Much of Northumberland is wild and remote with a coastline full of things to discover, which is probably why it’s long been one of my favourite places to visit whatever the season. I’ve covered it before and been pleased with the photographs I came back with but couldn’t help scheduling a stop there for a few days on my latest road trip. And in any case, I still had a couple of bits of unfinished business…

So after leaving Scotland I arrived at Bamburgh in good time to watch the sun set. Very good time in fact, enough to step into a local hostelry for a swift half before heading over the dunes and on to the beach. This unspoilt village may well have a dwindling population ready to dip below 400 but it still manages to keep two pubs in year-round business entertaining thirsty passers by.

I was out to make use of my 10-stop filter to catch a few long exposures and see if I could bag some calendar-worthy shots, but after the initial easy but obvious pickings the sun dipped into a bank of low cloud leaving a dark sky behind and no colour in it whatsoever. Game over, I thought – until I was forced to think again…

As sudden as it was unexpected, the low sun burned through a narrow gap in the cloud highlighting Bamburgh’s eminent castle walls in a deep orange while leaving the sand dunes in shadow. I knew I didn’t have long to capitalise on this scene, and as my camera was already tripod mounted with the filter attached all I could do was open the shutter and leave it for three minutes or so to see what came back. I got one shot – it’s unusual, different. I’m pretty happy with it. Sometimes if you follow the light, you just get lucky.

One down and one to go. The next day I woke up in Beadnell on a mission to nail the second shot I’d always wanted to take. It was 4am, the crack of dawn and I was up and out headed for Embleton Bay…

The early morning skies were a perfect mix of light fluffy clouds, the tide just edging out as I wandered across the golf course that runs parallel to this well photographed bit of coast. I had no idea how this was going to pan out but the location was the embodiment of serenity as I waded into the North Sea, set up my tripod and screwed the 10-stop on the lens again. I was feeling positive after the previous evening’s heavenly glow but the unpredictable rising sun could make or break this shot as much as ever it could…

A 14th century fortification, Dunstanburgh Castle was barely half the age of the original Bamburgh Castle, but while the latter was appended and developed over the centuries the former descended increasingly into ruin. It makes a striking point of interest on the cliffs though and was used for defence purposes right up to the end of the second world war, housing the Royal Armoured Corps as they prepared to counter the omnipresent threat of a German invasion. Thankfully that invasion never came and the beaches are no longer adorned with barbed wire, making the task in hand a damn sight easier that it could otherwise have been.

After half an hour of watching the clouds pick up the pink of a sunrise in the waiting it finally peered through the hazy eastern horizon, bathing the prominent Lilburn Tower in light and casting a yellow shimmer across the wet rocks so recently revealed by the retreating waters. I was done – two out of two in the space of half a day. I packed up and wandered back to the car and ultimately back to bed for a few hours before breakfast.

Having done what I set out to achieve I didn’t even attempt to go over old ground on this trip – you can see a wider selection of pictures from previous visits in the the Northumberland gallery. Later in the week I continued my journey south, bound for North Yorkshire. It was a beautiful sunny day as I stood in the hotel car park on my final morning, and one I’d have been out enjoying had my car keys not been in the hotel and the hotel not been on fire…