1. Hadrian’s Wall was 73 miles long
One of the UK’s most famous landmarks, Hadrian’s Wall stretched almost from coast to coast when it was finished, marking the northern frontier of the Roman Empire. The wall took around 15,000 people 6 years to build, and was constructed to keep out those pesky ‘barbarians’ in the north.
2. Southend-on-Sea has the world’s longest pier
Stretching a mighty 1.33 miles into the Thames Estuary, the pier at Southend is not only the longest pleasure pier in Britain, but it’s also longer than any other pier in the world. It’s so long that it even has its own railway line to transport people from one end to the other.
3. There are 238 RNLI lifeboat stations around the UK
Since its foundation in 1824, the RNLI has expanded its life-saving operations to incorporate almost the entire British coastline. Their stations can be found on rivers and around the coast, with many welcoming visitors.
4. The total length of the British coastline is a bit of an anomaly
According to the Ordnance Survey, the British coastline comes to a total of 31,368 km, including islands. If it’s just the mainland in question, the figure is 17,809 km. However, due to differences in the way the distance is measured, other institutions come to different conclusions. The CIA Factbook puts the figure for the mainland at 12,429 km, while World Resources Institute puts it at 19,717 km.
5. The British Isles are made up of around 6,289 islands
Fancy a spot of island hopping? Then the UK is the perfect place. However, just as with the total coastline length, measuring the total number of islands can be tricky, mainly due to the tide’s habit of hiding some of them twice a day. But according to the Ordnance Survey, the total number stands at 6,289.
6. Resorts World Birmingham holds the record for the largest serving of fish and chips
We all know that fish and chips and the British seaside go hand in hand. But did you know that the Guinness World Record for the largest ever portion of fish and chips stands at an impressive 54.99 kg. The monstrous meal was made by Resorts World Birmingham in 2018, which ironically is nowhere near the sea.
7. Weymouth had Britain’s first ever seaside resort
Famous for its golden sands and shallow waters, the beach at Weymouth is a popular one and was a favourite of King George III during the 18th century. The king named Weymouth his “first resort” and helped make bathing there fashionable.
8. The largest tidal range in the UK can be found in the Bristol Channel
The Bristol Channel has the second largest tidal range in the world, and the largest in Britain. Reaching between 12 and 15 metres, it is beaten only by the Bay of Fundy in Canada.
9. Cornwall has the longest coastline of any English county
The most southerly county of England has a coastline which stretches for 1,086 km, even without counting the Isles of Scilly. If you’re planning to walk the entire Cornish coastline, you may be in for a bit of a trek!
10. The furthest you can get from the sea is a farm in Derbyshire
If for some explicable reason you get tired of the seaside, the Ordnance Survey has calculated that a point just to the east of Church Flatts Farm in the village of Coton in the Elms is the place to go. It is 70 miles from the coast.
11. A coastal site in Northumberland has the remains of the UK’s oldest house
Discovered by an amateur archaeologist on a sandy cliff face, Howick House was dated to 7800 BC – during the Mesolithic Era. A reconstruction of the house now stands on the site.
12. British coastal wildlife is incredibly diverse
More than 1,200 species of plants and animals can be found on the UK coast, including spectacular species such as the Basking Shark and the White-tailed Eagle.
13. Bournemouth Beach is the best beach in the UK
Of course, the quality of a beach is a very subjective thing. But the most recent Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards have named the beach at Bournemouth as Britain’s best, and the 20th best in the world.
14. At least 33 beaches in Britain have sand that sings
‘Singing sand’, as it is known, is an unusual phenomenon where sand grains produce a high-pitched sound when they rub together as they are blown by the wind or walked on. Some of the best places to experience this are in North Wales or on the island of Eigg in the Scottish Hebrides.
15. On the island of Jura, the deer-to-human ratio is 30:1
There are between 6,000 and 7,000 red deer living on the small Scottish island of Jura, with the island’s name thought to have come from the Norse for ‘deer island’. Which is rather fitting.
16. George Orwell nearly drowned on the Scottish coast
The famous novelist best known for his novel Nineteen Eighty-four wrote the book while holidaying in the Scottish Hebrides. However, after getting into difficulty while out boating, he nearly drowned in the fearsome Corryvreckan Whirlpool.
