Some people think that a visit to the beach is just a place to sunbathe and picnic. This can be a fun day out, but the beach at Westward Ho! has a lot more to offer. Over the Pebble Ridge lies the long stretch of golden sand which presents the opportunity for endless sand castle making afternoons. It is a natural venue for sporting activities from Kite flying to Cricket, Football to Frisbee If sports are a little strenuous for you why not take a fascinating walk along the strand line and collect the wonderful drift wood, bleached by the sun and smoothed by the waves. Colourful empty seashells lie scattered alongside Cuttlefish bones, mermaids purses and other unusual items which have been washed up by the tide.
The dunes rise up behind the strand line and provide a splattering of colour caused by the array of flowers which grow there. The range of colours from pink and yellows to reds and blues cover the sand like an artist’s palette. The dunes are fenced off to provide a haven for ground nesting birds but you can still hear the warbling song of the Skylark or catch a flash of white as a Wheatear flits away in front of you.
If you have had enough of sand in your sandwiches you can investigate the rockpools at the south end of the beach. Here you can find Blennies (small fish) swimming in the pools along with inquisitive prawns which will happily investigate your fingers if you wiggle them about in the water. Limpets and Barnacles are clamped firmly onto the exposed rocks, Shore Crabs and Edible Crabs can be discovered by gently lifting rocks and seaweed, and the anemones resembling red blobs of jelly at low tide can be seen waving their tentacles about when the sea comes back in. Sea Hares graze the sand ejecting a purple slime as a defence if disturbed, if you are lucky you may even spot a Starfish. The colours alone are worth experiencing, the blues of the Mussel shells, brown seaweed, red Anemones, purple and silver Topshells, yellow Periwinkles and orange Edible Crabs.
So the next time you make a visit to the beach take the time to investigate a little further than your picnic rug – there is an exciting new world waiting to be explored.
When exploring a rocky shore please remember to replace rocks and seaweed as you found them so as not to disturb the animals. If you remove any creatures remember to put them back in the same place that you found them and beware of slippery rocks and incoming tides.