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Shooting The Brigg

  • Thu 13th Aug, 2020

A little way north of the majestic chalk cliffs of Bempton, along a wide, sweeping stretch of sandy beach, a striking rocky peninsula protrudes straight out into the North Sea like a wizened finger. A Site of Special Scientific Interest, noted for both its biology and geology, Filey Brigg is an outstanding venue for coastal and landscape photography.

Filey Brigg © George StoyleFiley Brigg © George Stoyle

At the northern end of Filey Beach the gentle cliffs abruptly steepen to form the beginning of Carr Naze, a narrow headland of sheer, weathered sandstone crags. Stretching for about half a mile, Carr Naze drops sharply onto a rocky platform, the Brigg, which, at low tide, extends along a rough path interspersed by boulders for another half a mile out to sea.

Filey Brigg © George StoyleFiley Brigg © George Stoyle

From a photography perspective the exposed northern side of Carr Naze is the most interesting. The vertical cliffs reveal multiple strata which form distinctive patterns and lines running in horizontal layers down to the water. The rocks at the base of the cliffs are popular spots for fishermen and many of the sites have been given characteristic names such as Big Hole, Green Rock and Gulley Stones. On occasion the water is clear enough to see the outline of wave-cut platforms as the cliffs merge into the seabed.

Filey Brigg © George StoyleFiley Brigg © George Stoyle

Moving down onto the Brigg itself, the rocks form a rough but distinctive ‘zigzag’ of stepping stones out to Brigg End, which is only exposed as the tide ebbs. The barnacle and limpet-encrusted boulders, surrounding shallow pools and mats of bright green and brown algae, almost fluoresce in the light of a rising or setting sun. At high tide the tips of the largest rocks are still visible, the most characteristic being the jagged precipice of Horse Shoe Gully, which forms a natural breakwater resulting in frequent and impressive stormy displays.

Filey Brigg © George StoyleFiley Brigg © George Stoyle

Sunrise is without doubt the best time to visit the Brigg. The orange and pink light of pre-dawn allows for some stunning reflections in the many pools, the best of which are at the base of the cliffs on the northern edge of Carr Naze. The tiered rocks along the edge of the Brigg also allow for some interesting filter photography as the tide washes over them, forming countless mini-waterfalls and swirling patterns of white water amongst the glistening ribbons of seaweed.

Filey Brigg © George StoyleFiley Brigg © George Stoyle

Every time I visit Filey Brigg I find a new angle, a new set of lines, patterns and textures in the layers of rock. With the ever-changing morning light and the constant ebb and flow of the North Sea, the same viewpoint on a new day can take on an entirely different character. Early mornings on the Brigg are a special time. This rugged finger of land is a unique place, and for me, one of the jewels in Yorkshire’s coastal crown.

George Stoyle.