A perfect day at the beach

With more people holidaying in Britain this summer, here are some innovative ways on how to make your day at the beach a success:

Chose the right beach:
Guide book: ‘Seaside: Discover the Best of Britain’s Best Beaches’ (Time Out)
The Good Beach Guide: www.goodbeachguide.co.uk
Visit the National Trust recommended beaches
* For popular beaches set out early to avoid queues and get easy parking.
* For quieter and more remote beaches be prepared to park the car and walk some way. Walking boots are more suitable than flip flops for scrambling down cliffs and finding secret, hidden coves.
* Check the weather forecast.

* For more ideas discover some Country Life-recommended best British beaches

If the beach you are visiting is highly influenced by tides, check the tide table before you set out. A beach at high tide may mean no beach at all. Know the tides when you are on the beach or walking the coastline to avoid getting cut off at high tide.

The coastline of the UK experiences semidiurnal tides (2 highs and 2 lows each 24 hours), due to the influence of the gravitational forces of the sun and moon combined. At full and new moon the sun and moon are aligned, creating Springs. When the sun and moon are at right angles to each other and the Earth (1st or 3rd quarter moon) the gravitational pulls counteract each other, the tides are known as Neaps. Spring tides result in high waters that are higher than average, low waters that are lower than average, slack water time that is shorter than average and stronger tidal currents than average. Neaps result in less extreme tidal conditions.

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Safety at the beach:
Understanding the beach flags will help considerably:
* Blue Flag Beaches: if you get to a Blue Flag beach it guarantees that the beach is one of the best in the world. The flag is awarded to beaches that have achieved highest quality in water, facilities, safety and environmental management.  
* Red and yellow flags: indicate the area patrolled by lifeguards. These are the safe areas to swim, bodyboard and use inflatables.
* Black and white chequered flags: indicate an area zoned by lifeguards for use of watercraft such as surfboards and kayaks. Never swim or bodyboard in these areas.
* Red flag: indicates danger. NEVER enter the water when the red flag is flying, under any circumstances.
* Orange windsock: indicates offshore wind conditions. You should NEVER use an inflatable when the sock is flying.

Currents: Rip currents can pull you out to see from shallow waters. They are especially powerful in large surf, river mouths, estuaries or around manmade structures such as piers.They are not easily visible, since the current is on the seabed. Look for patches of browner water from sand stirred up from the seabed or floating debris rushing out to sea.

Check advice on RNLI Beach Safety

What to take for a day out on the beach:

* A selection of childrens games: bats and balls, frizbee, buckets and spades, body board. An inflatable boat (with a pump and puncture repair kit).
* Suncream and sun hat.
* Warm clothes for the end of the day.
* Lots of water and simple but full picnic. Don’t underestimate how hungry sea air and swimming makes you.
* A windbreak.
* Plastic bags for rubbish, beach combing or wet swim things.

Activities for Children:
* Sand castling: some beaches have annual sand castling competitions that often make the local news.
* Crabbing: crab lines are easy to make: find a stone with a whole in it, tie a length of string through it. At one end tie a handle. At the stone end use the excess string to attach the bait. Ham, chicken, raw bacon or sausage will work best.
* Beachcombing – drift wood and rubbed glass or shells can be used in arts and crafts such as hand made mirrors.
* Collect enough driftwood and make a bonfire when the sun goes down to keep warm. Essentials: Matches and marshmallows.

Activities for adults:
* Take an interest in the coastal wildlife. Take a coastal wildlife book and binoculars, and watch out for Little Egrets, Oystercatchers, Gull-billed Terns, Guillemots and many more.
* Coastal areas have some of the most interesting geography of Britain and are ever changing environments. Coastal management is often an interesting topic of debate encompassing managed retreat, different forms of coastal protection, coastal re-alignment or sand-dune regeneration. Many of the beaches that are managed by the National Trust have information boards detailing different aspects of the local geography.
* Eat at a local fish restaurant where produce should be fresh and local.

Coastal sports:
* If it’s sports your after then the British beaches lend them selves to surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing and beach boarding. Find a beach that has a kite surfing centre and book some lessons: tey the British Kite Surfing Association:
* Coasteering and tombstoning: These are extreme coastal sports that include cliff scrambling jumping off rocks and adventure swimming. An exciting way to explore Britain’s rocky coastline but these puruits should always be done with a guide; contact the International Coasteering Association.