a lot so often there is nothing to see from above. However, as the waves grow, they can spray out a bit or, if the wave is really big, fire a plume of spray and debris up into the air and onto the top of the cliff. A little patience and some luck is required to get this to work for you but it is fun to see – particularly if people have got a bit too close during the quiet times and are not expecting the big one!
I can’t remember how the conversation developed the way it did but I was talking with a friend and got on to the subject of Malham Cove. Located in Yorkshire in the UK, this is a stunning location. It is a horseshoe shaped rock formation that once was an impressive waterfall. The water is still there but now the majority of the rock face is dry and it provides a great place for a hike. To illustrate this post, I am digging back in to the archives in a big way. This involves a trip I took there with an old friend of mine. I will not give his name but I will be interested to see if he reads this and what he thinks of photos of himself from twenty years ago!
You can park your car in Malham and walk straight up to the cove. However, we took an alternative route to make for a more interesting walk. We walked up a narrow valley named Gordale Scar. The valley gets narrower and narrower until you come to a waterfall. Provided the water is not flowing too hard, it is possible to climb up the side of the waterfall. Once at the top, you continue on a steady climb alongside a river – Gordale Beck. Even as young and energetic fellows like we were in those days, I recall this being a pretty hard slog and, while neither of us was going to show weakness to the other, I seem to recall a few stops to enjoy the scenery – nothing to do with catching our breath.
Things gradually flatten out and you cross some fields to come to Malham Tarn, a moderately sized lake. This is the turning point for the walk. Now you head back towards Malham itself. You end up coming across a limestone pavement to the tome of Malham Cove. Here you will meet a bunch of people that have walked up the steps from the valley below. Having made a far longer trek, you are tempted to be a little dismissive of these people taking the easy route but there are still a lot of steps so they have had to make some effort.
The view from the top is stunning. The drop down is a long one – about 80m (240’) – and there are often climbers testing themselves against the rock faces. The cracks in the limestone can be quite large as you step across and it is fun to imagine the whole thing being under rushing water. The formation is about 300m wide so, while it might be busy, you probably won’t feel crowded. When you have finally enjoyed the scenery enough, you can descend the steps at the side to head back into the village. This still gives you a chance to appreciate the view back up at the cove as you head away.
This place is stunning, particularly on a lovely day. If you live in the UK and have never been, try and get there. If you don’t live in the UK, add this to your itinerary when you go.
The Isle of Wight is an island on the south coast of England. It is where I spent a large portion of my childhood and my mum lives there now. It is a very pretty place and a popular tourist destination. The Island has a chalk spine which, at its western end, is marked by a rocky outcrop called The Needles. This is one of the more recognizable features of the Island. A number of chalk columns rise out of the water at the end of the headland near Alum Bay. One of them was actually a thin needle shape but that fell in to the sea decades ago. However, the name has stuck.
The area has been treacherous for shipping over the years so a lighthouse is on the end of the rocks. When I was young, this was manned permanently and the crews had to access it by boat. Then a helipad was built on top to make access more reliable. Now the light is automated so there is no need for a permanent crew. The view of the Needles from the cliff top is very cool on a sunny day. We had great weather to see it. I also got to fly over the top so some of these shots are from a view that is not available to everyone. Many thanks to Pete, my pilot for the trip.