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Stansted airport - a guide for visiting aviation enthusiasts

Posted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:13 am
by andygolfer
I’ve written this ‘guide’ to assist visitors to Stansted based on my knowledge of the airport and surrounds and the locations that I frequently use for photography, it is accurate as far as I know but usual disclaimers apply.

Stansted’s runway (04-22) is orientated northeast to southwest and as such locations south of the runway and extended centreline are suitable for photography up to around 2pm GMT and after then locations to the north are better to ensure the subjects are sunlit on a clear day.

I’ve used extracts of ordnance survey maps from Bing maps as the basis of the guide as they show public footpaths which may be of use to users. At most locations I have included a satellite image (from Bing maps) to a larger scale to assist in identifying the location easily. I’ve coloured the locations to help with understanding the plans and locations for 22 operations are shown in red whilst 04 operations are shown in blue. Where they are suitable both colours are shown.

Map 1 shows locations to the north east of the airport i.e. runway 22 arrivals and runway 04 departures.
Imagestansted guide 1 - north by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

As 22 is the most frequently used runway I will start with that one.

Location 1 is the footpath behind the Three Horseshoes pub in Mole Hill Green, about 600m off the centreline. To access the footpath park in the village (sensibly) and use the footpath off the road which goes towards Woodgates End and Brick End, there are plenty of places to park along the road. Please do not use the pub car park as the publican does get irritated by people doing so. You can walk through the rear garden, across a plank onto the footpath – the publican is usually amenable to this but there may be occasions when he will ask you not to (buying a drink or a coffee may gain favour). The footpath can also be accessed of the Elsenham road but this is quite busy at times so take care if using that route.
Once there the aircraft fly right past and very low so nice approach and side on photos are available a lens around 300-400mm focal length will suffice, here’s a couple of examples.
Imagestansted guide location 1 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Location 2 is on the footpath that goes across the fields (and right under the approach) at Brick End, Broxted. There is very limited parking at the field entrance but ensure you keep it clear in case the farmer needs to get onto the field and/or the track. At a push there is room for 3 cars as long as everybody parks sensibly (otherwise there may only be room for one!). Once on the footpath it’s up to you how far you want to go but obviously the nearer to the centreline you go the less side on they become. I tend to only go about 150m along as it gives a nice angle and you can see well along the approach. It’s also a good spot for sunset landing shots. Lens wise it depends how far you walk but at the gateway you probably need 400mm or only 200 where the footpath bends round to the left.
Imagestansted guide location 2 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Location 3 is at the end of the road through Green Street and gets you right onto the centre line, there’s enough parking for several cars there and you can get both head on approach shots or turn and face the airport and you can get landing and touchdown shots through the fence, keep the F number low ( F6.3 or less) to avoid the mesh. From that location you can also walk along the footpath beside the hedge that follows the lights and get similar shots, the ground rises up there a bit as well.
Imagestansted guide location 3 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Location 4 This is a location I occasionally use for evening approach shots when the sun has moved round to the north. There’s a gateway into the field where I park (you can leave enough space for a tractor to get in and out although they rarely do especially in the evening), and I go about 30m down the hedge line to get side on shots whilst still being able to see the approach. You will need a lens that goes up to about 300 / 400mm but importantly one that goes down to less than 150mm if a B.747-800 arrives otherwise it will self crop.
Imagestansted guide location 4 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Location 5 is another nice spot one the sun has moved round to the north of the centreline.on a footpath that is accessible by walking from Belmer Road along the airport perimeter fence for about 200m then following the FP sign across the field towards Tye Green and onto the footpath towards Green Street and into the second field just beyond the hedge. It can also be accessed from Green Street by walking from location 3 above. The one downside of coming from this direction is that the high trees close to the perimeter fence obscure the aircraft until you get quite close to the location.
It’s quite a bit higher than the runway so you get the aircraft nicely side on. Pick your exact spot carefully to avoid the high poplar trees if you want photos out towards the approach.It’s a bit of a hike but does offer different opportunities. Lens wise you are about the same distance from the centreline as for point 4 so follow the same guidelines.
Note – the footpath also goes into Tye Green but as it’s a quiet small village with very little parking I respect the locals’ privacy and take the longer walk instead (it’s only about 10 minutes, think how fit you will be!).
Imagestansted guide location 5 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