17. And the Corryvreckan Whirlpool is the 3rd largest whirlpool in the world
Found in a narrow strait between the islands of Jura and Scarba, the waves here have been known to reach 15 feet high when the winds and tides align. The roar of the water can sometimes be heard as far as 10 miles away!
18. A dinosaur might be lurking in Loch Ness
The Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie for short, is one of Scotland’s most famous inhabitants, but did you know that some people believe it is a plesiosaur – a carnivorous aquatic animal from the dinosaur era. Many people have claimed to have seen the monster in Loch Ness and some have even taken photos, but as yet no conclusive proof of its existence has been found.
19. There are more creatures to look out for than just Nessie
The UK’s rich history tells of many monsters and spirits which can be found near the coast. The Minch – a strait in the Scottish Hebrides – is said to be home to strange blue creatures known as the ‘blue men of the minch’. These creatures are known for attempting to wreck ships and lure sailors into the ocean. Further south, Falmouth Bay in Cornwall is supposedly home to a sea serpent known as Morgawr, with sightings occurring to this day.
20. A pretty sandbank off the Kent Coast is also one of the most dangerous
The Goodwin Sands, 6 miles off the coastline of east Kent, has got the better of over 1,000 ships over the years. The sandbank lies just beneath the surface of the English Channel at high tide and is particularly treacherous during storms. During one disastrous storm in November 1703, more than 1,000 people died on the sandbank.
21. A shipwreck in the Thames Estuary contains 1,400 tonnes of TNT
The SS Montgomery was an American cargo ship built during World War II. It was wrecked on the Nore Sandbank in the Thames Estuary in August 1944, while carrying a cargo of munitions. Due to the dangers of the wreck, people are prohibited from going within 1,600 feet of it, though the likelihood of an explosion is considered low. The wreck lies about a mile from the coast and its masts are visible, protruding from the waves.
22. 6 hours and 55 minutes – that’s how quickly a person can swim the English Channel
It goes without saying that you have to be a fairly impressive athlete to be able to do it, however. This time currently stands as the fastest anyone has ever done it, a feat achieved by Australian swimmer Trent Grimsey. It is particularly impressive when you consider that the shortest route across the Channel is a whopping 21 miles, through one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
23. The largest wave ever recorded in British waters was 62.3 feet high
For comparison, that’s taller than a six-storey building. Luckily, the wave didn’t occur anywhere near the shore, instead being recorded by an electronic buoy off the north coast of Scotland in 2013.
24. Ancient submerged forests lie off Carmarthenshire
Marros Beach in Wales hides a unique secret. At low tide, the retreating waters reveal an ancient, submerged forest which dates back 13,000 years, before the last ice age. During this time, sea levels were lower and the British Isles were linked to the European mainland.
25. Carmarthenshire was also once a hotspot for land speed records
Pendine Sands on the shores of Carmarthen Bay forms a flat beach which stretches for 7 miles. In the early 1900s, the beach was used as a venue for multiple motorsport events, being described as “the finest natural speedway imaginable”. The first person to use it for land speed records was Malcolm Campbell, who set a record of 146.16 mph in 1924.
26. You can see sea turtles on the west coast of Britain
Most sea turtles favour the warm waters of the tropics (who can blame them?) but one species – the Leatherback Sea Turtle doesn’t mind the cold and sometimes visits the west coast of the UK during the summer months. But they’re not here for the beaches or the fish and chips, they come to munch on jellyfish instead.
27. The first ever wireless signals transmitted over water were sent in Wales
Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, known for his pioneering work developing long-distance radio communication, sent the signals from Lavernock Point to Flat Holm island in the Bristol Channel. His first message said, “Are you ready?” and apparently they were.
28. If you’re on a sinking ship, it pays if your name is Hugh Williams
Three ships which sunk on separate occasions in the Menai Strait in Wales are linked by a mysterious and almost unbelievable story. The first was a pleasure schooner which went down in 1664. All 81 passengers died, except one who was named Hugh Williams. 121 years later, in 1785, another ship suffered a similar fate. Of the 60 passengers on the ship, the only survivor was a man named Hugh Williams. Then, 75 years later, a third ship sank in the strait with the loss of everyone onboard, except a man who was named, you guessed it, Hugh Williams!
