Moody long exposure of Cramond causeway starting to flood.

Cramond Causeway

Camillo Berenos Photography Edinburgh, Scottish east coast, Trip report Leave a Comment

On the about section of my website I claim that I try to shoot locally as much as possible. I recently realised that this was a slight misrepresentation of the truth, perhaps due to the fuzzy and slighly unclear boundaries of what shooting locally is and what it isn’t. I broadly defined shooting locally including all locations within a one hour driving radius from home. And while this is perhaps locally, as in the sense that I, if I’m lucky, can go on a sunrise outing, and still get home before the rest of the family wakes up. Which means “free” personal time, and does not make me miss out on spending time with my daughter.

However, there are ample locations within the city boundaries which are interesting subjects for landscape photographers. The wealth of old defunct jetties and piers, the Forth Road Bridge and the views from the seven hills, are all standard Edinburgh material. I have been ignoring them so far, as I have mainly been focusing on natural landscapes over the last year or so, but also because I felt that I first wanted to create a larger body of photos of less common subjects before delving into the local honeypot locations.

One of those fantastic Edinburgh locations is the Cramond causeway, extending 1.5 km from Cramond village (a wonderful Edinburgh suburb) to Cramond island. While it is a popular place for Edinburgh families to go for a wander, it is less known with those from outside town. I don’t think too many tourists visit it. It is well hidden, and quite a long way out from everything else really (unless you live in Cramond village of course..). What makes this causeway so attractive for photographers, is the line of massive triangular pylons which run parallel to it. These pillars were constructed as part of a WWII military anti-submarine defence mechanism, and is a very unusual sight. As with most locations on the British coast, getting the tide right is essential but oh so tricky. The tidal range in the Firth of forth is usually around 5 meters, which mans that at low tide the causeway is surrounded by massive mudflats with no sea in sight, and at high tide the pylons are almost completely submerged.

Last month I had two attempts at the Cramond causeway. The tide was perfect from the minute I arrived the first time, but all my long exposure photos were ruined by the (unforecasted!) rain leaving drops on the front filter. Grr.

The second time, high tide would be a bit later relative to sunrise and my arrival, so this gave me some time to wander over the causeway and explore some of the pylons. Upon closer inspection it was revealed that all pylons actually have their own character, partly as a result of the tooth of time. The tide was still too far out to get the wide-angle shots I was after, so I decided to improvise a little, and work on some more intimate compositions.


Long exposure of a part of the WWII military defences along Cramond causeway (Edinburgh)


Two pylons which are part of the immense row of pylons which were constructed as a defence aainst submarines in the Second World War


At one point I was very close to Cramond island itself, where the causeway changed structure. It lookes like this was built before the other section of the causeway, which is made of concrete blocks. Quite pretty really.

The causeway to Cramond island near Edinburgh as the tide rolls in on a cloudy morning.


I’d have loved to wait for the tide to roll in more, but I was almost a kilometer away from the shore, and I knew that parts of the causeway in between me and the shore would flood before this section. I did not fancy being cut-off, so strolled back, looking for interesting compositions.


The photo below is probably my favourite of the day, despite it being more than a bit cliché. After finding a nice stretch of good looking pillars, I just had to wait until the tide just started to hit the causeway.


Long exposure of the causeway to Cramond island just before it got flooded by the rising tide.


I’d have waited to get some more photographs from this position, but then with the causeway submerged, but I was starting to get nervous about the flooded causeway behind me, and with the tide rising more than 1 centimeter per minute you can’t gamble too much. Good thing I was wearing wellies! So I walked back towards Cramond, and found some safer ground. Unfortunately, it there was more damage to the pylons, and it was impossible to get a full row of immaculate looking pillars. I had to settle with the composition below, where one pylon is quite a bit shorter than the others. I guess it breaks up the monotonous repetition of identical feautures?


Moody long exposure of Cramond causeway starting to flood.


All in all, a handful of photographs which I found worth editing. Cramond is definitely a location which I shall revisit, I bet it looks even better when it’s misty. I might be buying some waders fro my next trip, just in case …

If you’ve enjoyed this and would like to see more seascapes taken on the Scottish East Coast, please click here.

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