3. Valentia Island
A trip to Valentia Island is a popular detour for those travelling along the iconic Ring of Kerry. It also offers a wealth of beautiful locations for landscape photographers.
As for me, I have to admit that my impressions were not entirely favorable during the first visit.
Crossing the bridge from Portmagee over to the island, the first p…-off is the car park at Bray Head. Why on earth do they have to charge one Euro just to park your car there?
As a visitor you are willing to spend some dough anyway, right? So why such a rip-off? This continues until you can’t help feeling that you shouldn’t breathe too hard because if you do, someone might charge you for the air you use.
On the other hand, the spectacular locations are too many to mention them all!
It starts with the already mentioned Bray Head, from where you can get fantastic shots of the cliffs and the Skelligs. You have to walk up to the top and then look around for your best spot (depending on how you want to compose your shots). But I can assure you that it’s worth the sweat!
Another great motive is the Cromwell Point Lighthouse. My favorite approach here is to avoid the 5 Euro (!!) entrance fee and shoot from the west. At times when there is a good blow coming in from the Atlantic, the waves crashing against the cliffs near the lighthouse are nothing short of spectacular!
Knightstown at the eastern tip of the island also is a must-see! Best start with the little harbour and the bright-red clock tower and work your way up to John the Baptist Church. Take your time exploring because you can find plenty of motives for detail shots here.
Of course there is much more, but it depends on how much time you want to invest. The three locations I listed here are pretty much all you can manage in a day. If you want to do more exploring or need to wait for a break in the weather, you probably should consider spending a night or two in a bed & breakfast on the island.
It is important to know that Valentia Island pretty much closes down and goes into hibernation from late October until around Easter. That doesn’t mean you couldn’t get excellent shots done, but a lot of the attractions are closed and so are many B&Bs, cafes and restaurants.
On the other hand, you have a continuous ‘Golden Hour’ (i.e. nice, soft light like during sunrise/sunset) because the sun is so low in the sky. Another advantage is that you are going to be pretty much on your own while during the summer months this place is positively bursting with tourists!
Unlike in the first two parts of this best-of list, I am not going into specifics about equipment and time of the day. There is so much to shoot on Valentia Island that it makes sense to plan for each location separately.
You can use Google Maps to find a potential spot to shoot from. To get an impression of the topography and the possible approaches to a particular spot, best use the satellite or topographical view (thats the map view with the contour lines).
Thanks for bearing with me so far! Next week I am going to take you to the Killarney National Park with Ross Castle and the Muckross Friary.