29. Laurence of Arabia was born in the UK
The archaeologist and writer became famous around the world for his detailed accounts of his roles in the Arab Revolt and the struggle against the Ottoman Empire during WWII. He was also the subject of an epic drama film in 1962, which won 7 Oscars. But Lawrence himself was not from Arabia, nor anywhere near it. In fact, he was born in the town of Tremadog, on the Welsh coast.
30. Wales had the first road suspension bridge in the world
Designed by Thomas Telford, the Menai Bridge connecting Anglesey to the Welsh mainland was the first suspension bridge in the world able to take heavy traffic. It was opened on 30 January 1862.
31. Europe’s largest dolphin population lives in Cardigan Bay
The beautiful Welsh coastline of Cardigan Bay is home to more than 250 bottlenose dolphins, and is certainly one of the best places to see these marine marvels.
32. The south of the UK is sinking
Literally. And while this happens, the north is rising. Sound ridiculous? It’s all to do with something called isostatic rebound. Essentially, the north half of the UK was pressed down by an enormous weight of ice during the last ice age. Ever since the ice has melted, the north has been bouncing back up. But there’s no need to panic if you live in the south, this adjustment is happening over a period of thousands of years, so you probably don’t need to invest in a boat quite yet.
33. If you look closely, you can find evidence of dinosaurs
Soft cliffs in places such as East Anglia and the Isle of Wight are constantly being eroded, revealing ancient fossilised remains of many weird and wonderful creatures such as dinosaurs, sharks and even mammoths. One of the best areas to look for fossils is on the Jurassic Coast, which stretches from East Devon to Dorset.
34. Blackpool Tower was inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Overlooking Blackpool’s iconic seafront, Blackpool Tower is perhaps one of the most famous coastal buildings in Britain. Opened in 1894, it cost almost £300,000 to build and was noted as a masterpiece of Victorian engineering, able to sway slightly in high winds.
35. Albert Einstein fled to Norfolk in 1933
The physicist known for his groundbreaking theory of relativity was forced to flee from the Nazis, taking up residence near the coastal town of Cromer for about a month, where he was protected by armed guards.
36. You can visit California in England
Fancy a trip to California but can’t be bothered with the long-haul? Well you’re in luck. California is a small place near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. It got its name after the discovery of sixteenth century gold coins on a beach in 1848 – a time when the California gold rush was in full swing. California (UK) has a lovely little beach and is a great seaside resort, just don’t expect to see any Golden Gate Bridges or Hollywood megastars.
37. Norfolk also has its own ‘Great Barrier Reef’
The Cromer Shoals Chalk Bed lies just a stone’s throw from the shore and is hidden just below the surface. Known as ‘Britain’s Great Barrier Reef’, it stretches for 20 miles and is thought to be 100 million years old. Among its towering arches and deep trenches, you can find incredible species such as sponges, starfish, lobsters and leopard spotted gobies.
38. There is a World Snail Championships held in Congham, Norfolk
It’s amazing what the human mind can come up with in the pursuit of entertainment. The World Snail Racing Championships is an annual event, taking place since the 1960s after its founder witnessed a similar event in France. Competing molluscs take their places on the starting line on a damp table cloth, before setting off at blistering speed across a distance of 13 inches. The fastest ever time was 2 minutes exactly, posted by a snail named Archie in 1995.
39. The highest sea cliffs in the UK are 430 m tall
That’s about half as tall as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – the world’s tallest human-built structure. The cliffs can be found on the island of Hirta, in the St. Kilda archipelago on the western edge of Scotland.
40. Devon is the only English county to have two separate coastlines
One is on the English Channel in the south, while the other is on the Atlantic coast in the north.
41. Westward Ho! is the only place in Britain with an exclamation mark in its name
The seaside village gets its name from Charles Kingsley’s Victorian novel of the same name, which was set in nearby Bideford. The exclamation mark appears on everything from road signs to official documents, making it a very exciting place to live.
42. The Cornish pasty has the mining industry to thank for its design
The humble Cornish pasty is well-known for its delicious taste, but it was originally designed for far more practical reasons. The pastry became popular amongst tin miners in Cornwall during the 17th and 18th centuries, who would hold onto the crust of the pasty and munch on the filling, before throwing the crust away. As they were often working with dirty hands in an environment rich in toxic chemicals, this was a very clever hygiene solution.
