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Building Sandcastles

Here is a step by step guide to building sandcastles at Poppit Sands.

The basic ingredients are pretty straight forward.  Its sand and water with perhaps a few decorations thrown in.   Probably the most important thing to learn is that you can’t do a lot with sand unless it’s wet.  The sand at Poppit Sands is pretty fine and on a hot dry day is pretty much liquid.  Wet sand sticks together and is much easier to work with.

The more you work the sand the quicker it will lose the water content and revert back to the stuff that you can’t do much with !  However compacted down sand can be used for carving and modelling.

So we need some water.  The tide can be a long way away at Poppit Sands at times, so you are either going to have to build your sandcastle  further down the beach,  build need the rock pools or dig a nice deep hole and allow it to fill with water.  This is my favoured method since you are not carrying water across the beach.  You have to dig fairly deep when near the sand dunes at low tide.

So we have plenty of sand and water.  You need to use lots of water, one part water to one part sand would be a good starting point, but within reason anything around those figures would be good and of course it depends on how far you are having to carry the water.

Equipment.  Spade is essential, bucket (multiple is best) for all that water and perhaps mixing the sand and water together and something to carve with. Adding the finer details really finishes off your sandcastle and sets it apart from the others on the beach J  Plastic kitchen implements are good, especially for kids but to be honest anything with a handle and edge is fine.

How to build. 

The traditional method of pile it all up with a spade, compact it down and carve out the structure is the way we were all taught to build sandcastles.  This works well if you make sure you add plenty of the h2o as discussed above.   At this point its worth noting that your best piece of equipment you can use is your HANDS !

Alternatively you can mix sand and water and build your structure one handful at a time.  This gives a much better structure which you can do lots more with.

What to build.

There are 3 main elements to building.

Towers –  The best method is to build is to mix lots of wet sand need by or extract from your hole and quickly keep scooping onto the top of the tower and compress down after each handful.  More water in the tower the longer it should last!

Walls –  Pretty much the same the build method as towers but just move along rather than up.

Arches – Start by building two towers.  The rest is a little difficult to explain, but basically start building out from each tower towards the centre.  Ultimately you are looking to support the tower whist building (second pair of hands might be useful here)  until you can get the last centre blob of sand in place that acts as a keystone and holds it all together.  When doing your first arch, start with the towers close together until you have some experience!

So now you have the building blocks you just need some creativity.  There are a few books on the subject and loads of images on Google to copy.  Good Luck and enjoy.