The Shipping Forecast

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The forecast for inshore waters


The BBC’s ‘Shipping Forecast’ on Radio 4 has been broadcast for more than 150 years. For early risers, shift workers, insomniacs and others awake at an early hour, the 0520hrs [UK local time] broadcast ends with a forecast for inshore waters of the United Kingdom, up to 12 miles [19.3 km] offshore, and it can provide a poetic or even lulling and soporific period of calm. The format is very precise, with information on details of forecast wind direction and force, weather, visibility and sea state e.g.:-
Wind - Variable, mainly west or southwest 3 or 4, occasionally 5 at first.
Sea state - Smooth or slight.
Weather - Mainly fair.
Visibility - Moderate or good.

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There are 17 areas defined by coastal landmarks/features, beginning at Cape Wrath and proceeding around the UK in a clockwise direction, departing from the Isle of Man to take in the coast of Northern Ireland, before returning to Scotland at the Mull of Galloway. In some versions there is an 18th area for the Minch and Outer Hebrides]. They are illustrated here, by photographs from Geograph, of each of the landmarks, and an intermediate point or two.

1.Cape Wrath to Rattray Head including Orkney

NC2574 : Cape Wrath Lighthouse by Anne Burgess
The name Cape Wrath is said to be Norse, from 'hvarf' meaning 'sea'.
by Anne Burgess


HY2328 : Cliffs and Skerries by Anne Burgess
This is the east end of the cliffs on the Brough of Birsay; the land slopes gently down to the east from here.
by Anne Burgess

HY6101 : Copinsay Lighthouse en passant. by Des Colhoun
It is obvious from the cliff decor that the seabirds have had a busy nesting season.
by Des Colhoun

HY4955 : Mull Head by Lis Burke
The cliffs of Mull Head, part of the North Hill RSPB reserve on Papa Westray
by Lis Burke

2.Rattray Head to Berwick-upon-Tweed

NK1157 : Rattray Head Lighthouse by Anne Burgess
The lighthouse and the rocks it stands on are the only land in this square. The GPS told me I was in square when I took the shot, which is just as well because the tide was rising and the rocky causeway is amazingly slippery!
by Anne Burgess

NK1157 : Rattray Head by Martyn Gorman
Sand dunes overlooking the beach and lighthouse at Rattray Head on the coast between the fishing ports of Peterhead and Fraserburgh.
by Martyn Gorman

NO7626 : The Bell Rock Lighthouse by Derek Robertson
Situated 11 miles out from Arbroath the Bell Rock Lighthouse was built 200 years ago by Robert Stevenson upon the infamous Inchcape reef. At high water the reef is hidden about 12 foot below the water level, at low water it is 4 foot above the sea.
by Derek Robertson

NT6599 : Isle of May by Jerzy Morkis
The Isle of May, known locally as the May Isle or simply 'The May', is a National Nature Reserve, situated around 8km off the East Neuk of Fife coast.
by Jerzy Morkis

3.Berwick-upon-Tweed to Whitby

NU0152 : A rough sea at Berwick Pier by Walter Baxter
A photographer at the lighthouse was after waves crashing against the pier. I was expecting him to get a soaking but he somehow managed to stay dry.
by Walter Baxter

NU2904 : South Steel of Coquet Island by Russel Wills
The entrance to Warkworth Harbour at Amble is on the left.
by Russel Wills

4.Whitby to Gibraltar Point

NZ8911 : Whitby Harbour Lighthouses by David Dixon
The two Grade II listed lighthouses on Whitby's piers. Viewed from the West Pier Extension.
by David Dixon

NZ8911 : Whitby : Harbour entrance by Jim Osley
Features two Grade II listed disused lighthouses - West Pier (1831) : LinkExternal link - East Pier (1854) : LinkExternal link.
by Jim Osley

5.Gibraltar Point to North Foreland

TF5557 : Gibraltar Point, former marshes and site of Wainfleet Harbour: aerial 2017 by Chris
Behind the most recent seawall the previous shoreline runs across the field. To the right of it, where the River Steeping runs out to sea, is the area believed to be the location of the historic Wainfleet Harbour.
by Chris

TF5656 : River Steeping tributary by Ian Paterson
The sands rise quite markedly on the opposite side of the bank which permits the water from adjoining channels to join the fast-flowing current of the River Steeping at low tide.
by Ian Paterson

6.North Foreland to Selsey Bill

TV2488 : Rampion Wind Farm by M J Richardson
A large wind farm in the English Channel, about 11km south of Brighton. One at lower left is attended by a service boat.
by M J Richardson

7.Selsey Bill to Lyme Regis

SZ8592 : Beach at Selsey Bill by Mike Smith
This stony and somewhat unattractive beach is at the most southerly point in Sussex, known as Selsey Bill. Unlike other similar points around the Country, there are no visitor amenities here.
by Mike Smith

SZ8592 : Beach at Selsey Bill by Marathon
Ian Nairn writing about Selsey in the Buildings of England says "Somehow very English, in the inconsequential way it has muddled through with its topography. Like Dunwich, it was originally an important town in Saxon England which has been affected by coastal erosion; like Dunwich, it still looks as though half of it is missing. It was the see of a Saxon bishop. The see moved to Chichester only in 1075. Since Domesday about half a mile has been eroded from Selsey Bill, and therefore the legend of a 'cathedral under the sea' is almost certainly true.

