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Sea Glass Hunting

Sea glass hunting is a wonderful pastime. Whether searching for material for your creative pursuits, or just collecting it to take home and admire, searching for sea glass is good for the mind and soul. What can be more enjoyable than whiling away a sunny afternoon, treasure hunting on the beach to the sound of the waves crashing?

Close up view of sea glass collected at Charmouth

I began my sea glass journey as a collector and during the pandemic progressed to artist, giving up my day job to follow my dream and become a full-time business owner in October 2021. On this page, as well as inspiring you with my own sea glass creations, I hope to share some of the things I have learnt, review some of the UK’s best sea glass beaches and offer top tips on how to get the most out of your own sea glass hunts. Come on a journey with me to discover how someone who lives in the most central part of the UK became a full-time coastal creator! Just a little disclaimer before you read on though, sea glass hunting can be hugely addictive!

The Benefits of Sea Glass Hunting

If you want to relax, de-stress, and connect with nature, I can’t think of a more perfect activity than packing your trowel and heading off on a sea glass hunt. Many of the people I meet through my work often share with me their love of collecting sea glass and common themes include childhood memories of family holidays at the seaside, the excitement of spotting a flash of colour amongst the pebbles and marvelling at how the sea has smoothed a discarded piece of junk into a precious gem.

If you haven’t yet tried it for yourself, and you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, you might be interested in my blog post, outlining the positive effects beachcombing can have on our mental health and wellbeing.

Sea Glass Beach Map of the UK

Since discovering this guide to the best sea glass beaches in the UK (thank you so much to Karin Lambert for creating it) it has become my mission to visit as many of these as I can and review them.

This map was created using the joint knowledge and experience of the Sea Glass Hunters UK Facebook group and I have added my own reviews below. As with most things in life, your own experiences might be different but it's a good startSo why not join me on my journey as I take a look at the ones I have visited so far?

Sea Glass Beaches in the North of England - Seaham Beach

Without doubt, Seaham has the reputation for being the best sea glass beach in the UK. It attracts visitors from across the globe due to the rare and unique qualities of the glass that can be found there. You can check out my blog post to discover more about the infamous 'Seaham Multi'.

Seaham's back story is a fascinating one. How did this little seaside town, tucked in amongst north east mining communities, become the sea glass Mecca that it is today? The short answer is the town was once home to a thriving glass making industry, housing the giant Londonderry Bottle Works, which operated from the 1850s to 1921. It is the discarded glass from this factory, and the rough waves of the powerful North Sea that has, over time, created the smooth, colourful sea glass you can find there today. I have shared some insight into how to get the most from a trip to Seaham in this blog post.

Sea Glass Beaches in the South of England - Portishead Beach

Portishead is a surprisingly great location for sea glass hunting in England.

It's a small town located on the Bristol Channel and the beaches around Portishead and Clevedon are known to produce a good amount of sea glass in a variety of colours.

 

If, like me, you live in the Midlands, this is probably your nearest option for a sea glass hunt and it makes for a fabulous day out.

 

I explored a few of the beaches in and around the Portishead area when I visited and you can read a review of my day in my blog.

Sea Glass Beaches in the South of England - Charmouth Beach

Charmouth Beach, located in Dorset, England, is another renowned location for sea glass hunting. The Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stretches along the coastline here, and the constant erosion of the cliffs exposes a treasure trove of sea glass and fossils.

 

Much of the glass at Charmouth beach originates from Victorian era bottles and china and has been tumbled in the waves for decades, even centuries, resulting in very smooth, frosted glass and interesting pottery finds. You can read a review of my trip to Charmouth Beach in my blog post.

 

Just a word of caution, there are regular reports of coastal erosion at Charmouth, and there have been recent serious cliff falls which sometimes close the beach. Check the current situation of this before you travel and always be vigilant when visiting this area.

Sea Glass Beaches in Wales – Morfa Beach, Conwy

Conwy Morfa Beach is a large and scenic beach located on the southern side of the Conwy estuary in North Wales. It's a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, offering a variety of activities and beautiful views.


I have collected glass and pottery at Morfa Beach a couple of times as it’s an easy place to visit when we’re walking in Snowdonia. There is a fair amount of glass and old pottery there, which can be found by searching the shingle towards the back of the beach, though the pieces tend to be much larger and far less tumbled than I’ve found elsewhere.

It's thought that the glass and pottery on Morfa Beach probably originates from an old Victorian dump located nearby and there are some really lovely examples of aqua blues there, often referred to as ‘Mermaid’s Tears Sea Glass’. Learn more about how to plan a trip to Morfa Beach, Conwy in this blog post.

Sea Glass Around the World

As an avid collector of sea glass, I search for it whenever I visit the coast and have brought pieces back with me from nearly every holiday I’ve ever been on. I’m fascinated by the variations in colour, texture and size that I see on my travels. I have also started to store my global collections separately, so if you’d like your artwork to be made from glass collected in the Caribbean Sea or from the heart of Tuscany, just ask!

 

Click here to read more about a hidden gem I discovered in Italy.

Is it illegal to take sea glass?

The coastline of England and Wales is covered by the Coast Protection Act 1949 (there is a separate act for Scotland) and any natural materials found at the shoreline are considered protected and should not be removed. This includes sand and pebbles but sea glass does not fall into this category as it isn’t considered a natural material.

 

Having said that, when searching for sea glass, particularly when digging, please respect the beach by minimising disturbance to the habitats of animals as well as the natural formation of the sea defences.

I found this helpful article on the BBC Countryfile page which gives further information on what to look for as well as guidance on responsible beachcombing.

How to Stay Safe and get the most out of your sea glass hunt

Beachcombing is a great activity and one that I have enjoyed in all weathers, however, as with any coastal activity, there are things to be aware of. You should be particularly mindful of weather conditions, cliff falls, tidal movement, rough sea and pollution to name just a few.

 

Whilst the sea glass map is a great guide for finding the best beaches, you’re not always guaranteed a huge haul on your visit to the coast. The tide changes with the seasons and each new day brings a fresh new landscape to the beach. I have noticed this myself at Seaham where some days the beach has been covered in shingle and others a powdery sand (lovely for holidays but less favourable for sea glass). Check out my blog to read more top tips on how to stay safe whilst beachcombing and what to plan to get the most out of your trip.

Collecting Sea Glass Responsibly

Just a final word on protecting our oceans. It is important to think about not just what you take from the ocean, but also what you leave behind. Anything that ends up on the beach, likely ends up being washed out to sea so please collect any rubbish when you leave, including clearing up after any dogs that are helping you search.

 

If you’re feeling particularly responsible, why not organise a beach clean? Take along a few bags, some friends and family, and collect any rubbish that you encounter whilst you are beachcombing.

 

I hope you have enjoyed discovering more about this fascinating pastime, many thanks for reading. If you’re looking for inspiration, please visit my shop for everything from cute and quirky gift inspiration to beautiful pieces of artwork for your home. All of my pieces are hand made using sea glass I have beachcombed on my travels and please send me a message if you’d like me to make something personal and bespoke to you.

 

Do you have a sea glass hoard and need some creative inspiration? Why not try one of my sea glass starter kits?

Helen x

The Benefits of Sea Glass Hunting
Sea Glass Map of the UK
A map of the UK detailing beaches where sea glass can be found and ranking them according to availability of sea glass
Gallery of 4 images showing multicoloured pieces of sea glass found at Seaham Beach
A lone figure on a sandy beach
Is it illegal to take sea glass?
How to collect sea glass responsibly
How to stay safe when collecting sea glass
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