5 Landscape Photography Locations in Yorkshire

Unlocking the Secrets of Yorkshire Landscape Photography: Where to Start?

Yorkshire is not just a county; it’s a canvas for Yorkshire landscape photography. With its towering coastal cliffs, rugged limestone formations, ancient stone walls, and mesmerising waterfalls, Yorkshire is a haven for photographers. But where should one start their Yorkshire landscape photography journey?

To guide you to the best spots, we offer Yorkshire landscape photography workshops in the Dales and along the Yorkshire Coast. For more details, visit our Workshop website.

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Your Ultimate Guide to Yorkshire Landscape Photography: Top 5 Locations

We could easily list 20 spots, but we’ve narrowed it down to five that showcase Yorkshire’s coast, dales, and industrial heritage. These locations offer a variety of scenes for every Yorkshire landscape photography enthusiast.

Essential Gear for Capturing Yorkshire Landscape Photography

Before you set off on your Yorkshire landscape photography adventure, make sure you’re well-equipped. Here’s what we recommend:


1 Flamborough Head – A Treasure Trove for Yorkshire Landscape Photography: Caves, Cliffs, and History

Located just north of Bridlington, Flamborough Head is a captivating location that offers more than just a pretty face for Yorkshire landscape photography. It’s a place steeped in history, geological wonders, and a variety of photographic opportunities.

Smugglers and Its History

Flamborough Head has a rich history that’s as turbulent as the waves crashing against its cliffs. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the area was a hotbed for smuggling activities. Goods like gin, tea, and tobacco were smuggled in from the continent to avoid high taxes. The intricate cave systems provided the perfect hiding spots for these illicit goods. It’s said that the local fishermen were often in cahoots with the smugglers, adding a layer of intrigue and danger to this picturesque location. When you’re framing your shots, think about the stories these caves could tell.

The Geology – Why Caves and White Rocks?

The cliffs and caves of Flamborough Head are primarily made of chalk, a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock. This chalk formation is part of the same system that stretches down to the White Cliffs of Dover. Over millennia, the relentless action of the sea has carved out the caves and sculpted the cliffs, creating a dramatic backdrop for Yorkshire landscape photography. The white cliffs also offer a stunning contrast against the often tumultuous grey seas, especially during the ‘golden hour’ when the cliffs can glow almost golden.

What to Photograph – The Choices are Endless

Flamborough Head offers a smorgasbord of subjects for Yorkshire landscape photography:

  • Waves: The area is known for its powerful waves, providing excellent opportunities for capturing their motion, either freezing them in time or creating silky smooth long-exposure shots.
  • Smooth Long Exposures: With the right ND filter, you can create ethereal long-exposure shots where the sea turns into a misty dreamscape.
  • Caves: The caves are not just historically significant; they also make for intriguing subjects, especially when explored in low light conditions.
  • Seals: If you’re lucky, you might even spot some seals lounging on the rocks or frolicking in the water, adding a touch of wildlife to your landscape photography.


2 – Malham: A Geological Wonderland for Yorkshire Landscape Photography

When it comes to Yorkshire landscape photography, Malham stands out as a geological marvel in the Dales. With its awe-inspiring Cove, the dramatic Gordale Scar, the mystical Janet’s Foss, and the tranquil Malham Tarn, this location offers a diverse range of subjects to photograph.

The Witch of Janet’s Foss and Local Legends

Janet’s Foss isn’t just a pretty waterfall; it’s steeped in local folklore. According to legend, Janet, the Queen of the Fairies, lived in a cave behind the waterfall. The word ‘Foss’ is actually Old Norse for a waterfall or force. Some even say that the area around Janet’s Foss is enchanted, and it’s not hard to see why when you’re there, capturing its ethereal beauty through your lens.

