AS we come out of lockdown, many of us are heading for the beach.

Somerset Wildlife Trust has been promoting the wonders of our coast through its HPC CIM-funded ‘Somerset’s Brilliant Coast’ project, and while it is encouraging that more people are now walking the coast, rock-pooling, paddling or sunbathing, it warns there is also a downside to increased visitor numbers.

Our coastal habitats are pretty resilient, withstanding surging tides and storms, but they can also be incredibly fragile.

One of the biggest scourges is litter. Many of us will take litter home with us or use public bins, but discarded bottles and take-away containers are still an all too common sight.

Surfers Against Sewage are running a national campaign called the ‘Million Beach Clean’, recruiting 100,000 volunteers to walk 10 miles each whilst cleaning the places they love (

You can also get involved in local beach cleans or join of your local Plastic Free Community groups. West Somerset has a particularly active group (

If you are a dog walker clearing up after your dog is vital not just because not doing so is unsightly and unhealthy, but the poo can enhance soil nutrients and trigger fast growing nettles and brambles to smother smaller, rarer plants especially on cliff tops, sand dunes or salt marshes.

In remote parts of the coast both dogs and walkers can also inadvertently disturb coastal ground-nesting birds like ringed plovers and oystercatchers.

If you get a chance to explore between the tide-lines there are also simple rules to avoid disturbing seashore creatures.

Children often enjoy rock-pooling, but think twice before buying nets. Often they are only used once or twice and just add to unnecessary plastic items, but also dragging nets through pools can damage the creatures living in them.

Sitting quietly by a pool and turning over stones will reveal the inhabitants just as well.

It is important if you do turn over rocks that you carefully put them back the way you found.

If you collect animals in buckets also remember they are marine creatures and don’t like being out of water and must be returned to where you found them as soon as possible.

So please enjoy our brilliant coast but remember to treat it and its wildlife with respect!

For details about the Somerset’s Brilliant Coast activities this summer see:

You can also find out about new virtual coastal ‘Storywalks’ along the Somerset Coast Path at:

Somerset Wildlife Trust