This magical little part of the Moray coast is well known for its beautiful sunsets and magnificent views across the Moray Firth to the hills of Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross and beyond. The quality of light in this area of Scotland can be absolutely amazing. This is a regular haunt for me but then I’m lucky in that I live in Lossiemouth and can be there following a five minute walk. I have met other photographers here but one can often find oneself alone apart from the odd gull.
Lossiemouth has two beaches know locally as the East Beach and the West Beach with the West Beach having an additional small natural harbour which is known as Stotfield Beach.
Lets look further at what the beaches have to offer.
Various ‘backgrounds’ including Covesea Skerries Lighthouse and Halliman’s skerries
Various ‘middle ground’ rock subjects
Various ‘foreground’ subjects including sand ripples, rock pools and sand pools
Great cloud formations and sunsets from across the Moray Firth
Good viewpoints from the dunes
Great cloud reflections from wet sand areas
Interesting rock outcrops and formations
Adjacent car parking for all beaches
Readily accessible by foot and easy walking
Weelchair access may be possible at low tide with assistance via ramps to Stotfield Beach.
Map Of The Area
Special Photographic Features or Notes
The beaches are safe to walk on i.e. there are no rapid tidal changes. Stay East of the lighthouse and the only hazards are associated with slippery rocks and maybe some of the higher dunes which can slip at times. It should be noted that just East of the lighthouse there are some concrete tank traps which are becoming undermined by the sea so it maybe better to avoid them. There are cliffs to the West of the lighthouse but this area is outwith this guide. Moray Golf Course is adjacent to the West Beach dunes so keep an eye open for golfers. RAF Lossiemouth is in the locality and aircraft approach low over a small area of the West Beach in order to reach the runway which lies beyond the golf course. You will be able to spot the landing lights.
Low tides in combination with sunsets provide the best photographic opportunities on both the West and Stotfield beaches. The East Beach is more suited to sunrise, dune, wet sand and wave photography and is accessible via a footbridge from the Seatown area of the town. See below for additional information on the East Beach.
West And Stotfield Beaches
The best sand ripples to catch the evening light are to be found during low tide on Stotfield Beach although they can be found on the West Beach. Tidal movement does play a part but ripples can usually be found down from the car park and to the right.
Good tidal pools can also be found on Stotfield Beach. The blocks by the way are part of coastal defences erected during the second World War. Many similar constructions are still visible in this part of the world. They can also be found on the extreme right of the beach just down from the car park and in front of the Stotfield Disaster memorial.
The best sand pools are to be found on the West Beach where they often form around stumps of anti-glider poles erected in 1940 along with the anti-tank blocks. To find them walk past the blocks that separate the beaches and on towards the lighthouse. They were probably placed at 20 yard intervals all the way up the beach to the lighthouse. At the end of the war they were cut down to sand level, but that changes, so regularly some of them pop up. They were originally 15 feet in height and comprised of fir poles placed in a barrel of stone/concrete mix. Be sure to be there in plenty time before the sun sets in order to get set up. You should be amongst them after a five minute walk.
Again my preference would be for Stotfield Beach at low tide although West Beach and East Beach can be sometimes be productive. Cloud formations tend to be located low over the firth and often catch a fleeting last glow of light after the sun has set. Don’t leave too early!
The East beach comprises of a large area of high dunes followed by flat sand which in turn is followed by a lower dune area which eventually ends in pebble banks. The river Lossie flows on one side of the dunes with the sea on the other side. This is an extensive area of unspoiled beach stretching for miles. The combination of strong winds and Spring tides can result in the area of high dunes being surrounded by water and you may find it difficult to reach the footbridge which gives pedestrian access to the beach and is constructed over the river Lossie. Not a great problem but still worth the mention. The biggest waves in the area are to be found breaking onto the East beach and when there is an off shore wind the resulting white horses can be spectacular. Surfers are often to be found on this beach.
Dawn Over The East Beach
Night photography is possible from all beaches but with care. The West beach has a flashing navigational beacon to contend with along with Tarbet Ness lighthouse which is located on the other side of the firth. Night flying aircraft can also cause problems. The East beach does suffer from light pollution on the river side of the dunes nearest to the town. Night photography from the sea side of the dunes could pick up street lights from villages further down the East coast.
All roads into Lossiemouth take you past the Moray Golf Club. Keep to the main roads. Turn down the only road next to the clubhouse and the car park for the West and Stotfield beaches is obvious. The East beach can be reached by passing the golf club on your left and continuing into the town down the main road until you reach a T junction at the bottom of a hill. You should now be facing the sea. Turn right and follow the road over some speed bumps with the river on your left. Take the first left and there is a car park in front of you. Access to the beach from there is via the footbridge which is obvious.
Nothing really special but I would recommend bringing:
- A Tripod for those long exposures
- Grad ND Filters for those post sunset shots
- Appropriate footwear for dry and/or wet sand
- A torch if you are to be on the beach early or late especially during the winter months
The beaches at Lossiemouth form part of the Moray Coastal Trail which in turn is part of The Moray Firth Trail. Moray has some 50 miles of coastline and it is a relatively common occurrence to see Bottlenose dolphins, Grey seals and numerous species of migrant and resident birds. On a good day even the odd Osprey.
For additional information about the Moray coast and the Coastal Trail visit please click here.. The Moray coast ranger can be contacted on 01343 820223.
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