Dorset Landscape Photography Locations, Lulworth Cove
Updated: Jul 25, 2020
Back again with another guide to the very best photography locations in Dorset, this time with a real favourite, Lulworth Cove.
You don't have to live in Dorset to have heard of this wonderful location, it's one of natures finest examples of a cove anywhere in Britain and sees many visitors every year from all over the world.
Lulworth Cove is a perfectly symmetrical shell like cove full of hidden ledges and great smooth pebbles just perfect to get any photographers creative juices flowing.
Not only do you have the cove and all it's features here but right next to it is the wonderful "Stair Hole" and a short if not steep walk over the hill will get you to the mighty Durdle Door, but we will leave that for another blog at a later date.
Lulworth Cove is part of the Lulworth range complex in deepest darkest Dorset and can be accessed at any time of the year despite being next to the MOD Military firing range which has restricted access during the week to Mupe Bay and the Fossil Forest.
Lulworth Cove was first formed over 10,000 years ago by a river and the sea meeting which carved out the cove itself.
The outer edge is made from the formidable Portland Stone which is incredibly tough and resists the rough and raw power of the relentless pounding sea.
Inside the cove it is a different story were the hills are made up of soft white chalk which means the cove is always evolving and taking on new shapes as the elements take their toll on the cliff, this can lead to a few landslides so caution should be exercised when visiting and shooting.
Lulworth Cove is exceptionally popular with tourists which can be very frustrating for a photographer so some thought should be given to the best times to visit it.
During peak holiday season it is nothing short of rammed and photographers should probably seek a different venue as it becomes virtually impossible to shoot it from any angle without tourists with exceptionally questionable shirts standing in front of your camera asking what you are photographing ? *shudders
Early morning sunrise shots will be a good bet as the tourists will still be in bed but at peak times they will sometimes manage to surprise you with how early they are prepared to get up in pursuit of a prime position on the beach.
Sunset shots are possible in peak times but you will need to be prepared for it to be busy and to receive the same three or four questions over and over again.
1, What are you doing ?
2, Are you local
3, I'm a photographer and you need to hear all about my point and press camera
4, Got any good ones ? (not yet as some complete tool is stood in front of my lens)
Like I said, avoid peak times if you're an introvert photographer like me who likes nothing more than a bit of solitude while out shooting.
Out of season it's a different story, well kind of. While it sees a vastly reduced footfall it still has a lot of people visiting it but at sunrise & sunset it's quite possible you will have the place very nearly to yourself and you certainly wont have to battle for a place to shoot.
If you choose to go during the day you will still have to contend with a lot of other people who are out enjoying the wonderful walks the range has to offer.
To get to Lulworth Cove car park use post code BH20 5RN, This is a pay and display car park from 7am to 7pm so its possible to shoot for free during the summer months in the morning or evening.
It's quite a pricey car park (as are most in Dorset) but if you're looking to do it on the cheap and don't mind a short walk then head for Church Road just before the main car park where you can park for free but it's well known so is generally quite full.
From the car park itself you will follow the path down to the cove going past several pubs, gift shops and the obligatory ice cream/fudge & gift shop (summer months only) which can come in handy if you're in need of a bit of refreshment.
Once you get to the entrance of the cove and also the busiest area you will have an outflow stream on your right hand side which after heavy rainfall can become a raging torrent and you will need boots to get through it but thats only in the winter months.
Starting at the East end of the cove you have Peplers point which is accessed by following the coastal path steps and a well trodden path which in the winter can be an absolute mud bath so good foot ware is essential.
From here you can shoot from high up right across the cove along the outer edges, while it's a shot I haven't managed to get myself yet after several failed attempts but it's worth going for but sadly I can't provide you with an image but a quick google search for Peplers Point will provide plenty.
Back along from Peplers Point heading round the edge of the bay will bring you to the main ledges and these can be seen in the image at the top of this article.
You will need to wait for very low tides in order to shoot these ledges as during high tide you wont even know they're there.
During the winter months the sunset will line up with the gap and some spectacular images are up for grabs as long as the conditions, tide and weather are on your side.
The Main Ledges just before sunset F16, ISO 50, 1/8th Second
There are two sets of ledges at this spot next to each other and both are well worth shooting as they look very different but beware of going out on these as they can be very slippery when they are covered in seaweed, something there is a lot of at Lulworth Cove.
Just back from the ledges you will find the steps that lead to the coastal path and also to higher up the hill of the cove itself which can make for a great shot with a wide angle lens around 16mm as you can fit the whole curve of the cove into shot.
The Range Walk Steps, F11, ISO 50, 1 Second
Walking back around the cove from here will see a fairly similar outlook and features which are basically lots and lots of pebbles until you come to the boulder area but some nice shots are possible using the pebbles as foreground and sometimes you will be lucky and get a very photogenic boat moored up in line with the gap of the cove.
The Gap, F18, ISO 50, 1 Second
The next area round has lots of large and interesting boulders in the water which can be great for long exposure shots as the water laps over them, but again in order to catch them at their best you will need low or lower tides.
Again these are often very slippery as they spend a good deal of time under the water so please do take care.
The Boulder Area, F11, ISO 50, 2 seconds
Around the same area as the boulders happens to be some fantastic lines of strata that lead down into the water and are the results of continental plates shifting and compacting over millions of years.
These make fantastic subjects to photograph but they can be somewhat elusive, let me explain. They are always there but they only really appear on low tides, but on top of that they are often covered in pebbles so you can potentially walk right over them without realising they are even there ?
I don't have a great picture of these strata but this will at least show you what they are and roughly where to look for them.
The Hidden Ledges
On The Ropes, F16, ISO 50, 0.5 Seconds
Having almost come back full circle to the entrance of the cove here you will have to choices, one to go further round to the other ledges which point out into the cove or to go up the hill to the top of the cliffs and take a different perspective, this is where we will head.
As you walk up the stairs don't ignore the possible lead lines these stairs present as there are some nice shots to be had.
Lulworth Stairs, F16, ISO 50, 1/8th Second
When you get to the top of these stairs you have a great view right across the cove which you can get the whole curve in shot with a wide angle lens but be warned the bank here can be quite loose and falling is a possibility if you get too close.
First Light at Lulworth, F11, ISO 50, 4 Seconds
Moving just slightly higher up gives you a different view of the cove but in my opinion it's one of the very best looking across and it can be really spectacular at first light when the sun hits the cliffs especially if its stormy weather.
Lulworth Illuminations, F16, ISO 50, 0.8 Seconds
So that concludes our walk round Lulworth Cove, I will cover Stair Hole in a later blog.
I hope you give it a visit and get some great shots and see why its one of the many jewels in Dorset's crown and why Dorset is rapidly becoming the number one county for landscape photography.
You can view my full gallery of Lulworth cove and other close by areas by clicking HERE
As always, Happy shooting.
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