The village developed about half a mile inland from the Bill, with its church at Church Norton. In the early 19th century it began to expand, moved the nave arcades into a new church in the village, and left the chancel by itself in the old churchyard. Then the 20th century came... today's Selsey is one main street .. which runs straight on to the sea and stops abruptly without pier or esplanade."

This view is from a point immediately east of Selsey Bill where the coastline swings back towards the north-east. The thunderstorm seen ahead stayed further inland.
by Marathon

SZ7485 : East Solent, Nab Tower by David Dixon
The Nab Tower was one of eight towers planned for anti-submarine protection in The Solent in World War I. However, the project proved to be too expensive and by the end of the war in 1918 only one had been completed. In 1920 the completed tower was towed to the Nab rock in the deep-water approach to the eastern Solent which had previously been marked by a lightship. Buoyancy was provided by the honeycomb construction of the concrete base, creating 18 watertight compartments. When these were flooded, the structure sank and settled to rest at an angle of 3 degrees from vertical towards the northeast - a characteristic tilt which is obvious to this day.

The tower was originally manned as a lighthouse, and during World War II it provided some defence to the Solent approach. The lighthouse is still functional but since 1983 it has been unmanned. It was converted to solar power operation in 1995. LinkExternal link Trinity House

The tower is located at 50.66749733°N 0.951162862°W LinkExternal link
by David Dixon

8.Lyme Regis to Land's End, including the Isles of Scilly

SY3492 : Landslip between Charmouth and Lyme Regis by Nigel Mykura
This shows the view from on the landslip itself 15m above sea level. looking east along the beach towards Charmouth and Golden Cap
by Nigel Mykura

SX3833 : Eddystone lighthouse by Steve  Fareham
The lighthouse stands 14 miles off Plymouth the stump is the remains of Smeaton's Tower now built on Plymouth Hoe. The helipad was constructed in 1980 the light was the first of Trinity House's lights to be automated and the keepers withdrawn.
The photo was taken from boat 1 of 3 boats chartered by the Association of Lighthouse Keepers.
LinkExternal link
by Steve Fareham

SW2611 : Wolf Rock Lighthouse by John Lucas
Viewed from the Scillonian III ferry en-route from Hugh Town to Penzance.
by John Lucas

Isles of Scilly

SV8608 : Rock in Annet Neck by Oliver Dixon
Rock in the channel to the south of Annet. Beyond can be seen the Western Rocks, with (to the right) Great Crabawethan SV8307 and Bishop Rock SV8006.
by Oliver Dixon

SV9109 : Carrickstarne, Peninnis Head, St. Mary's by Bob Embleton
Taken from near the lighthouse with Gilstone Ledges in the distance.
by Bob Embleton

SV9415 : St Martin's Head by Richard Croft
Chapel Down and St Martin's Head from the Tresco - Penzance helicopter
by Richard Croft

9.Land's End to St David's Head, including the Bristol Channel

SW3425 : Dr Syntax's Head from Maen Castle by Graham Horn
Dr Syntax's Head is the most westerly point of the Land's End complex. Dr Syntax was a fictitious schoolmaster in books of the 1830s, and it is thought that the head was named after the shape of his chin. Well, that's what this story says anyway! LinkExternal link

In the distance is/are Longships, a group of rocks about two kilometres from the shore and, despite having a lighthouse, causing many shipwrecks over the years.
by Graham Horn

SW3425 : Dr Syntax's Head, Land's End by Philip Halling
The rocky headland of Dr Syntax's Head at Land's End.
by Philip Halling

SW3425 : Cliffs at Land's End by Philip Halling
Cliffs below at Land's End Hotel which can be seen on the cliff top.
by Philip Halling

the Bristol Channel

SS1244 : Lundy west coast from the Old battery by Richard Croft
The west coast of Lundy looking south from Battery Point - a bleak and windswept place
by Richard Croft

ST2264 : Flat Holm by M J Richardson
From the northeast, en route to Cardiff.
by M J Richardson

SS3887 : Worm's Head by Dave Farmer
Worm's Head is accessible via a causeway that is open about 2 1/2 hours either side of low tide. It's a National nature reserve owned jointly by the National Trust and the Countryside Council for Wales.
by Dave Farmer

