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How to build the perfect sandcastle!

We all love Dawlish Warren beach with its miles of sand, clean and clear water and one of our favourite things to do when we get there has to be to build a sandcastle! It’s the perfect way to get together with family and friends and will definitely make it part of a memorable day.

One of the best things about Dawlish Warren beach is its incredible sand. Did you know that a few years ago the beach underwent a £14m reconstruction project where more than 100 Olympic swimming pools of sand were pumped onto the beach?!

By increasing the sand levels, the project helped protect thousands of homes and the railway line, but sadly just months after the project was finished a devastating storm ripped away tonnes of the sand, causing a decade worth of damage to the beach and the nature reserve. We think this makes it even more worthwhile that we respectfully enjoy our beach!

The perfect sandcastle beach

Dawlish Warren sand is absolutely ideal for sandcastles as it is clean and fine. Fine sand is compact and gives better structure and stability. You can test this yourself by grabbing some sand and rolling it around in your hand and if it stays together then it is perfect!

One thing that we really recommend in building a good sandcastle is to choose an overcast or cloudy day as the sand is cooler, more able to hold the water better and more stable than dry sand – which is just what we want for our huge sandcastle!

If you are on dryer sand you can add a bucket of water and it will transform it – keep testing it by rolling a ball in your hand until you get the right consistency.

Its also good to check that you are about the high-tide line to make sure your sandcastle doesn’t get washed away by the incoming tide! You can often tell where the high-tide line is as there will be a line of seaweed or debris.

Making your sandcastle

Before you begin you may also make sure you have buckets, spades and maybe some other tools but we prefer to use the sticks and shells on the beach for the fine detail to the castle!

  • Start by outlining an area as big as you want your sandcastle to be using a stick or a spade and then pile about 15cm of sand over the area, this will form a sturdy base.
  • Then using a stick, poke holes in the base and pour water carefully all over the area and let it drain through the sand. Using your hands or your feet you can then pack the sand down until it feels solid. For a really sturdy base you can repeat this process again.
  • Now we can make the castles! Fill up buckets of sand to build the initial shapes and if you are planning a really large sandcastle it’s a good idea to section off and outline where you want the buildings, walls, moat and turrets to go.
  • Shells or smooth stones or sticks can be used to carve out and smooth the outside and a tiny twig or sharp shell can help create a brick pattern for extra detail! Draw horizontal rows around the walls and then add in the vertical lines to create the bricks. Try and work from the top down so that any falling sand doesn’t spoil what you have already created!
  • You can then use shells, pebbles and seaweed to decorate and small flags add that final touch!

If you have created a moat now is the time to fill it up and then you can all sit back and admire your hard work – well done everyone!