Hunting for Sea Glass in the UK

Hunting for Sea Glass in the UK

When I wrote a post about the Best Sea Glass Beaches in the United States, it got me thinking about my upcoming trip to the UK. We were staying in two coastal towns (South Shields and Staithes). Perhaps there would be some sea glass hunting opportunities for us while we were there.

I started plugging inquiries into Google, which led me to the site of Australian jewelry designer, Kriket Broadhurst. She had lived in the UK for a time and had found the best sea glass beach at Seaham in County Durham.  She even called it the “holy grail of sea glass beaches.” Needless to say, I was intrigued!  So, I looked up Seaham and was thrilled to discover that it was only 1/2 hour away from South Shields.

I emailed Kriket for more info, and she was kind enough to send me a guide for collecting sea glass there. It was very thorough, including where to park, the best times to go, and even which direction to start looking after descending the long staircase to the beach. Thank you, Kriket!

The beach itself has some great views out to sea. If you look far off to the right, you can spot a lighthouse (unfortunately, it’s not in this picture, though). The water, of course, is just beautiful. And we were lucky enough to be there in the hours preceding sunset, when the sky was starting to get a little pink.

Seaham harbor beach best sea glass uk

The beach itself is littered with stones – not very practical for walking barefoot.

stones on seaham harbor beach best sea glass in uk

The stones were gorgeous in their own right, just as smooth and rounded as the bits of glass we found.  Some had stripes, some speckles. I believe others were not rock, but rather bits of pottery or porcelain that were broken and tossed by the waves. The white piece that’s third from the bottom on the right side, for instance, almost certainly looks like a piece of a bowl or other dish. The red and white one above it and to the left is, I think, terra cotta. And I’m fairly certain that rocks don’t come in mint green or pale blue like the ones in the center.

stones found on seaham harbor beach best sea glass in uk

There are also quite a few caves beneath the cliff on Seaham Beach. Here’s a picture of my daughter in front of one of them.

seaham harbor beach caves best sea glass in uk

There are a couple of reasons why people looking for sea glass might consider Seaham the holy grail. First of all, there is a lot of sea glass there. I wasn’t able to go in the morning like Kriket recommended, but rather ended up there late in the day. Nearly everyone on the beach was also walking along, head down, looking for treasures. I thought I would be too late to find any, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Due to the abundance of sea glass there, we ended up collecting about 100 pieces in 60-90 minutes.

best sea glass found at seaham harbor beach county durham

But even more exciting than the abundance of sea glass was the possibility of finding a piece that had more than one color. As I understand it, there was a glass factory in the area about 100 years ago. At the end of the day they would throw their leftover bits over the cliff into the North Sea. As a result, some of the leftovers fused together and formed these unusual eyes.  We were lucky enough to find four small ones.

multicolored best sea glass seaham harbor beach uk county durham

Looking back on our vacation, this was one of my favorite parts. Not sightseeing, not picture-taking, just enjoying the scenery and searching for small treasures along the beach with my family. It taught me a valuable lesson about how the best memories aren’t always the ones you engineer through a lot of planning. Sometimes they are the ones that you just allow to happen on their own.

Seaham is in County Durham, UK, near Sunderland. It’s definitely worth the trip if you’re looking for the best sea glass beach!

best sea glass beach in the uk

For help in planning your sea glass scavenger hunt, I recommend:

14 Replies to “Hunting for Sea Glass in the UK”

  1. Hi,
    I will be visiting Durham from the US in September. I would love to spend part of a day in Seaham looking for sea glass. Would you be able to share the guide you obtained?
    Kind regards,
    Jill

    1. There is a car park area which I think is called Vine Tempest Viewpoint. If you park there, you will see stairs that lead down to the beach below.

  2. The car park which gives best access is the one near Seaham Hall Hotel, named Seaham Beach Car Park. It is probably easiest to input Tonia’s Cafe in Google Maps, as the cafe is in the car park. From there you can go left or right once you go down the steps. I would advise checking the tide times and plan accordingly, as the tide comes right up to the sea wall. More than once we have arrived to find the tide right in.

    1. Yes, that’s the car park we used — thank you Dominic! It’s been a few years since we were there, and I’d forgotten the name.

  3. will be visiting the UK in the spring could you please guide me to the best sea glass beaches, tu michael

  4. We have recently started to visit our local beaches in the North East after discovering sea glass in Norfolk. The best beach so far was also in Seaham on a small, more isolated beach called Blast beach. Park at Noses point car park and walk south. Wear some rugged shoes/boots as its a steep decline onto the beach.

  5. Wow, I spent most of my child hood on Seaham beach I have just googled best places to find beach glass and what a surprise to find this. Thank you for your post as soon as lockdown is over I’m off to Seaham

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.