Tides are the rise and fall of the sea coming in and going out. Regular and predictable, no matter what else is happening here on the Fylde Coast or elsewhere in the world. The water comes in and goes out, twice every day, just like clockwork. As they say ‘Time and tide waits for no man’.

Their annual pattern is dictated by the seasons and the moon. But have you ever thought about why they change every day?

How we see the Tides

  • There are two high and two low tides in each 24 hour period.
  • It moves forward about half an hour with each tide, with one high/low tide every 12 hours and 25 minutes.
High tide at Rossall Beach Cleveleys

There’s a very highest maximum depth to which the tide comes in and goes out. These are what’s called ‘Spring tides’. Confusingly, ‘Spring Tides’ (sometimes just called ‘Springs’) happen in both Spring and Autumn.

When it’s been out as far as it possibly can, the water depth gets progressively shallower before changing again to go deeper. That’s why you’ll hear it referred to as a ‘9m or a 7m tide’ etc.

The fun starts when the incoming tide is at its highest and a strong wind is behind it. That’s when it comes over the wall. When the air pressure is low as well it makes for even more fun and games. That’s when storm surges can happen – creating bad storm conditions.


Over December and January of 2013/14 there were two really bad storms in quick succession. A combination of a very high tide, strong westerly winds and a low atmospheric pressure arrived at the same time. Together it sent the waves flying up and over sea walls all along the Fylde Coast. There’s another article here about storms.

Storm and flooding at Cleveleys in January 2014
Storm and flooding at Cleveleys in January 2014

Tide Times

Is the beach that you like to use tidal? Does it get covered by water when the sea comes in? If so, you’ll need to check the tide times before setting off with your bucket and spade.

Tide times are published each year for beach users to refer to. You can get the information online or in a handy little booklet called a tide table. If you come to the Fylde Coast frequently (or live here) it might pay you to buy one. They’re not very expensive and available from the Tourist Information Centre and local newsagents.

Tide table booklets

Dry Beaches

There are beaches along the Fylde Coast that remain dry at high water. They’re handy spots for walking, beach sports and playing.

St Annes Beach and Pier
St Annes Beach and Pier

Exactly how much dry sand there is will, of course, depend on the time of year, tide heights and weather conditions on the day.

Don’t forget that whether the sea is in or out you can always walk along the promenade along the whole of the seafront. There’s a footpath along the whole of the Fylde Coast, right against the waters edge. Pick your spot, pitch your deck chair and enjoy the view!

REMEMBER: That many of the bathing beaches are subject to a dog ban during the summer season.

Why does the Tide Come In and Go Out?

The gravitational pull of the moon and the sun, combined with the rotation of the earth, is what makes the sea come in and go out each day.

It’s the gravitational effect of the moon as it orbits around the earth which ‘pulls’ on the oceans, pulling the water towards the moon to create a high tide.


  • The gravitational pull of the moon is stronger than the pull created by the sun.
  • But when the sun is in line with the moon, it enhances its gravitational effect. This is why we get higher tides than normal, these are the Spring tides.


  • When the sun and the moon are at right angles to each other, their gravitational effect is diminished.
  • At this point we get lower tides than normal, the Neap tides.

There’s a lot more to it than this, of course. The daily ebbing and flowing that seems so simple and primeval is actually backed by lots of science and amazing physics.

Would you like to know more?

There’s an article on Wikipedia here with more of the science behind the subject and lots, lots more on the internet.

Take a look through the articles in our environment section and find out more about how weather systems affect us here on the Fylde Coast.

Watch this short video too. It explains how tides work in a really easy to understand way. It made sense to us anyway!

Why does the tide come in and go out?

Coast Watchers

Here at Visit Fylde Coast we’re embarking on a new project to record the life of our shoreline in photos.

Why don’t you join in with Coast Watchers? Upload your beach, sea and weather photos to the timeline. You can also upload photos taken at specific measuring points too.

Take a look at Coast Watchers.

While you’re here…

Have a look at the homepage of the Visit Fylde Coast website for more of the latest updates.

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