On to 04 departures
For location 6 follow either of the same routes as for location 5 but you need to be west of that hedge line rather than east. You can get nice departure shots from here but of course sod’s law comes into effect and every now and again one will climb very quickly so all you get is a ‘belly’ shot (and it’s sure to be that rarity you’ve been waiting for!). Lens size is as for locations 4 & 5.
Imagestansted guide location 6 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Location 7 is on the footpaths just south of Molehill Green and can be accessed either via the lane that goes east from the village centre (it’s a bit narrow so probably best to park nearer to village centre) or by walking along the main road back towards the airport and then onto the fields but the traffic does get a bit of a shift on along there so beware. Where the two footpaths meet there are overhead wires and I go just north of them to keep them out of shot, you can get some good climbing shots but as with all departure shots there’s no guarantee about the height of the aircraft by the time it reaches you (I remind you once again of sod’s law). Lens wise you need to be between 300 and 400+ depending on the type of aircraft. One word of caution – don’t try this for 22 landing shots, the aircraft are too low and behind the trees surrounding the pub, you might get a photo of a squirrel but not the helicopter type!
Imagestansted guide location 7 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Location 8 is one I use to get departure shots, particularly bankers turning east towards Clacton. You can get straight on departures as well from here but the main reason to go here is for those bankers. I used to go closer to Moor End Farm but when the departure routes changed in 2017 they didn’t bank as much (no more turns back over Dunmow) so I looked for places further south – of course that means being further away and hence a longer lens. You will need at least a 400mm FL here to get anything worthwhile. I have a 150-600 lens and I’m close to the upper end most of the time.
There is very little parking around here just roadside where it widens so a bit (or lot) of common sense is required to prevent hindering the locals or even getting a plough shear shaped indentation along the side of your car.
Imagestansted guide location 8 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Location 9 is another place in the same area. Plus points – it’s a bit easier to park to 8 above and the aircraft are further away so better topsides. Negatives – aircraft are further away so you need a longer lens to get that topside! It’s all a balance really. There is space on the bend to park safely as long as you use a bit of thought and then walk up (south-west) along the footpath (the Harcamlow Way) until you get close to the wood then stand on the field edge on the north side of the track / hedge (it’s obvious which side to go) and the airacraft bank round albeit some way away. You definitely need a BIG lens here, even a 400mm will struggle. My 150-600 was up on it’s limit but choose a cold day with no heat haze and you can get some good results. A further note – for historians amongst you, if you continue along the footpath about 200m (past the wood) the remains of the WW.2 Great Easton / Dunmow airfield is on your left.
Imagestansted guide location 9 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Belmer road viewing bank and the mounds (north side of airport).
This is the main public viewing area and is located on the northern side of the airport opposite the terminal. Everything that comes or goes can be seen from here but for photographers you are looking into sun until early afternoon. A 300mm lens is more than adequate and more importantly for side on shots of the biggies you need a lens that goes down to around 70mm.

I’ve indicated 3 locations on the plan and depending on your intentions one will be suitable.
Imagestansted belmer road mounds by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Location 10 is the bank itself, from the roadside walk through the hedge and you will be on the bank, for logging numbers this is as far as you need to go as everything is visible apart from aircraft parked in the northside business park or the ‘diamond’ hangar (on the south side). The fence about 3m high is an imposition on photography and you need a tall ladder to be able to avoid it. Note that ladders are prohibited within 3m of the fence. Alternatively you can get photos through the fence with low F. numbers to avoid the mesh but it’s not easy for moving subjects.
current;ly I don't have any examples of photos as they were on my external hard drive that expired suddenly.

