A Photographer's Guide to Kilve Pavement
On first visiting Kilve, I was not much impressed. It must have been at high tide - the sea was up and washing against the largish pebbles where the path from the car park first delivered me.
That lack of planning has not been repeated since. At mid to low tide, the real interest in this beach is revealed - the sloped stone pavements that are repeated along the length of the beach. Along this coast the cliffs are layered with compressed strata of oil-bearing shale and blue, yellow and brown lias embedded with fossils.
Special Photographic Features or Notes
Of course all photographers are different, so I will try to suggest the areas of the beach that I would assume would appeal to most people. The map below lays out some of the most obvious:
Sloping Pavements - these supply wonderful foreground texture and shape. They wrap around in different directions so give plenty of options when composing your shots. A lot of them are covered in either brown or green seaweed, especially toward the low tide level.
Stratified Cliffs - where marked, these are pretty high (100ft) and the curved strata are obvious.
Pebbles - nicely rounded and of decent size (up to 20 cm), many with great quartz veining.
To the West, the cliffs and moors of Exmoor beyond Minehead make good backgrounds, see photo above.
Getting closer to the cliffs, the bands of oil-bearing shale that have broken up into extraordinarily regular 'bricks' make interesting detail.
The landscape behind the cliffs at Kilve is predominantly farmland with small hamlets and villages, hence there is little direct light pollution from this direction. Minehead to the West and the South Wales coastline across the English Channel do produce glow from urban areas.
There are a few bits of special equipment I would recommend for Kilve.
Sturdy footwear (waterproof and grippy). Due to their very nature, the sloping pavements are not straightforward to traverse. Where covered in seaweed they can be extremely treacherous and great care must be taken.
Tripod. Essential for most landscape work, it goes without saying.
Headlamp or torch. If you anticipate being at the beach before dawn or after dusk, you will not be able to get very far across this beach without good lighting.
Grad ND filters. When photographing to the West, some assistance to balance the light sky and dark foreground will be helpful.
Best Time of The Day / Year
Any time of year is likely to provide interest. The beach faces North so sunsets and sunrises should be possible, although I have not visited at dawn.
The tides at the North Somerset coast should be treated with great care as they have some of the greatest ranges in the world. Further up the Bristol Channel, this can exceed 12 metres which is exceeded only by the Bay of Fundy in Canada.
I would recommend that any visitor should check tide times and heights carefully and select outgoing tides or low tides for exploring the sloping pavements as high tides could trap the unwary against the cliffs. Great care should be taken amongst the sloping pavements when the tide is rising as it can very easily get behind you without you noticing.
The UKHO Easytide website for Hinkley Point will give 7 days of detailed tidal prediction for this location - take care to apply 1 hour of British Summer Time if required.
The prevailing wind comes from the West/Southwest and can be strong at this location
Kilve is situated off the A39 between Minehead and Bridgwater. The car park is at the end of Sea Lane which begins just to the East of the Hood Arms in Kilve on the A39.
From Bridgwater (Jn 23 or Jn 24 M5) - take the A39 W towards Minehead. After passing Nether Stowey and Holford, you will start to descend a hill. At the bottom of this hill you will enter the village of Kilve, turn right before the corner shop onto Sea Lane. Follow this road as far as you can go until you reach the car park. This is a Pay & Display car park.
From Minehead - Take the A39 E towards Bridgwater. Pass through Williton ensuring you stay on the A39, and then through West Quantoxhead and East Quantoxhead. On entering the village of Kilve shortly after, pass the Hood Arms on your left, and then take the next left Sea Lane. Follow this road as far as you can go until you reach the car park. This is a Pay & Display car park.