43. And it wasn’t invented in Cornwall at all
Don’t let the name fool you, the oldest known recipe for a Cornish pasty actually comes from a 500 year old book found in neighbouring Devon. But it’s best not to tell anyone in Cornwall that.
44. The Titanic was built in Northern Ireland
Arguably the world’s most famous ship ever, the ill-fated Titanic was built and launched in Belfast Harbour in 1911. On its first voyage, the ship set sail for New York with an estimated 2,224 passengers and crew on board, but we all know how that journey ended.
45. The Giant’s Causeway has been around for at least 50 million years
The estimated 40,000 basalt columns are one of the UK’s most impressive natural wonders. Located on the north coast of Northern Ireland, mythology tells that an Irish giant built the causeway in order to battle a Scottish giant across the water. However it was more likely to be formed by the eruption of an ancient volcanic fissure.
46. Brighton Marina is the largest in Europe
It’s also one of the largest marinas in the entire world, covering around 127 acres. It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in May 1979.
47. The oldest town in Britain is Colchester
Located near the Essex coast, Colchester is widely regarded as Britain’s oldest town. In 49 AD, it was the first place to be given the status of a Roman Colonia and it was mentioned by Pliny the Elder in 77 AD.
48. Lowestoft is the most easterly point in the UK
If you love a good sunrise, take a trip to Ness Point near Lowestoft and you’ll be able to see it before anyone else in the UK, as it is the mainland’s most easterly point.
49. The Humber Bridge was the longest bridge of its type in the world for 17 years
Spanning the mighty Humber Estuary, the Humber Bridge has a total length of 2,220 m. When it was opened in 1981, it was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world – a title it held until 1998. It is now the eleventh-longest, but we still think it’s a fine achievement.
50. There are more castles in Northumberland than any other English county
If you know anyone who likes historic sites, direct them towards Northumberland and they’ll be kept amused for weeks. More than 70 castle sites can be found in the county, with several located on its fantastic coastline. One of the most impressive is Bamburgh Castle, which once hosted the ancient kings of Northumbria.
51. St. Abb’s Head had the UK’s first ever voluntary marine reserve
The spectacular St. Abb’s Head is perhaps best known for its raucous seabird colonies, but beneath the waves there is something just as special. The waters surrounding the headland are crystal clear, making them very popular with scuba divers and inspiring botanist David Bellamy to establish a voluntary marine reserve – the first such site in Britain.
52. The Bass Rock has the world’s largest gannet colony
Sitting in the Firth of Forth, just off the east coast of Scotland, the Bass Rock is the place to be if you’re a gannet, with more than 150,000 gathering on the island during the breeding season. While this a great for birdwatchers, it’s not so great for small fish, which are the birds’ favourite food.
53. St. Andrews in Fife has the oldest golf course in the world
It’s important to be specific, however. St. Andrews has seven golf courses in total and the crown goes to the aptly named “Old Course”, which saw its first action as early as the 15th century. No wonder St. Andrews is known as the home of golf.
54. The oldest tennis courts in the world are also in Fife
While we’re on the subject of sporting origins, from St. Andrews it’s just a short step over to Falkland Palace, which has the world’s oldest tennis courts still in use today. They date from 1541 and were built for James V of Scotland, but they were also used by Mary Queen of Scots!
55. There is a secret tunnel under the River Forth
In the early 1960s, coal miners undertook the incredible challenge of digging a tunnel 500 metres beneath the River Forth in order to transport coal from the Lothians to Fife. It was an incredible feat of engineering and one which has sadly been all but forgotten, with the River Forth now being crossed by three large bridges. More than 50 years on, the tunnel still remains, but has been completely abandoned.
56. There are over 50 golf courses within an hour’s drive of Dundee
At the risk of throwing another golf-related fact at you, the coastal town of Dundee in eastern Scotland is perhaps golfing heaven, with over 50 courses in close proximity.
57. The Bell Rock Lighthouse is the oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse in the world
Located off the coast of Angus, the Bell Rock was designed and built by Robert Stevenson between 1807 and 1810. The rock it is built upon is 11 miles offshore and is covered by water for 20 hours a day, making the construction of the lighthouse an incredible challenge. For this reason, it is sometimes described as one of the seven wonders of the industrial world.