Geological Wonders: The Making of Malham

Malham’s unique landscape is a result of various geological processes. Malham Cove was once a roaring waterfall, formed at the end of the last Ice Age around 12,000 years ago. Today, it stands as a curved limestone formation, a perfect backdrop for Yorkshire landscape photography. Gordale Scar, on the other hand, was formed through water and ice erosion, creating its dramatic limestone cliffs. The area is also known for its ‘clints and grikes’, limestone pavements that have been eroded to create deep fissures. Be careful while walking on them; they can be several feet deep!

Endless Photo Opportunities

Malham offers a plethora of subjects for the discerning Yorkshire landscape photographer:

  • The Cove: Capture the grandeur of this ancient waterfall turned limestone cliff, especially stunning at sunrise or sunset.
  • Waterfalls: From the mystical Janet’s Foss to the cascading waters at Gordale Scar, waterfalls abound.
  • Janet’s Foss: Try capturing the waterfall with a slow shutter speed to give it a silky-smooth appearance.
  • The Lone Tree: The solitary tree on Malham Rakes offers a classic subject, particularly compelling in misty conditions.
  • The Tarn: Malham Tarn provides opportunities for capturing reflections and perhaps some wildlife.
  • Limestone Pavements: The ‘clints and grikes’ offer interesting textures and patterns, great for abstract shots.


3 – Aysgarth Falls: A Triple Treat for Yorkshire Landscape Photography

When it comes to capturing the essence of Yorkshire landscape photography, Aysgarth Falls offers a unique opportunity. Located within a mile, you’ll find not one but three distinct cascading falls, each with its own character and charm.

Historical Significance: The Old Mill

While Aysgarth Falls is primarily known for its natural beauty, it also has historical significance. Near the upper falls, you’ll find an old mill that dates back to the 18th century. The mill was once a hub of activity, harnessing the power of the falls to grind grain. It’s a testament to how humans have interacted with this natural wonder over the years. The mill itself offers an interesting backdrop for your photos, adding a touch of historical context to your Yorkshire landscape photography.

Geological Intricacies: The Story Behind the Pitted Rocks

The unique rock formations at Aysgarth Falls are a result of glacial activity. During the last Ice Age, melting glaciers carried with them small stones and debris. Over time, these stones swirled around, eroding the bedrock and creating the pits that you see today. These geological features add an extra layer of texture and intrigue to your photographs.

Photographic Opportunities: A Palette of Possibilities

Aysgarth Falls offers a wide range of subjects for the Yorkshire landscape photographer:

  • Three Different Falls: Each of the falls—Upper, Middle, and Lower—has its own unique characteristics, offering a variety of compositions.
  • Access Points: While reaching the top and middle falls can be a bit tricky, a long lens can help you capture their beauty from a distance. The lower falls, on the other hand, offer a ‘secret passage’ downstream for those willing to explore.
  • Best View: Many argue that the lower falls offer the best view, accessible via a less-known path. It’s a spot that provides a panoramic view of the falls, ideal for wide-angle shots.

And let’s not forget, there’s a shop near the car park that serves delightful ice cream—a perfect treat after a day of shooting!


4 – Hardcastle Crags: A Woodland Wonderland for Yorkshire Landscape Photography

Located above Hebden Bridge and near Heptonstall, Hardcastle Crags offers a serene woodland setting that’s a dream for Yorkshire landscape photography. With its burbling stream, historic Gibson Mill, and the ever-changing play of light and shadow, this location is a photographer’s paradise.

History: The Tale of Gibson Mill

Gibson Mill is the crown jewel of Hardcastle Crags. Built around 1800, it was initially used for cotton spinning. The mill was driven by a water wheel, harnessing the natural power of the stream. It ceased operations in the late 19th century and was later converted into an entertainment emporium, complete with a dance hall and roller-skating rink. Today, it stands as a testament to the industrial heritage of the area and offers a fascinating subject for photographers interested in capturing a slice of history.

