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St Bees has a mile long sweep of sand leading to the rocks of the red sandstone St Bees Heads. There is a large tidal range, and the tide can recede 400 metres from the shingle. The prevailing wind is from the south west. Only if the wind is offshore or from the North, is there any protection in rough weather. This has advantages for some, and not for others.

There is public access to the beaches at Seacote and Seamill, and there is a concrete slip at the Seacote beach, but this is only covered at high tide. This slip and its immediate access road should be vacated immediately after launching/retrieving to allow lifeboat access. The sand is firm enough for easy towing of towing/launching trolleys with four wheel drive vehicles.

Vehicles and launching trolleys must be returned to car park and launching ramp kept clear at all times for the lifeboat.


Due to the gradually shelving beach, the prevailing wind and the large tidal range, launching sailing boats from St Bees beach is difficult. Dinghies up to Mirror size can be launched from man-handled launching trolleys, but the sea can be a long way out! Dinghies up to 16 feet could be launched with a trailer and four wheel drive vehicle, but the old adage stands - when there's wind, there's surf, so you have to launch through it.

Dinghy sailors are advised to enquire at Whitehaven or Maryport for slip launching, but note that north of St Bees Head, the Solway has a large tidal range and strong currents.

Keel boats should avoid coming close in at St Bees.

Rescue facilities

There is an RNLI inshore lifeboat station at St Bees.