Favourite Locations: Murlough Bay

In the Favourite Locations articles we will be asking photographers to tell us about a particular location that they simply love to photograph.

It might be a small, local site that only a few people know about, or a huge expanse that requires some expert knowledge to get the best out of. It doesn't matter whether it's within walking distance or a day's plane flight away; it's all about the location, location, location.

Here, Paul Warwick tells us about one of his favourite photography spots: Murlough Bay

What?

Ireland has more than its share of stunning beaches, but the sands at Murlough up the ante. Here, the ever-changing light and cloud formations of the Mountains of Mourne create one of the most spectacular backdrops of any on the island. The weather is localised due to the mountains, and on some days you can be sitting in bright sunshine while the rain tumbles down in Newcastle, just two miles away. The beach is reached with a ten-minute walk on wooden boardwalks, and there’s always plenty of activity from the local wildlife and visitors. The water is shallow and ideal for swimming, beach sports, kiting and picnicing. There is a café in the National Trust car park – open in summer – which serves homemade cakes and has a selection of prints by local artists.

Cared for as Ireland’s first nature reserve since 1967, the fragile 6000-year-old sand dune system is an excellent area for walking and bird-watching. Overlooked by the rounded peaks of the Mourne Mountains to the south, this is a great place to explore via the network of paths and boardwalks through the dunes, woodland and heath, from where you can see an array of butterflies and wild flowers. You can find out more about the reserve from the National Trust.

Where?

The beach is located two miles from Newcastle on the A2 Belfast to Newcastle road. Parking is either available at the National Trust car park or in the public car park or lay-byes on the A2.

View Larger Map

When?

Any time of year. There is a micro climate so the weather can change within minutes and be different at each end of the beach. In August there is a festival of flight in Newcastle and a Red Arrows display takes place over the beach making it especially spectacular.

Why?

There are endless opportunities for landscape photography. The sun rises over the sea as the beach is east facing, so it’s a good venue for sunrise shots. In the autumn and winter, it sets over the mountains, creating the opportunity for amazing sunset images. Rainbows are common when the showers come in from the Mourne Mountains. It is also perfect for family photography with plenty of beach activities. At the northern end of the beach there is a disused army firing range with its attendant paraphernalia in a decorative state of disrepair. There are many varieties of wild flowers and mini-beasts – great for macro shots. A fish-eye lens is often useful to capture the full expanse of the littoral zone, dunes and mountains. There are many different sea birds, so bring your telephoto too, to avoid wet feet.

Paul Warwick is a photographer based in County Down, Northern Ireland. He specialises in landscapes, local events and family 'day in the life' shoots. To see more of his work, visit his website.

wex blog needs you!

Do you have a particular location you'd like to share with fellow photographers? Do you know a special spot that is so beautiful makes it almost impossible to take bad photos? Have you stumbled off the beaten path and found a landscape that others should know about?

If so, we'd love you to write a Favourite Location article for the Wex Blog! Simply write to us telling us what the location is, where it can be found, when people should visit and why it's one of your favourite places, plus include any of your own photos that show the location at its best.

We're hoping to publish one of these a month, so get thinking, shooting and writing and send your submissions to blog@wexphotographic.com.