Yorkshire Photo Explorer

Grey Seals at Ravenscar

Seal pup, Ravenscar

December is a great time to photograph grey seals at Ravenscar, North Yorkshire. A number come ashore to breed at this time of year. There are several hundred seals, meaning you have a good chance of getting photos of these amazing animals, including some of the pups if you are lucky!

The access to the beach is steep (see below), but once you are down, it is easy to get around to photograph the numerous seals. On my visit there were a number sleeping on the rocks at the bottom of the path. A vantage point on top of a small escarpment allowed for some good shots.

Seal, Ravenscar

All of my photos were taken within 100 metres either side of the path down to the beach, so you don’t need to venture very far. There are a lot more seals around than you can see and if you stray too near one hidden amongst the rocks, they will make it known! You can usually hear the seals well before you see them.

On my visit there was a pup playing in a shallow pool by the cliffs with mum watching over. I quite like the rocky landscape as the background (main photo above). My tendency is to zoom straight in for portraits, so I am trying to train myself to take more environmental pictures. My favourite is this sleepy seal amongst the rocks:

Seal, Ravenscar

As the tide came in, I took a few photos of the seals at the water’s edge. There were a few fights going on (and lots of raucous bellowing), which would make for great action shots if you have a long enough lens.

Seals, Ravenscar

If you intend to visit to photograph the seals, please heed the advice of the North York Moors National Park:

  • Please do not get too close to the seals
  • Never feed or pet the seals
  • Do not take dogs near the seals
  • Too much disturbance can lead to increased pup mortality

(North York Moors National Park, Nature Calendar, December, Yorkshire Coast Nature tips¹)

Take a long lens so that you can keep your distance. I took all my photos hand held as I found it tricky to use a tripod at the location; a monopod may be more practical if you own one.

This was one of the best mornings I have had photographing wildlife and thoroughly recommend coming to photograph the grey seals at Ravenscar. Here are some more photos I took on my visit (including a few birds):

Practicalities
Approximate post code (for sat nav) YO13 0ET
Parking There is free parking along Raven Hall Road
Important information Check the tide times before you travel. There will be more seals to photograph at low tide
Directions Directions: At the end of Raven Hall Road, take the footpath on the left of the entrance to the Raven Hall Hotel.

Path to beach at RavenscarFollow the path to the golf course. Where the path turns a sharp left, you will see a ‘footpath’ signpost – go straight across the golf course here (to the right of the signpost) towards the cliffs:

Path to beach at RavenscarThe path is then easy to follow down the cliffs…..

Path to beach at RavenscarPath to beach at Ravenscar…until you come to this final steep set of steps down to the beach itself. The path here has eroded away, but is manageable. Pictured from the top and the bottom of the path:

Path to beach at RavenscarPath to beach at Ravenscar

This is the location of the beach:

Notes for next time
  • Try a few more environmental pictures
  • Come back!
References

¹ North York Moors National Park, Nature Calendar, December, Yorkshire Coast Nature tips [accessed 18 December 2016] http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/visiting/see-and-do/nature-calendar/december

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