Britain’s best natural sea pools (which appear out of nowhere at low tide)


September has the warmest sea temperature on average in the UK, but even if the sun is out, storms at sea can ruin our swimming plans. Huge waves reaching the shore can put an end to the calm pond-like waters typical of the summer months. However, there is a way for the whole family to keep bathing on Britain’s beaches this season… in the tidal pools, one of the great secret treasures of our coastline.

Some are only slightly larger than rock pools; others are gargantuan spaces you can swim through, but all are on rocky shores. There are around 65 sea pools along the UK coastline. Each basin is uncovered at low tide, then disappears again at high tide, then reappears, as if by magic, a few hours later, its crystal clear water refreshed by the tide twice a day. These safe, free-flowing turquoise lagoons gained popularity in the Victorian era, when people discovered the health benefits of salt water.

With its rugged coastline, Cornwall is the capital of the UK’s tidal pools, with at least 10 on its shores, but these ephemeral spaces are also found in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Due to erosion, small walls or dams may have been added to these natural phenomena, so that people can continue to enjoy them.

Here’s where to swim, whatever the rough seas, this season…

Pool of the chapel

Polperro, Cornwall

This enchanting sea pool is hidden in the rocks off the main coastal path just out of Polperro, heading west past the Blue Peter Inn. It has been used by generations of local children who come to this safe space to learn to swim. There are steps to help you reach it. Take a blanket if you want to sit by the pool as there are lots of barnacles.

How to do: The Talland Bay Hotel has sea views and a garden full of subtropical plants (01503 272667; Rooms from £160


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