SM7405 : Rat Bay, Skokholm by Hugh Venables
Looking across to Skomer.
by Hugh Venables

10.St David's Head to Great Orme Head, including St George's Channel

SM7227 : View southeast from St David's Head by Natasha Ceridwen de Chroustchoff
Beyond this fortified promontory lie the two headlands of Penlledwen and Trwynhrwddyn; further on behind the curve of Whitesands beach the Burrows sand dune area can be discerned. On the skyline juts the rocky outcrop of Clegy'r Boia, another Iron Age camp a kilometre SW of St David's: the intervisibility between these two vantage points may well have been significant.
by Natasha Ceridwen de Chroustchoff

SM7227 : St Davids Head by John Duckfield
View of Ramsey Island from St Davids Head
by John Duckfield

SH1020 : The south west coast of Bardsey by David Medcalf
Looking south across the bay of Ogof Lladron [The Cave of the Thieves] to the rocks at Maen Du [Black Stone].
by David Medcalf

SH1121 : Bardsey Island by Jeremy Bolwell
The third largest offshore island in Wales (at about 500 acres) and reaching a height of 548 ft or 167 m. It lies almost 2 miles offshore. It was first settled in the Neolithic period and is supposed to be the site of the burials of '20,000 saints', having had a monastery established by Saint Cadfan in around 516 AD. Today it is a wildlife and bird haven and an SSSI and NNR and home to Manx Shearwaters and Atlantic Grey Seals.
by Jeremy Bolwell

SH2694 : West  Mouse and the Skerries by Ray West
West Mouse in the foreground and the Skerries in the background.
Taken on a clear cold windy winter's day.
by Ray West

11.Great Orme Head to Mull of Galloway

SH7781 : West Shore in a gale by Richard Hoare
The Great Orme stands out against a very grey sky.
Storm Clodagh.
by Richard Hoare

SH7176 : Conwy Bay by Steve  Fareham
In the distance is The Great Orme headland
by Steve Fareham

SH7584 : Derelict lookout by Jonathan Wilkins
One of a number of small shelters shown on my old 1:25000 scale map. The construction of the roof is identical to the gun emplacements, although the walls are of stone and not concrete. It is therefore likely that this is one of the installations used for radio direction finding, or observation of the artillery range. Another possibility is a coastguard lookout marked on the map but not precisely located.
by Jonathan Wilkins

SD1462 : Walney Offshore Windfarm by David Dixon
Several kilometres out in the Irish Sea, the wind farm began operating in 2006 and is currently being extended with a second phase. The nearest land is Walney Island.

For information see LinkExternal link (Morecambe Bay Partnership)
by David Dixon

NX4533 : View from Burrow Head by Andy Farrington
As far south as you can go on the Machars and second to the Mull of Galloway as the most southerly point in Scotland. Looking east across the Solway Firth.
by Andy Farrington

NX2533 : Big Scare to Little Scare by Andy Farrington
Looking across towards the Little Scares from Big Scare.
by Andy Farrington
Shared Description

12.Isle of Man

SC1465 : Calf of Man, Lower Lighthouse by M J Richardson
One of two built by Robert Stevenson in 1818 to steer ships clear of Chicken Rock. Now disused.
by M J Richardson

NX4605 : The Point of Ayre by James T M Towill
'The Winkie' Light and the shingle banks at the Point of Ayre, the Isle of Man's most northerly point.
by James T M Towill

NX4605 : Point of Ayre lighthouse by Trevor Rickard
This lighthouse sits on the gravel spit at the most northerly point of the Isle of Man. Owing to the continuous accumulation of shingle deposited by the strong currents, this smaller light (referred to as a 'winkie') had to be built 750 feet to the seaward side of the main tower in 1899. It was then repositioned a further 250 feet in the same direction in 1950.
LinkExternal link
by Trevor Rickard

SC3572 : Near Port Soderick by Andy Stephenson
The boat is the Laxey Towing Company steam boat Karina
by Andy Stephenson

13.Lough Foyle to Carlingford Lough (covers the entire coastline of Northern Ireland)

J2509 : Haulbowline Light by Eric Jones
Haulbowline Light at the entrance to Carlingford Lough is no longer the vital navigation aid it once was. Light is now only shown during hours of darkness.
LinkExternal link
by Eric Jones

J6753 : The disused South Rock Light by Eric Jones
Originally known as the Kilwarlin Lighthouse, the South Rock lighthouse dating from 1797 has been unlit for the last 130 years. In 1877 it was replaced by a lightship stationed on the North Rock, 3kms to the north. Owned by the Commissioners of Irish Lights it stands on a reef 5km east of Kearney.
LinkExternal link
by Eric Jones

J6086 : Mew Island Lighthouse by Rossographer
Mew Island as seen from the water to the north of the lighthouse. Since my last visit here the light has been changed to a solar powered LED.
by Rossographer
Shared Description

