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By Derek Heeps
When I first moved to Northern Ireland almost 14 years ago, one of the first things that struck me was the beauty of the coastline. In particular, the North Coast. This relatively-small coast is packed with lots of inspiring places that draw me back time and time again, no matter the season or the time of day.
Here are a few of my favourite locations that I have visited many times at both day and night. From the beauty of a sunset or sunrise to the majesty of the night sky, these places have it all! They are easy to access for someone with a moderate level of fitness.
When I think of Ballintoy, I think of giant sea stacks and roaring tides. A beautiful harbour from which one can walk for miles and take in the scenery. I have spent many a dark night here photographing the stars and watching the Northern Lights dance along the horizon.
With the famous Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge to the east and Whitepark Bay to the west, you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to photography – it’s the reason I have visited here so many times. Its relatively-dark location away from streetlights provides an ideal spot for any budding astrophotographer who wishes to indulge in their passion.
Of all the places I have visited on the North Coast this must be the one place I have photographed the most. If you think the Giant’s Causeway is all about the iconic stones we have all seen then you are wrong! The cliffs and bays that surround this tourist hotspot contain some of the best views in all of Northern Ireland and I encourage everyone to walk and explore that little bit further. I particularly enjoy the summer evenings here with the sun setting at its most northern position, illuminating these dramatic cliff edges that go on for miles.
I do love this place at night as you generally have it all to yourself in stark comparison to the day when you can potentially be surrounded by hundreds of tourists. I have watched many a meteor shower from here and gazed upon the stars for hours.
Yet another cliff top location, Mussenden Temple sits dangerously close to the edge overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It has stunning views of Downhill Strand with Donegal on the horizon. Another spot that I have visited so many times purely because of its appeal during darkness. It is a brilliant spot for sunrise and sunset all year round and for me, it’s even better in winter under a glorious clear sky. It was from here that I witnessed the Northern Lights for the first time and more recently have enjoyed capturing stunning photos of the Milky Way.
The setting and rising sun is just beginning to return to our North Coast and now is the best time to get out there and enjoy the approach of summer. Take your camera, a good pair of walking shoes and prepare to be blown away. No two visits are ever the same!
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