Summer safety: Taking care to enjoy our coastal beauty spots 

Summer safety: Taking care to enjoy our coastal beauty spots 

The nearly 12,000 miles that make up the UK’s mainland coastline boast enough beauty spots to fill hundreds of guidebooks. 
Durdle Door in Dorset

The famous Durdle Door, with its now iconic stone arch on the south coast in Dorset, is one of the best known and attracts visitors from around the world for a day by the seaside. 

When summer arrives, crowds flock to sites such as Bedruthan Steps in Cornwall; Worm’s Head in Gower; Bow Fiddle Rock on the Moray Firth; and Benone Beach in County Derry-Londonderry – to name just a few of the most stunning from around the British Isles. 

Each has special qualities and unique scenery but, just like any coastal location, each also harbours its own set of risks. 

It’s rare for emergencies to happen but when the wrong circumstances align, the unwary can find their trip to the seashore has become a day they’ll want to forget. 

But there’s no need to be put off your bucket and spade. With a little awareness and planning, everyone can enjoy the very best that the UK coast has to offer – and come back with sand between their toes. 


Tide trouble 

You don’t need to master the sea charts to have fun by the coast. Sometimes it’s enough to just check ahead when the tide is going in or out, and to be sure you can get back to safety without drama.  

Tidal changes at Blackpool beach
Blackpool beach: it's easy to be caught out by the tide (Photo: Rob McKenzie of Lytham CRT)

In some spots the water can rush in and unexpected rip tides sweep through the shallows, so even if you know the ebb and flow, stay alert when you’re out exploring. 


Weather warning 

The coast often bears the brunt of the UK’s famously changeable weather and sudden switches in conditions can hit unexpectedly hard.  

If you’re in unfamiliar territory it pays to be prepared so, even on a sunny day, keep a Plan B up your sleeve with something warm and waterproof at the bottom of your bag, maybe a change of footwear, and a phone – just in case. 

Remember to get a waterproof phone pouch if you’re planning on entering the water. 



Rocks that plunge hundreds of feet into the sea are a fascination for some and a horror for others. They’re also the most obviously risky places to visit. Keep safe by forgetting the temptation of cliff-jumping (it’s known as tombstoning for a reason) and steer clear of the edge and base.  

A warning sign at the base of a cliff
There won't always be warning signs, so be alert to danger by the cliffs

The rocks might look unchanged for millennia, but they are always crumbling and shifting, so best to keep a respectful distance. 


Who you gonna call? 

In trouble? Call 999 and ask for the coastguard.  

The emergency line isn’t just for police, fire and ambulance, it’s also for anyone who needs help on the coast or at sea, or passersby who want to report a situation that might be dangerous. 

It’s simple: call 999 and ask for the coastguard – they'll do the rest. 


Adventure time 

If the popular beauty spots are crowded and you can’t resist getting off the beaten track, it’s always a good idea to remember the basic advice. But the further you walk, the further you might be from rescue if something goes wrong.

A person struggling in the sea
If you're out on your own, tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back

It’s a good idea to make a Plan B by telling someone where you are going and when you are likely to be back. You might also consider getting your hands on a Personal Locator Beacon, to raise the alarm easily with emergency services if something goes wrong.  

Don’t forget your mobile phone too – but pop it in a waterproof case and bear in mind you might not get good phone signal.  


Beach booze  

A day by the sea might feel like the perfect time for a cold beer or glass of wine but slips, trips and falls are far more likely if you’ve had a few.

Bournemouth beach
Bournemouth beach

All it takes is a few glasses and one bad decision to leave you in trouble. Don’t drink and drown! 


Stuck in the mud 

Stuck in the mud? Don’t panic, spread your weight and keep still. Call for help and, if you can, wait for the experts to release you – members of the public making a rescue attempt could become trapped too.  


Dog’s life 

If you take your dog out with you, keep it on a lead at the coast – especially near cliff edges.

A dog on the lead on the beach
It's easy to get into difficulties going after your dog in the sea

And if they get stuck on a ledge, in mud or swept out to sea, don’t go after them; most dogs make it back safely but you might not.  


Enjoy summer by the sea 

Millions enjoy coastal beauty spots every year in the UK. Emergencies do happen but there are plenty of simple ways to keep out of trouble. 

Be prepared, stay aware, and if your instinct tells you something isn’t right, trust it. Better safe than sorry. 


Share this page

Report a problem with this page

Help us improve

Don't include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.