Sounds of our shores

We teamed up with the British Library and the National Trust for Scotland to create the UK’s first ever coastal sound map. We asked you to record and share your favourite sounds of our shores to help build a crowd-sourced soundscape of the nation’s coastline.

The coastal sounds you shared are being hosted on a map on the British Library website and added to the British Library Sound Archive for future generations to enjoy. They’ll also inspire an original piece of music created by musician and producer Martyn Ware, a founder member of Human League, to be released in 2016.

Over 650 coastal sounds from around the UK were uploaded during the three month project, receiving an incredible 65,000 listens.

The UK’s favourite coastal sound

We selected 10 of the most evocative sounds recorded as part of the project and launched a poll to find the UK’s favourite coastal sound. More than 1,600 people voted and it was the sound of gentle waves breaking on the beach at Trwyn Llanbedrog in Wales which came out on top, securing 35 per cent of the vote.

'For me the sound has a hypnotic quality, the rhythmic nature of the gentle breaking water is lovely and just by listening to it you’re transported to a peaceful evening on the beach with just the sea and the birds for company,’ said Laura Hughes, our coast and Henfaes development ranger in North Wales.

‘We look after the beach and beach huts at Llanbedrog so I’m lucky in that I get to spend quite a lot of time there - the beach can sound quite different on a busy summer’s day with loads of excited children playing in the shallows!’

Celebrating the coast

From breaking waves to bustling piers, children’s laughter to chattering seabird colonies, what we hear at the coast connects us to it. The coastal sound map aims to reflect the beauty and diversity of the entire UK coast, 775 miles of which we care for thanks to our Neptune Coastline Campaign.

'I've been blown away by the sheer diversity and quality of coastal sounds submitted to the project,' says Cheryl Tipp, curator of wildlife and environment sounds at the British Library. 'From crashing waves and family days on the beach to amusement arcades and coastal ferries, these recordings paint a vivid sonic portrait of the UK coastline during the summer of 2015.'

Joe Acheson supports project

As part of the project musician and producer Joe Acheson of the Hidden Orchestra used sounds recorded by ten local BBC radio stations of coastal sounds in their area to create a brand new three-minute track called 'ShoreSounds'.This sonic treat captures our deep love affair with the coastline.

Joe also took up sound residency on the Lizard in Cornwall, where Marconi did his first ever transatlantic radio transmission, in August. He’ll be producing a digital EP based on his experiences which will be released in early 2016.


Sounds of our shores: Formby

Listen to the sounds of our shores near Formby, Liverpool


Sounds of our shores: Suffolk

Listen to the sounds of our shores at Dunwich Beach in Suffolk.


Top tips for recording coastal sounds

Listen to top tips for recording your coastal sounds by Cheryl Tipp from the British Library.