Boasting some of the most dramatic cliffs in England, Land’s End is much more than just a famous signpost and an under-whelming theme park. Once you get past the commercial buildings the coastal landscape is absolutely exquisite and offers a wealth of viewpoints for seascape photography.
How To Get Here
From Penzance head west on the A30 following the signs for Land’s End. After approximately 10 miles the A30 ends at the gates of Land’s End. Through the gates, you will find the car park on the left.
- Parking Lat/Long: 50.064771, -5.7127034
- Parking OS Grid Ref: SW 344 249
- Parking Postcode: TR19 7AA
- Map: OS Explorer Map 102 (1:25 000) Land’s End
What to Shoot and Viewpoints
Along with towering granite cliffs, there are several islands just offshore from Land’s End which make compelling photographic subjects. Further out to sea, the rocky Longships islets are home to one of the most dramatically situated lighthouses in the UK.
Amid all this spectacular scenery the Atlantic constantly battles with the land, continually sending mighty waves to crash against the cliffs with terrifying force. Fortunately this drama mostly takes place well below the cliff tops, giving you the chance to photograph it in complete safety.
Viewpoint 1 – Enys Dodnan
This is the vista that the majority of landscape photographers visiting Land’s End aspire to shoot. From the car park, follow a footpath south for around 15 minutes away from Land’s End, which firstly heads past a small tourist farm and then out onto the cliff tops. As the coastal scenery begins to open up, you will get your first view of the magnificent Enys Dodnan island just out to sea to your right. This huge chunk of granite is impressive enough, but as you walk further you will notice the island has an enormous natural arch running through it.
Just behind Enys Dodnan, another islet curiously named the Armed Knight provides a secondary subject. Photographed up close both these islands, together with the shapely granite cliffs of the mainland make a perfectly balanced composition.
If that’s not enough the towering cliffs, rugged rocky foreground and distant Longships lighthouse all come together delightfully in the most perfect wide-angle seascape. Even the Land’s End cliff top hotel compliments the scenery, adding scale to any picture.
Viewpoint 2 – Pordenack Point
If you can bear to turn your back on the classic view, continue walking away from Land’s End. After five minutes you will find yourself looking over an entirely different coastal view. Pordenack Point may not have the arch, lighthouses or island of its more illustrious neighbour but the view is possibly even more dramatic.
Soaring walls of granite rise vertically out of the Atlantic and recede in a series of jagged headlands towards Gwennap Head to the south. When the Atlantic is crashing against the cliffs it is difficult to imagine a more dramatic coastal location anywhere.
Viewpoint 3 – Armed Knight and Longships Lighthouse
From Land’s End on a stormy winter day waves can be seen crashing against Longships lighthouse with tremendous force, sometimes even obscuring the tower completely in explosions of white. With a long telephoto lens, this can make for stunning photos showing the power of an angry Atlantic ocean, as well as the extreme strength of a lighthouse to withstand such force.
Telephoto shots of Longships can be captured from anywhere on Land’s End, but for wider pictures showcasing the lighthouse a little more thought is required. The headland at Carn Greeb provides a really interesting vantage point to shoot towards the lighthouse. From this position the Armed Knight makes an intriguing foreground subject which provides an excellent counterbalance to the lighthouse in the background. Often, waves crash around the rocky islet leaving long lines of white foam curving around the island. These white longs make wonderful extra interest to seascape photographs, especially when shooting with a long exposure of several seconds.
As Land’s End is a major tourist destination, facilities are good. There is a large car park, toilets and various places to get food and drink. There are wheelchair-friendly footpaths around the well-known areas near the hotel and famous signpost, however the further you venture the footpaths become uneven and narrow in places.
Best Time of Year/Day
As the sun sets out to sea over the Atlantic, Land’s End makes an ideal location to shoot in the evening all year round. Late afternoon/evening sunlight will illuminate the cliffs and islands, turning them to beautiful golden tones. Then once the sun has set, any clouds above the cliffs will be tinged pink. In the summer, if you time your visit well you may be able to shoot the sun
setting through the natural arch on Enys Dodnan.