What could be better than photographing a roaring sea on a bright autumn day, followed by steaming Hot Chocolate?

Where are we?

We started the day in Waterville, and headed out along the Skellig Ring, part of the Wild Atlantic Way, aiming to get to Portmagee, a journey of some 18 miles. It had been a wild few days with a major storm, and it was the first occasion we had hid in a hotel for two nights rather staying in Brian in gale force winds. We stayed one more night in Brian near Waterville and then headed for Portmagee.

The weather after the storm was still quite windy but it was a dry day and we were ready to travel. And in the mid-afternoon we arrived at St Finian’s Bay, a small bay just near The Glen.

St Finian’s Bay

We were assaulted by the smell of the sea and the sea water in the air from the crashing breakers. This was a fabulous beach for lovely Lola to bomb around on like the mad Spaniel she is, and we had a great view out to the Skelligs, home of an ancient monastery as well as thousands of gannets and a colony of Puffins. Not to mention being a film set for Star Wars. The Skelligs, the two islands of Skellig Michael (Sceilig Mhichíl sometimes known as Big Skellig) and Little Skellig (Sceilig Bheag) are between 8 and 10 miles WSW from St Finian’s Bay.

How I captured this image

Given the distance, the Skelligs are quite small on the horizon. I needed to get my long lens out to get a narrow enough field of view to have the Skelligs sufficiently prominent above the waves crashing into the bay.

The waves were taller than me and quite violent, throwing up a lot of spray, and the undertow was a positive danger to me and the camera. I had to get down and quite close to the waves whilst also having the speed of the camera fast enough to capture the motion of the waves and the detail of the spray at the same time, and be ready to run back up the beach between each group of shots.

This is my choice of images from St Finian’s Bay. I love the drama of this picture.

Being in black and white gives a great sense of power to the waves and the silhouetted Skelligs. It is clear that there are two islands (with Sceilig Bheag nearest) and the narrow angle gives them a dominant presence over the sea. The hard edges of the Skelligs give them a dramatic force.

Then relax

After great beach exercise for me but also for Lola and Sarah, it was time to relax. So we walked over to the Skelligs Chocolate factory and shop, to taste their samples and warm up over a steaming hot chocolate with Chilli made perfectly by their in-house experts. 

One of our many stops on the Slow Atlantic Way and undoubtedly this special image that will be in the shortlist for our book to be published in 2021/2.

Follow @slowatlanticway on Instagram