We spent Father’s Day afternoon on Sandy Haven Beach. Dave worked during the morning, then for one of his “Father’s Day treats” he had the chance to choose our trip for what was left of the day. I’m sure he had the kids interests in mind though when he chose a beach, as in our house (like many others I’m sure) happy kids equal happy parents!
Sandy Haven is one of our closest beaches, there is a circular coastal path walk from our home in Gelliswick to there. I keep planning to make this one of my regular running routes. When I taught at a local federated school here, the children from the different bases, all walked from each school and met up here, which was a lovely school day.
There is a narrow single track road from the pretty village of Herbrandston that takes you to the free car park.
Adjacent to the car park is Sandy Haven Caravan Park. I imagine it is a lovely park to stay in when holidaying in Pembrokeshire, being only a stones throw away from the beach. Friends of ours keep their caravan there permanently and have enjoyed many years of family, unspoilt seaside fun.
We grabbed our “always in the car boot” buckets and spades and ran down to the beach. On first arrival, we were on the wide estuary creek rather than the beach side. I always feel impatient to walk around and get to the sea so that I feel like I’m at a “proper beach”.
Along the way we passed crabs, sea creatures and the beautiful seaside fauna.
When we get to the sea, then it suddenly feels like home for me, even when the tide is quite far out. The sounds of the distant waves and the sea breeze instantly have a relaxing effect.
Just imagine the views from that caravan.
I sat down to watch them play and thought of all the memories I have of coming to Sandy Haven as a child and also as a mum. I remember making each of the kids shell rattles to play with on the beach when they were babies. As they got older, they would thread holey shells onto string or rope to make seashell necklaces too.
Then we went to the crabbing bridge for a spot of crabbing, which is a popular family activity at Sandy Haven. This was our first time on the new bridge and although we were really sad to see the old stepping stones removed, I can see that the new bridge is more practical and also means that buggies and wheelchairs can be taken onto the crabbing bridge (with care of course) now too.
We hadn’t planned this activity so hadn’t packed our crabbing lines. We had a quick look on the beach for old string and rope which we can usually find, but had no luck. By the time I got to the bridge, Danny and Caitlyn had already donated their shoeslaces to be the family crabbing lines. Some people bring bacon as bait, but we always use mussels that we find on the shore. Finding them is part of the fun for the kids too.
For any readers that haven’t “crabbed before”, we tie the mussel “meat” to the shoelace, lower the bait into the sea and watch as the crabs come out from under the bridge to eat it. Once they are safely attached to our line we pull them out from the water. When we have our net with us, we put this under to avoid the crab falling off, but on this occasion, we put them straight in the bucket. We then let them go off the crab bridge or off the sandy shore. Then the kids do it again, and again…
I prefer to just watch them in the water- can you spot the crabs?
Seagulls love crabbing too. We saw them catch and eat a few while we were there. They’re surprisingly vicious, but it’s a good lesson on the natural animal food chain for the kids (never an easy one for me as a vegetarian though).
We say goodbye to our crustacean friends. Caitlyn named everyone she found, Rhys!
I love seeing them scuttle sideways back into the sea! They are fascinating creatures. Crabbing can be a fun, learning experience for children and mean that the crabs are well fed too, which they seem to enjoy.
Crabbing is number 39 on the National Trust’s 50 Things list.
Our tips for crabbing are:
- Bring a crabline (or shoe lace!), a net and a bucket (the wider ones are best).
- On the beach, first use a smaller bucket to collect your “bait” (mussels in our case).
- Fill a larger bucket half full of seawater.
- Put your bait onto your line and lower it onto the seabed. Watch and wait.
- Once you have caught a crab, bring your line out of the water slowly. Place a net underneath the line in case the crab falls off.
- Place the crab gently into the bucket of seawater.
- Do not overfill your bucket, as crabs don’t like to be overcrowded. Current guidelines are no more than ten crabs at one time. However, some organisations suggest no more than two in each bucket (if you’re worried about two males fighting then stick to one at a time).
- Keep your crab bucket directly out of the sunlight. Place a shade over them if needed and add some seaweed to the sea water so they can hide under it.
- Let your crabs go as soon as possible so they don’t get distressed. Choose a place close to the water’s edge, not too close to seagulls and not with a high ledge.
- If you release two or more crabs at once you can each choose a crab and have crab races to see who’s crab gets into the water first.
- Enjoy learning about them but be kind to the crabs.
A fun afternoon was had by all and all for the price of a shoelace- family fun on a shoe string indeed!