A travel photo blog exploring the charms of north Wales and Llandudno.
A seaside resort town on the Creuddyn peninsula of the Conwy County Borough, Llandudno is a favourite for picturesque conferences of both political parties and comedians. (Insert your own joke there).
Poking out into the Irish Sea, I noticed that it’s on an identical latitude to Dublin, although I could find no other immediate connection. Llandudno’s name is derived from its patron saint, Saint Tudno and the 2011 UK census calculated a modest population of 20,710, according to Wikipedia.
People had told me of Llandudno’s charms so I was keen to have a little explore while I was up there for a job. Fortunately the weather was kind throughout, which always helps to make places look that extra bit more inviting.
A short distance south of Llandudno, the World Heritage Site of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is an architectural masterpiece. This structure allows people in barges to sail serenely across the structure, with virtually nothing between them and an improbably sheer drop on one side. Two regrets: not being able to capture the shot which best shows off the proximity of barge and drop, and not learning how to say Pontcysyllte.
The small town of Llangollen, positioned around the River Dee in the shadow of the Berwyn mountains, also deserves a nod for being outstandingly pretty.
My aimless ambling around Llandudno on a sundrenched but chilly spring day started with a leisurely walk along the pier. This was home to a number of shops, an amusement arcade and adjacent café and bar right at the end.
Looking back to land, remnant snow was discernible on the mountains beyond.
Back on the seafront, its busy wide promenade appeared popular with week-day evening walkers, runners and scooter-ers(?) as well as older residents.
Shortly after sunset my feet kept carrying me up a sloping street, past a cable car station and following tramlines upwards. I kept going, finding an eyrie known as the Great Orme which offered fantastic views across Llandudno and much of the immediate region.
Its coastline to coastline panoramas were beautiful. Who needs drones when you have great ormes?
In the other direction I spied a goat herd, high on a hill, but not looking especially lonely.
I decided to rise early and return for sunrise the next morning. Sleeping in an unfamiliar but not uncomfortable place, this didn’t prove too difficult and I was awake and ready to sneak out of my hotel at 4.30, well before my alarm went off. (Apologies if I woke any other residents of The Clovelly in Llandudno – a friendly hotel I heartily recommend).
This gave me chance to creep down to the waterfront and try a few night captures before the sun made its presence felt. One of the most striking things for me was the sheer density of wind turbines in the ocean. The lights of these, and the shipping, and an aircraft, were clear in this shortish long exposure.
Seeing the pier was gated shut at this time made my decision to head back up to the Orme, or thereabouts. I climbed the streets again, nervously crept around the proprietorial looking goat herd, and made my way up to the headland.
A photo posted by Mark Hawkins (@markonthelens) on
Waiting for sunrise is a magical experience. Even with a clear sky in good conditions, you can stand there waiting, slightly unsure if it will actually make an appearance.
The first banana-shaped sliver of light is an incredible thing which I contest is better than sunset. Witnessing something suddenly appear is surely an infinitely better trick than witnessing something slowly fade away, or gradually disappear. There’s something beautifully sad, melancholic and deathly about the latter. Whereas a sudden appearance is a new beginning, a renewal full of hope and life.
If you haven’t seen one in a while, go and do it. Research the weather and the when and the where. Take the kids, get up in the middle of the night, have an adventure, experience a genuinely awesome but basic everyday thing. Make memories but don’t spend all of it through a viewfinder or smartphone. Drink it in.
You can share them. But sunrises and sunsets can also feel strangely intimate if you’re the only person around, as I was. It’s just you and the sun and nature and our old, faithfully spinning planet earth. No other people.
Another faintly dystopian element was offered in those wind turbines. Photographed with a longer lens at 200mm, the sun slowly oozing itself up in the background, they appear kind of robotic, half sentient, like something out of War of The Worlds.
This effect could be brilliantly, surreally exaggerated with an even longer lens, a 400 to 600mm, and at sea level in a boat or at the end of the pier.
Low sunlight sliced through underneath the pier, arrowing shadows through on the surface of the water. It was all so gorgeous I couldn’t resist a quick remote selfie or sorts. (Note the bed-hair).
The sun continued its ascent, embalming the Llandudno seafront buildings in golden light.
Llandudno was lovely.
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