56. Watch the tide go out

Free to do
Can do in my area
No planning needed
All year round
Great for little'uns with parents (under 6)

or refine by category!

See the river bulge and sink as much as 14 metres in one day!

Slow down
Two people on a beach with the tide out

Why do it?

Bristol's tidal range - the difference between the highest and lowest tide - is an awesome 14 metres. That's as tall as three double decker buses stacked on top of each other! This can change in the space of six hours and it is an amazing sight.

Bristol has the second largest tidal range in the world, and the largest in Europe. It has shaped the history of Bristol - it's landscape, the sea port, and as a place of nature and recreation.

The spring high and low tide contrast is amazing in the Bristol area.

How to do this in Bristol

There are a number of places in Bristol where you can see the high tides.

Be alert, careful and get clued up on where you are going before you start - rivers are amazing but they are also incredibly dangerous if you're not on the case.

Find out the tide times and get yourself somewhere where you can see the river – make sure you aren't on the Floating Harbour though – the tide doesn't go in and out there so you’ll be waiting a long time.

Or use the Tide Times website to find more locations to watch the tide go out.

This website will show you the predicted tide times for Avonmouth Docks for the next seven days.

On this website you can find a table which shows the times of tides in Avonmouth and if they will be average or more extreme. So on the same day as a really high the low tide will be good for exploring (safely) in certain places.

You might see driftwood and other things that may have been carried for may miles on ocean currents from as America and other parts of the world.

What you will need

  • Access to online information (smart phone, computer or library)

  • Access to transport (bike, train, bus, car share) (depending where you live you could walk to some good tide watching places

  • Maps (paper or on device)

  • Equipment for an outdoor walk (coat, boots)

  • Five or so hours time

  • Food if you want to spend hours doing this (recommended)

  • Rucksack or similar to take provisions and to bring back found objects

Safety tips

There are only certain places where it's safe to collect driftwood so make sure you have chosen a safe place for this and do not do this one alone. Be careful where you walk and avoid the mud and sand bars which can suck you in and are very, very dangerous. Be aware of the tide times, and give yourself plenty of time to get back to higher ground before the tide comes in. As you enjoy exploring always keep in mind how you are going to get back.

Don’t be tempted to go for a swim, there are some very strong currents and it is very dangerous.

Always let an adult know where and when you are going, and tell them what time you expect to be back.

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