There are so many beaches to choose from within a short distance from Exeter and it’s a day out that can be enjoyed by all ages.

So you’ve got up early, found a nice socially distanced spot on your favourite beach, set up camp, you’ve got your sun shades, windbreakers, sun loungers, bag to take all your rubbish home, high factor sun protection, hats and sunnies... the picnic basket has already been ransacked by the kids, you’re holding off buying them an ice cream until later, now what?

Sand castle building

Checklist:

  • Bucket and spade - If you’ve not got any this summer , some sturdy plastic bowls and tubs from the house in different sizes make great alternatives, and you can just use your hands instead of a spade.
  • Flag (this could be a project from an earlier in the summer, let your child design their own flag and then attach it to a dowel, ruler, pencil or garden cane, just make sure the flag comes home with you at the end of the day and doesn’t become beach litter.
  • Help your child forage for interesting objects that might come in handy to decorate their sandcastle, pebbles, shells of different shapes and sizes driftwood and seaweed. Please leave all pebbles and shells etc on the beach when you go home.

Method:

  1. Pick a spot for your castle, make sure it’s damp sand, if you can avoid it being in the direct path of the next lot of beach goers you’ve got more chance of it not being accidently crushed while they play Frisbee.
  2. Fill your biggest bucket/bowl with sand and press hard, to compact the sand then quickly turn it over, tap the top of the bucket to loosen the sand and careful lift up, hopefully revealing a perfect castle, you can keep adding castles around it to make it as big as you want.
  3. Decorate your castle carefully with all the beach treasures you found, use a stick to draw windows and doors onto your castle.
  4. To moat or not to moat, it can be fun to dig a moat around your castle especially if you know the tide will come in and fill it for you (before washing your castle away).Or you can run as fast as you can back and forth with buckets to fill your moat but of course the sand will absorb the water quickly (it’s a great way to tire children out though). Make sure you dig your moat far enough away from the edge of your castle that the buildings won’t start collapsing. Don’t get carried away digging a deep moat, never dig deep holes in the sand that you or your children can sit or stand in, the risk of the sand collapsing around you is very high and it’s exceptionally dangerous.
  5. Stand back and admire your work, take a quick photo as you can be sure, if a dog doesn’t charge through it, a beach ball doesn’t land on it, you’ll probably step back on it and flatten it and of course the sea will take it in time anyway, which is part of the joy, because next time you are going to build it bigger and better!

Sand Art

In recent years there has been some spectacular designs and pictures created on beaches by professional artists, but you don’t need to be a professional to enjoy whiling away the hours drawing your own art in the sand.

Again damp sand makes this a lot easier, mark out the area you are going to use with a stick or spade, and then using the stick as pencil draw your patterns and pictures, once again you can add pebbles, shells and driftwood etc to your picture. Make use of all the different things you find on the beach to add texture and interest. Once complete take a photo for prosperity!

Sand Sculptures

You have probably seen pictures of fantastic sand sculptures that artists have created for competitions or displays. Why not give it a go, if you don’t want to build sand castle, see what you can mould instead.

You’ll need damp firm sand to mould and gradually build up your sculpture and then you can again add items foraged from the beach, so mermaid sculptures can have seashells adorning her top and seaweed as her hair, a pirate ship could have shell portholes and driftwood plank. Or a flying saucer could have pebbles as domes and doors, you and/or your children’s imaginations can go wild.

The great thing about all of these activities is that it doesn’t have to be a scorching hot day to go and have fun, in fact on a milder or overcast day you are more likely to have stretches of beach to yourself, just make sure you are dressed for the weather and obviously don’t go in bad weather.

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