. . . this site
Holidays are precious - we don't get enough of them, and when we do get that elusive combination of fine weather and time off work, it's time to head for the beach! But which one? On a hot day you don't want to spend hours driving to a different beach, only to find it really isn't up to much. In this guide I've been around every beach on the entire coast of Wales, Somerset and the Wirral (Cheshire), taking photographs and exploring so that you can find your perfect beach first time. I've tried, as much as possible, to take the photographs on sunny days with a low tide. There's more beach information here than almost any other site. It's been a difficult job, but someone had to do it.
. . . the beaches
I have tried to include every beach which fits the following criteria:
. . . tides
1 hour after high tide
The average time between successive high tides is approximately 12 hours 25 minutes, which means that the interval between high and low tide is just over 6 hours. To get an idea of tidal movement, imagine a giant clock face on the beach, with the '12' at the high tide point and the '6' marking the low. An hour after the high, the tide will be approximately level with the '1'. The fastest tidal movement occurs around mid-tide. On the south coast of Wales, the Bristol Channel has the second highest tidal range in the world, and at mid tide the water depth can decrease by a foot in 10 minutes.
When the sun and the moon are in line (i.e. on a full or new moon), the pull on the tides is greatest. These are the Spring tides. The least tidal range occurs on the quarter moons, and these are the Neap tides. Spring tides occur when the high tide time is around 8 to 9 o'clock (either a.m or p.m.) for south Wales, around 10 to 11 o'clock for mid Wales, and about 12 to 1 o'clock for north Wales. Particularly high tides occur around the time of the Spring and Autumn equinox, and the highest tides (known as Perigean Spring Tides) occur when the moon's elliptical orbit brings it closest to the Earth.
. . . other sites : the good, the bad and 'thebeachguide'
There are many other beach guides out there. The official guides are usually good, but rarely say anything negative about a beach and won't tell you about the quiet secluded coves where access or parking may be tricky. Unofficial sites fall into two categories: those which have visited the beaches concerned and those which haven't. The former are usually quite good, offering important local knowledge (there are some excellent guides to the Gower Peninsula out there), but sites written by people who've never actually visited the beaches (which I call para-sites) are extremely unreliable. I am amazed at how much incorrect and inaccurate information is spread via such sites, and when one site gets it wrong, others are sure to copy!
One of the worst is thebeachguide.co.uk - a site which has never visited the beaches of Wales and is notorious for getting its facts wrong. It's so bad that few of its beach listings for Wales are totally accurate and not misleading. Some of their worst howlers include: a beach which does and doesn't have lifeguards; stating that some beaches are good for swimming when they have dangerous currents; the county of Swansea being in the county of Glamorgan; chalk cliffs in south Wales [there aren't], Ferryside beach being 3 miles from where it actually is and two beaches with 'soft pebbles'. And as you walk along the beach at Waterwynch Bay you can "enjoy" sycamore and sitka spruce!
. . . beach lifeguarding - the reality!
A wet day at Lifeguard HQ
Although Beach Lifeguarding may seem a good job for the summer (especially if you work in a stuffy office), it's not quite all sun and fun. Lifeguards have to be on duty every day throughout the summer and that means many days sat inside the lifeguard station just watching the rain coming down. Regular training is also part of the job, usually done before or after work. Spending an hour or two in the sea doing training on a cold, windy or wet day is not always that appealing, especially if you've been sitting at the tideline for most of the day.
When hot weather arrives it's always a bonus, although a sudden spell of strong sun at the start of the season when you're out all day means you get a bit cooked!
. . . can you explain this?
Often late (or early) in the day the sun appears as in the image, but if it's 93 million miles away, the rays of light should be almost parallel. How do you explain this image? Click here for answer
The rays ARE parallel. This can often be seen when the sun is low in the sky. The rays of light directly beneath the sun appear to be going vertically down, but they're not. All the rays are coming towards the viewer at a very shallow angle. Because you can't see the depth of the rays, it gives the illusion seen in the image.
. . . anything wrong?
One of the difficulties of writing websites like this, is that different browsers behave differently, and these days it is necessary to allow for a wide range of different screen sizes - from mobiles which can be about 300 pixels wide to desktop monitors which can be around 2400 pixels. If anything doesn't look right on your device, please let me know. It would help if you include your screen width (which is pixels). I also make frequent changes to the site, so there will inevitably be times when I mess it up. Once again, please let me know if anything looks wrong or doesn't work properly. Use the Contact Form or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
. . . me
I have lived most of my life near to the coast, in South-east Wales, west Wales and Dorset and know most of the beaches very well. I have worked for nine summer seasons on west Wales beaches as a lifeguard, and have surfed at most of the surf beaches.
. . . advice
I am usually happy to offer advice if you're looking for anything particular, but please don't ask me questions which are best directed to the local council, or moan about the beaches or the activities of people using them. Use the Contact Form below.
. . . copyright
Unless otherwise stated, all the beach images on this site are my own, and may not be used elsewhere without permission. I am however usually willing to allow free use of an image for purposes other than another beach guide, so if you like one, please ask. If you like my CSS buttons, feel free to copy the code.