“Oh! We do like to be beside the seaside”
SMUGGLERS! PIRACY! TREASURE! DANGER! INTRIGUE! FISHING! BOAT BUILDING! MINING!
Staithes is a delightful Old English Fishing Village, seeped in history and lost in time. Tucked between two bulky headlands, this pretty village is near to the highest cliffs in England. The coastline is wonderfully rugged and Staithes is so colourful and full of character. It oozes charm.
Before my arrival, on the clifftops here, this November 2021, I tired myself out by going up and down the cliffs, on both sides of the valley, twice. I was trying to find the best position for capturing this attractive village, so that it would tell this story. At the bottom of the village, I discovered white-washed cottages, named after boats and cobbles, jumbled up in the same way as the haphazard alleyways, with names like Gun Gutter and Slippery Hill. The sight of the smallest street made me feel like a giant, as it is only eighteen inches wide. I smelt fishy smells coming from the colourful, netted, wooden Lobster and Crab pots. My thoughts turned to how tough it must have been for Fishermen and Sailors, living here centuries ago, without modern day luxuries and extremities of outdoor clothing.
As I listened to the noise of seagulls and breaking waves, I could hear creaking noises from the formidable, dangerous cliffs. Cliff falls come with no warning here.
The sea was thrashing up against the harbour wall, waves breaking over the pier. Foaming white stallions raced towards me. Without a second thought, I bent down to feel the coldness of the seaweed infused water, trapped in the gunmetal, anchored, boulders. I quickly retracted my hand. I looked out towards the mighty expanse and relentlessness of the North Sea before me. The wind kept on serving up lashings of sea water. Water rippled off me and ran down my clothing in rivulets. Licking the seawater off my face, I tasted the bitterness of the salt water in my mouth. The sea air smelt so distinct and delicious. Its freshness and richness set my senses alight.
From the start, the weather was against me. It was cold, raining, windy and stormy. The sky was forever changing and not good for photography. I could not get the right composition for my photograph. At one stage, high up on the cliffs, I juggled with my tripod legs, to hang it over a fence, to get a better angle. I attached my camera, thinking that the legs were in solid earth, when the wind suddenly rushed through, shaking the whole set up. Small pieces of wet mud, crumbled off the cliff and moved from under the tripod feet, sliding down the cliff face. I cried out, in fear of losing my camera and tripod over the cliff top. I caught and managed to save all my equipment, only just in time. This shot was not going to be easy. I waited out a few hours. The weather calmed down, as the day progressed and my patience paid off with this stunning photo.
After I had captured my image, a local man came out of one of the Old Iron Ore Miners Cottages on the cliff top. Kevin was his name and he was out to walk his dog. We got chatting to one another. He was interested in my photography story and I said that I would print his name in it, and I was keen to hear his tales of Staithes as he talked about this beautiful view that he is fortunate to have in his waking moments and last moments of every day.
I was one happy guy, being able to leave such a stunningly beautiful place, with a story to keep with this image, from a local village ma
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