Although we often take it for granted, official public access to the whole of England's coast was only granted by law in 2009.
In theory, before then you may have been trespassing. But many large landowners either welcomed the public or turned a blind eye. Not so for some of the 2,000 people who had bought a private beach at the end of their garden, at considerable cost.
In the government review, a third of the coast was deemed to have no legal or recognised access. Some of the remainder either didn't have continuous paths or was of poor quality. In all, access should be provided to some 90% of the coast, the rest being used for military bases, ports and such like.
Natural England was given responsibility to create the England Coast Path, a continuous National Trail within a wildlife and landscape corridor. The Wales Coast Path opened in May 2012 and was the first route around a whole country's coastline.
The moon and the tides
Have you ever wondered why in the Mediterranean there is very little tide at all but in Britain there are very big differences between high and low water levels? The tide also varies arounf Britain's coast. The Bristol Channel has the second highest tidal range in the world, of more than 15m at Avonmouth. By contrast, at Lowestoft on the east coast the tide rarely exceeds a couple of metres.
The reason is because the tides are like long, low waves in the ocean that are created by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun, lifting the water. As that body of water nears the coast it can be funnelled into estuaries and between areas of land, causing it to rise more than in other places. And the Mediterranean’s narrow link to the Atlantic is part of the reason that the main tidal waves barely penetrate there.