’50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ at Port Gaverne
We love The National Trust’s ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ initiative. With so many people discovering the joys of staycationing or holidaying in the UK this summer, more and more young people will be discovering the simple joys that the natural world provides and forging a relationship with the environment.
As an ambassador business for The National Trust, we thought that we’d look through the list of suggestions and pick out all of the activities that can be enjoyed here at Port Gaverne (or at any other similar beach):
“Have you ever stood at the glittering water’s edge and watched a stone skip across the surface? It’s a tricky skill to master, but if you’ve got a steady arm and a keen eye, you’ll soon learn how to skim a stone.” Luckily, Port Gaverne is a pebbly beach with plenty of nice flat slate “skimmers” to be found. Hunt down a handful and head down to the water’s edge to see how many times you can get your stone to bounce before it sinks. Just be careful not to throw your skimming stone towards anybody who’s in the sea.
“Spotting fish is one of the best ways to spend time on the seaside. It’s tricky though, with the fish darting around and trying to avoid you.” You’re unlikely to see any large fish in the sea, but if you look closely in a large rock pool you might spot a Shanny (Common Blenny) like this one, camouflaged amongst the sea weed.
“Why go home for lunch when you can eat in the wild? Pack a picnic next time you go on an adventure and enjoy tucking into your sandwiches surrounded by nature.”
“You can make a dam on the beach if there is water running into the sea. Can you plug one of the little streams that run from the river out to the sea? There’s plenty of seaweed and sand about for you to use.” This is an activity that used to occupy some of us here for hours when we were kids. Budding hydro-engineers can use pebbles, sand and seaweed to temporarily redirect the flow of a stream on the beach and create small ponds. But you can’t hold the water back for ever!
“When it comes to creating wild art, the only limit is your imagination. What will you use, and how? There’s so much to choose from in the natural world – but make sure you’re not making your art from another creature’s home.” Whether it’s the most epic sandcastle or a mermaid made from seaweed and shells, the beach makes the perfect canvas for your child’s imagination.
“Paddling might be one of the easiest challenges on the ’50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ list, but it’s also one of the most satisfying. It’s so refreshing to cool down on a hot summer’s day by dipping your hands and feet into refreshing, cool water.” The water’s edge is never more than a short walk away at Port Gaverne, so splashing your feet in the sea is a must!
“Peel off your stinky socks and let your bare toes wiggle free. Clamber up beach dunes and feel the warm sand on your soles, dance on soft wet grass in your garden, or listen to the squelchy loveliness of wet mud squishing under your feet.” The beach is the perfect place to spend time barefoot – just take a look next time you visit us and you’ll see that most of us are shoeless during the summer!
“Entering a cave is like visiting an entirely different world. There’s a distinct smell in the air, you might see creatures that you rarely see outside and everything sounds different. Grab a torch and jacket (and an adult!), and find a cave to investigate.” We turned this into a day job, and you can explore sea caves with us on one of our coasteering sessions or take an adult and check out some of the caves at Port Gaverne at low tide.
“Floating in a boat – no. 32 of our ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities – can be as slow and dreamy or as fast and exhilarating an experience as you make it. Or it could even be both.” One of our sea kayaks definitely counts as a boat (we don’t recommend the use of inflatable boats in the sea) so you can join a guided sea kayaking trip or hire one for a few hours to paddle around the cove, and enjoy some time on the water.
“There’s lots you can learn from looking at the clouds. Choose a comfortable spot on a summer’s day, lie back and start watching.” Here on the coast the clouds can often move and change quickly, so you’ll spot lots of different types and shapes. You can even learn how to predict the weather using the clouds!
“As the tide goes out, the secrets of the sea are revealed in the glittering rock pools left behind. Clamber, crouch, peer and scoop on a rock-strewn beach, to discover wonders in your private pocket of ocean life.” Port Gaverne has countless rock pools waiting to be investigated. Come and take a look at the information panel in our cellar to find out more about some of the things you might discover.
Catching a crab isn’t as easy as it sounds! You might be lucky enough to spot a small crab (such as a Montague Crab or Velvet Swimmer) in a rock pool, or you could get lucky dropping a crab line and net into a deeper gulley. If you do catch one (use a net rather than a hook!) then, once you’ve taken a look and worked out what sort of crab you’ve caught, please do return it to the sea so that it can carry on with its day!
“Swimming in the sea is very different from swimming in a pool, and you’ll need to be very careful of currents and tides. But it’s wild fun you’ll never forget.” Whilst we offer a whole range of “more serious” options for adults to swim in the sea, that doesn’t mean that children can’t get a taste for sea swimming in the shallows under the supervision of a responsible adult, and the calm waters of Port Gaverne are as good a place as any.
“Birds can be shy or timid. You’ll need to be as quiet as a mouse while you keep a look out for our feathered friends. What birds will you see?” At Port Gaverne you can see all sorts of sea birds, from the different gulls that circle above, through to small Turnstones and Sand pipers on the rocky shoreline. You might even spot some of our local Fulmars soaring against the cliff faces during nesting season!
“Whether you like to set yourself a challenge or if you’re after a more gentle activity, clambering over rocks has options for everyone. There’s all sorts of different terrain to explore and conquer.” We’d class ourselves as experts at Number 46 in the National Trusts list – it’s basically coasteering!
“Keep a record of your amazing adventures in nature, capturing your memories of the animals and plants you’ve seen.” Children could keep a nature diary for the duration of the summer holidays, recording all of their rock pool finds and the sea birds that they spot. It doesn’t have to be a written diary – drawings, photos and maps are perfect for recording memories.
“It might be the end of the day but there’s still plenty to see in nature. Before you go to bed, find a comfortable spot to watch the sky turn orange and red as the sun disappears beyond the horizon.” We get to enjoy some amazing sunsets on coast, so make time at the end of a day to watch the sun dip into the sea. Will you see the “green flash”?
“It’s great to investigate nature by yourself. But you can double the fun when you share your wildlife adventures with a friend.” If you’ve found a rock pool brimming with interesting finds, or need help damming a stream, then if you have a sibling or a friend with you, share the fun with them!
As with any activity at the seaside, it’s important to stay safe. The National Trust has published Safety information for ’50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ and we would urge parents to supervise children at all times. Be aware of the state of the tide (is it coming in or going out? What time is high and low tide?) particularly if exploring the shoreline or caves – be careful not to get cut off!