No.5 skim a stone

Skimming stones across the surface of some water looks incredibly cool, but there's definitely a knack to it. Here are some tips to help you be the best stone skimmer.

Adventure No.5 on our list of 50 things to do before you're 11 ¾ is skimming a stone. If you fancy learning to skim stones then you'll need a steady arm, a keen eye and a fair bit of practice to tick this challenge off your list.

What you need:

  • Some fairly still water - a calm sea, lake, pond or canal.
  • Flat stones that you can easily hold in your hand - not too tiny or too large. Pebbly beaches are usually best for picking up skimming stones.
  • Your best throwing arm

How to do it:

You might need to bear with us here, as it's actually really difficult to explain and there is definitely a knack to skimming stones, but if you've got time to practice you'll soon have them bouncing off the surface of the water like a pro.

What to do:

  1. Once you've found a flat stone that feels about the right size in your hand (so that it's easy to pick up, as flat/thin as you can find and not too heavy to throw) then your skimming adventure starts.
  2. Hold the stone in the hand you usually use to throw things with your thumb and first finger out, and rest the stone on your second finger. From above, your hand should look like a backwards 'C' or a 'U' with the stone between your thumb and first finger.
  3. When it sits there comfortably without wibbling or wobbling, pull your hand and wrist back a bit, and then flick it forward and relase the stone forwards and away from you.
  4. You're aiming to get the stone spinning away from in a straight flat line towards the water (rather than throwing it upwards into the air so it plops back down). That way, when it hits the water, it should bounce off with those distinctive skips and hops.
  5. It sometimes helps if you duck down, so that you're already level with the water when you start your throw.
  6. Once you've mastered it, you can count how many hops your stone makes and have a competition with your family and friends. Our record is 27!
Have fun trying!

How to skim stones

In this video, the National Trust Kids' Council get together at Wray Castle in the Lake District to skim some stones.