The Mourne Mountains in Co. Down, Northern Ireland do indeed sweep down to the sea, just as the song rehearses, but for those who live to the north of them, they are invariably in shadow. The result is often just a looming darkness beyond Newcastle, but, on the right occasion the shadows lend something to the whole. On an unseasonably warm September day I found myself at Murlough Bay, watching the swimmers (yes!), and seeing the blue tinged Mournes beyond.
There was a comment made on Twitter a few days ago in response to the wonderful Secret Britain TV programme on our wee country. The comment was that we need to market ourselves better – a comment with which I wholeheartedly agree. Since coming back this side of the Irish Sea I’ve been surprised by how underdeveloped the tourism industry is. In comparison, one of our favourite spots in the Lake District is Tarn Hows – it’s miles from anywhere, up at the top of a mountain (as Tarns, by definition are), and yet there is still a car park and ‘facilities’. Every village and coastal town worth visiting in England has coffee shops and parking and facilities. Often you have to pay for parking, but the ability to travel knowing you have somewhere to park and somewhere to eat makes it worthwhile.
What is at the same time the beauty of and the frustration of Northern Ireland’s many wonderful locations is that we don’t do tourism very well. I love the fact that I can visit an unspoilt cover, or a huge beach (such as Murlough above) and not have to pay for parking or be overwhelmed by other tourists. I hate the fact that large areas are inaccessible (how much of Lough Neagh can you get to?) and most are underdeveloped.
As an avid consumer of our coast and countryside I would love to see it consumed my more of our local population and visited by more UK visitors as well as those from beyond our isles. What would be nicer than to have car parks with cafes and helpful staff at all our major attractions?
But before we get to that we need to let people know what we have got! We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the British Isles, but we don’t let people know. I for one believe that in this case at least, pictures speak louder than words. So, the picture above is just another encouragement to discover Northern Ireland for yourself.
I’ve now finally bitten the bullet and purchased a larger format printer that will allow me to print 40cm x 30cm images from my home studio. These fit very nicely into standard frames from the likes of IKEA, or can be framed by me for delivery as a package.
** For a limited time only you can purchase a 40cm x 30cm framed print for £75 plus delivery at cost **
40cm x 30cm unframed prints are £75 plus delivery
30cm x 21cm unframed prints are £55 plus delivery
Both the above fit standard IKEA frames – for other frame sizes please drop me a line.
One of the things that I love about the Northern Ireland coast is the rocky outcrops that often appear. Of course, the Giant’s Causeway is the most famous ‘rocky outcrop’, but I love the small craggy coves that are so frequently seen, particularly along the Co. Down coast.
This photo was taken just between Bangor and Ballyholme.
The Co. Down coast has always been one of my favourite haunts – the coastline is unspoiled and uncluttered. There are very view visitors to most of the beaches along this stretch of coast, so it’s a simple matter to find space to yourself if that’s what you want.
Driving along from Strangford towards Newcastle we passed Ballyhornan beach. It was almost empty, but not quite, but the other visitors were far enough away to allow everyone their own little stretch of coastline. I like this view over the rocks towards the distant mother and daughter walking the tideline.
Perhaps this photo demonstrates as much as anything a change of direction in my photography. Having moved back to Northern Ireland I’m no longer photographing the North West England coast, but finding familiar sights from long ago, and other places that I’ve never visited before.
On Saturday we took a drive along the Mourne Coast and up through the mountains. We stopped here (wherever here is) to capture the road winding towards the mountains. I’m just beginning so many journeys (or perhaps recommencing some), but at least I know that the road is worth travelling.
On holiday in Northern Ireland, the sun was shining and my dad had brought his new A4 out to play. We were pottering around the beaches on the Ards Peninsula and seeing the car parked up thought it would make a great image. The beach was slightly below the surface of the road which allowed me to get down low and surround the car in the grass. The farmhouse in the background made a nice contextual reference, and of course an ND grad was used to deepen the sky tones a little.