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by Andy McInroy
Donegal's Golden Sands
Donegal boasts some of the most spectacular golden beaches I have ever had the pleasure to photograph. Tramore Strand at Dunfanaghy, Ballymastocker Bay, Kinnego Bay and Linsfort Strand are all fine examples of what this Atlantic Coast has to offer. However, this month I discovered a lesser known gem of a beach, hidden amongst the rugged hills of the Rosguill peninsula.
Boyeeghter Bay lies on the west side of Melmore Point on the Rosguill Peninsula, a few kilometers north of Downings. There are no car parks, ice cream vans or sun loungers here. Getting to this secluded bay involves a 20 minute walk over fields and sand dunes. The bay also has the sinister name of 'The Murder Hole', a name which doesn't sound like the kind of place to be caught out after dark. I pressed on over the dunes and put those thoughts to the back of my mind.
The bay itself features two perfect, golden strands which, at low tide, join together to form one long single strand. Also in the bay stands Rough Island, although this seems like a geographical enigma as the island is only separated from the shore by the very highest of tides. Finally, the rugged backdrop adds the finishing touch to this beautiful landscape. Now I just needed the light.
I arrived at the Boyeeghter bay by 4pm and by 6pm the half dozen visitors had left and I had the whole bay to myself for the next four hours. There wasn't a soul to mark the perfect golden sand that the outgoing tide was slowly uncovering. I photographed from the cliff-top until I heard the distant but ominous rumble of thunder. Over time it got closer. Finally, black storm clouds swept over the hills and into the bay, and lightning began to crack around me. Thoughts of the 'Murder Hole' sprang to my mind again. With my lightning conductor (tripod) in hand, I ran down the hill to hide in a small cave for 30mins while the lightning became more intense and the thunder roared. I couldn't have been more content, snug in my shelter. Finally, the storm passed and I climbed the hill once more to see the bay in a fresh clarity of light. The light was warming and the air was clear and haze free. It was time to take some pictures.
I always know that conditions are right when the photography becomes effortless. I locked the wide angle lens onto my camera and locked the camera onto my tripod. Now it was a simple case of putting a weak 1 stop neutral density filter over the sky and taking the photograph. No messing about. Sometimes it's the landscape itself that does the talking and its just a case of being out there to listen.
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Text and photos © Andy McInroy