A walk on the beach is a wonderful thing at any time of year, but there are a few things to consider before deciding which one to go to, in terms of safety, logistics and all-round enjoyment. How busy will it be? What time will the tide be in? What's the weather like? Is there parking?
The Beach Check App is here to help. Piloted in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council in summer 2020, the app was originally developed to help tackle overcrowding on beaches during the pandemic. Beach-goers were able to use the app to see, in realtime, how busy the beach was and if there was a quieter alternative nearby.
It works by showing a map of local beaches on a traffic light system: red for crowded, amber for middle-busy and green for an uncongested beach. It uses sophisticated technology and on-the-ground authorised users to feedback live results.
The app was a big success and has since received further funding to help roll it out across the UK. The app has also been updated to include information on the tide timetable, the local weather, parking availability, toilets, cycling, dog exercise areas and BBQ byelaws.
A recent survey found that less than 50% of people check tides before heading to the beach. For larger, deeper beaches, this can be less of a factor but for smaller bays it's important to know where the tide will be in terms of safety, and tide times change every day.
The Beach Check App currently covers the below areas, with more set to be added soon.
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
Havant: Hayling Island, Hampshire
Rother, East Sussex: Camber Sands, Bexhill Beach (East and West)
Somerset & West Taunton: Minehead
Thanet, Kent: Margate Main Sands, Botany Bay, Joss Bay, Viking Bay (Broadstairs), Ramsgate Main Sands
Torridge, Devon: Westward Ho!
West Wittering, W Sussex: West Wittering Beach
The Isle of Wight
We gave it a go...
We used the Beach Check App during a weekend staycation in Bournemouth, one of the first areas to trial the app. It was a beautiful and sunny autumn weekend and lots of people were out and about making the most of the warm weather before the colder months took hold. On the Saturday, we hopped on the ferry to Brownsea Island from Poole Quay, to see the resident red squirrels. The island looked magical in the low, autumn sun.
Back in Bournemouth, staying at the Nici Hotel just a stones throw away from the beach, we used the app to see which part of Bournemouth beach – a lovely long stretch of sand – was quietest. The five star Nici sits on West Cliff, just above the beach, and is a short walk from the town centre. In peak season, when Bournemouth beach is flooded with sun-seekers, we would use the app to check which part of the beach was busiest or research alternative quieter bays, if we wanted to escape the rush altogether.
With a surf lesson booked in for an adventurous Sunday morning, with the Sorted Surf School, we also used the app to check the tide before we donned our wetsuits. As beginners, it was reassuring to get as much information about the water, weather and the beach as possible – including how far away the car park was to keep our change of dry, warm clothes.
Regularly visit the beach? We can definitely recommend giving this app a go.
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