Heading to the beach might not the first thought throughout the cold winter months, but there are actually many ways to enjoy our coastlines when the bad weather hits…
During the winter months, your four-legged pals can scamper to their heart’s content on all of our beautiful beaches as the restrictions are lifted during this time, so the whole family can enjoy a good walk on a beach. Kids and animals run wild whilst you can treat yourself to a well earned rest in a cosy local pub.
Winter can mean far better surf. Sitting in the Northern Hemisphere, the UK experiences extreme seasonal variation, from summertime flat spells, to the hefty winter swells that try and make up for it. This results in consistent waves that are not jam-packed with crowds. It’s a great time of year to learn to surf too, as there are less people about, the classes are less booked up. It’s not even as cold as you might think, with the nippiest month generally being February – just make sure to invest in a decent winter wetsuit to see you through.
From sandy beaches to pebbly coves, the Island’s coastline has tonnes of beaches to spend a day beach-combing and the winter has got to be the best time, thanks to the stormy seas washing up more treasures. Collect pretty shells, coloured sea glass and driftwood to use for crafts later at home. Shanklin Beach towards Luccombe is great for finding larger pieces of driftwood, or Gurnard Beach can provide hours of fun looking for gleaming sea glass in between the pebbles.
For unearthing some fossils, the Island’s south-west coast is the place to go. Spot the Iguanadon footprint on Brook Beach and Chilton Chine. The bays here are constantly slipping so each day you might find something new and undiscovered. The exposed rocks are of the Wealden Groups, part of the early Cretaceous period, formed over 140 million years ago, making the Island one of the most productive places for finding dinosaur bones. Get hands on with a guided walk on Yaverland Beach to find fossils and dinosaur footprints from one of their local experts (booking is essential).
Many birds fly to warmer climates during the winter months and the Isle of Wight is well placed on these migration routes which enhances bird watching around the coast. There are a number of reserves such as Newtown Creek and Brading Marshes where it’s possible to spot interesting ducks, waders and seabirds like Pintails, Golden Plovers and Purple Sandpipers.
Try a coastal walk from Yarmouth to Bouldnor Forest and you may spot residents like Ravens and Peregrines, as well as those just passing through like Gannets and Guillemots. Similarly a walk along the north east coastline from Ryde around to Bembridge will allow you to observe any number of birds enjoying the foreshore and estuaries with more common gulls and waders sharing the beach with Oyster Catchers, Eider Ducks and Greylag Geese.
Take your binoculars on a cliff top walk from Headon Warren near Totland Bay around the chalk cliffs of The Needles and Tennyson Down to Freshwater Bay. This provides a great contrast in habitats and a good variety of birding opportunities from Rock Pipits and Mistle Thrushes to Kittiwakes and the impressive Great Black Backed Gull. Over the past few years there have been many rare visitors recorded during the winter and early spring period, including Snow Buntings, Short Eared Owls and Dartford Warblers.
So make the most of the fun to be had in the colder months, as soon, spring and summer will be in sight.
Even if you’re not lucky and don’t spot something special, then at least you would have enjoyed a walk with some breathtaking views!