The Great British coastline – one of the longest compared to European coastlines – is made up of varying geographical features, including islands, bays, headlands, and peninsulas. The British Coastline ranges from sandy beaches to steep cliffsides, with a range of geographic features. The British Coastline consists of the main island of Great Britain, the North-East coast of Ireland and approximately 1,000 smaller islands bordering the coast.
The UK comprises several island groups, and a significant part of the British Coastline is made up of islands. The UK has over 1,000 islands, 130 of which are permanently inhabited. The main occupied island of the British Isles is Great Britain itself. Also included as part of the 130 permanently inhabited islands in the Isle of Wight, Orkney and Shetland. Notably, around 900 of the islands found off of the Great British Coastline are off of Scotland.
The British Coastline also features a range of peninsulas and bays that make the coastline unique. Some of the most beautiful peninsulas – a landform that is almost entirely surrounded by water, apart from where it is connected to land – are found in the UK. These include the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, or ‘The Lizard’ as it is known; this is the most Southerly point of the British mainland. In addition, the UK features some iconic bays, including Morecambe and Weymouth. Some of the most stunning beaches found along the British Coastline are found in these bays.
Despite its varied geography, the UK is lucky to have a coastline that is largely accessible for the general public, despite being largely uneven and ‘broken’ in its shape. This includes a range of flat, sandy dunes along the coast bordering the North Sea to the steep cliffs along the Southern coastline. Even in the steepest areas, there are small fishing villages, coves and beaches accessible to the public, along with coastal walking routes along the cliffside.
The Great British Coastline also includes a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Jurassic Coast on the English Channel is England’s only World Heritage Site, stretching from Exmouth, East Devon to Swanage, Dorset. The area is recognised for its value of rocks, fossils and landforms, as coastal erosion has exposed rock formations dating back to the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Some notable features of the Jurassic Coast include the Isle of Portland, which is connected to the mainland via an impressive barrier beach. Additionally, Lulworth Cove offers a variety of notable geological features. These include ‘Stair Hole’, a small tidal pool formed by water erosion, and a Fossil Forest, the remains of an ancient and since-submerged forest from the Jurassic period. Lulworth Coast itself is considered one of the finest coves found along the British Coastline.
The British Coastline also has a range of designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). These landscapes cover a fifth of the English coast. They are considered valuable areas for conservation and protection in the national interest. Some AONBs along the British Coastline include the Isles of Scilly off the coast of West Cornwall, The Northumberland Coast and The Gower Peninsular on the South-West of Wales. These areas offer some of the UK’s most beautiful beaches and coastal pathways available.
While the British Coastline does feature a range of natural features, there is also a range of coastal towns and villages throughout the UK. For example, seaside resorts such as Southport and Blackpool along the Northwest coast and Devon and Cornwall on the Southern coast. These areas are popular tourist destinations, particularly during the British summertime. The British seaside resort is an iconic part of the Great British Coastline despite inconsistent weather.
Come on a journey around the Coastline of Great Britain, Going Anti-Clockwise