Fun facts about the UK coast you probably didn’t know

As an Island nation, we owe our heritage and protection to our coastline. Here are some fun and interesting facts about the UK coast you probably don’t know

Ste Wright | 3 min read

As an Island nation, we owe our heritage and protection to our coastline. But how long is our coastline? Which town is furthest from the sea? How many Islands make up the British Isles? All of these answered. Read on to find out more.

Which town is furthest from the sea in the UK?

Located in Derbyshire with a population of just 896 people (according to the 2011 census), Coton in the Elms is the most landward town in the UK, being 70 miles from any seaside location.

The town of Coton isn’t just the furthest from the sea, it’s really old too. Dating back at least 1000 years, the town is mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1086.

How long is the UK coastline?

The Ordnance Survey places the lengh of the coastline of the United Kingdom as 11,073 miles. However, the British Cartographic Society point out that if the coastline includes the larger islands, and is measured at mean high water mark, the length of the coast rises to 19,491 miles. The CIA World Factbook puts the figure at 7,723 miles, with no information on how this is calculated.

The true answer is, it depends on who you ask!

Coastline on Northern Ireland
Coastline on Northern Ireland

How many islands are there in the British Isles?

Yet again, a subjective question, it’s hard to define the true count of the number of islands that make up the British Isles. A retired Hydrographic officer, Brian Adams says:

The islands of all sorts and sizes are, in the true sense of the word, innumerable. But considering only those which are 0.2 hectares (half an acre) or more in area and are islands at all states of the tide, the British Isles total about 4,400; of these about 210 are inhabited. An additional 6,100 are islands at high tide, consequently not all at the same time. The foregoing figures include respectively about 850, 70 and 1,000 which are in the Republic of Ireland.

—Brian Adams, How many islands are there in the British Isles?

The answer; well it could be 4,400 or 10,500 depending on what you class as an island or whether those islands are visible at all states of the tide or not!

How many lighthouses are there in the UK?

The England and Scotland’s coasts are made navigatable by some 266 lighthouses, most of which are maintained by the Northern Lighthouse Board which covers Scotland and the Isle of Man. The rest are the responsibility of Trinity House who maintain the lighthouses and ships of England, Wales and the Channel Islands.

Commissioners of Irish Lights
Commissioners of Irish Lights

Having historically being manned by one or more permanently stationed staff, all the lighthouses of the British Isles are now fully automated, taking advantage of solar and wind energy to generate a sizeable part of their energy requirement.

Some other quick fun facts about the UK’s seas

Here are some other quick fun facts about the UK coastline that you might not know:

  • The longest pier in England is Southend-On-Sea at a length of 2,158 metres
  • The longest pier in Wales in Llandudno at 699 metres, unique in that it was extended at the coast and not the end
  • There are 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland served by the RNLI
  • The longest tidal range in the UK is in the Bristol Channel
  • 60% of the UK’s coast is in Scotland and the Scottish islands
  • Holme Fen is the lowest land point in the UK, 3 metres below sea level

Your thoughts and comments