Sailors' Library

Coastwise

By Peter Firstbrook

Published by Fernhurst Books (2021)

With more than 11,000 miles of coastline, which is as long as France, Germany, Spain and Portugal put together, the UK’s edgeland is the most diverse in the world, according to Peter Firstbrook.

It has 6,289 islands – more than Greece – 600 species of seaweed, 32,462 hectares of salt marsh and 300 species of fish.

Peter’s been crunching the numbers to produce this beautifully illustrated love letter to the British coast. 

He walks us along the beach explaining how waves form, how to find fossils and even how to extricate yourself from quicksand. It’s a tour which takes in geology, geography and biology, with a list of walks, their length and what you can see.

There are sections on the history of commercial trade, defence from forts to warships and seaside resorts.

Surprisingly there are also 40 species of shark in UK waters, a number that’s likely to increase to 41 soon, as Peter told me he believes, that, thanks to global warming, it’s only a question of time before the Great White pays the English Channel a visit!

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