For those of you in the UK, the storms of recent weeks are all too familiar.  For those further afield who may not be aware, the UK has been battered almost relentlessly for the last 6 weeks at least, with unusually deep Atlantic depressions creating winds of storm force 9 or more.  Heavy seas and spring tides have meant misery for many as sea defences are breached.  The main rail link between Cornwall and the rest of the country has now been severed as seas washed away the line at Dawlish in Devon.

You may have seen the photos I took in Porthleven back at the start of January.  Little did we know then that the storms would continue, making landfall every 3 or four days.  This coming week shows yet more storms hitting the coastline and with spring tides once more, many are beginning to wonder if the damaged and seriously weakened sea defences will hold.

I took the video below yesterday morning at Portreath on the North Cornish Coast. As huge waves, dwarfing the 30 – 40ft sea wall, crashed relentlessly ashore.  It is estimated that around 100 tons of granite have now been ripped for the wall and perhaps this video will give you some idea as to why.  It is difficult to appreciate just how powerful and damaging these seas are.  A few have sadly underestimated the force of the water crashing onto the beaches and harbour walls and have been swept to their deaths.

As I’m sitting here typing, the wind is howling outside and I can hear crashes as yet another pane of glass in the greenhouse gets blown out.  I don’t think the greenhouse will last the week, nothing compared to the huge losses and difficulties others are facing.  There are always winners and losers though.  As huge, barnacle covered rocks are smashed about in the surf, the seagulls are having a field day as the shells are crushed freeing up the creatures inside.  As for the hotel trade, it’s difficult to find a room anywhere as people flock to Cornwall to see the storms for themselves.

For a brief moment this morning the sun came out creating a rainbow in the sea spray.  It was all rather beautiful, belying the deadly force behind it..

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The tiny figures on the cliff in this picture help lend some scale to these pictures..

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Please forgive the lack of editing in the video, oh and the video is better than the preview picture suggests.  No way to change that it seems.  I discovered video on my D800 for the first time yesterday.  I hadn’t realised the video would be saved using the .mov extension.  .mov video files use a proprietary codec belonging to Apple and I have yet to find any software on my Windows based system that will convert the video in any decent enough quality to edit.  Hence the video is huge and rough around the edges.  My apologies to those of you with slower Internet connections.

72 responses

  1. My sister and brother-in-law are having a dreadful time in Dawlish! The historic seafront and 150 year old railway have been devastated :-( Stay safe!

    February 9, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    • Thank you Sarah. It is such a shame that so much history is being lost at the moment. It’s irreplaceable. :-(

      February 9, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      • I know! The railway is by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. A lot of the natural coastal rock and cliff formations have been destroyed too. How fragile the Earth is in the face of the oceans and winds! Our roads are falling apart too from the constant flooding. If we do get a sudden hard frost they’re going to crack open!

        February 9, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      • I used to have a nippy Peugeout 206 which I enjoyed enormously, economical and fun to drive but with the state of the roads, I’ve just bought a 4×4 with much bigger wheels and better suspension. I live in a rural community with many miles of tiny lanes running with water, the council has all but given up patching the holes, the money simply isn’t there. I hate to get political but central government have cut the grant paid to Cornwall by a huge amount and with such high unemployment, there is little revenue in the way of council tax, so it’s all becoming very worrying. Perhaps the government could spend a little of the £8bn overseas aid budget to help us in Cornwall. We certainly feel like a separate nation sometimes so little seems to come our way. We seriously need help now, as do other counties so badly affected.

        February 9, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      • I totally agree! Local government just can’t keep up maintenance on important local infrastructure. There are some beautiful canals and rivers criss-crossing our area but they’re in real disrepair :-( There’s some wonderful wildlife by the canal but I’m utterly certain that there would be so much more if the waterways were properly maintained! We can’t rely on charities like The Wildlife Trusts to be able to provide volunteers and money to keep our countryside looking beautiful,healthy and providing the necessary wildlife habitats.