58. Scotland has a declaration of independence
There is a lot of talk about Scottish independence these days, and back in the 14th century it was no different. Amidst attempts to establish Scotland as an independent kingdom, rather than being controlled by England, a letter to assert Scotland’s independence was written by Scottish barons and addressed to Pope John XXII. It is now known as the declaration of Arbroath, named after the fishing town it is thought to have been written in.
59. Arbroath is also world-famous for its fish
Although the declaration of Arbroath might be the Angus town’s biggest claim to fame, it is also known around the world for Arbroath smokies – a type of smoked haddock which originated there. Legend has it the dish was invented by accident when a fish shop caught fire and smoked several barrels of haddock which had been preserved in salt.
60. Aberdeen has won the Britain in Bloom competition a record 10 times
The ‘granite city’ as it is known on the north-east coast of Scotland has always been recognised for its colourful plantlife. But it performed so well in the floral competition that after a hat-trick of wins back to back, the competition organisers had to introduce a new rule excluding any town from winning more than twice in a row.
61. Europe’s biggest shellfish port is in Bridlington
Fishing in the Yorkshire town of Bridlington goes back centuries, so much so that the town has the nickname of “the lobster capital of Europe”. Over 500 tonnes of shellfish were landed at the port in 2018, which is enough to make a serious number of lobster thermidors.
62. The Isle of Iona was the traditional resting place of Scottish kings
The small island in the Inner Hebrides has significant religious and historic significance, perhaps being most famous for Iona Abbey. The Abbey is one of the best-preserved buildings from the Middle Ages in the Western Isles, and it is home to an ancient burial ground that contains the graves of many early Scottish kings, as well as Norse kings from Ireland and Norway.
63. The most northerly point in Britain is not John o’ Groats
Despite popular belief, John o’ Groats is not the most northerly point on the mainland. That title instead goes to Dunnet Head, a peninsula in Caithness. The most extreme point of the headland is 2.35 miles further north than John o’ Groats.
64. And the most southerly point is not Land’s End!
That title goes to Lizard Point, which is also in Cornwall but is 9 miles further south than Land’s End. Land’s End isn’t even the most westerly point in mainland Britain, as it is pipped to the post by Corrachadh Mòr in the Scottish Highlands.
65. Land’s End does have one claim to fame, however
Land’s End is one end of the furthest possible journey across the British mainland, with the distance from here to John o’ Groats in Scotland covering a whopping 874 miles by road. There are numerous records for the fastest time to complete this distance, with perhaps the most unusual being a time of 21 days to skateboard the entire route.
66. Britain’s highest waterfall is 658 feet high
That’s over three times higher than Niagara Falls! The waterfall is known as Eas a’ Chual Aluinn, so you probably won’t be surprised to learn it is in Scotland. More specifically, it can be found near the western coast of Sutherland.
67. The smallest radio station in Britain is based in Gairloch
If you’re ever in the Gairloch or Loch Ewe regions of Wester Ross in Scotland, tune in to 106 or 106.6 FM and you’ll be listening to Two Lochs Radio – the smallest commercial radio station in the UK. You can catch it without having to visit the remote Highland area however, as the station also has an online streaming service.
68. The Isle of Wight has the world’s only commercial hovercraft service
The hovercraft provides a year-round service, ferrying passengers across the Solent in style. The island was where the very first hovercraft saw its birth, being invented by Sir Christopher Cockerell in the 1950s.
69. It also has the UK’s oldest theme park
Named after a coastal ravine known as a chine, Blackgang Chine was established in 1843 and quickly became popular among Victorians. Many people visit to this day, enjoying the park’s scenic location and quirky charm.
70. The Orkney Islands are a popular cruise ship destination
You might associate cruise ships with warm, sunny places like the Caribbean or the Mediterranean, but the UK’s busiest cruise ship port is Kirkwall, in Orkney. More than 140 cruise ships visit each year, despite it being one of the coldest parts of the UK. But temperatures aside, visitors to Orkney’s shores can enjoy wild landscapes, rich Neolithic history and some great beaches.