Location 11 is the first of 2 mounds, it’s located about 200m west of the Belmer road bank and a brief walk along the fence line will get you there. To get photographs not impeded by the fence line you need a step ladder about 1m high. This location is suitable for all the runway 22 arrivals and departures but not so good for 04 movements for various reasons- the hedge immediately to the west blocks the view unless you are very well forward, the aircraft touch down long before they reach this point and departures are already well airborne. Additionally anything turning off the backtrack to the business park never reaches this point. For 04 movements it is better to move on to location 12…
Imagestansted location 11 photos by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Location 12 is the second mound which after it was reduced and shaped in early 2017 (for health & safety reasons – it was steep and uneven so somebody would eventually have fallen off) meant it was somewhat lower and although in the past you could just about get away without steps (it was also settling noticeably) it was at the point where steps were a must. Now you need steps but whereas a 1m 3 step type would suffice you need about 1.5m of height to totally clear the top of the fence for side on shots. It is very good for all runway shots and also with the north taxiway that serves the northside business park area you often strike lucky with a close up a an aircraft taxies along in preparation for take off or backtracks after landing. In the past that could mean a mad dash from the top of the mound, nearly falling off on the way to get to the fence in time but now the flatter surface makes that dash to the fence far safer and far less eventful. We have been promised that the airport owners will enlarge it at some time in the future but the distance in the future of that time is unknown.
Imagestansted location 12 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

The Northside Business Park and executive operations area.
Imagestansted northside entrance sign by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Now it’s time to look at the locations to the south / southwest for 04 arrivals and 22 departures, here’s a map showing the locations that I’ve referred to…
Imagestansted guide 2 - south by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

I’ll start with arrivals ( this time 04 ) as I did before and note that some are also suitable for departures.

Location 13 is on a public footpath that leads from the A1256, across the Flitch Way and on to Bedlars Green. It can be reached from the south (Bedlars Green) but the closest parking is on the A1256 verges or other hardstandings but check for restrictions as I haven’t parked there for some time now. It’s excellent for arrivals and reasonable for departures as well (based on photos I’ve seen)
Imagestansted viewing location 13 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Location 14 is on the same footpath as 13 but nearer to Bedlars Green, it gives similar angles as 13 but is slightly further from the centreline and that does make the departures slightly better (I’ve not taken them myself there but have seen others’ efforts). There are places to park in Bedlars Green but be sensible so as not to upset the locals, then just follow the footpath to the north and pick a spot – I like the gap by the large tree – gives a bit of shade on a hot day!
Imagestansted viewing location 14 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Location15. At the road that leads to Harps Farm there’s an area of grass on the corner – this is excellent for 04 arrivals and you don’t need a big lens. The road is very busy with farm and business unit traffic some of which is quite large so please DO NOT park on the lane, park at Bedlars Green and walk the 200m or so to the grass. The farmer is interested in our hobby and often stops to ask what is due but also he regularly asks people not to park there. On a very positive note, in the summer months if there’s no crop on the field he sometimes invites us to park in his field so it’s worth keeping him amenable. Most recently he did this for the POTUS arrival in 2018 and there were about 30 cars there!
Imagestansted viewing location 15 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Location 16, alongside the Flitch Way there’s a track that leads west from the Start Hill railway bridge on the Flitch Way (you can walk up onto the flitch if you wish but views are a bit impinged by the foliage in places), to avoid some wires and to get a reasonable landing angle you need to go about 250m, if you’re really energetic continue on to the end of the embankment and the angles are even better! The evening 04 landing shots here are superb once the sun has moved round.
Imagestansted viewing location 16 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Location 17, another good spot for evening landings on 04 is the mound opposite the entrance to the Novotel (formerly Hilton hotel) surprisingly the locals often refer to this as the Hilton Mound! It can get a bit overgrown at times so wear thickish trousers (shorts NOT recommended). For parking I use the hotel car park, it’s free for 30 minutes and after that it’s fairly reasonable (or was last time I checked). It goes up quickly after 3 or 4 hours though. The mound is also very close to a bus stop (routes 509 & 510 and in fact you can also get good pics from the bus stop itself but you won’t see the aircraft lining up as you can from the top of the mound. Be aware that this is in fact airport land but they never seem to bother me when I’m there but I dare say if something sensitive were arriving you may well be asked to move on.
Imagestansted viewing location 17 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Now the 22 departures, I’ve already mentioned that locations 13 and 14 are reasonable for departure shots so I won’t cover them further.