Geology: The Valley and Its Secrets

Hardcastle Crags is situated in a steep-sided valley carved out by the action of glaciers and water over millennia. The valley is lined with a mix of deciduous trees like oak, beech, and birch, which thrive in the area’s damp, shaded conditions. The stream that runs through the valley has further eroded the landscape, creating a series of small cascades and rock formations that add texture and interest to your photographs.

Photographic Opportunities: A Feast for the Eyes

Hardcastle Crags offers a plethora of subjects for the Yorkshire landscape photographer:

  • Long Exposure Water Shots: The stream provides ample opportunities for long exposure photography, especially when using a 10-stop filter to smooth out the water.
  • Woodland Scenes: The area is magical when fog rolls in, creating ethereal woodland scenes that are straight out of a fairy tale.
  • Autumn Paradise: Come autumn, the woodland turns into a riot of oranges and yellows, offering a completely different, yet equally captivating, photographic experience.
  • Mill Reflections: On a calm day, Gibson Mill is perfectly reflected in the mill pond, creating a mirror-like image that’s hard to resist.
  • The Mill Pond Dam: The dam itself, with its cascading water, is a lovely subject that adds a dynamic element to your portfolio.


5 – Bolton Abbey: A Quintessential Spot for Yorkshire Landscape Photography

Just a stone’s throw away from Leeds and Bradford, Bolton Abbey is an ideal location for an afternoon of Yorkshire landscape photography. With its historic abbey, perilous Strid, and scenic waterfalls, this place offers a range of subjects that can keep any photographer engaged.

History: A Blend of Beauty and Danger

Bolton Abbey is perhaps most famous for its 12th-century Augustinian monastery, a magnificent ruin that has stood the test of time. The area is privately owned and has been featured in the BBC2 series “The Trip,” where Steve Coogan had a memorable mishap on the stepping stones across the River Wharf. Speaking of the river, the Strid is a narrow but extremely deep and dangerous section where the whole of the River Wharf is forced through a six-foot gap. It’s said that no one who has fallen into the Strid has lived to tell the tale. So, as tempting as it may be, don’t even think about jumping over it!

Geology: The Making of the Strid

The Strid was formed through erosional processes where the limestone and softer shale were worn away by the force of the River Wharf over thousands of years. The river narrows dramatically, increasing the speed of the water and creating a deep channel. The Strid is a geological marvel but also a perilous one, so exercise extreme caution when photographing it.

Photographic Opportunities: A Smorgasbord of Subjects

Bolton Abbey offers a rich tapestry of photographic opportunities for the avid Yorkshire landscape photographer:

  • The Waterfall: One of the most beautiful in the Dales, especially captivating in winter when icicles form and leaves don’t obstruct the light.
  • Stepping Stones: These offer a fun and dynamic subject, especially when capturing people navigating their way across.
  • The Strid: A challenging but rewarding subject, capturing the power and danger of this narrow river section.
  • The Abbey: Its ruins provide a perfect backdrop for various compositions, especially during sunrise and sunset.
  • Riverside Walk: A serene setting for capturing the natural beauty of the area, including the flora and fauna.

Well there are 5 locations to have a go at if you’re after somewhere with photographic potential.


Other Yorkshire Locations You Need To Visit

4 thoughts on “5 Landscape Photography Locations in Yorkshire”

  1. Beautiful pictures, I am a amature photographer from Walsall in the West Midlands, and a member of Great Barr Photography Club.
    Would like to visit Yorkshire to take some pictures but have no knowledge of the best locations, could you suggest some locations in addition to the above?

  2. Christopher Smart

    I’m from Birmingham left when I was 17 and married a Yorkshire lass at 21.
    Her father used to tell me that Yorkshire has every type of landscape in it’s boundaries that you can see in the rest of England and he wasn’t wrong……..true it’s a big county.
    But an ace one for walking, mountains wild country and fantastic views.
    By the way I went to Perry Common Comprehensive.
    Best wishes

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