71. More fish are landed in Shetland than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined
For somewhere surrounded by miles of ocean, Shetland certainly makes the most of it. 111,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish were landed by Shetland boats according to the most recent statistics, with a combined value of £117 million. Needless to say, the 23,000 or so inhabitants of Shetland don’t eat all of it.
72. And up until 1468, the Shetland Islands belonged to Norway
This isn’t too surprising when you consider that Shetland is as close to Norway as it is to Aberdeen. After being ruled by the Vikings for several hundred years, the islands eventually ended up in the hands of Christian I, King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. But after falling on hard times, the king found himself short of money and decided to pawn the Shetland Islands to James III of Scotland for the princely sum of 8,000 florins.
73. The coastline of Argyllshire is longer than France’s
This one sounds a little sceptical until you see the Scottish council area on a map. Its many islands and indented headlands stretch for hundreds of miles, creating a landscape that is truly spectacular.
74. The Butt of Lewis is the windiest place in the UK
No jokes please. These really is true, according to the Guinness Book of Records anyway. The Butt of Lewis is the most northerly tip of the Outer Hebrides, which goes some way to explaining its unfortunate record. To the north there is no land until the Arctic, and to the west there is nothing until you reach the coast of northern Canada.
75. A festival celebrating victory over the Vikings is held in Largs
The small town on the Firth of Clyde in North Ayrshire was the site of the Battle of Largs in 1263, which was the last mainland battle between the Scots and the Norse. The fighting was sparked almost by accident, with several Norse vessels running aground on the Scottish mainland during stormy weather. After being attacked, reinforcements were sent for and a battle ensued, with a decisive victory for the Scots.
76. Scotland’s most southerly point is further south than Hartlepool
The Mull of Galloway stretches southwards into the Atlantic and is a place for stunning views, wildlife watching and coastal walks. Despite being in Scotland, it is just a touch further south than the town of Hartlepool, on the north-east coast of England.
77. Carlisle once had a ship canal
The canal opened in 1823 and was the main route linking Carlisle to the Solway Firth, for the transport of goods to and from the city. It was a short-lived affair however, with the canal closing exactly 30 years after it has been opened, being replaced by a railway.
78. The Lake District only has one actual lake
The lake in question is Bassenthwaite Lake, near Cockermouth. All the other ‘lakes’ in the region are known as meres, waters or tarns. The difference between all of these terms is extremely vague and you’ll probably need to find a hydrogeologist if you want a precise answer.
79. Over 1 million bulbs are needed for Blackpool Illuminations
Dubbed ‘the greatest free light show on Earth’, the illuminations have been on display annually since 1879, running from early August until late November. They attract visitors from all over the world, as well as celebrities such as George Formby and Shirley Bassey, who have both switched on the lights in the past. And they probably attract a fair few moths too.
80. Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach has the highest rollercoaster in the UK
At 65 m high, it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted, but if you’re brave enough to try it you can expect three minutes of stomach-churning terror with speeds of 74 mph and g-forces hitting 3.5g. It’s known as ‘The Big One’ – a name which must have taken them ages to come up with.
81. Morecambe Bay has the largest area of mudflats in Britain
The estuary in north-west England covers around 120 square miles and is home to hundreds of thousands of birds. It also used to be home to the UK’s second-largest gas field, providing 15% of the country’s gas supply at its peak.
82. The Gower Peninsula was the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The Welsh peninsula, which is known for its stunning beaches and unusual cave formations, was given the prestigious title back in 1956, and it certainly hasn’t lost any of its appeal in the years since.
83. Cardiff is Europe’s youngest capital city
The city became the capital of Wales as recently as 1955. It’s also one of the smallest capital cities in Europe, with a population of just over 335,000 as of 2011.
84. There are 204 Blue Flag beaches in Britain
Although many of us hop on the plane in summer, destined for the Mediterranean, we have an incredible range of gold-standard beaches right here on our doorstep. Beaches are awarded with Blue Flag status if they are deemed to be clean enough, have a high enough water quality and have a good level of safety and services.
85. There is no such thing as a seagull
If you’re reading this while being attacked by a big black-and-white bird who’s after your chips, you may disagree with this one. But ‘seagull’ is actually a bit of a made up term that refers to the many species of gull we see on the UK coast, none of which have seagull in their names. The one most likely to be stealing your chips is known as a herring gull.
