Storm Chasing at Burnham-on-Sea at the Iconic Low Lighthouse

Geoff Moore on Sun 17 September 2017

  • Image Title: Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more.
  • Pentax K-1 Camera used:
  • Pentax FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens used:
  • 28mmmm Focal length:
  • f/f11 Aperture:
  • 160 Exposure time:
  • 100 ISO:

Storm chasing on the South West coast of England in Burnham-on-Sea

Its been a little while since I was last adventuring with the camera, the summer months have been busy with family things and chores in the garden and around the house, and for the most part the weather has been quite samey, on top of this my fellow adventurer Mark has also had his time occupied with family and day trips so its with no surprise that the two of us haven't managed to get away in to the wilderness to photograph some iconic landscapes.

However, this particular weekend was fruitful in this regard, typically as you will no doubt know by now from reading about my adventures typically I'm out and about capturing sunrises, with the very rare sunset shoots too, but this adventure to Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset would see both Mark and I chasing storms on a Saturday afternoon! How avant-garde is that! I hear you proclaim.

The weather forecast all weekend had been alluding to some large storms forming up from the south coast due to an unusual high pressure and jet-stream coming up from the Azores, bringing with it very turbulent air and squally rain storms that were set to pepper the United kingdom on the 15-18th September, we at least to the forecast by the BBC, but always, the best measure of the weather is to well, be outside and see for yourself.

Settings mid afternoon from Worcester we soon hit the M5 south bound traffic, more congested than usual, and within a few miles we found out why, due to an earlier accident the M5 was completely shut at Bristol, and the accident was so bad that the disruption caused it even made the national news, thinking quickly we exited the M5 in favour of a more round about way down the M50 to Newport (wales) where we would pick up the M4 back to England. As we drove down for once the forecasters predictions were well founded, lightening and torrential rain hindered our progress south, but make it we finally did.

Low Lighthouse & Beach Access

For those thinking of visiting Burnham-on-Sea there are in fact a three lighthouses in this part of the world, the High one and the Low one, and the Round Tower (one) which is now a private residence. We opted for the Low lighthouse as this is the iconic subject that many photographers who have photographed in the Burnham areas have shot, and for good reason, its position on the sand and its location a short distance away from the main town provides a real sense of isolation and drama in all but the most pleasant of conditions, its backdrop in 3 cardinal points are beaches and dunes stretching into the distance with the 4th looking out towards the Bristol channel with Cardiff, Barry and Penarth (Wales) to the right and Minehead and Lynton to the left (England).

Burnham-on-Sea is notable for its beach and mudflats, which are characteristic of Bridgwater Bay and the rest of the Bristol Channel where the tide can recede for over 1.5 miles (2.4 km).  The Bristol Channel, which has the second highest tidal range in the world of 15 metres (49 ft), second only to Bay of Fundy in Eastern Canada. The constantly shifting sands have always been a significant risk to shipping in the area.

Access to the Low lighthouse is possible either via walking up from Burnham itself around 1.5 km or via a small track less than 400 mtrs from the back of the residential estate on Trinity Drive (Google Maps Marker Here) the added benefit of this location is that there is a very small parking area, I suspect used for local residents and dog walkers, so although convenient for access, you might struggle to park the car on busy days. Please note the small track quickly becomes a trail and is up and over some steep sand dunes, correct footwear recommended.

Once you have navigated the sand dune trail you are presented with a wild sandy beech, and depending on the time of day this may or may not be underwater, as noted above The Bristol Channel, which has the second highest tidal range in the world, and I would advise you to check the tide times when planning your trip, in stormy weather the sea can get quite rough here and caution should be excised if you are planning on going beach side during a storm and at high tide. On my visit the tide was receding and was approaching the low tide mark, so there was plenty of opportunity to shoot the light house from all angles.

Burnham-on-Sea is a town in Somerset, England, at the mouth of the River Parrett and Bridgwater Bay. Burnham was a small fishing village until the late 18th century, when it began to grow because of its popularity as a seaside resort.

The Low lighthouse is one of three lighthouses in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, England and the only one which is still active. It is a Grade II listed building. Built in 1832

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