Durdle Door and Valley of the Rocks

For a number of months I have been waiting for the ideal conditions to visit Durdle Door (Dorset, UK) to photograph the sunrise through the rock arch. This is only possible when the sun rises at its most southerly latitudes during a number of weeks in the winter months. 

Reviewing the weather forecasts and cloud movements week by week finally resulted in the 'perfect' conditions this Saturday and probably last opportunity this season to get the photo. So the alarm was set for 3.20am (the earliest winter alarm I think I've ever set!) and leaving before 4.00am I arrived a few hours later in the thick of darkness on the coast in Dorset.

Heading down to the location I stopped off to get a night sky photo, thinking I should have set the alarm earlier as the horizon already had signs of light - I will remember for the next time!

Carefully navigating down the steep steps by torch light, I noticed another photographer's torch flickering in the darkness, the sign of things to come and the popularity of this location.

It was going to be just over one and a half hours until sunrise, during which time I took a number of photos as the light of dawn increased and the beauty of the early hours of the morning started to appear.

By now a number of photographers started to accumulate on the beach, laden with their cameras and tripods, one person travelling as far as Peterborough!

As part of a line of photographers ready for the moment we had all be waiting for, the sun broke through the clouds on the horizon and all my planning came together as its light pierced through the archway, enabling me to capture those special moments below:

It seemed like photographers were everywhere. On the beach, the tall cliffs behind me, as well as in the photo below - can you spot them!

As the sun continued to rise it was now opportunity to get some take some different views of this amazing location (click on the images below to see larger versions):

The main objective of the occasion had been achieved. I returned to the car to go and check out a few other places locally, before heading off westwards to Devon to catch the sunset at the Valley of the Rocks; the second goal of the trip.

The next photo is at Kimmeridge Bay looking back towards Durdle Door - a picture within a picture.

As I passed Corfe Castle ready to head westwards for Devon, this shot shows how the weather had started to change.  Gone were the clear skies we had at dawn, making me appreciate even more the perfect conditions earlier on.

A number of hours later I arrived at Lynton and Lynmouth; the location of the Valley of the Rocks. The weather had completely changed by this point, becoming grey and overcast, but still with a possibility of some light from the south west for the sunset. It was time to give Willow my dog a decent walk, as well as photograph the local goats which were demonstrating great agility on the cliff slopes!

After what seemed a tiring walk along the cliff path back to Lynton, I found a convenience store to get some water and food to replenish the energy from the long day. It was then time to retrace my steps so as to sit and wait for the sun to set before returning to the car for the long journey home. A fruitful day!