        February 9, 2014 at 5:44 pm

  2. Download the free program ‘Any Video Converter’. Google it.
    Converts MOV to anything you want.

    February 9, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    • Thank you. It’s not so much the converting but converting without such a huge loss of quality. I’m sure the solution is out there. I will give this program a try. Thank you again. :-)

      February 9, 2014 at 1:20 pm

  3. That’s some incredible wave action there, Adrian…and so very unfortunate about the damage. And thank you for the video…it’s been so long since I’ve heard the crashing surf….

    February 9, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    • Thank you Scott, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I had my camera all wrapped up in its own little macintosh so the sound is a little disrupted by raindrops hitting the plastic and squeaking as I turn the tripod handles but glad you got to hear the surf above it all. :-)

      February 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      • You’re very welcome…and yes, I enjoyed it very much…I think it turned-out wonderfully. :)

        February 9, 2014 at 2:23 pm

  4. Mother Nature certainly offers up opportunities for some spectacular photos as she throws up her destructive force. Stay safe. Thank you for sharing these.

    February 9, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    • Thank you Kate and thank you for your kind thoughts. :-)

      February 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm

  5. Battered, that’s the rigth expression, Adrian. I just talked to my family in Norway, the west coast of England has been a constant topic in the news there and also here in Germany since the beginning of Dec. you really take a beating this year.
    Thanks for the fine photos. I have never used the video function on my D800, your video is most impressive, I think I’ll give it a try now.
    Take good care. Stay dry and warm!
    Best regards, Dina

    February 9, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    • Thank you Dina. I was really impressed with the quality of the video and to be able to adjust exposure in a similar way to you would adjust it for a photograph was a real plus. In situations like this when a video record is useful, it’s a great additional tool. I have my stove burning brightly this afternoon and I’m cosy and dry thank you. I feel so sorry for those that are not this weekend..

      February 9, 2014 at 3:11 pm

  6. Lovely images with beautiful prism effects on the waves. Such stormy seas! I enjoyed the video. I’ve yet to use the video option on my D800…a must learn for 2014! Best, Robyn

    February 9, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    • Thank you Robyn. I managed to figure this out on the fly without an instruction book so I know you’ll manage without any problem. Once I figured out I had to put the camera into live view and rotate the lever to point to the video camera, it was easy to then adjust exposure in the same way as you would for a photograph and press the record button on top. Very intuitive and a useful additional function. :-)

      February 9, 2014 at 3:14 pm

  7. Impressive and beautiful, devastating and battering at the same time. The debate about water in the UK is now starting I hope. In Somerset a vilage is flooded for months, because a river is not dredged. Well, we have a lot of experience in helping out as a Dutch Watermanagement nation. I do hope for everybody involved decisions will be made, One thing is sure, there will be more and higher water levels the coming years.

    February 9, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    • Thank you Chris. The problem is, politicians are very good at talking about stuff and not very good at actually making things happen and with the process of government eating more and more of our taxes each year (a new department for this and a ministry for that) there’s little money left to make stuff happen either. Ditches and waterways always used to be cleared, the roads always used to get mended and yet the government has more revenue than ever. :-(

      February 9, 2014 at 5:06 pm

  8. Stunning photos, and mind-blowing video, Adrian. Those rocks have been formed over millenia, by such storms, and probably even worse ones. The sea is so powerful and it’s very scary to witness the full force of it. You did a great job recording it, and I’m so glad you stayed safe. So sad about the loss of life and damage caused. I hope conditions ease up soon, and that your greenhouse survives.

    February 9, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    • Thank you Sylvia. I hope it all calms down soon too. As we watched from a safe distance we saw a man walking along the beach, apparently oblivious. Of course the inevitable happened and a huge wave swept in knocking him off his feet as well as the poor little dog that was obediently following. Luckily they both managed to scramble to safety and the only injury the man suffered was his pride, having to walk off the beach, drenched to the skin with a huge audience. Sadly in many ways, there were enough people there that if he hadn’t have managed to scramble free, people would have gone in to try and save the idiot, putting their own lives at risk..

