North Wales Sunset And Keeping The Sea Out


It wasn’t too bad an evening last night, cold, but looked as though there might be a reasonable sunset. Seemed like a good idea to maybe visit the beach and have another try with the new Sigma 10-20mm Wide Angle lens. But let me go back a little in the day first. Earlier in the day I had been out with the dogs, walking along the coastal path at Prestatyn, you can see it in the 6th image. The path also forms part of the coastal defenses and when I was with the dogs the in-coming tide was occasionally throwing up spray and the odd bit of water. Now step forward to yesterday evening. It was low tide and I was able to descend the sea wall onto the beach and walk towards the Groyne markers which are some way out. Whilst I was doing this I started thinking about the coastal-defenses and the impact they had on my photography, if any.

I have a routine that I nearly always do before I venture out onto the beach, especially if I’m going to Talacre beach which can be completely deserted in the winter time.

  1. First of all I check when is high tide and how high is it going to be? (more on that later)
  2. Secondly, what time does the so-called Golden Hour start and finish (should be obvious why)

High tide is important, it’s no use rushing down to the beach to find the tide is in, all you will see is a big expanse of water, especially on Prestatyn beach. But when the tide is out……

Sunset on Prestatyn Beach

We have very wide beaches and the tide can go out a good 150 to 300 metres depending on which beach you are on. This is especially true of Talacre beach, which can easily reach the maximum distance at low tide. For Prestatyn it’s usually about 200 metres and it’s a fair hike through the sand to get down to the waters edge.

Footprints in the Sand

Another reason I check tide times is sand bars. They form on the beach when the tide goes out, when the tide comes in again, it can come in right behind you. In the image below you can see what I mean. I’m standing on a sand bar. The water in the dip, is flowing out to sea. The dark area behind the water is another sand bar. When the tide comes in it fills the area of the dip first and eventually the sand bars are covered. It’s all too easy to be concentrating on getting that photograph and not notice what the incoming tide is doing. The last thing you want happening is to be caught on a sand bar with the tide coming in. So if I know the tide times I know when it’s time to get off the beach.

Blue Hour on Prestayn Beach

If the tide does come in and you get caught I suppose you could try and climb on the rocks. It would give you some time but eventually the incoming tide will cover them. Not the easiest of things to do though as they’re covered in green moss and seaweed, which makes them really slippery.

Sunset on Prestatyn Beach

The rocks have been put down on the beach to help protect our vulnerable coastline from flooding. They form part of the extensive sea defences put in place and I suppose you could call them the front-line. However they do get covered at high tide so that marker you can see is there to let small craft and and anyone using the sea for recreation purposes that the rocks are there.

Groyne Markers on Prestatyn Beach

When the tide is in it will cover the marker right up to the point where the anchor cables meet, sometimes a little higher. This one is damaged, one of the cables is missing and it has a decided lean. Eventually the actions of the waves and wind will bend it completely.

I mentioned earlier that rocks were the first line of defence for our vulnerable coastline, the second line is a series of concrete steps which serve to break up the actions of the waves.

Thin Yellow Line

If you look at the image above you can get an idea of the width and length of the beaches. Look towards the top right and you can see a sand bar surrounded by water, this is the one I was talking about in the third photograph on this blog.

The third and final line of sea defences is that small concrete wall. If the sea gets over that then all that’s left is the vulnerable sand dunes and the low lying town.

Mind the Steps

The last time Prestatyn flooded was in 1990, The sea breached the then defences and poured into the town. Have a look at the BBC article it shows some photographs from the time.

What about you, do you live in a vulnerable area? Or, maybe you have visited an area that suffers from vagaries of nature?

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10 comments

  1. Some stunning shots there, there is something so special about a sunset on a deserted beach.
    The sea defences add to the dramatic scenes too.

    Like

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