At some point in time I decided it would be a great idea to go camping over the christmas break , just one night & with Andy being away for the 1st part of christmas week I figured friday 30th Dec would be the ideal date . The weather forecast was showing heavy frosts for the week so an extra sleeping bag was purchased along with a pair of nice thick pj's !
The 30th arrived complete with a heavy frost so I packed extra thermals as well & set off to collect Andy with a positively balmy 5 degrees showing on the temperature gauge . The journey to Seaham was rather slow with several detours due to the chosen route being closed along 3 or 4 junctions due to an RTA so we arrived far later than intended at the campsite , a farm near Easington Colliery called The Barn , details here : The Barn at Easington .
The Barn is reached by driving down a very narow farm track that seems to go on & on & on though the satnav wanted us to go across country....literally through the fields ! The lady who owned it was totally lovely & seemed more than convinced we were both a trifle mad ......camping in December ? She gave us a quick tour then left us to it , dusk was fast approaching & we wanted to be at Seaham in time for sunset , having done a little research on the web we'd found a fab looking lighthouse at the end of the harbour pier .
We found the carpark at the harbour & set off toward the lighthouse only to find the pier gated with only fisherman appearing to have a key ! Sunset was drawing ever closer and neither of us felt comfortable enough to ask one of the fishers if they'd let us through so we rushed back to the car & went just up the road to Chemical beach again . We drew a blank on the beach as the sunset kinda fizzled out in to nothing but as always it was good to be at the coast & all was not lost as we were intending to come back for sunrise .
All good plans etc etc.....
We headed back to the campsite , put the tents up in the dark & grabbed some food before both getting itchy feet , it was only around 7pm & boredom was setting in already ! There was very limited phone reception at the site so we took a drive down the lane back to the main road and consulted google maps . We spotted an interesting area near Blackhall Colliery approx 30mins drive so off we set . We found the beach quite easily , the parking for it not so, we ended up on the beach slip road ! Eventually we found the proper car park & headed down the steps to the beach in search of what we thought were some rocky outcrops which could work well with an in coming tide . We spent around an hour wandering round & after chatting with a night fisherman , decided this was the place to be for sunrise as we couldn't get access to Seaham Pier .
The alarms went off a little before 6am , a quick breakfast & we set off to Blackhall Colliery , it was New Years Eve & we were hoping for a belting sunrise to round the year off perfectly . Un-surprisingly we were the only ones in the car park ! We quickly found our way back down to the beach , the tide was just starting to go out and we could see plenty of opportunities for photo's along with some rather interesting looking caves in the hillside .
The sunrise was subtle , not too exciting but on the brightside it wasn't windy or raining & it was considerably warmer than had been forecast ! As dawn broke we began to see just how amazing this spot was , the cliffside had a fair few caves & the beach was a mix of gold & black sand . When the colliery was working they used to dump all the waste on to the beach resulting in black sand which created wonderful lines & patterns in the gold sand as the tide ebbed & flowed over pebbles & rocks . We spent a good couple of hours playing with angles & compositions then I went off to explore the caves . Several of them looked perfect for a spot of camping ( if we can find out just how far the tide comes in ) which would allow us to do some nightime photography such as star trails & Milkyway shots . It's on the list for 2017 for sure !
& so our trip came to end , we'd had decent weather, a fair sunrise , found a great new spot & most importantly , we had fun doing what we love .
Can't wait for more of the same in 2017 ...see you all there :-)