Autumn and winter are the best time of year to go beachcombing on British shores, as tempestuous seas wash in all kinds of flotsam and jetsam on the beach, from driftwood to crispy egg shell cases, jelly fish to fossils, precious gemstones to polished sea glass.
Here are just some of the treasures you can find if you search the strandline over the next few weeks:
- Seaglass: After years of being tumbled and smoothed by the waves, polished and frosted glass nuggets wash up on our beaches, just aching to be made into jewellery, mosaics and unusual home decorations. Lindisfarne in Northumberland is a particularly good spot.
- Petrified sharks: Ok, so you might not (luckily) find Great Whites washed up on the beach, but I once found three petrified lesser-spotted dogfish on one 500m stretch beach on the northern coast of the Gower. They can grow up to 70cm and look unmistakably like mini man-eaters. In late winter and early spring, females lay egg capsules in shallow waters and are prone to being beached in rough seas. Look for them the morning after a storm.
- Crispy egg cases: Sharks, skates, dogfish and rays all produce egg cases, known as mermaid’s purses. The hatchlings grow within these capsules for 5-11 months, often attached to seaweed below the waterline, but many wash up onto beaches.
- Rubies in Fife: If you scour the strandline after stormy nights on Ruby Bay near Elie in Fife, you might find tiny red gemstones. They’re not, as the name would suggest, actually rubies but blood-red garnets.
- Fossils and fool’s gold: If you know what you’re looking for, you can unearth fossils that date back 100s of million years. Beachy Head in Sussex is a good spot, as is the aptly-named Dinosaur Coast in Yorkshire and the Jurassic Coast in Dorset.
Every find tells a story, and spending a day exploring a winter beach is a great way to get children excited about nature – it’s also a cracking way to find unusual items for your home.
So we’d like to challenge you to take photos of the best natural things you can find on the beach. Send us your photos and tales of beachy finds and we’ll share them with the rest of the Pretty Nostalgic community.
Even better, show us what you’ve made out of things you’ve found on the beach, from shells to driftwood, and how you’ve used them in your home.
We’ll print the best photos in issue one of the magazine and send the star letter winner a surprise trinket from our Pretty Nostalgic store.