BRITAIN’S SEASIDE and COAST is my theme for this week.
Being an island nation, the seaside is very much part of our life and culture, the place that almost everyone wants to go to for a holiday or a day’s outing. Those of us stuck in the middle of the country, such as here in Loughborough, envy people who live near the coast. We are about as far from the sea as is possible anywhere in the UK, the nearest places being The Wash, Lincolnshire and Norfolk to the east, a drive of at least two hours, or North Wales in the opposite direction.
We have such a wonderful variety of seascapes, each with its own special appeal, from vast sandy beaches where you can hardly see the sea at low tide to sheer inaccessible cliffs where no beach is ever exposed; from tourist seaside towns to secluded little coves; from miles of pebbles to craggy rocks covered with seaweed; from calm mirror-like water in every shade of blue to violently cruel and destructive seas; from wide estuaries to salt marshes; from sand dunes to boulders . . . . I can’t possibly do justice to the British coastline in one week! We are blessed!
It is easy for us in Britain, who take the sea for granted, to forget that millions of people live in landlocked countries and have no idea what it’s like to see waves crashing, to swim in the sea, watch the sun set beyond a distant tourquise horizon – or to experience the extraordinary phenomenon of the tide coming in and going out twice a day, in turn hiding and then revealing the unique littoral zone. This was brought home to me when we took a German friend in her 70s to stay by the sea in Wales for a week – she had never before seen the sea and had no idea how the landscape changes with the tides! For all that we are an island nation, there are still thousands in our inner cities for whom the taste of salt water and the daily rhythm of the tides is also outside their experience.
FACT FOR THE DAY
Did you know that . . . .
. . . the coastline of mainland Great Britain (ie: not including Northern Ireland) is just over 11,000 miles of beach, bay, cove and cliff, with an extra 8,000 miles around islands off the coast. However, the distance from top to toe (from Lands End, the southernmost tip of Cornwall, to John O’Groats, the northernmost tip of mainland Scotland, is only 603 miles as the crow flies, but 874 miles for the rest of us by road.
There are over 1,000 islands within the UK (mostly in Scotland) about 130 of which are permanently inhabited. (Compare this with Norway, which has 239,000 islands, 50,000 of which are inhabited!)