86. And herring gulls are actually in decline in the UK
So much so that they are now a red-listed species in Britain, with their population declining over the past 25 years to the point where there are now just 10 breeding sites left in the UK. This is thought to be due to a lack of food in their coastal environments, in part due to overfishing by humans. Hence why they’re after our chips.
87. Camber Sands might be the most dangerous beach in Britain
The three mile stretch of golden sand in East Anglia may look beautiful, but the temperamental waters are renowned for spawning rip-tides – sudden, fast-flowing currents which can drag swimmers out to sea. In 2016, seven people drowned at the beach, with five sadly dying on just one day. This particular incident led to lifeguards being deployed at the beach.
88. There are tunnels through the White Cliffs of Dover
The iconic cliffs on the south coast of England are instantly recognisable, but you may not know that a series of tunnels lead through the cliffs to Dover Castle. The tunnels were created during the Napoleonic War and were expanded during WWII to create a secret link to Winston Churchill’s military headquarters.
89. And from the top of the cliffs, you can see France
It may be over 20 miles across the English Channel from Dover to France, but if you stand at the top of the cliffs (or the top of Dover Castle, for that matter), you’ll be able to get a glimpse of our French neighbours. You will of course need some decent weather for this.
90. The Channel Tunnel connects Folkestone to Calais
Our only fixed connection to the European continent is often mistakenly thought to go from Dover, but the entrance to the tunnel is actually in the town of Folkestone, just down the coast. Opening in 1994, the tunnel cost around £9 billion to build, more than £3 billion over budget.
91. And it’s the longest undersea tunnel in the world
The section of the Channel Tunnel that goes under the sea stretches for 38 km – a distance which takes the train an average of 35 minutes to cover.
92. The Isle of Sheppey was the cradle of aviation
Although it was the Wright Brothers in 1903 in North Carolina who were the first to fly a powered aircraft, the world’s very first aircraft factory was opened on the Isle of Sheppey. Owned by the Short brothers, the factory made a number of aircraft for the Wright Brothers to use. The island was also where the first Briton to fly an aeroplane did so, in 1908.
93. It was also the setting for one of Henry VIII’s holidays
He stayed at Shurland Hall on the Isle of Sheppey for a few days in October 1532 with Anne Boleyn, who was one of Henry’s many wives who was unfortunate enough to be beheaded.
94. The Norfolk Broads are man-made
Britain’s largest protected wetland area might look completely natural, but it is actually a product of the country’s 12th century demand for peat. With timber resources dwindling, people at the time turned to peat for their fuel needs, extracting it all by hand in what must have been a painstaking process. When sea levels began to rise in the 14th century, the channels and pits which had been dug into the landscape filled with water, forming the wetland we see today.
95. And they’re home to a quarter of the UK’s rarest species
Graceful Marsh Harriers, elusive Bitterns and Chinese Water Deer are just a few of the rare species you can see here. It’s also the only place in Britain where you can find fabulous Swallowtail Butterflies.
96. The Humber Estuary drains an area of almost 25,000 square km
Its output represents the largest volume of freshwater flow into the North Sea. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as the Humber River, as the entire water body is estuarine.
97. The Needles get their name from a long-lost rock
The three spectacular chalk stacks that lie off the western edge of the Isle of Wight were named after a fourth needle-shaped pillar called Lot’s Wife. This rock collapsed during a storm in 1764 and although none of the remaining stacks are in any way needle-like, the name stuck.
98. The Old Man of Hoy is 449 feet high
Needless to say, this is not a man we’re talking about, but rather an impressive sea stack in the Orkney Isles. It is formed of old red sandstone and is one of the tallest sea stacks in the UK. Amazingly, people have climbed this stack and even base-jumped from it.
99. St Ives in Cornwall is named after an Irish princess
The English coastal town has had a few names over the years. It was first known as Slepe, which translates as “muddy”, before the Irish princess and missionary known as St la visited during the 5th century. She is said to have founded an oratory on a site which is now the Parish Church.
100. Durdle Door is 140 million years old
Situated on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, Durdle Door is one of the UK’s most iconic natural sights. The archway is formed by a layer of hard limestone which has stood the test of time and remained firmly in place, despite the many storms it has faced over the years.