Location 18 is on a footpath at the northern edge of Woodside Green National Trust land. You can park on the grass either side of the road (watch for ruts though) up to 20ft (that’s about 6m) from the road edge. Look for the stile and go along the footpath about 20m – that’s enough. You could stay on the grass but you won’t see the aircraft coming up above the trees so early so it’s worth getting over the stile for. The aircraft rise up and pass nicely, close enough for a 300mm lens although biz jets will test that a bit. The Clacton departures will also bank round nicely so depending on how and when they start their turn you should get some nice topsides.
Imagestansted viewing location 18 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Location 19 (the last one – hooray!). So, how big is your’s? I’m talking lenses of course. This location being further back from the flight path is excellent for banking shots and those elusive topsides BUT you will need a big lens. At least 400mm FL and more if you’ve got it (I’ve now got a 150-600 and that is ideal – size matters!). Because of the distance involved, you’re about 2.5Km off the flight path, heat haze and airborne dust can be a problem in the summer but get a nice bright winter / spring morning and the conditions can be excellent. I stand on the grass verge along the road, it’s reasonably wide and the cars don’t race along. I park at the forest entrance about 200m to the north of my favourite spot and walk down . The parking is a bit limited but there’s another parking area for about 4 cars on the bend a further 100m north. I usually get there early before it gets busy to get the best light because by about 11.30 the aircraft are getting shaded by the time they are on maximum bank.
Imagestansted viewing location 19 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Buses – for those who rely on public transport here’s a bit of info re the main bus routes that go to and from the terminal bus park. I have done it that way as I’m assuming anyone relying on public transport will get to the terminal fairly easily using either trains or bus / coach.
This map shows the bus stops around the airport area which are close enough to my location points to be able to walk to them. I’ve listed the services on the bottom of the map.
Imagestansted bus routes by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Service 510 will get you to the business park entrance as well as location 17 and from the stop near Stansted school you could walk to Belmer Road if you’re fit enough , it’s about 1 ¼ miles though. 509 follows 510 as far as location 17 and then goes to bishops Stortford.
5 & 6 will get you to Molehill Green for locations 1 & 2
7 and 7A will also get you to location 1 and then 3 and 4 further along the Elsenham Road.
Finally 508 goes via Takeley along the B1256 from where point 13 is only a short walk and 14 & 16 a bit longer.

I hope this proves useful to visiting aviation enthusiasts

Re: Stansted airport - a guide for visiting aviation enthusiasts

Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 6:47 pm
by Paul Zietsman
Andy, thanks for assembling and posting this guide. You must have spent an enormous amount of time and effort in putting it together. I hope to make use of it in the not to distant future when I am next down in the London area.

Re: Stansted airport - a guide for visiting aviation enthusiasts

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:48 pm
by Simon12001
Hi Andy

Thanks for the great guide - as a "local" I didn't know half of this locations existed!


Re: Stansted airport - a guide for visiting aviation enthusiasts

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:13 pm
by andygolfer
you may see me at one of them one day!

Re: Stansted airport - a guide for visiting aviation enthusiasts

Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:09 pm
by andygolfer
I have removed the section dealing with the northside business park as that is now off limits to enthusiasts, for more info please see the post dated today in this topic: ... 95#p101095

Re: Stansted airport - a guide for visiting aviation enthusiasts

Posted: Wed May 27, 2020 6:11 pm
by Rugbyref

Do you know where the Laudamotion A320s are being parked. Are they visible whilst still socially distancing, and not invading no go areas?


Re: Stansted airport - a guide for visiting aviation enthusiasts

Posted: Wed May 27, 2020 7:08 pm
by PorkScratching
Information posted on the Stansted Google Group (credit James Slew) indicates that seven are parked northside and visible from the footpath from the Ash pub, one is in the Ryanair hangar, with four more arriving. So you may not get them all if you visit, but you'll see the majority of them.

Re: Stansted airport - a guide for visiting aviation enthusiasts

Posted: Fri May 29, 2020 6:16 am
by ap57uk
As of yesterday there are now 11 Lauda parked here, plus 1 in the Ryanair hangar

Re: Stansted airport - a guide for visiting aviation enthusiasts

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 5:48 pm
by AirbusA320
Thank you
will see how day goes