      February 9, 2014 at 5:10 pm

  9. I do like waves . . . but since the hotels are full, I’ll have to make do with your video.

    February 9, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    • Maybe next year Emilio, the climatologist’s predictions seem to be coming true. Perhaps the climate change denier lobby might start to have less of a voice. Although, whether it’s man made or a natural hiccup in climate, there’s not a lot we can do when the storms hit.

      February 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm

  10. Nice!

    February 9, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    • Thank you Yvonne.

      February 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm

  11. Vicious storms. I have been reading about this all morning, then came to your site. I hope the villages and towns can be rebuilt.

    February 9, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    • I hope so too. Thank you.

      February 9, 2014 at 5:15 pm

  12. Hi Adrian, wow, such devastation! I’m sorry to hear that the UK is being so relentlessly battered. I hope your greenhouse holds out a little longer.
    I was just away at a very different looking sort of seashore, the diversity is astounding, really. Thinking of you all over there!

    February 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    • Hello Karen,
      Such a lovely thoughtful comment. Thank you so much. We are a hardy little nation and when faced with adversity people dig in, the Dunkirk spirit alive and well. People have been helping each other, facing misery with determination and high spirits, neighbours are talking to each other for the first time, it’s a strange phenomenon but one we know well. It’s what makes us human at the end of the day and not peculiarly British but we are very good at it. Facing adversity head on and having a bit of a laugh about it, preparing for the next onslaught with sandbags and good humour..
      I look forward to the pictures from your trip away! :-)

      February 9, 2014 at 5:41 pm

  13. Not much to say that hasn’t already been said, but hope you stay safe and warm. Those are some mighty impressive waves you have there!

    February 9, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    • Thank you Gunta! :-)

      February 9, 2014 at 6:54 pm

  14. I think Mother Nature has gone a bit bonkers this year (almost everywhere). As photographers it does give us the opportunity to create some amazing images as you’ve proven in this post. Wonderful work Adrian.

    February 9, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    • Thank you Edith. Yes I know that some people are crying out for water while we have far too much. Bente said we seem to getting all the rain that they normally get as snow in Norway..

      February 9, 2014 at 7:00 pm

  15. Great video. Hope the situation for the people there may be better in the next days.

    February 9, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    • Thank you Lou for your kind thoughts. :-)

      February 9, 2014 at 8:24 pm

  16. Adrian always enjoy your work the most important is in such weather stay safe while sharing it with us as we always want more!

    February 9, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    • Thank you Doron. Safety is number one and I certainly won’t be taking any risks to get the photo. I’ll no doubt be out when the next storm hits on Thursday and through the weekend. I’m sure to have more pictures to share.

      February 9, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      • Super great work and interesting collection thank you

        February 9, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      • :-)

        February 10, 2014 at 9:48 am

  17. Best to you, and while it is always nice to have a great storm roll in…what you all are experiencing is difficult to hear about. Wish you well ~ and you have captured the mood/power in your photos and video. Cheers.

    February 9, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    • Thank you very much Randall!

      February 9, 2014 at 8:26 pm

  18. Cynthia

    Your posts are amazing. I may be watching the wrong news channels, but here we are not receiving much news about what you’re facing. Please take care.

    February 9, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    • Thank you Cynthia, I really appreciate your comment. My experience of news in America was that it was very America-centric if that’s the right word. I remember wondering where the world news was when I visited. ‘If America isn’t involved, why would anyone want to know about it?’ was definitely the impression I was getting from the news channels. I think BBC news 24 would be a good place to look for news around the world, if you can get that on cable, although the BBC is definitely not what it once was as the bastion of impartial of world news. Still, it’s definitely better than anything Rupert Murdoch puts out with Sky, although he’s an Aussie of course. :-\

      February 9, 2014 at 8:33 pm

  19. Our greenhouse lost about half it’s glass in one day a few weeks ago……but as you say, compared to others, it’s pretty minor.

