Time and Tides

A number of the walks described in this blog follow the coast and therefore will be impacted on by the tides. The tide cycle will almost always affect the opportunities for wildlife spotting and change the coastal landscape. However, in extreme cases, they may make certain routes impossible or ill advised.

Bearing in mind the general dearth of rights of way for the foot traveller in NI, you will often find yourself relegated to the foreshore, the strip of land between spring low and high tides. Generally this is crown property and public access is permitted. However, by definition, there will be times at high tide (and onshore strong winds)  when access is impossible or at least ill-advised. Hence, when walking on the coast check the tides and avoid walks which are limited to the foreshore in places at high spring tides or in high winds.

Checking the tides in advance is much easier nowadays with online tidal predictions readily available either on the web or via smartphone apps. Free data tends to be limited to about a week ahead so if you are arranging a walk some time in the future you may need to use  a paid service.

Finally, tidal predictions will be for specific ports and not individual points on the coast. As high tide times can vary substantially along the coast it is wise to check times for points either side of your walk unless your are close to a listed port.

I have found the websites / apps below useful in the past (please note this is not a ‘product endorsement’- see our post on “Opinions not Endorsements”  for further explanation of this issue).

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By Charlie Reid

Walker, Orienteer and general outdoors person. Interested in practical green technology, map making, history and the future.

Holywood blow-in and editor of walking blog "Grand Day Out (NI)"