Touching the Tide

We are proud to support this three-year project celebrating and conserving the rich heritage of the Suffolk coast and increase understanding of coastal change. 

Schoolchildren outside
Touching the Tide volunteer
Schoolchildren in classroom

The Suffolk coast is one of the best loved landscapes in Britain. Its wild beauty and strong artistic tradition support a local tourism industry worth over £280 million a year. It is also one of the UK’s most dynamic coastal areas, with 46% of the shoreline eroding, while new beach is growing along 32% of coast.

Touching the Tide aims to help people make well informed choices about the future of our coast.”

Bill Jenman, Project Manager at Touching the Tide

Touching the Tide is a £900,000 Landscape Partnership Project to help people understand, explore and shape the future of Suffolk’s changing coast. It is funded primarily by the Heritage Lottery Fund and hosted by the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Suffolk County Council. Launched in spring 2013, all activities are designed to leave a lasting legacy.

Initiatives that The Crown Estate has supported through Touching the Tide include:

  • Training for volunteers in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including developing field naturalist skills such as bird watching and archaeological training. Local volunteers carry out a range of important tasks, from beach cleans, to coast and estuary wardening, and surveying and maintaining long distance routes like the Sandlings Way and the Suffolk Coast Path.
  • Cool Seas Investigators pilot project run by the Marine Conservation Society, encouraging young people to take action to reduce beach litter. 110 primary and secondary students took part in beach cleans, explored marine litter issues with experts and worked in teams to identify potential solutions for Suffolk. This project also led to the creation of a resource pack available for schools across the UK.
  • Archaeological surveys with Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. Three sample surveys at Bawdsey, Sizewell and Walberswickrevealed numerous World War Two structures that offer not only a fascinating insight into Britain’s preparations to prevent invasion but also the pace and extent of coastal change over the last 70 years.

In addition, The Crown Estate’s 2010 report "Art as a tool in the support of the understanding of coastal change in East Anglia" was one of the inspirations for Touching the Tide and ensured that the area’s artistic heritage became an important part of the project. Our report looked at the work of over 200 artists between 1770 and 1940 and charted the evolving shape of the Suffolk coastline.

Working with the Tidal Margins group of artists and writers, Touching the Tide ran several popular art programmes for adults and children. As a result of Tidal Margins’ work, more than 500 people have been able to play their part in continuing this tradition.  

10,000+ people

have participated so far

Bill Jenman, Project Manager at Touching the Tide, says: “Many people see coastal change as the biggest potential threat to this landscape, but the way that this coast has always been changing is also what makes it such a special place. Touching the Tide aims to help people make well informed choices about the future of our coast.”

Touching the Tide is supported by a range of partners, including local authorities, conservation and community organisations, statutory agencies, and committed individuals. The Crown Estate is the most significant funder after the Heritage Lottery Fund and we directly supported Cool Seas Investigators.

Further information

Touching the Tide website

Art and coastal change in East Anglia (2010) (PDF, 3.17 MB)