    February 9, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    • Not cheap to replace either is it Mark, but a hell of a lot cheaper than losing your no claims bonus on your house insurance and having it marked as a flood risk. Selling your home then becomes impossible.. :-(

      February 9, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      • Is your house OK?

        February 9, 2014 at 8:47 pm

  20. awesome photos, out of a terrible situation…be safe! The weather has been fierce all over, storms, winds, snow, extreme cold…

    February 10, 2014 at 1:16 am

    • Thank you Heather! :-)

      February 10, 2014 at 9:48 am

  21. Terrible but so beautiful.

    February 10, 2014 at 9:28 am

    • It was, Anna, particularly with the sun shining, creating the rainbows in the spray. :-)

      February 10, 2014 at 9:49 am

  22. leecleland

    Thank you for sharing this video with us, the third wave was absolutely ginormous. Amazing stuff to see.

    February 10, 2014 at 10:48 am

    • Thanks Lee, it was pretty amazing to watch.

      February 10, 2014 at 12:52 pm

  23. Great pictures and video! Thank you for braving the elements so that we can see what’s going on. I hope everyone battling the weather gets a break soon. Stay safe!

    February 10, 2014 at 11:33 am

    • Thank you Jackie!

      February 10, 2014 at 12:52 pm

  24. Great coverage! Thanks! Be safe!

    February 10, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    • Thank you Andelieya!

      February 11, 2014 at 8:38 am

  25. Really shows the power of those waves.
    Hope this severe weather improves soon.

    February 10, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    • Thank you Phil, appreciate the thoughts.

      February 11, 2014 at 8:39 am

  26. a cheeky wee rainbow in their too Adrian

    February 11, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    • The sun wasn’t with us for long that morning but it was nice while it lasted.. :-)

      February 11, 2014 at 10:03 pm

  27. Terrible to hear about the damage at Portreath. I’ve been looking for photos as my parents have told me that the beach looks totally different at low tide to how it used to – I’m in Sweden see. If you’ve any photos of how the beach looks at low tide I’d love to see them!
    These are stunning too :) Thank you for sharing!

    February 12, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    • Thank you for your comment Charlotte. I’m sorry, I don’t have any shots at low tide but I may well be that way again in the next week or two. I will send you some photos if I get them.

      February 13, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      • That would be wonderful if you do, Thank you. Once again, your photographs are beautiful :)

        February 13, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      • You’re very kind, thank you!

        February 13, 2014 at 6:55 pm

  28. Stunning shots :)

    February 13, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    • Thank you Paula! :-)

      February 13, 2014 at 4:19 pm

  29. Great shots and video. These images show just what a battering the coast has been taking here in the UK. The people on the cliff certainly give scale to the size of the waves. I went down to Portland Bill last Wednesday, during that day’s storm, but I wasn’t able to get any good photos purely because I wasn’t prepared to risk my camera in the sheets of salt spray that were driving onshore. It was also hard to stand during the squalls.

    February 17, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    • Thank you Dave. I bought a cheap plastic ‘macintosh’ from Amazon to protect my camera. I think it was about £6. That’s the squeaking you can hear on the video as I adjust the tripod, you can also here rain hitting the plastic. It’s a very effective solution to the problem you describe. No help with salt spray on the lens of course but a quick wipe every now and then with some lens cleaning fluid and I was able to get these shots.

      February 17, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      • I was looking at rain covers a few days ago. I do think I need to get one. That will make the weather improve. :)

        February 17, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      • :-)

        February 18, 2014 at 6:11 am

  30. Impressive, frightening, beautiful to watch from a distance. What a fool that man walking his dog – I’m glad he made it, and his dog too of course. Informative video – you don’t have to apologize for it.

    February 20, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    • Thank you :-) I felt so sorry for the little dog, following the idiot human out of loyalty and love, as is a dog’s way. So glad the little dog made it. I wasn’t too fussed for man to be honest but as I said, no doubt people would have gone in to save him risking their own lives.. :-/

      February 20, 2014 at 7:10 pm

      • I feel the same…you said it well.

        February 20, 2014 at 7:14 pm