D1050 : Stroanlea Point by Bob Jones
Dramatic cliffs on the south side of Rathlin Island.
by Bob Jones

J1911 : Sunrise over Carlingford lough by Norman McMullan
Taken from Carlingford with the
Mourne Mountains in Background
by Norman McMullan

J1316 : The village of Omeath, Co Louth seen across Carlingford Lough from Rostrevor, Co Down by Eric Jones
The village stands on the lower slopes of the Cooley Mountains.
by Eric Jones

14.Mull of Galloway to Mull of Kintyre, including the Firth of Clyde and the North Channel

NX1530 : Mull Of Galloway Lighthouse by James T M Towill
A view of Scotland's most southerly lighthouse on a beautiful April afternoon.
by James T M Towill

NX1530 : Lagvag Point by Billy McCrorie
Most southerly part of Scotland.
by Billy McCrorie

Firth of Clyde

NX0299 : Ailsa Craig from the air by Thomas Nugent
Foreland Point is in the foreground. Viewed from 23,000 feet from a commercial flight from Glasgow to Dublin.
by Thomas Nugent

NS1238 : The Isle of Arran Ferry by David Dixon
Caledonian MacBrayne's drive-through ferry "MV Isle of Arran" making the crossing from Ardrossan to Brodick; seen from the ferry "MV Caledonian Isles" which was making the reverse journey.
by David Dixon

NS1748 : Arran and Firth of Clyde by wfmillar
Viewed from the rocky shore at Portencross.
by wfmillar

NS1351 : The Lighthouse, The Wee Cumbrae by Robert Watson
Facing Northwest
by Robert Watson

15.Mull of Kintyre to Ardnamurchan Point

NR5808 : Across the North Channel from the Mull of Kintyre, 1977 by Ben Brooksbank
View westward from the Mull Lighthouse, to Fair Head (to the left in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland, 15 miles away and (in centre) Rathlin Island.
by Ben Brooksbank

NR5808 : Mull of Kintyre: undulating sheepfold by Chris Downer
Looking down on the lighthouse past the sheepfold. Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland is in the distance, left.
by Chris Downer

16.Ardnamurchan Point to Cape Wrath

NM4167 : Ardnamurchan Point by Anne Burgess
In the left foreground is the lighthouse at Ardnamurchan Point, the most westerly point of the British mainland. In the background is the sandy beach at Sanna.
by Anne Burgess

NM4167 : The lighthouse at Ardnamurchan Point by Neil Oakes
The tower is 36 metres tall and is of pink granite, dating from 1849. The light is operated remotely by the Northern Lighthouse Board from Edinburgh.
by Neil Oakes

17.The Minch and Hebrides

NA7246 : Flannan Isles: southward view from the lighthouse by Chris Downer
Looking across the main bulk of the largest of the islands, Eilean Mòr. Ahead of us we see the heliport and St. Flannan's chapel, with the railway trackbed crossing the picture. Soriagh, a group of lesser Flannan isles, is in the background, about a mile away.
by Chris Downer

NB5266 : Heavy seas by the Butt of Lewis by John Allan
After a couple of days of northerly gales, the waves are breaking hard onto the cliffs east of the lighthouse.
by John Allan

NG4196 : Sgeir Mianais by Toby Speight
Cormorants line the rock where it meets the sea. In the background stand the Galtachan rocks - NG3998 : Galtachan
by Toby Speight

NG3680 : Fladda-chùain by John Allan
The flat isle of the ocean, about 6km northwest of Rubha Hunish, from where this picture was taken.
by John Allan

NL6293 : The southern Outer Hebrides by M J Richardson
From lower left:- Pabay, Lingeigh, Flodaigh, Sandray, Vatersay and Barra.
by M J Richardson

18.Shetland Isles

HP6019 : The Muckle Flugga reef by Mike Pennington
From above Wilna Geo.
by Mike Pennington

HU7071 : Out Skerries: Bound Skerry from Bruray Ward by Chris Downer
Looking down from the top of Bruray Ward towards the lighthouse on the easternmost piece of Scotland, Bound Skerry.
by Chris Downer

HU4007 : Sumburgh Head from the north by Mike Pennington
Taken from the Aberdeen ferry several km to the north. The cruise ship Marco Polo, heading out of Lerwick, is just rounding the head, with Ward Hill on Fair Isle in the background.
by Mike Pennington

HT9737 : Da Run Hoevdi from Da Lang Hoevdi, Foula by Julian Paren
The east coast of Foula viewed from Da Lang Hoevdi. The furthest visible point is Durganess with its war memorial at the high point. Da Run Hoevdi is the prominent stack offshore.
by Julian Paren

HZ2171 : Fair Isle from the air by Mike Pennington
Taken from a plane en route from Aberdeen to Sumburgh.
by Mike Pennington

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