Things to do in the school holidays: Rock Pool Ramble

Things to do in the school holidays: Rock Pool Ramble

We spent the best couple of hours today on a Rock Pool Ramble organised by Polzeath Marine Conservation Association and led by their volunteers and those of the National Trust in North Cornwall.

Join marine experts, Polzeath volunteers, and National Trust rangers on one of our famous explorations of the shore! With dates throughout the year, you have a chance to discover the wonders of the rockpools, from rare Celtic sea slugs to stalked jellyfish and an abundance of crabs. Lead by National Trust Rangers.

We weren’t really quite sure what to expect but had a wonderful morning examining the rock pools, learning about all sorts of wildlife and having anything we found identified. The format was super casual – we were accompanied by loads of volunteers and rangers, which was particularly welcome as that meant we could concentrate on looking in the pools, knowing someone else was keeping an eye out for the tide. The team brought along a load of white buckets and specimen catchers and we all had a go before gathering round to see what everyone had found and have things identified.

If you are visiting Polzeath any time this is one not to miss – I learnt just as much as Pip and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. That said, you don’t *need* an organised ramble so I’ve shared some of tips below that I thought might be helpful if you’re going yourself. We will certainly be going again, both on the organised version and by ourselves.

What to bring

A beach in August will obviously be hot and sunny so no need to worry about being warm and dry… of course, this week has been anything but warm and dry, so first and foremost I would suggest a waterproof! You also will not want to worry about your feet – I bought some gloriously unstylish waterproof shoes from the local surf shop which were perfect. Pip insisted on wearing her Saltwater sandals which she will barely take off – had the weather been nicer I might have worn mine too, but I like to err on the side of being warm.

You will also need a bucket – we brought along a clear crabbing one that was great, and if you can get hold of a bigger white one that does make looking at some of the larger specimens easier. We were shown at the start how to be careful to not disturb the marine life – if you lift a stone, put it back, etc – and to not use nets but specimen scoopers (most of which had been made from cut off plastic bottles with taped edges and string handles, so super easy to make at home. There were also some clear plastic pots, probably hummus tubs or similar, so again, easy to get even if you’re on holiday.

We also benefitted from the spotters guide which we bought for 50p from the team, and they brought down some guide books to look through as well, which Pip was particularly taken with.

The rangers were all so knowledgeable and so friendly – Pip had loads of questions and they patiently ansered them all. The other benefit to an organised ramble such as this one was that they knew how and where to look for certain things – and were also able to identify without having to look it up which was particularly lovely. We spent some time with one of the volunteers that was on a university placement and she showed Pip a strawberry anenome and a daisy anenome and helped Pip feel the tentacles and explained how it caught its prey.

What did we find?

Well, we did see a Celtic sea cucumber which was super tiny, much more so than I expected.

That is a daisy anenome, but quite hard to spot at the back under the rocks in the middle.

Pip found several baby crabs – and other people found all manner of other different crabs, fish, shrimps, sea weed – and also sadly a few bits of plastic which we scooped out and took back to recycle.

We also saw a cushion starfish, the shell of a spider crab which had been abandoned when its owner needed to upscale to a larger model and the strange brain like roots of seaweed which had been ripped from its mooring in stormy weather.

All in all a fascinating day and one which I’d highly recommend.

Country Kids



  1. Lori August 9, 2017 / 9:59 am

    What a fab kids activity! I used to live exploring rock pools when I was a kid and have the best 80’s photo of me and my dad wrapped up with a book on rock pools! Sounds like a fab day spent outside x

  2. Alison August 9, 2017 / 11:16 am

    I love guided things like this as it really makes you look more closely and notice things you would have ordinarily walked past!

  3. Polly Davies August 9, 2017 / 1:10 pm

    What a great idea – my kids love rock pooling!

  4. Kim Carberry August 9, 2017 / 7:36 pm

    That looks like such a fun day. What a great idea. My girls love exploring rock pools but we never quite know what we’re finding. #CountryKids

  5. Cheryl TimeToCraft August 10, 2017 / 11:40 am

    Forget the children, I think I’d love to do this. OK, maybe I would bring the children too. Love the idea of using a clear pot to fish rather than a net. What amazing finds you made. #CountryKids

  6. Coombe Mill - Fiona Cambouropoulos August 10, 2017 / 5:08 pm

    I love this post. This is my local beach which we visit all the time. These days it is all about rock climbing, jumping off rocks, surfing and swimming, but I miss the days of just exploring the rock pools. Next time we visit I may just take a bucket and a net and go off exploring by myself, there is so much to see. I’ve not noticed so many jellyfish this year on the beach and in the sea, though I’m not complaining about that one, they are pretty to look at but can deliver a nasty sting! I’m super impressed with all the crabs you found and that pretty star fish shell. What a lovely way to spend a beach day, especially when it isn’t quite hot enough to just sunbath.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

  7. Slummy Single Mummy August 12, 2017 / 11:41 am

    Reading this kind of thing makes me really nostalgic and a teeny bit sad as my kids are too old now to get excited by rock pools. I guess I just have to wait for grandchildren!

  8. Laura Redburn August 12, 2017 / 7:10 pm

    ooh this looks so fun. would love to do this properly myself. i love that chart!

  9. Laura August 30, 2017 / 11:50 pm

    Beach time and exploring rock pools are always a firm favourite with my boys and I love how simple it is (and very cost efficient as well). The beach is a fantastic place for natural play for hours on end, we love it.

    Laura x

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