Cornwall has almost three hundred miles of coastline and together with the Isles of Sicily is one of the safest places to stay in the country. 80% of Cornwall is surrounded by water and has approximately 165 beaches. At any time you are no more than 16 miles from the sea. Some of our beaches are dog friendly all year round but some operate a seasonal dog ban from Easter to the end of September. We also have Blue Flag beaches which is an international award scheme. This guarantees the beach to be one of the best in the world and in Cornwall we have five of these.
Here is some practical advice on how to keep safe when you visit a beach. Always keep an eye on the tides and check with a lifeguard the state of the tide before you enter the water. Be careful not to get cut off by the tide when walking along the shore. Beware of Rip currents; they are strong currents running out to sea that can easily take swimmers from shallow water out beyond their depth. Remember, the sea is unpredictable and can easily catch you out.
Do you know all about our tides? If not here is a brief explanation:-
Cause of Tides.
The moon being nearer to the earth than the sun is the principal cause of tides. Spring tides occur after a New and Full moon, when the sun, moon and earth are directly in line and the solar and lunar waves coincide as the moon exerts its powerful gravitational pull on the water, which rises above its normal level. Water covering the earth furthest from the moon is also subject to this pull, so another distinct dome of water is formed on the farther side of the earth providing the basis for a second wave.
When the sun is at right angles to the moon – now in its first or third quarter, Neap tides are formed.
Both the Springs and Neaps occur 48 – 69 hours after the corresponding phases of the moon.
In most parts of the world there are two high and two low tides every lunar day – which is 24 hours 50 minutes and 28 seconds.
Meteorological Effects on the Tide
Weather conditions which differ from the average will have an effect on the differences between predicted and actual tide times. Strong winds can hold the tide in or push the tide out. Barometric pressure can cause fluctuations in predicted levels.
How to stay safe at the beach. The main Lifeguard season runs from May to September but this can vary from beach to beach.
- Find out about the beach you are going to before you visit
- Check tide times before you go
- Read and obey local hazard signs and read the signs at the entrance to the beaches
- Know your beach safety flags
- Always swim between the red and yellow flags
- Always swim or surf at a beach patrolled by lifeguards
- Never swim alone
- Never use an inflatable in strong winds or rough seas
- If you get into trouble raise one arm and shout for help If you see someone in trouble tell a lifeguard, if you cannot see one call 999 and ask for the Coastguard
- Float with a rip current or undertow, do not try to swim against it
- Beware of fishing from rocks, often a swell will cover the rocks and wash you off
Know your flags
- Red and yellow flags:- Area patrolled by lifeguards – always swim or bodyboard between these flags
- Black and White chequered flags:- Surfing area – No swimming
- Red Flag:- Never enter the water when the red flag is flying. The red flag indicates danger
- Orange windsock:- This indicates offshore winds. You should never use an inflatable when the sock is flying
The cliffs of Cornwall
- Avoid walking close to a cliff edge; there may be an overhang with nothing underneath
- Keep all dogs on a lead. Many a dog has lost its life because they have chased a rabbit or bird and fell over the edge
- Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
- When you are at the bottom of the cliff, climbing up may look easy but when you get half way up you will probably get stuck or fall off! It is not as easy as it looks.
Article written by Chris Townrow