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Two beaches in Asturias, Spain

The beaches are Playa del Silencio, in central Asturias between Luarca and Cudillero, and Playa de la Franca, right on the eastern edge of Asturias not far from Llanes . They are far from the only beaches in this most attractive province of northern Spain. But they are perhaps the most interesting to a photographer. The photographs they yield are very different and just a glance at each of them would immediately lead to expectations of a totally different photographic experience.

Although better known to photographers , Silencio is a wild beach with no facilities, limited parking, and a descent of about a kilometer involving paths and steps down high cliffs . There isn't much sand and none at all except at low tide. You can't access much of this beach at high tide. The joy of Silencio lies primarily in the spectacular colours and patterns in the rocks at the back of the beach which are quite extraordinary and by a distance the best and most prolific examples of these types of rock I've ever seen.

Meanwhile, de la Franca lies not far off a main road; has a parking lot right beside the beach at sea level, so you can be walking on the beach a minute after leaving your car. There's also a hotel, open seasonally, at the back of the beach, which is large and flat and ideal for families and holidaymakers, not to mention dog walkers. So it's not always quiet, and even in late autumn, when we've visited with just a few people around, it doesn't look much like a wilderness experience. From a distance the rocks don't look interesting and you need to get close to note that the bases of the high cliffs are very colourful and textural. It's by far best to be there out of season and at low tide when it is possible to walk quite a way around the cliff base, and even better if you pick a day with a really low tide when you can sometimes walk round to the next bay for a couple of hours. Getting stuck round there is a seriously bad idea. So whilst its charms are much less obvious than Silencio, I'd find it hard to choose between the two for photographic interest

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